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How cold is it?

by Richard Masoner

Thanks for the tremendous response on if you plan to ride over the winter or not. I saw a lot of great questions that I hope to investigate over the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, the U.S. national weather report shows rain and snow over much of the U.S. Midwest today. I’m supposed to have a high of 90° F where I’m at near Santa Cruz, California today, but I know many of you are donning cold weather gear for the first real storm of the winter season.

What was the temperature when you left this morning for work? Were your neighbors scraping ice from their windshields?

My coldest ride was in Champaign, Illinois in the early 90s. It was forty degrees below zero when I left for work one morning.

 
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56 Responses to “How cold is it?”

  1. getinlost says:

    The thermometer at my front door read 29 degrees this morning. I was sweating yesterday at 36 so opted for a slightly lighter outfit, big mistake. I was cold the entire way.

  2. rayhead00 says:

    Yesterday, in Buffalo, I saw some snow mixed with drizzle. I even saw a car covered in snow. Thankfully, today it was 38deg, clear and dark morning. I overdressed a little with fleece gloves and thick base layer.

    How is everyone going to deal with the upcoming Daylight Saving?

  3. Rick says:

    It was 27 degrees this morning in Colorado when I left the house. Warmed up to 32 degrees by the time I got to work. Clear and Sunny all the way. Crisp!

  4. Fritz says:

    Rick, I believe that was your post I saw on Craigslist this morning that served as an inspiration for this one. Thanks!

  5. rayhead00 says:

    A little off topic, but check out the fudrasing event put together to support Buffalo’s grassroots biking community:

    http://www.buffalorising.com/story/fundraiser_to_support_bicyclin#sca

  6. John Mayson says:

    On mornings like today I fire up the Google and enter “78729 weather” to get the weather for my area. It was 5°F. Yeah, just plain 5°! I saw penguins shivering.

    Okay, in the big scheme of things that’s not bad, but I’ve lived much of my life in Florida and Texas. I have a 4.2 mile ride. I wore my cycling shorts, a long-sleeve t-shirt, and a cycling short-sleeve shirt over the long-sleeve t-shirt due to the wind. I was fine the whole ride.

  7. Scott says:

    Our winter is not quite all here yet, so it was only 44F this morning.

    Wow… you rode in -40F !!! I would think that things would start falling off your bike and body at that temperature. ;-)

  8. John Mayson says:

    @rayhead00 Daylight Saving Time is going to be sort of a challenge for me. I’ve been meaning to buy a second lamp for my bike. I already have one on my bike and one on my helmet. It’s not generally too bad in the morning, but in the evening it gets dark rather early and I sometimes have to work late. I’m more concerned about the dark than I am the cold. But I’m in Austin, so cold isn’t much of a worry.

  9. John Mayson says:

    Correction, actually GOING OFF OF DST is going to be an issue. I would prefer we stay on it all year long, but that’s just me. :-)

  10. Timmy Mac says:

    28 degrees, baby! My headband from Chainlove got here just in time. It’s my first winter commuting, and I’m surprised how much I *love* riding in the cold in the morning.

  11. Wei says:

    2C/36F this morning… The challenge is to dress appropriately. I hate the -2C to 10C zone – too cold for shorts, too warm for pants.

    Probably dropping by at a cheap used clothes store to see if there’s anything more appropriate. Can’t wait for -5C/23F or below though, then things will become “normal” :)

  12. James says:

    0C/32F this morning. It’s almost 60 now. Every year the transitional seasons make me double the clothing that I carry to accomodate for the temperature swings.

  13. Rob Sayers says:

    It was in the high 60′s this morning when I rode to class. Not cold enough to wear a jacket during the day yet. I do bring one with me since I get off work at 10pm and its been getting to the mid 50′s.

    Doesn’t seem cold reading some of the comments here, but in South Mississippi it’s down right chilly!

  14. john says:

    mid 30′s when i leave the house. it’s going to be 53 when i go home here in SE Michigan

  15. Joshua says:

    +7F with no wind on the ride this morning. I’m getting ready to leave work and it is currently 48F with 20MPH head wind. Wyoming is awesome for fluctuations.

