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  1. #1
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    Effort in the cold???

    We all know that no human can run up mount Everest.
    In high altitude each step requires more effort than at sea level.
    I kind of remember reading something similar about the cold??
    Around here we have big swings in cold-warm weather.
    I felt like my fat was not rolling enough.
    Is it due to colder temperatures outside?
    Thanks.
    PS. I am pretty sure it was not tire pressure.

  2. #2
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    I agree with that. I was out in some-30 c while back. Things get a bit heavy feeling

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  3. #3
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    I know that after my heart attack, I was told I was not supposed to ride when the temp was below 20*F because it is more strenuous...which also sux cause that is my most favorite climate to ride in.

    I do notice that it 3 miles in the cold/snow feels like 6 miles in moderate temps in the end...I do also feel it has to do with the tire pressure...at least in my case...in moderate temps I run around 17psi (on my 29+ Krampus w/ Surly Knards), and usually keep this pressure in the cold. In the snow, I will go down to 7-8 psi.

    I do think it is different for different people
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  4. #4
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    It's probably your tire pressure!

    But seriously, cold air is dense and full of good ole oxygen, which is good, especially when we are at low altitude, but besides attempting to stay warm (which takes calories), you are fighting significantly more rolling resistance, weight that makes it difficult to accelerate, wind resistance from bigger frontal area and more dense air, mushy trails that sap energy, etc.
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  5. #5
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    A typical loop that takes me 45 minutes in the summer, takes me twice that when it is -10 F, even with good snow conditions. It took me about 5 years of getting used to it before I could even ride in -10 F temps. Totally different challenge/workout than summer riding.

    Some people seem to be able to go the same speed/effort summer or winter. Not me. I am jealous of them.

  6. #6
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    No difference except I'm generally not in as good of shape as I am in the summer. It may take a ride or two to get adjusted to the cold air, but I don't feel the temperature affects my riding.

    Granted I do almost no racing in the winter, but I'm just as happy to do a 4 hour leg punishing ride in 5 degree weather. The hardest part is keeping my water from freezing.
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  7. #7
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    Honestly, I don't think the cold does much of anything in terms of effort, it's everything else, the rolling resistance, the modulating output to not overheat or changing layers to allow max output, etc. Breathing in the cold air is great IMO and IME you never sweat like in the summer, so you stay mostly dry and not skanky. Go ride for a few hours in Bentonville in the middle of the summer like I did and mother of god, you are just soaked all the way through from head to toe. I don'y enjoy that. I'm not talking about -40 temps here, but even in those temps I'd think the issues of rolling/bearing resistance, fogging, ice, weight, and so on, are the real issues. If you start to get cold your performance will decrease, you can't shift as easy, use the brakes as easy, but assuming you have the right clothes, I don't see many issues.

    On Everest you are battling extremely low % of oxygen, above what is it, like 20,000, you are essentially dying and it's a race of time before your body gives out. That's why each step is so hard. I don't know what the % of the oxygen in their body ends up being when they use masks, but I'm sure they aren't using pressure-demand systems that force oxygen into your lungs under pressure, so it's probably pretty diluted even when they are using oxygen and the extreme fatigue of having climbed before that in low oxygen up to the 20,000 foot level. Then there's the extreme cold where we are talking easily colder than -40 and having to balance the weight of what you are carrying with the calories you need, up there where your body isn't working all that great and you are trying to survive on soup or something, it's a recipe once again for your body breaking down. I don't think that has much to do with riding bikes in the cold, you just aren't facing the same issues.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    It's probably your tire pressure!

    But seriously, cold air is dense and full of good ole oxygen, which is good, especially when we are at low altitude, but besides attempting to stay warm (which takes calories), you are fighting significantly more rolling resistance, weight that makes it difficult to accelerate, wind resistance from bigger frontal area and more dense air, mushy trails that sap energy, etc.
    Cold air is also a potential asthma trigger and can make it harder to breathe due to lack of humidity, histamine generation, and excess mucus production. It's not too uncommon to see it negatively impact an individual.

