View Full Version : cold weather riding

01-15-2005, 04:47 PM
Hi ladies, When I ride in temperatures below 45 or so degrees I end up with a nasty cough for a few days. The cold air seems to disagree with my lungs. I don't cover my face when I ride though I try to keep the rest of me toasty. My toes get numb after 20 miles no matter what. I hesitate to invest in neoprene booties, it's just not that cold here for that long. Suggestions? Kim

01-15-2005, 04:55 PM
Have you tried wool socks?


01-15-2005, 05:00 PM
You might try wearing one of those neoprene over-the-head balaclava things that just leave your eyes exposed. You'll feel just a tad dorky initially but it will warm up the air just a bit before you breath it in and that might help with the coughing. You also might consider 2 pairs of socks, 1 wool, for your feet or you could look at toe covers. Toe covers just go over the toe of your shoe and aren't quite the production to put on and take off that shoe covers can be. The toe covers will block off the ventilated portion of your shoes over your toes and keep cold air from getting in so easily.

01-15-2005, 07:02 PM
I have both toe covers and shoe covers. I choose which ones to wear based on the temperature. And on really cold days I also use toe warmers (http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?storeId=8000&catalogId=40000008000&productId=575&parent_category_rn=4500521&vcat=REI_SEARCH) which are really supposed to go inside your shoes, but I put them on top of my shoes and under my shoe covers. I live quite a bit further north though - the warmers might really be overkill for you. I'd recommend starting with the toe covers.

01-16-2005, 03:28 AM
I live in the desert and I have shoe covers. I also use poor man toe warmers - plastic sandwich bags over my socks. I also use wool socks. Guess I'm a wimp.

01-16-2005, 08:54 PM
I have found that cold is a very relative thing. I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California and there are mornings when it's so cold my lips are frozen at the end of my ride! 2 pairs of socks, lobster gloves, balaclava thing on my head...and my eyes are still watering so much in the cold I can't see!

01-16-2005, 10:46 PM
Hey there Kim.

I too am prone to coughing fits induced by exercise in the cold, but thankfully mine don't last as long as yours. Don't know about you, but my coughing is decidedly asthma related. I find that taking it easy for the first while is really important. I guess it gets the lungs used to the temperature a bit before they have to work too hard. Keeping well hydrated is also helpful, as is taking some Ventolin (salbuterol) before I start exercising if it's really cold, although that won't apply to you if you're not asthmatic. (Could you be? Exercise + cold is a fairly common trigger.)

Anyway, hope that is vaguely helpful.

01-17-2005, 05:03 AM
I get that coughing thing a lot if I don't ride enough, but if I keep to about every other day all Iget is a little tickle.
For the toes, I have to use those hunter kinda shoe warmer packs. They fit inside the shoe between the cleat plate(steel plate, grr) and the sock. Great invention. They are usually at walmart or the like. Amazing how much difference they make.

01-17-2005, 01:45 PM
I wear SmartWools socks to temps below about 25 then I add toe covers. I've ridden with wind chills down to 6 and my toes stayed fairly warm. As for the cough, I'm asthmatic so I may not be of much help. I wear a balaclava that covers my mouth anytime I ride in temps below freezing and even some times when the temps are warmer but I'm riding in a headwind. You could try some Primatine (sp) Mist (OTC inhaler) after your ride and see if it helps the cough.

01-18-2005, 08:25 AM
Originally posted by CorsairMac
You could try some Primatine (sp) Mist (OTC inhaler) after your ride and see if it helps the cough.

And if it does help, you should go to your doctor for an asthma workup. A lot of women seem to discover that they have exercise-induced asthma when they start cycling. I have it and am now on daily preventative medication (Accolate), which makes such a difference on cold-weather rides. I breathe much better and cough much less.

Good luck!

01-18-2005, 08:41 AM
i use toe covers to keep my toes warm... i've not tried the plastic baggies cuz i've read you get wet (then cold) toes cuz they can't breath so you sweat....

i also recently bought a scarf thingy.... it has velcro to hold it on (vice the circle ones that you pull on over your head... i pull it up over my mouth when i've cold and breathe through that!