  16. Deb says:

    It was, according to weather.com, 40F “feels like 35″ this morning when I left. It is usually up to 5 degrees colder where I commute to, but I didn’t verify when I got to work. Someone told me “it was definitely colder than 40 here” when I got to work, but I can’t be more precise than that. Dry and thankfully not windy today, only about 55F on the way home.

    In the morning, I wore a skull cap, long sleeve t-shirt (just regular cotton), an unlined windbreaker, yoga pants, and light long-fingered riding gloves (just regular cheap ones). It was almost too warm, but I have a lot of tough hills and 14.5 miles, so I build up a really solid core temp.

    By the way, I’m a complete and utter wimp when it comes to the cold, and I’m glad I trusted a post on this site from a couple years ago detailing how little was needed to stay warm at various temps. It has worked perfectly. Even for cold-wimpy me! My coworkers say I’m a “trooper” and “extreme”, but if I’m comfortable in a long-sleeve t-shirt and a light windbreaker, I think they’re just weird to think of me as either extreme or a “trooper”.

    The only thing I can’t keep warm are my feet. I hate clipless (don’t get me started) so I’m just in lightweight hiking shoes, regular type socks. I’ve tried plastic bag bits in the shoes around my toes, but that didn’t help. I won’t wear wool, which is what a lot of people seem to use as a solution for this. I’m not sure if different shoes would do the trick or what. If anyone has suggestions (not wool) I’d love to hear it!

  17. Scott R. says:

    In Omaha this morning it was raining with lows in the low to mid 40s (F). Last week I think it was mid to upper 30s, also with rain.

    It looks like we may dip into the low 30s and upper 20s by next week.

    I just got my Amfib tights in the mail today, so that should keep me well into the colder temps for a while during my 10 mile round trip commute.

    I still need rain shoe covers, heavier gloves, and perhaps a shell that would be warmer than my thin convertible rainproof cycling vest/jacket (though, with layers, the shell is working very well down to the mid 30s).

    The change back to standard time won’t affect me much, as my morning commute around 6am is dark, anyway. Riding home in the afternoon dark may be different, though. I’ve always felt a little safer when my lights and reflectors can work, however.

  18. Ghost Rider says:

    71 degrees. Not bad at all…

  19. jdott says:

    31 in Salt Lake when I left – frozen car windows, frost on the grass, and some frost on a couple of wooden bridges I hit. It was 56 when I got home, which is probably around the high for the day. I don’t mind the cold, I’m just not looking forward to snow and ice again.

  20. John Kirk says:

    Not this morning, but the morning before the thermometer was at 21F when I left. I wore the whole gambit and was extremely comfy! I even sweat a bit near the end of the ride. I wear a wicking undershirt with a thinsulate shell covered by an uninsulated windbreaker to…break the wind. Shorts under a windproof cheapo pants with some minimal insulation. Wool socks (with plastic baggies) are the key though, sorry Deb. I can make everything else warm by pedaling faster except the toes.

    This morning was a balmy 32 degrees, I wore the same stuff, but got overheated and had to unsnap the jackets. I’ve been watching the aforementioned storm march across the US. Snow is forecast for North Michigan Sunday, my first real test of the winter. I’m stoked.

    I can’t believe I ever drove into work, the things I see in my *dark* (6am) commute are incredible! The shooting stars, my reflection in the water over the bridge, the planets. Car people don’t know what they’re missing!

  21. Ringer says:

    I didn’t have to ride in this morning, but I saw neighbors scraping frost off their windshields. (Related tangent: I am officially carless as of last night, and boy do I not miss having to do that…) I did go grocery shopping this afternoon and it was chilly–probably mid 40s. I might have been a bit underdressed because it looked so nice and sunny out. But I stopped by my LBS this afternoon and picked up a new Pearl Izumi skullcap. My ride to campus tomorrow morning is supposed to be in the 20s. No snow yet, though!

  22. Nathan says:

    I didn’t ride today, but I did yesterday. It was in the 30s in the Chicago area, but I didn’t see frost in my neighborhood. I had planned to go multi-modal both ways, but on the way home the bus bike rack was full. I rode the 15 miles in my work clothes (jeans, sweater, etc) and I did get hot. I think it was in the high 40s. We might have snow by Monday, so things are changing.