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  9. #9
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    I ride quite a bit in the cold. Sometimes even at -10f. I have PRs in the cold. I think three or four things are at play. It takes getting used to. And not one or two or three rides either. Another is that the conditions are never the same. On rare occasions cold frozen ground can have great grip, and may be better than dry or wet conditions. Another is that tire pressures fall as you ride in the cold. I see 1-3 psi drops from my cool garage to the icy trail. Sure you didn't set a low pressure, but you got it. Finally it takes a lot of skill to dress right. I can sweat worse than a 90f day if I get the combo wrong.

  10. #10
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    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    It's probably your tire pressure!

    But seriously, cold air is dense and full of good ole oxygen, which is good, especially when we are at low altitude, but besides attempting to stay warm (which takes calories), you are fighting significantly more rolling resistance, weight that makes it difficult to accelerate, wind resistance from bigger frontal area and more dense air, mushy trails that sap energy, etc.
    I think you got it. Months ago i read about more dense air but i figured at my average speed it is about non significant. But when we add much bigger clothes and more dense air the forces slowing me down are different than warmer days.
    Usually i just enjoy riding alone not caring about time nor speed but occasionnaly to catch my train i kind of sprint for 13 minutes. Over the last 6 weeks 3 times i felt slower than normal. Ounce it was because of some headwinds, ounce lower tire pressure and probably the other time was that cold factor.
    Here the altitude is low and mostly cold days are sunny days that i realy enjoy.

  11. #11
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    Perhaps tyres are less supple at really low temperatures.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    On Everest you are battling extremely low % of oxygen, above what is it, like 20,000, you are essentially dying and it's a race of time before your body gives out. That's why each step is so hard. I don't know what the % of the oxygen in their body ends up being when they use masks, but I'm sure they aren't using pressure-demand systems that force oxygen into your lungs under pressure, so it's probably pretty diluted even when they are using oxygen and the extreme fatigue of having climbed before that in low oxygen up to the 20,000 foot level. Then there's the extreme cold where we are talking easily colder than -40 and having to balance the weight of what you are carrying with the calories you need, up there where your body isn't working all that great and you are trying to survive on soup or something, it's a recipe once again for your body breaking down. I don't think that has much to do with riding bikes in the cold, you just aren't facing the same issues.
    A quick correction: the percentage of oxygen being breathed at the summit of Everest is the same as at sea level, it's the air pressure that is lower. At the summit of Everest it's roughly 30% of that at sea level. It's air pressure that drives oxygen and gas exchange through the lung walls so the lower pressure leads to a reduced oxygen uptake in the blood.

    Supplementary oxygen systems typically use masks that mix ambient air with the oxygen from the tank but the actual flow rate is limited purely because it wouldn't be possible to carry that amount of oxygen on a climb. What the systems do is basically bump the percentage of oxygen presented to the body up from 21% to 30% or higher depending on the flow rate. This has the effect of lowering the apparent altitude by up to 2000 metres.

    Altitude has many curious effects on the human body - one of which is reduced fertility on both men and women. For example women often exhibit amenorrhea, i.e. they don't menstruate, also polyandry is/was commonly practiced in high level communities due to lower male fertility.

    Apologies for the sidetrack

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33red View Post
    We all know that no human can run up mount Everest.
    In high altitude each step requires more effort than at sea level.
    I kind of remember reading something similar about the cold??
    Around here we have big swings in cold-warm weather.
    I felt like my fat was not rolling enough.
    Is it due to colder temperatures outside?
    Thanks.
    PS. I am pretty sure it was not tire pressure.
    Sidetrack#2 (never say never)
    The Man Who Ran Up Mount Everest ó Twice!
    Kilian Jornet wrote in his website, "I want to show that we are part of this world, neither less nor more important, but complementary."

    Failure, for him, is an opportunity to try again. He says he fails about 50 percent of the time in his most daring projects, either because of adverse weather conditions or to physical limitations. That only motivates him to try harder the next time.

