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  1. #1
    No one calls me Maurice.
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    What's your threshold for cold?

    I may be the wimp in the crowd, but it's been below 10 F when I leave for work since Wednesday and my current threshold for cold seems to be about 15 F. Just can't keep the face warm without fogging the glasses. Everything else seems relatively easy to cover/protect with normal winter gear. I've tried several balaclavas but there doesn't seem to be a good balance of warmth/wind blocking/breathability that's compatible with prescription classes. So my questions are: What's your threshold? and What do you do to protect your face if you wear glasses in temps below 15 F?

  2. #2
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    today has been my coldest ride to date, at about 11F. So far no lower limit. I wore a thin summer Buff on my head. Only thing on my face was my beard, and I never felt uncomfortably cold on my face. My feet, OTOH...I need some winter boots if I want to go colder. The forecast this winter seems to suggest the possibility of more snow rides, and possibly colder ones. My feet were REALLY uncomfortable today. Otherwise, I was quite warm.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/8007861@N04/11253543984/" title="First Snow Ride of Winter 2013/2014 7 Dec 2013 by mtbikernate, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3714/11253543984_77fa292983.jpg" width="281" height="500" alt="First Snow Ride of Winter 2013/2014 7 Dec 2013"></a>

    My glasses kept trying to fog up on me, and I had a persistent spot of fog in the center of my visual field that was annoying. But keeping my glasses just away from my face to improve ventilation kept the fog from overcoming the entire lens. I wear Oakley Jawbones, BTW.

  3. #3
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    So far 3F.

    I wore basic light mountaineering/sking clothing and I was very warm.

    -Sorel boots with two pairs of wool socks
    -underarmor cold gear base bottoms with Mountain Hardware softshell pants
    -synthetic t-shirt, Patagonia R1 hoody and pull over mid-weight down puffy.

    Nothing on my face and I used the helmet hoody from the R1 under my helmet. Ski gloves on my hands and I felt warm for a 2 hour ride. It's -3 out now, going to try and get a ride in today to see if Pogies will every be necessary. I didn't feel it necessary to wear glasses- wasn't riding fast and didn't want to worry about fogging.
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  4. #4
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    Six below zero f. The dogs threshold is lower yet.

    What's your threshold for cold?-first_snow_004.jpg


    What's your threshold for cold?-bert_002.jpg

  5. #5
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    When I lived elsewhere I did commutes as low as about 20 below (F). I wear glasses and used a baklava with one cutout that I could cover and uncover my nose with, also leather wool lined mittens. If I'd thought of it or if they were available then I would have for sure used Moose mitts or something like that.

    Once it got below a certain temperature it didn't seem to matter much if it was 0 or -15, if I dressed right I was fine.

  6. #6
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    I can comfortably ride off road in 15F weather. I've been out in colder temps but the feet start to feel it.

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  7. #7
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    About 40F, anything below that I get bad asthma and my lungs just burn. Also I have no body fat so it takes a lot of layers to keep me warm. I have yet to find a pair of gloves that can keep my fingers warm.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by honns View Post
    About 40F, anything below that I get bad asthma and my lungs just burn. Also I have no body fat so it takes a lot of layers to keep me warm. I have yet to find a pair of gloves that can keep my fingers warm.
    Doesn't have much to do with body fat. I have low body fat, and I am a furnace. Love it this time of year, but it can suck for summer riding.

  9. #9
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    Maybe my heart is just two sizes too small...

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    Quote Originally Posted by honns View Post
    Maybe my heart is just two sizes too small...
    How muscular are you? Muscle mass raises your metabolism, which generates heat. I don't have a ton of muscle, but am reasonably muscular being 5'8, 170lbs, and ~10% body fat. Also, the TYPE of layers you wear makes a big difference how warm you stay. Your fabric choices, insulation choices, wind blocking choices all play a role. Keeping your core/torso warm is paramount. In this weather, my torso and my hips get more layers than my arms and legs. I wore Gore-tex ski gloves with smartwool liners today. My hands were plenty warm. Pogies/bar mitts may be a better choice for you if you have glove issues. Glove sizing is important. If your fingers press to the end of the glove fingers, your fingers WILL get cold no matter how thick the gloves. Restricting blood flow in your extremities WILL make you cold. Don't cram too-thick socks into your shoes. You're better off using plastic grocery bags as a vapor barrier layer than you are cramming thick socks into tight shoes.