  23. Sean says:

    It was a cool 43 degrees when i took off for work this evening in rainy northeast Kansas. Thanks to effective layering, I arrived warm and dry and impressed the hell out of coworkers :-) .

  24. LJ says:

    29F Friday morning in Fort Fun CO. Hope the 20 mph headwinds we’ve had for the past couple of days subside.

  25. xcskimt (Robert) says:

    In Green Bay WI it is 47F – 8.7C with some light rain. Daytime and Night time temeratures do not vary too much right now. As far as Day Light Savings time (DST), its dark out now, and when winter hits it wont make much of a difference to me. Light Lights and more Lights. Mostly on the back. I have three red blinkers and two white front. I am off to work. Have a safe commute everyone.

  26. Patrick says:

    48 this morning in Austin, TX. I’ve got a long-sleeved shirt on and capri warm-ups on. I’ll where a gortex jacket, because we Texans are wimps when it comes to cold!

  27. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    Mid 40s and very light rain. Its dark when I leave home and now its still dark when I get to work. At one point, crossing a rail road, I get to see the sun starting to lighten up the east. It was a woman walking about a week ago who pointed it out… why oh why do people love cars?
    For dressing, sometime high priced cycling clothes work really good (take good care of them), but I mix thirft store with marked-down cycle clothes. In cold, wool rocks!

  28. CJ says:

    @Deb,

    Since you don’t use clipless, you may want to try some really nice hiking boots with the words Gortex and Thinsulate somewhere on the label. For socks, you could do some fleece socks. Why don’t you like wool? If you find wool scratchy then I would use the military trick and wear a thin poly sock next to your skin, with a thick wool sock over that. I feel for you as my feet get very cold in the winter no matter what the activity.

    I am just 55mi West of Scott R. and it has been cold and wet here as well. Nasty weather in my opinion.

  29. blitt says:

    mornings felling chilly in chicago the past few days (upper 30s?), but by afternoon, nice fall temps like mid 50s. very wet today, though. cold you can dress for, but riding all day wet will eventually kill your spirits. flurries possible come next week. having a tough time getting excited about riding this winter (never an issue before). need something to keep me fired up!

  30. ethan says:

    24 degrees in Albany NY. The windows of cars were all frosted, but nobody was even up yet.

  31. John Mayson says:

    Google said it was 3°F this morning. I sort of doubt it was really that cold, but it was cold enough. I wore nylon pants, the kind that unzip into shorts, a t-shirt-, and a sweatshirt and I was fine the whole ride in.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I think -40 is a bit of an exaggeration since the record low for Champaign is -25, most recently in Jan 99.

    http://www.sws.uiuc.edu/atmos/statecli/cuweather/cu-averages.htm

  33. Nicole says:

    I have no idea how cold it was this morning, though LJ in a previous comment put Fort Collins at 29F. All I know is that this week it’s been crisp enough in the morning to warrant the wearing of tights with my skirts.

  34. JiMCi says:

    Left home in Montreal, QC this morning at 26F. With a speed of 20mph, my little ChillDex program says it was 14F with the wind chill. I felt great, the sun was rising and the sky was clear. I’ll be riding as long as the road is clear from snow or ice. :-)

  35. Ophale says:

    It was a very cold 77F/25C this morning in Kealakekua Hawaii. :-)
    The amazing thing is it may only fluctuate a few degrees F throughout the year here. So for me it is cold when I ride with my construction worker hi viz lime green t-shirt. I might have to bust out my long sleeve t-shirts soon.

    That said, I’ll send warm tropical thoughts to those who ride in winter’s crisp beauty.

    Aloha,

    Keith

  36. Adam says:

    It was about 6 degrees c over here in the UK. But dropped to about 1 last night so there was ice on the cars this morn. Very cold when up to speed and down hill stretches chilled my legs :( . The Sun was out but it was generating very little heat.