  14. #14
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    This article is roughly 20 years old (though the website has been prettied-up more recently) and sums it up pretty well. Not sure if I entirely agree with the conclusions (for example, I am sure the three layers on my legs yesterday slowed me down significantly compared to the 1/2 layer in the summer), but it is a detailed analysis:

    https://www.icebike.org/this-is-why-...in-the-winter/
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  15. #15
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    I am usually hungrier after a winter ride than a summer ride. what ever that means.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob_w View Post
    A quick correction: the percentage of oxygen being breathed at the summit of Everest is the same as at sea level,
    Well, I didn't qualify it by saying % of oxygen within the air, I was referring to actual number of molecules (which drives the partial pressure), which I'd hope would be the normal assumption here. There is, undoubtedly, less oxygen in a given parcel of air at 20,000'. The partial pressure is so low at high altitude that while there is still "oxygen" in the air, it's not at a higher pressure than in your lungs and therefore it doesn't move into your blood because the partial pressure outside is lower than your body.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Well, I didn't qualify it by saying % of oxygen within the air, I was referring to actual number of molecules (which drives the partial pressure), which I'd hope would be the normal assumption here. There is, undoubtedly, less oxygen in a given parcel of air at 20,000'. The partial pressure is so low at high altitude that while there is still "oxygen" in the air, it's not at a higher pressure than in your lungs and therefore it doesn't move into your blood because the partial pressure outside is lower than your body.

    Well played sir!

  18. #18
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    I am pretty sure it is not the cold.

    If you have ridden in cold, compacted snow (take 8" deep heavy snow and hammer it down to 4") on regular tires you can feel that you are going almost as fast as on dirt.

    Never mind that you're wearing layers of clothing, which weighs more and restricts movement...
    but air down your tires,
    start riding on mush,
    double the width of your tires,
    and implement a frame that can fit those wide tires

    ...you are now doing some real work. There's not much coasting.

    -F

    PS - plus, our "highest" point around here is about 1234' above sea level. More often we exist between 800'-1000'. Lots of air down here.
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  19. #19
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    Studies show a decrease in strength and coordination as muscles get cold. Here is one example: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1114656.pdf

    To keep muscles warm one needs to add clothing. Clothing takes energy to move. Then there is added weight and wind resistance...

    While I have not charted it, my sense from my ride data is that going from 70 degrees to 40 degrees will knock down my average speed by as much as 5%. That is with the same bike setup (no air pressure or riding surface change)

  20. #20
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    From the A Passion for Riding in the Cold thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by cookieMonster View Post
    I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say I'm "passionate" about riding in the cold, but I'm definitely passionate enough about riding in general that I'm willing to do it in pretty extreme conditions.

    The "Everest in a month" goal is pretty cool! I've done about 10,000' of climbing in January so far; not a lot of opportunities to do more, unfortunately. Almost all of those rides were in the dark, before work.

    Where I live, XC skiers think they exclusively own all of the national forest, and they're in cahoots with forest managers, so fatbiking is seen as a crime in most places. My wife and sister-in-law have even been told on more than once occasion by XC skiers they shouldn't walk or run on the trails (trails that they grew up hiking as kids). Lovely situation we have here in Montana; us natives being told by transplants/newcomers we aren't welcome on our own trails. /rant

    On the few trails that are legal, I have to wait until they're compacted by hikers after every snow storm. I don't have a fat bike, just 2.5" Minions. Once it's compacted, I go faster than the fat bikers both up and down, according to Strava. Most of January has been pretty good, but we just received over 12" of snow in the last few weeks, so no riding for a while.

    My temperature cutoff is 10 degrees Fahrenheit. My bar mitts definitely keep my hands warm, but I always sweat while climbing, and when it's colder than that it's really hard to get the right combination of clothing that doesn't result in me getting wet and then freezing on the descent.
    ...suggesting that it's not the cold. It's the heavy bikes with giant tires.

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  21. #21
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    Heavy bikes with big tires on loose snow are slower than lighter bikes on modest tires in packed snow, yes.

    However...

    It took me 25 minutes to get to work today at -24F. In the summer itís an easy 15 minute ride on the same bike. Heavy clothes, dense air and stiff rubber on the tires all make a huge difference.


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  22. #22
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    I am much faster when its cold. I prefer the temperature a few degrees celcius below freezing.

    Its strange because im not even fat but i overheat very fast and i hate it when im all sweaty. Yesterday i biked more than four hours in the snow with only a thin t-shirt and a summer jacked. And even then i opened the zipper of the jack more than once.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473 View Post

    It took me 25 minutes to get to work today at -24F...