    None of those things will address your lungs, but maybe a face mask that somewhat warms the air you inhale will help for that.

  11. #11
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    50 degrees.............

    No bragging about how I go out in sub-zero temperatures. Wimp? Probably. Skier? Hell yes! When it gets cold enough I have other things to do. I.E. teach skiing on weekends, ski just about every day between weekends. God I love snow! Just got back from a morning on snow and thought I would see what was going on at MTBR.

  12. #12
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    My threshold is about 40-45 degrees. I live in SLO and if is too cold to wear flip flops, then the masses start to revolt.. Its been pretty cold here relatively speaking and its been tough to find the motivation.. I need to find more cold weather gear.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    How muscular are you?
    6' 130 lbs, 3.5%-ish body fat. I have tried all kinds of gloves/layers of gloves. Lobster, mittens, 5 finger gloves, windproof and waterproof. Couldn't find any that worked. I learned the lesson about constriction through this as well. I had like 3 gloves on (way too tight, obviously), and nearly lost control before I took one pair out which allowed circulation.

    Its a shame, but I've just not found biking in the cold very enjoyable.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by honns View Post
    6' 130 lbs, 3.5%-ish body fat. I have tried all kinds of gloves/layers of gloves. Lobster, mittens, 5 finger gloves, windproof and waterproof. Couldn't find any that worked. I learned the lesson about constriction through this as well. I had like 3 gloves on (way too tight, obviously), and nearly lost control before I took one pair out which allowed circulation.



    Its a shame, but I've just not found biking in the cold very enjoyable.
    How did you calculate 3.5% body fat?! If that's true you need a hamburger... or 15!
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Streetdoctor View Post
    How did you calculate 3.5% body fat?! If that's true you need a hamburger... or 15!
    One of those electric meter things. I realize its not super accurate, but I've never been over 5% by any measure, including my dr.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by honns View Post
    One of those electric meter things. I realize its not super accurate, but I've never been over 5% by any measure, including my dr.
    I have had caliper measurements done, and found them close to my Tanita monitor. 3.5% is SERIOUSLY thin, though. Still, at your height AND weight, you're working against physics. You have a high surface area to volume ratio, and it will be exceedingly difficult for you to maintain your body temp in very low ambient temps, physiology aside (and assuming you could stoke your internal fire enough to warm up, you'd have to consume more calories than I would to maintain that temp). If you can bulk yourself up (fat or muscle, or preferably both), you'd find yourself more comfortable in the cold.

    Changing your body composition aside, you're a perfect candidate for pogies/bar mitts. You can still wear gloves inside them. I think I'd like a couple sets (one for the mtb and another for my drop bar commuter) so I don't have to wear the ski gloves and get better dexterity on the shifters.

  17. #17
    Norðwegr
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    Coldest I've been riding in was -20c (-4f), that went alright due to proper clothing.
    Ideally I don't like it being below -10c though.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forster View Post
    What do you do to protect your face if you wear glasses in temps below 15 F?
    The type of lenses you are wearing makes a big difference. I've found smaller lenses that don't hug your face work best. I have a pair of Oakley Radarlocks with a vented path lense (smaller lense) and a unvented Pitch lense (bigger lense). The smaller lenses hardly fog up and the bigger ones will fog if I don't have a side wind.

  19. #19
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    How low will you go?
    A curious biker wants to know.

    Morals are not the question here,
    but how low a temp do you fear?

    20, 15, 10 degrees or so,
    what degree is just too low?