  37. John-NY says:

    bit of a warm spell this week. My morning ride about 12 miles before work. hit the road usually 5:00am. Own the town – no one is up. Complete darkness, bright stars, clear sky, no wind. Always calm right before sunrise. mid to high 40′s F. Started dipping in the 30′s last week (near NYC). Reflector vest, Mars 2.0, homemade headlamp 12V, 35watts / 25-angle halogen – you can almost feel the leaves curling in from the blistering brightness. I’ve got a 50-watt too, but that’s stupid-bright and melts the can lol.

  38. dWillis says:

    It was about 34 degF in Milwaukee this morning when I left; got to try out my new helmet liner and lobster mitts with fleece liner. Very toasty!

  39. Xiousgeonz says:

    29 above zero in CHampaign, IL today :) Had to remember that in the midst of last winter, 29 was *warm* so I didn’t need to get out all the layers!

  40. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    24f for my 8 mile commute… worked up a good sweat, but my toes stayed cool. I have to admit, if it wasn’t for those motorists I won’t make to work as fast or get so sweaty… : ), the only good part of gas price dropping.

  41. mjb says:

    It was about 31 this morning. First really cold bicycle commute for me. My toes were frost, but my helmet-over-hooded head was a little sweaty.

    My ride is only 6 miles each way, so I have a feeling I’m going to have to make some adjustments if it gets any colder.

    Northern Jersey is where I ride.

  42. Dave Timmerman says:

    Well… The other day it was -3 c. I put on a tech tee shirt, misty river full arm shirt and unerpants along with a top amd bottom wind breaker. Too warm. Should have gone with out the underpant and tee. Dress so you are cold when you start and you will warm in a few ks. If you are still cold bike faster.

  43. Allan says:

    At 53 and with a 30 mile round trip, I haven’t graduated to a daily rider yet. Last Wed. with the temp at 30 I thought I should dress a little warmer than the day before when it was 40. I put an old ball cap under the helmet, added leg and arm warmers and a long sleeve polartec under the very light windbreaker jacket thing. I had light full finger gloves (performance) and my hands got so cold I thought I was going to lose my grip on the bars. I had to stop half way and call for a pick up. (wounded pride) When I stopped at McDonalds I about passed out when ordering coffee. It was then I realized I was soaking wet and likely dehydrated. I’m pretty sure I was overdressed. I am now thinking wicking base layer, normal layer and breathable (Goretex?) outer layer. I did buy a pair of Pearl I. lobster claw gloves that will likely be to warm over 32.

    Any suggestions?

  44. Deb says:

    I’ve got the same length trip, and though I’ve had only one day where the temp was lower than 35, I was still fairly warm wearing only a long sleeve cotton (oh, the horror) t-shirt and an unlined windbreaker, and for pants just yoga pants. I was warm enough, other than my feet, which have been my only real challenge to keep warm so far.

    I’ve read something recently that says the only way to return circulation to our feet when they’re cold is to get the torso temp slightly warmer than normal. So I likely am just slightly underdressing for 30 degree, but if my hills were more scattered through my commute rather than all bunched up in the 8 miles closes to home, I would likely be just fine with a long sleeve tee and an unlined windbreaker.

    I have found this to be a wonderful guide on how to not overdress: http://commutebybike.com/2006/11/01/how-to-dress-for-cold-weather/

  45. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    ~50f, mostly clear with little fog in low places, not much wind…. WOW! the best 8 miles ever. Clothes: sandels w/thin wool sock, baggy shorts, ligth cycle shirt, and a thin wind breaker to start and my glow gloves… GET OUT AND RIDE!

  46. Dave Timmerman says:

    Hello, today it is 20c, here in southern Ontario where we are further south than northern California. The winters do get cold though. Last year we had snow mid oct and it stayed till almost April. I hope this year is not so snowy. How about tires for the winter. One guy I know swears by riding street slicks all year round as they push through the snow instaed of trying to stay on top. Any ideas???

  47. Dave Timmerman says:

    What about face shields that attach to your helmet? Anything out there? Goggles are a pain and fog up.
    Ride hard live long!