01-18-2005, 09:57 AM
I used to get exercise/cold weather asthma also (hubby had to push me home once). I've found that increasing my fitness level and riding regularly in the cold weather has made it go away. Seems that my lungs are happier with the familiarity rather than the once a year shock so I try to keep to my routine even in the cold. We also keep our thermostat between 58-62 which reduces the shock of going in and out of the cold air (same theory applies in the summer with the AC). They know that people whose jobs take them in and out of heated or air-conditioned buildings have more respiratory problems. I'd rather put on a sweater or add a blanket and keep my lungs happy. My allergies (and therefore, sinus infection rate) has dramatically improved with regular outdoor exercise. At least for me, all these things are tied to fitness and gently perserving to get over the hump. An inhaler can help you with this also.

On the other end, I rode yesterday in stormshield socks because I can't find shoe covers small enough (and that will work with Look cleats). They worked pretty well in combination with toe covers. They are a stretchy breathable, fleece-lined lycra (or neoprene or something) sock. Solved the problem of cold ankles and didn't take up a lot of room in my shoe.

By the way, our nice sponsor carries balaclavas in a "junior" size for us people with small heads. Can't wait to try mine out here in "sunny" California! :(

01-18-2005, 02:06 PM
BRRR! 10 degrees! Has anybody found a better solution to the steel cleat mounting plate inducing frozen feet? All I can do now is those thermal handwarmy things, but that seems kinda band-aid. I am pondering forming some carbon/fiberglass plates instead(it rocks to work at a hot rod shop:D )

01-18-2005, 04:49 PM
Only solution I've found to the steel plate mounting plate that induces frozen feet is not to use it! Revert to old-style pedals and use toe straps. Its not as bad as it sounds - you tend not to go as fast during the winter anyway - keeps the windchill factor down - so not having your feet locked in isn't really that big of a thing. You are then able to wear warmer footwear plus NOT having that frozen hunk of metal stuck on the bottom of your shoe. When it's below 20 degrees, I guess I don't care as much about looks and function as about keeping warm and therefore being able to ride. :cool:


01-18-2005, 08:06 PM
Yeah, I guess that works too. I love being clipped in, but thats why I have the platform SPD. I do use my snow boots when its really bad, but the ride shoes are so much more comfortable(aside from the ice blocks). I need some good insulated boots that are not so huge:rolleyes: , my current ones look almost as fat as my bfs size 11. Good for snow walking though.

01-19-2005, 04:10 AM
Sidi - I think it's Sidi - makes a winter cycling boot that I've heard great things about. I know a couple guys who have them and they say they keep the feet toasty. I haven't tried them. They aren't cheap, over $200, but if you really ride lots in the winter, probably worth it.


01-19-2005, 04:39 AM
Yeah, its Sidi. They look almost like motocross boots. I like them but they are WAAAY beyond my means(stinkin college budget):rolleyes:

01-19-2005, 09:58 AM
depending on how far you're riding - why not try one of those Hot Pad thingys! (wasn't That helpful) You can buy them at like REI or sports stores. Ya know - the things that have some type of gel or something heat reactive in them? (help me out here girls - I'm really struggling!) Denise wears them between her toe covers and shoes. Anyway, you could try putting that over the plate under your foot and see if that help.!

Signed Yours Truly

Corsair -ain't I Helpful?- Mac

01-19-2005, 03:00 PM
Being a Californian and recognizing that we tend to begin to whine when the thermometer starts dipping into the 40's I'm truly impressed with you ladies who ride in really frigid temperatures! Gads, makes me feel quite wimpy:p I think the coldest weather I've ever ridden in was the high 20's and you should have seen me - I looked like the Michelin Man!

01-19-2005, 05:54 PM
Actually I've been using those gel thingys but they cost everytime so I wanted to find a better way. I like the feel of them though.
I was talking about it at the car shop today and one guy suggsted car thermal insulation. It is a mylar foil with a squishy core, all about 1/8 inch thick. I traced out an insole and it initially felt better than the original for squish and it felt warm instantly. I still have to test them, but if it works then that is soo cheap:D It cost me nothing to do it with shop scrap, but the stuff is so cheap at stores anyhow.
I'll let yall know how it goes.:)

01-19-2005, 05:57 PM
Haha, on the Cali chills.;)
We just had a heatwave today with the snow. It got all the way up to 23 deg. It was 8 yesterday.