    I was out today at 23,
    rode in fleece and not a tee.

    Covered fingers, nose and toes,
    suffered no frostbitten woes.

    Could maybe go to 10 degrees,
    and still ride among the trees.

    Can't abide getting a wind chill,
    too cold for that kind of thrill.

    So the answer to one who wants to know,
    teens are okay without any snow.

    One final thought to proffer,
    hot tub warming I'd like to offer.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimed2045 View Post
    How low will you go?
    A curious biker wants to know.

    Morals are not the question here,
    but how low a temp do you fear?

    20, 15, 10 degrees or so,
    what degree is just too low?

    etc
    Your poem was spot on jimed2045 ! Good work

    Singlesprocket and I were riding our local trails today.

    -6c (21f) and wind chill -12c (10.4f)

    Yup it was cold but it isn't the coldest ride we've ever done. For those rides I need to wear my ski pants and ski jacket and thats probably a few weeks away. I don't think we've ever reached a point where we haven't ridden because of the cold. What usually stops us is when the snow is too deep. And actual extreme cold makes for the best conditions for ice biking and we can ride on the river.

    Gosh it's still 2 weeks before the first day of winter
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  21. #21
    No one calls me Maurice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wetpaint View Post
    The type of lenses you are wearing makes a big difference. I've found smaller lenses that don't hug your face work best. I have a pair of Oakley Radarlocks with a vented path lense (smaller lense) and a unvented Pitch lense (bigger lense). The smaller lenses hardly fog up and the bigger ones will fog if I don't have a side wind.
    I had smaller Bolles but switched to a slightly larger Columbia frame due to my eyes watering. I've been thinking about getting Wiley-Xs . Anyone have experience with those?

    As far as deep-diving into motivation to bike verses another sport, eastern Nebraska gets very few XC ski worthy snows and I've only had the snow shoes out 5 times in the last 5 years. Since I run as little as possible (back issues) and would rather not live in the Gym, riding to work creates two+ hours of exercise for just more than one hour of commitment (after subtracting the 30 minute drive each way).

    Shoes-wise, I'm using some cheap neoprene shoe covers made by Performance Bike that are probably 10 years old and holding. Several buddies are using Seal Socks and duct-tape toe covers with good success.

  22. #22
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    i live in northern california. in thirty years, the coldest i've seen it at night is about twenty five degrees. i have been on mt tam when there were remnants of snowfall on the ground; i do not know what the temperature was.

    in 1998 or 99 i was riding with friends in san francisco's golden gate park while a (rare) light snow was falling. so how cold does it have to be to snow?

    that's my threshold...

  23. #23
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    Warning: Consumption of alcohol may make you think the person on the barstool next to you is attractive

  24. #24
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    40 degrees for me. I've spent time biking in both Pennsylvania and Arizona attempting to bike in the winter. I do better in Phoenix winter riding where it is usually very comfortable riding conditions.
    I have a name for my pain and call it "dog".

  25. #25
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    Anything below 20 degrees F is tough. That is when I ride on the trainer and watch football (while riding).

  26. #26
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    At between 35 and 40 degrees around the 45 min mark my toes are done. I've been thinking of trying flat pedals and Sorrels to possibly go longer.
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  27. #27
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    I'm a wuss with bad circulation in my hands and feet. So it's gotta be around 35F. Might push it a bit lower if there's full sun and no wind.
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  28. #28
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    from my commute to work earlier this week. The next day it was 4.
    Id have to say them alaskan boys are nuts at -20
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  29. #29
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    Yeah, Alaska does make a Colorado winter seem balmy. I can just choose to stay inside on those few days where it's below -30*F, pretty much have to -- gotta babysit those pipes, or help neighbors thaw theirs out. Below that, gear starts to break anyway. Or, you can get your truck started 'cuz it's plugged in, but the power steering's frozen solid... I remember learning to alpine-ski the winter the Broncos made their first Super Bowl, at 43 below, in a pair of hand-me-down leather ski boots. Lesson learned -- I've never let my feet get cold enough for frostbite, since. Mostly by staying inside when it's that cold, like a sane person...
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  30. #30
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    Here in So-Cal, I sometimes ride up in the local Mtns in the Winter, and I have ridden in the 20's. As a general rule, I ride anything in the 50's and up. If I am on an Epic like Cannell, I am ok with it really cold at the start, since it tends to warm up as I descend. Last Spring we rode Cannell Trail it was 21 degrees at the top, and my hands were in pain, but it got better...