  48. Kathleen Ordway says:

    It was 18 degrees when I left this morning. Even with AmFib gloves, wool socks, and Under Aarmor face mask, I was still numb. My office is warm though!

  49. Scott R. says:

    13 degrees F. in Omaha this morning.

    Baselayer tights over my AmFIB tights kept my legs warm. A balaclava covering my face and neck (but with the hole positioned so that eyes, nose and mouth remained uncovered) worked well.

    My worst problem on the half-hour ride was with my fingers. The PI Gavia gloves, as nice as they are, just aren’t cut out for < 20 degrees. I think my left ring and pinkie fingers suffered mild frostbite, as they still feel funny an hour after my ride. (Maybe I’m exaggerating: I’ve never had frostbite, so I don’t really know)

    Other than the cold hands, I found the ride refreshing. It’s remarkable that the right clothing can enable us to continue riding in these cold temperatures.

  50. Nicole says:

    That’s a cold commute, Scott. Nice work.

    I’d say yesterday was one of the first cold days here (Fort Collins, CO), and it was great to be out in the cold, crisp air when I had to do some biking around town.

  51. Xiousgeonz says:

    17 F this a.m. so I went with lotsa layers. Fingers were chilly between 5-15 minutes out there, but then they got warm. I have a cannondale full finger glove on the left hand and a Lands-End glove on the right hand, both of ‘em under some Liz Claiborne novelty holiday knit gloves. The two layers seem to do the job, but I do gots to get out and get some spares. I don’t know if thicker would be warmer and I’m not sure I want to sacrifice the dexterity.

  52. Dave says:

    It was fairly constant at 38-39F for my 30 mile lesiure ride this morning. I wore, a poly shirt, windbreaker, cycling shorts, sweatpants, socks and trainers. I did sweat quite a bit. To get to lectures, unless it’s raining hard, I tend to just go out in what I wear around the house which is jeans and a hoodie. On very wet days, I add a waterproof jacket. The lowest I’ve cycled in was 34F, and I was toasty in jeans, hoodie, hat and gloves. 25-30F is about as low as it gets over here.

  53. Scott R. says:

    -5 degrees F this morning in Omaha. Windchill was -21 F. Only my toes got cold in my 35 minute ride.

    In total from polypro baselayer and shirts, ending with fleece sweatshirt under a windbreaker shell, I had nine layers on the top. That sounds like a lot, but with the exception of the fleece, the layers are all very thin, so I didn’t look too bulky.

    The bottom was AmFIB tights, polypro baselayer on top of that, then loose workout pants.

    For feet I had wool socks, handwarmers on top of the toes, then cotton socks, plastic bag corners, then sneakers. The chemical handwarmers on the feet quickly quit working, as they need air to sustain the chemical reaction.

    Hands were kept warm polypro glove liners with handwarmers on the back of the hand, then Louis Garneau lobster claw gloves. My hands never felt cold.

    On my head I had a fleece balaclava over head and mouth (nose exposed), then polopro balaclava over top of head and ears. I taped up the vents on my helmet.

    Except for the cold feet, it was an exciting and refreshing ride.

  54. John says:

    It was 2°F (-°C) this morning. It was also misting. More than fog, but not quite drizzle. It actually wasn’t all that bad.

    I wore cycling shorts with a long-sleeve t-shirt. Over that I had a pair of baggy sweat pants (all I have). On top I wore a heavy jacket with a hood. I was just fine, perfectly warm except for my feet. The Chuck Taylors I was wearing didn’t insulate a whole lot.

    It’s supposed to be in the mid-70′s by the end of the week.

  55. siouxgeonz says:

    12 degrees this morning, but less wind than yesterday. Tights, looser layer and sweats under the smarttex pants; similar on top with socks and shoes and balaclava. I got warm enough to be overdressed if this were a longer ride, but it’s only 7 miles.

  56. xcskimt (Robert) says:

    Well this morning was -8 F. A bit chilly. Long running tights with a windbreaker pant (my old climbing pants), wool socks, wool long underwear with a wool icebreaker sweater and a windbreaker. Wool mits, hat, and facemask round out the appaerel. The real trick is putting on layers and leaving the building before I start to sweat.

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