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Speeding Up
Nov 8, 2009
getting colder, planning my 2011 Winter Collection. turtlenecks, "lobster" mitts and an old wool or polypro glove or sock works great. some good 'fo for the cold.

---Start rides into the wind. Wind can lower the effective temperature enormously -- the dreaded windchill effect. For example, at a relatively balmy 40F degrees (5C) with headwind gusts of 25 mph (40 kph), the cold you feel is equivalent to only 16F (-9C). That's if you're standing still. Add the forward speed of the bike and it feels even colder.

Even so, the best tactic is to plan winter routes to take you into the wind on the outward leg. You'll get the coldest part of the ride done early before your clothes become sweaty. Later, when you're damp and tired, the frigid blast will be at your back, blowing you home.

---Dress in layers. You've heard about layering your clothes in cold weather but for cycling there are a few special tricks.

On your upper body start with a thin base layer of wool or a synthetic wicking material. A turtleneck works great. Add a short-sleeve jersey for moderate temperatures, a long- sleeve jersey or light fleece when it's below freezing. Cover everything with a windproof shell that has a full front zipper for ventilation.

Most riders are comfortable in leg warmers down to about 40F degrees (5C). Lightweight tights work to around freezing, and heavy winter-specific tights, available with windproof front panels, are the ticket when the temperature really dips.

Don't make the mistake of wearing too little on your legs even if they feel warm. You risk injury if your knees aren't appropriately covered. Also, your body will shunt blood from your feet to your under-protected legs, leading to seriously frigid tootsies.

Hands, feet and head are the hardest body parts to keep warm. Wear a thin balaclava under your helmet, tucked into the turtleneck to prevent air leaks. It'll cover your head, ears and neck, and you can pull it over your chin and even over your mouth.

Insulated gloves work fine into the mid 30s. For colder temperatures, go for so-called "lobster" mitts with 3 compartments -- one for the first 2 fingers, one for the last 2 and the other for the thumb. This design pools heat for more warmth.

Feet will be helped by fleece-lined shoe covers. Add more warmth by removing insoles so you can wear thick wool socks.

---Slow down. The faster you go, the greater the windchill but the sweatier you'll get. That's a bad deal all the way around. It makes sense to reduce your ground speed in freezing temperatures and focus on enjoying the ride, not training seriously. A dedicated winter bike -- set up like a rain bike -- can easily weigh 30 lbs. (13.6 kg). Add heavy wheels and tires for durability and you won't be going anywhere fast.

---Protect your privates. Men, beware of penile frostbite. A cold wind can penetrate your tights and cycling shorts, freezing tissue that's near and dear. Tights with windproof front panels help. You can also tuck extra protection down the front of your shorts. An old wool or polypro glove or sock works great.
---Protect your privates. . You can also tuck extra protection down the front of your shorts. An old wool or polypro glove or sock works great.
Hey I do that all year round. Yeah it's for the protection!:rolleyes: Where exactly does the old sock go? On, over or in front of....?
Thanks for the tips, no pun intended.
This is not about the return of the "Witch of Wadatoge" then...?
Great post Jules, but please tell me what I am doing wrong?? I read posts here from riders heading into the mountains with a casual "maybe bring a windbreaker for the descent" - ouch.

I cycled for 3 hours 12 minutes and 30 seconds along the Arakawa yesterday - dead flat, pedalling non-stop at the highest cadence I could without bouncing (which is not particularly high) - and was mildly chilly. I don't generate any heat that I'm aware of but am soaked when I get home. I was wearing four layers on top - Uniqlo heattech long sleeve (a trial), polyprop long sleeve, technical fleece and thin wind breaker. Fleece lined tights over padded shorts, wool socks with a heat pad in one not the other (trial), a buff under my helmet and lobster gloves. I wasn't freezing, but I wasn't tropical. Not sure if I activated the heat pad because both feet were comfortable and felt the same. The gloves were fantastic. The problem is the forecast said 15 degrees ... but that it certainly wasn't down on Tokyo Bay!!

Today I cycled for 2 hours and 12 minutes, swapped out the poly-prop and OR fleece for an Arcteryx expedition weight fleece and a goretex cycling jacket. The buff, the gloves, all zips up and was perfect. Is this normal??? I passed (or they me??) guys in shorts and slinky little short-sleeved shirts. Why are they so much warmer than me ... or is there a little masochism lurking?