01-19-2005, 07:44 PM
Well, I know I promised to ride thru this winter...HOWEVER...
on Tuesday morning I got up, put on all of my layers and booties and headed out on my ole faithful winter beater Hardrock. I got about a mile away from home and found I was absolutely freezing despite all my layers and I looked at the sign at the bank
and it read minus 9 degree's. One look at that sign and I promptly got back on my bike and rode fast as I could home to my warm coffee, and even warmer still in bed hubby who tells me I am certifiably nuts! Maybe next week...


01-20-2005, 02:44 AM
Can't you hurt your lungs at minus nine degrees?

01-20-2005, 06:53 AM
Eskimos do it.

Followup, the insulation insoles rock! They feel better than the doctor schols I had in before, and they are warm. :)

01-20-2005, 09:44 AM
I get a really bad cold weather cough (lasts for days!) usually if I've omitted 2 things... 1)regular riding in the cold and 2) chewing gum!
I have no idea why it works, but if I don't chew gum my throat and lungs burn like crazy and as soon as I warm up again, I cough, and cough...:rolleyes:
Can't help with the cold toes, I'm fortunate that I never suffer this (must be awful) and yet I don't particularly wrap my toes up.. just one pair of socks :)

01-20-2005, 01:46 PM
so Sarah: what was it you used again?.....is it the same stuff we use out here in the southwest to keep the sun out of our car windows? the silver/slightly padded stuff? I'm wondering if you could cut it to fit between your foot and the Top of your shoe (or My shoe) to help keep the wind out of the shoe. Some days when I ride in the morning in a head wind, even toe covers and SmartWoolies aren't quite enough. I usually just tough it out coz A) I'm not that far from work and B) it'll be warm by the time I go home! and for the Cali ppl - that would be temps below 25 with a headwind! :-P

sandra b
01-20-2005, 03:23 PM
Use your blow dryer to heat up your shoes for several minutes before putting them on your feet. Also try an insulated insole to go between your foot and your cleat.

I ride to work, unless there is to much snow (don't trust the cars, and can't see the curb). I find I need the booties to keep my ankles warm, but they help the feet too, but not nearly as much as heating the shoes up before I put them on.

When I get dress, I look at the thermometor. 25, I wear a short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, fleece jacket and rain/wind coat. at 19 I put another long sleeved shirt on.

Always have bike shorts, long heavy tights, (two pair at 19) and rain pants for a wind break.

Polortec balaclava, with an additional bandana and earband when it is extra cold. Wool thinsulate mittens, with possible another pair of stretchy gloves inside.

I am not riding really fast, cause of the studded tires, but I manage to stay warm.

Also have an inhaler for the asthma thing. Keep you mouth covered in colder weather. Colder is subjective, depending on what you are used to.

01-21-2005, 05:46 AM
I do the shes in front of the heater religiously but they never stay hot for more than about 20 mins for me. The insulators are like night and day though.

Ditto on the clothing.

01-23-2005, 01:07 PM
"I have no idea why it works, but if I don't chew gum my throat and lungs burn like crazy and as soon as I warm up again, I cough, and cough... "

I found out the same thing. I always have to cover my mouth when I go out. The gum helps with moisture. Cold air is usually pretty dry, plus you may be mouth breathing which dries you out even faster.

I don't have studs and there is packed snow just about everywhere. This is my first winter trying to ride at least once a week. Last week it never got about 11 degrees. This week we got 10+ inches of snow. I am guessing this will be another no ride week.

01-28-2005, 08:40 AM
You guys completely intimidate me! I was very impressed with myself because I rode my bike on the trainer in the garage today (30 degrees in the garage, 10 degrees outside). Even so, after 30 minutes my toes started to freeze. So thanks for the suggestions for keeping the feet warm.