  31. #31
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    Rode in 25* temps today. Ive done colder but thats about as cold as I wanna go unless Im really desperate to ride.
    No moss...

  32. #32
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    I just started riding in the cold, and have been working my way down in temp and learning to find the right combination of riding clothes/gear. A biggie for me has been getting my feet to stay warm. I finally bought a pair of Shimano SW81 winter riding shoes and a pair of DeFeet Woolie Boolies. Those are awesome. I rode with them yesterday (21º) and today (27º) and my feet stayed warm enough to enjoy the ride. I don't know if I will ride below 20º. I start having problems with my glasses fogging from breathing under a balaclava.

    What's your threshold for cold?-1441387_246031482228164_861315565_n.jpg

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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaceTripper View Post
    I start having problems with my glasses fogging from breathing under a balaclava.
    Yep, that's the problem right there. I have to pull my balaclava down below my lower lip or it just fogs up my glasses and caused ice to form on the balaclava. I've ridden in temps down to -20 F and haven't had any problems with my nose or cheeks getting cold but I only stay out about an hour when it's that cold. My "normal" low riding temps are closer to zero F.

    Hands: Moose mitts are the answer.
    Feet: Lake or Shimano winter riding boots if you really want to stay clipped in. Get a size or two larger than you wear so you'll have room for thick socks and 1/4" felt insole without restricting circulation as others have mentioned. Regular thick, insulated boots work well with flats.

    I use regular oversized cycling shoes with two pairs of socks (one medium weight smart wool sock with a lighter merino wool sock underneath it with a chemical toe warmer between them and a piece of neoprene under the sole liner where the cleat is (this is a serious heat sink), all covered with the fleece lined neoprene booties from Performance or Nashbar over the whole mess. This works pretty well down to about zero but my toes still get cold if I'm out longer than an hour with sub zero temps.

    I think I'm going to ask Santa for some of these this Christmas.
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  34. #34
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    What's your threshold for cold?

    Depends on a number if factors for me (wind being one of the top considerations). According to my Tanita scale- 13% body fat on my 195 lb. carcass.

    Around 25 F, I typically wear a balaclava. My hands go numb for the first ~15 mins of a ride at lower temps and then are fine as long as I keep moving. My feet start off warm and eventually get cold after 3+ hours (for longer rides, I use foot warmers). This was yesterday (and it was ~26 F)


  35. #35
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    -40F or -40C
    Funny how they are the same at that point.
    That's as cold I've ever experienced but I think I could manage colder even. If there's no wind. -40 and wind would be pretty bad for anyone.

  36. #36
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    As far as riding with a balaclava, it just takes riding with one made for use with goggles. Klim makes what they call their Arctic and it has a large opening for air exchange that still protects your face. Used with a pair of Spice goggles, it works very well.

    Temperature doesn't matter.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphazz View Post
    As far as riding with a balaclava, it just takes riding with one made for use with goggles. Klim makes what they call their Arctic and it has a large opening for air exchange that still protects your face. Used with a pair of Spice goggles, it works very well.

    Temperature doesn't matter.
    Klim Arctic Balaclava Review at RevZilla.com - YouTube
    That's a great idea, makes me wonder if I couldn't mod one of my existing balaclavas (to avoid the additional insulation below the jacket).