What is the take on the Uniqlo stuff? I wore it in Yatsu last w/e for a cycle and we stopped for lunch in a restaurant and I got badly chilled. Polyprop and wool tend to keep me warm when wet. Off to climb a mountain tomorrow so will test the Uniqlo stuff again but not sure it has a place in the outdoor gear drawer.

Lucky I'm missing an appendage - how many socks would it take?!
Izo.... I think its different body types... I overheat real baddly so will wear layers that can pack down real small and as I get hotter will strip down and layer back up again.
I don't have much technical gear for winter rides 'coz this is my first winter cycling but whenever I ride, even for my 15km commute, with a t-shirt and a fleece lined windstopper jacket I get drenched in sweat. Below I just wear my jeans which too gets somewhat soggy... I am not sure how much clothing I need for high winter in December and January!

Anyway, Uniqlo is having this amazing discount on its heat-tech garments and I bought 3 today... will test them tomorrow :)
Izo, Badar,
It sounds like you're wearing a little too much for the temperatures. Cycling is almost impossible to design a single piece of clothing for - one minute we're at maximum effort, low speed, slogging uphill, dumping heat as fast as our bodies can, then we crest the summit, stop pedalling and subject ourselves to -10 C windchill!

As James says, layers are the key. If you're working hard (flat or uphill), try riding without the windproof. They give a real "boil in the bag" effect, even the breathable ones. So your inner layers get soaked and when you stop or head downhill - brrrrrr. Better to either not get so hot, or make sure that heat is dumped to the atmosphere, not the inside of a membrane jacket. The layers next to your skin stay dryer and much more comfortable.
Try keeping the windproof for the downhills / easier sections. Make sure the windproof fastens nice and tight at the neck (or use a buff/snood there) to stop the wind getting at your chest. And put it on as soon as you reach the top of the hill - don't wait to cool down.
Some of the nicer jackets are windproof on the front and arms, which are subjected to wind as you move forwards, but not windproof on the back, to let the heat out. I like this type for chilly days.

Hands and feet get cold easily. Do a search for overshoes on this site - there are a few threads about keeping feet warm which can be a challenge. One thing to watch is, if you're wearing thicker socks, loosen your shoes a bit or the blood flow will be reduced, and you'll end up with even colder feet :eek:
I agree with Alan. Actually, I think a wind-breaker is really only good for fast and long descends and for rain. When pedalling you are bound to overheat quickly.

Tom and I started out at -3 degrees somewhere in Nagano on Sunday. I was starting to sweat under the wind breaker 30 mins into the ride, going at modest speed, so took it off. I felt much better with my relatively light winter jacket which does not have any wind protection. I was not sweaty reaching the first major pass of the day (Mikuni at 1,700m and then at freezing point), and felt great rolling down the other side. Tom had experimented by leaving on his wind breaker, was thus sweaty and quickly cold.
Was pretty happy with my first batch of Dr. Tim's Leg Schmeg. This is also variously known as the 'Devils Snot' , 'Wax Blaster' or simply Embrocation. I mixed up some beeswax, shea, capsicum oleoresin, olive oil and tea tree oil to make a fairly potent, sweat reactive, linement. Applied to my knees mainly. This stuff has a half life of like 4hrs! And whenever you are not cycling dead into the wind or driving rain, feels like you are being laser blasted. My knees never felt cold. Also put some on my feet as well - it works there, too. Just be careful, you DONT want to embrocate prior to eliminate - if you know what I mean! Anyway - with this - I just wore standard winter bib trousers, and cushy wool gloves. All was good. Def on the windbreaker - I never ride with mine anymore. Quite frankly it does more to make me uncomfortable due to the sweat retention. Thats why we have newspaper - the pink ones - just toss this under your winter jersey and you will have wind break + moisture absorbtion for the ride (up or down).

My winter favorite kit:

1) Silk / Wool base T-shirt. Or my Uniglo whatever it is.
2) Descent LS Jersey
3) Full length bib trousers - coolmax fleece lined
4) Betones under wear pants
5) Liberal application of Leg Schmeg on knees and feet
6) Thinsulate cheap gloves
7) Japanese racing digest (pink news paper)

H20 relief -

1) 100yen store plastic rain jacket cut down. (Fits in saddle bag)
2) Plastic bags from conbini for shoe covers.