01-28-2005, 09:50 AM
hey, folks! I can barely keep up - our temps are all in celcius, so the conversions make it nearly impossible to follow this thread! hahahaha I pretty much don't ride in the winter. Our roads are narrow, rough and horrible at the best of times, and in the winter have either lots of snow on the shoulders of lots of residue from the sanding, gravelling, salting and plowing. This particular year we had more snow than usual in December and -20 ish temps, two weeks ago we dropped to the mid -30's, then we hit +12 on Sunday with rain. We were vacuuming up the runoff out of our basement suite all weekend!! This week we've been very close to zero, give or take, with only gentle thawing of what little is left of the snow. For once in a long time, it looks like we'll ride our mountain bikes in January!!! The plan is, as long as it's 3 or more, and not raining, to do a road loop on Sunday. And I'm really looking forward to it!!

I"m seriously impressed with anybody who rides in subzero temperatures! You girls rock!! Generally, I just do the walk to work thing. Since my commute by bike is around 7 minutes to work and 15 minutes to get home, but my walk is about a half hour each way, I use the theory that I'm burning more calories and helping my fitness more by walking than by riding!! And, yes, if I'm not recovering from a stomach flu, I'll still walk in -30 and colder! ;)

Here's to all you healthy, fit women!!


01-28-2005, 01:25 PM
Actually I was Just thinking about this thread the past few days while commuting! (since the site was down and I couldn't chat with ya'll). I've started standing on the pedals for every steep hill I climb and am learning - you can't ride any faster than you can suck air into your lungs! As an asthmatic, if I can't get enough air into my lungs I'll start coughing and hacking! (quite pretty to listen to I'm sure) and when I have my mouth covered it helps with the asthma but it makes it even harder to suck air in. So I tailor my rides to keep those old lungs inflated and working! Just a thought!

02-11-2005, 09:20 AM
i had to laugh the other day... i'm a couple months behind on bicycling magazine (hubby hordes that one the way i horde maximum PX).. anyways.. there was an article on cold weather riding.. and comments from different people from different parts of the country.. and the califoria quote sounded like it coulda come from me! i think 50 degrees is too cold to ride!!!!!!!!! :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

02-11-2005, 09:45 AM
50 deg as too cold to ride! :eek:

That reminds me of a ride a friend & I took this fall. Probably in the high 40's, wind, no sun. We agreed that come spring, that day would be considered to hot to ride.

OK, we were exagerating, but not by much.

Me, I wilt above about 70.

Going out for lunch (on bikes) today with DH. Snow on the ground, (I hope it's off the streets), wind, low 40's - yeah, I'm good.

02-11-2005, 10:00 AM
Me, I wilt above about 70.

lol! well.. i started riding in the middle of the summer in the desert.. so i got very used to riding in 100+ degrees! granted i go very early on weekends and wait til about 7 on work nights (but it's still over 100 a lot of those evenings!)

to me the perfect ride is the mid 80's... i wear a jacket in the 70's (never took off my undershirt OR my jacket last weekend at the tour de palm springs.. also had on tights, toe warmers and full finger polypro gloves and ear warmer head band! i'm a W-I-M-P! it got into the low 70's but no sun all day! actually perfect wearther (IMHO) for a 1st century!

02-11-2005, 10:10 AM
I'm with MomOnBike; anything over 70 degrees is too hot! The only thing I hate worse than the heat is wind. I base my choice of bike path on which way the wind is coming from. But, back to temperature. I had some problems riding in the 50 degree range until I got better clothing. But appropriate clothing didn't help me much with the heat. In Ohio it is so humid in the summer, that 85 degrees with 80% humidity just kills me. I haven't found much of a solution for that problem. I'd much rather ride when it's cool.

02-11-2005, 10:17 AM
i can put on a gizzilion clothes and i'm STILL miserable in my perception of cold! heck.. i have PI amfib claw gloves for my "cold" days!

i truly feels it's where we live and what we are used to on a daily basis! i actually never thought i'd ride in the summer.. but i love it.. my mother is shocked that i will get out and ride in the cold! (she knows how i am!)