  38. #38
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    Not sure where my bottom limit is, but I know I'm good down to -10C or so. It was -8C (13F) when I hit the trail this morning. Chilly but not bad once I got going. I wore a wool base layer with a long sleeve jersey with a cycling shell on top; compression shorts + G-form knee pads and knee length ski socks under lightly lined nylon splash pants and my 5-10 Impacts; thin wool toque under my helmet and a pair of light ski gloves. The trails I ride this time of year are pretty sheltered and they're also pretty technical which means low speed/high effort, so after about 10 minutes I was plenty warm and by 20 minutes in I was sweating and had to ditch the toque.

    I've lived in a cool-cold climate all my life so I'm pretty accustomed to it. Flip side is that I blow up pretty fast when it gets warm. If it's over 20C (67F) it's getting too warm for me and I get exertion headaches and such.

    I love riding this time of year. Frozen dirt but no snow makes for hero trail condtions after a soul sucking, rainy autumn.

  39. #39
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    For the glasses people, have you tried one of the fog clothes made for skiing? I use that, along with my ski helmet and ski goggles, which are designed to go over the glasses, and have a fan built into them. The combo seems to work.

  40. #40
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    I've had issues with balacavas and fogging with regular sunglasses. This is what I'm experimenting with now.



    In terms of too low, I really haven't met it. I rode at -5F this weekend for about an hour. It wasn't that bad. I'll certainly do it again.

  41. #41
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    I'll ride in the digits.

    I got some Shimano winter shoes, but I really should have gotten the Lakes. Below 15F I have to tape chemical hand-warmers to the top of my shoes.

    Doing that, I can do the 15 mile low-mid angle climb, and that damn 15 mile descent, that comprises my morning ride.
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  42. #42
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    When I lived in Ohio, I rode as long as it was warmer than -10F. It's all about keeping your hands and feet warm. The other parts of the body are easy. What I learned:

    Cotton kills
    Thin layers are better than thick ones
    Moisture, be it from the weather or your body, is bad
    Gore tex socks rock
    You are properly dressed if your body is shivering when you are first starting your ride

    Now, I live in California and riding below freezing temps is rare. All you have to do is change the elevation you are riding to find the right climatic zone.

  43. #43
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    Ridden down to 12 deg.

    Will ride colder if necessary.

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  44. #44
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    25 F is my lowest.... cant keep my feet warm below that..... plus I love drinking MORE beer in the winter....

  45. #45
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    I don't have a limit for cold so far. I think the coldest I've ridden in was single digit temps. I do have a limit for wind, especially when riding on the road/open trails. Sustained winds over 20 - 25 mph, I'll stay inside, thank you. You can always put more/better clothes on to keep warm, but even with windproof layers, the wind finds some way to make you uncomfortable. Plus, being blown around is no fun.
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  46. #46
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    Around 18-20F so far. As everyone else has said so far, it's all about the hands and feet. I just bought these shoes, so we will see how that goes.


    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails What's your threshold for cold?-shimano-wm81-winter-cycling-mountain-bike-shoe2.jpg  


  47. #47
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    With Freezing rain forecast for Saturday I think I'll worry less about the temp and more about the survivability issue. As much as I'd like to think I could control my bike on slick surfaces, I trust cars on ice as far as I can throw one (not very far).

  48. #48
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    What's your threshold for cold?

    As a California native, 40F or 50F start feeling cold. 60F or above isn't too bad. You other state people are tough!

  49. #49
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    SS Hack, I think "tough" in this case is a matter of acclimatization more than fortitude. My Senior year of High School I worked in a gas station in eastern Nebraska that was about 30 miles away (20 on the interstate) an I rode that daily for a year on a Yamaha 250 with no real technical clothing (just layers of sweatpants and thermal long johns). I was miserable for the entire winter but my tolerance for cold was better the next winter doing normal stuff. I think most folks get used to a certain level of suck if given the necessity.

  50. #50
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    I'm pretty much at my limit now. 18 degrees, but the real problem is the thawed yesterday and now refrozen slush on the ground everywhere. Was snow, now it's all rutted up ice..
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