It’s that time of year where I post about my cold-weather bike rides. This morning was my coldest ride of the season (thus far) so I’m just sharing a few quick stats and notes.
- Time of day: 7:10am – 8:00am
- Temperature: (average) 7°F
- Wind chill: (average) -6°F
- Conditions: partly cloudy
- Distance ridden: 7.75 miles
- Bike: ’93 Rockhopper with Schwalbe Marathon studded tires, Pedaling Innovations “Catalyst” flat pedals, flat bars with Bar Mitts
- Head: fleece balaclava, “North Face” stretchy fleece head band, cheap UVEX safety glasses, helmet
- Torso: Arm warmers, merino wool t-shirt, thin synthetic long sleeve pullover (“32° Heat” brand), winter cycling jersey (Canari brand), windbreaker jacket
- Legs: Performance Triflex winter cycling pants
- Feet: Wool hiking socks, cotton boot socks (top layer), Keen hiking boots with fleecy warming insoles
- Hands: Gore-tex windproof cycling gloves with inner liner
This setup worked really well for about an hour of riding. I frequently have had issues with cold toes in the past, and adding insulated insoles to my boots seems to have really helped with this. I won’t say my toes were warm when I arrived at work, but they were not freezing either, which is an improvement over past rides I’ve taken in similar conditions. In lieu of wearing two layers of socks, I may consider buying a pair of more heavily-insulated wool socks for cold-weather cycling only, and seeing how they work out.
The cheap UVEX safety glasses also seem to be a winner. When I wear my regular cycling glasses with the balaclava, they have to go underneath, which allows more cold air to get in around my face (making descents a bit unpleasant). They also fog up constantly, so I end up sliding them down my nose so I can see, thus defeating their purpose. The safety glasses fit over the balaclava, and my helmet straps hold them in place. I did not have nearly as much trouble with fogging today, although based on what I wrote last year, the extreme cold may have had something to do with that. I’m curious to see how the safety glasses do in more moderate conditions.
I want to pick up a vented balaclava to replace the one I have been using. It seems to be plenty warm enough, but my breath condenses on the inside and then freezes. While this is not as uncomfortable as it sounds, I think a mouth/nose vent would eliminate this problem. Today, I also added a fleece headband, which I think helped a bit with air infiltration.
Two issues I have noticed with my bike in this kind of weather: first, the grease in my derailleur pulley bushings hardens up, and they squeak like banshees. Silicone spray seems to be a good short-term fix. Second, my 1993-vintage freehub occasionally “misses”, which is jarring and kind of annoying. The colder it gets, the more it seems to happen. It might finally be getting to time to replace these old hubs. I certainly have gotten my money’s worth out of them.