Super Cold add-on:

1) Another winter jacket. I got a nice, cheap Crane (Aldi) from my wife. Less than 4000yen and is awesome 3rd layer.
2) Silk under trousers
3) Wind / Waterproof gloves I got for xcountry skiing long time ago.
4) Baklava - micro fiber
5) Surley wool / blend winter cycling socks. (http://surlybikes.com/clothing/tall_socks/)
6) Add rum or whiskey to my water bottle
7) Japanese courtesy mask - breathing cold air makes you cold. The mask cuts this down ALOT.
7) Japanese courtesy mask - breathing cold air makes you cold. The mask cuts this down ALOT.

Do you have a recommended make of courtesy mask or will any do as since the temperature has turned I`m struggling on my hill repeats/intervals, even with a warm-up, as my breathing is a mess due to the cold air aggravating my asthma. Once my system has adjusted I`m ok but the first climb isn`t much fun.
are you doing a proper warm up or going straight in to hill repeats?

Remember its not just your legs that need warming up before attacking climbs you cardiovascular system also needs to get ready. I suggest some sprint intervals to warm up before attacking climbs.
James is so right! I'm not 22yo and can't just hammer from zero anymore without a proper warmup. I need at least 45min-60min increasing intensity (without going into lactic acid overdrive) to get the engine fully up to temp and speed. I use just any old courtesy mask - I have same issue - reactive airway syndrome (light asthma) and breathing really cold air is like sucking razor blades. Once I'm fully warmed up, though, don't hardly notice it. The mask really does help! And also cuts down on breathing particulates from Diesel exhausts.
Thanks for the suggestions. Reading my post again, if I`m ok after the first effort then yes, I think you are both right and I need more of a warm-up targeting my cardiovascuar system before I attempt a sustained effort. I picked up some masks in Sunny Mart so tried both yesterday - very unscientific experiment of changing two variables at the same time - but given how warm it was yesterday (21C here) it was impossible to do a more controlled test. So when it gets colder again I will try a more scientific test.

I think its also partly the fact that this will be my first winter in Japan and still adjusting. To me, the weather at present doesn`t fit my definition of winter - I mean...21C??? and I`m still cycling in my shorts - so I`ve not been using the neck warmer (used like a mask) I would usually wear back in the UK (plus I left it in the UK) so I think the mask will actually be a better bet. My first time wearing a mask...

Im also from the UK and the neck warmer mask doesn't come out till Jan/Feb and I also am still out in shorts for the afternoon rides although at 5:30 in the morning tights are needed.
There are two things I love: cycling and playing guitar but at 5:30 in the morning there is nothing I love more than my bed!

Tried with just the mask on Saturday (standard warm-up) and there was only 30secs difference in my 1st and 2nd climb compared to 3/4 mins before and no breathing problems. To clarify, the hill takes 19 mins at best so done as an form of aerobic threshold 2x20 interval. Did my longest commute of the week this morning - only 6 miles though and not pushed - without mask and could sense my breathing going. So shall stick to the mask. Hopefully I will stop feeling self-conscious eventually!
There are two things I love: cycling and playing guitar ...

Sikochi, what kind of guitar? I have maybe a dozen--a number of flat tops and some nylons, tho I haven't been playing much recently. PM me if you want to talk guitars.
There are two things I love: cycling and playing guitar but at 5:30 in the morning there is nothing I love more than my bed!

I used to think like you and two years ago the idea of getting up at 4am was completely alien to me. But then I found there is nothing nicer than riding into a dawn and rising sun or simply a crisp morning - and also making the most out of a day for cycling (i.e. riding from darkness into darkness, 12 hours straight).

I have to admit though the thought of getting up at 4am to do plain work is far less appealing...
Hi jdd, I only have 3 guitars here and after discovering the joys of short-scale guitars - make such a difference to those of us with short hands - I tend to stick to my Fender Squier DuoSonic. A really underrated guitar (the Squier bit puts off the snobs, kinda like aluminium v carbon bike!) and I picked it ahead of a Mustang or Jaguar - I like maple necks and prefer the flatter fretboard to the C shape on the Jaguar or Mustang. Just acquired a Roland Cube 40xl - you can get some really good sounds out of it and with the power squeeze option, far more practical than a tube amp here in thin-walled Japan. Am playing it now, in between writing this.

I have a 3/4 acoustic but that is mainly just used for teaching. But yes, PM is probably better as a continuation of this discussion will probably see us banned!
Hi Ludwig, 12 hours is impressive! I`ve never been a morning person - late sleeper/late riser - so find that later in the day (afternoon or evening) is my best time for exercise. Now, if we`re talking about sunsets....Also, if I ride too long, too often I tend to get too tired to play guitar (plus, it eats into playing time) so other than the odd long foray I rarely go past 3/4 hours.
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