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    That totally exposes my mangina. I didn't really like driving 25 minutes in -24 this morning. Ride it? Nah.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueCheesehead View Post
    That totally exposes my mangina. I didn't really like driving 25 minutes in -24 this morning. Ride it? Nah.
    I must admit, I did not ride yesterday in St Paul. However, I saw a skinny asian person on a Schwinn BSOD and thought well, if they can do it what's my excuse? So I did ride a little this morning, it was/is cold. Thankfully I have some pogies now, so that helped a lot... no gloves. It was a short ride, perhaps 25min from where I parked off campus to avoid paying for campus parking where I work. My effort was about the same, but I was slower. I think it is in part because the air pressure in the tires is so low I'm almost bottoming out. Also, the additional clothing to stay warm seems to limit some movement making biking more energy intensive. Finally, my middle age lungs don't like the extreme cold air.

    I did ride a bit Tuesday evening and was stopped to see if I needed a ride, which I politely declined to a knowing smile. Those short rides has me in awe again for those who race the Arrowhead, especially this year.
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

  25. #25
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    I know for certain, I have to pedal more going downhill in the snow (even very hard packed), than I do on the same trail in the summer.
    I think all of the things discussed factor in (resistance, clothing, bike weight and at some point, temperature).

  26. #26
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    Where is Donald Piquachu when we need him????
    Where am he??????

  27. #27
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    Grease viscosity increases quite a bit. Your bearings & hubs would all not be as free. Also if you don't change the chain oil weight that could add to your resistance. I just was doing some work on my bike in my house. When I brought the chain oil in from my uninsulated garage and it was so thick it barely poured out (WD40 bike oil & 4 degree F temps). At higher temps it flows perfectly.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473 View Post
    Heavy bikes with big tires on loose snow are slower than lighter bikes on modest tires in packed snow, yes.

    However...

    It took me 25 minutes to get to work today at -24F. In the summer itís an easy 15 minute ride on the same bike. Heavy clothes, dense air and stiff rubber on the tires all make a huge difference.


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    Ya i bike allmost 365 days for the last 19 years.
    No new bike, no different tires, no switch in clothes.
    This morning it was colder and i allmost missed my train.
    Maybe a bit comes from
    - stiffer rubber
    - bearings
    - air more dense
    -...
    it all ads up.
    Everytime i feel like my brakes are not all off.
    I am talking similar roads etc...
    Just my feeling but it slows me a good 10-16%.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by iliketexmex View Post
    Grease viscosity increases quite a bit. Your bearings & hubs would all not be as free. Also if you don't change the chain oil weight that could add to your resistance. I just was doing some work on my bike in my house. When I brought the chain oil in from my uninsulated garage and it was so thick it barely poured out (WD40 bike oil & 4 degree F temps). At higher temps it flows perfectly.
    Naw, I packed them with low-temperature grease


    I don't usually use oil-based lubes in the winter on snow. Wax based lubes and the polymer-based dumonde tech last a LONG time without reapplication. I reserve wet-lube for wet summer rides where waxes wash off easy.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  30. #30
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    I do modulate my speed on the way to work so I don't sweat, that's mostly because I dress differently when commuting and I don't want to stop and change layers, so I dress a bit differently and give myself enough time to modulate my speed more. Sometimes I still end up changing layers to avoid sweating, but when commuting to work I want to make sure I have enough clothes for the return home if it gets colder in the day, so there's a practical aspect to it.

    Interestingly, when it's say -10 to -20F out, it's hard to breathe the air without a mask of some kind. But, when my core gets up to operating temp riding, during hard efforts, or during the entirety of a race, that doesn't happen, my body is radiating so much heat that it's pre-warmed by my passages just fine. So again, I don't think the cold really limits your output much, until you get to some crazy cold temps, it's just that everything else is against you, rolling resistance, clothing resistance, wind resistance, etc. Wind resistance is an interesting one. I've been doing a gravel-grinder in the spring on my fatbike these last years, kind of as a final fatbike thing before I get back on my summer bikes, but I'm limited to somewhere like 20mph, no matter how hard I pedal, I can't overcome the wind resistance. The only way to go faster is to draft, but as soon as I can't draft, I drop way back compared to an equally fit rider on a cross-bike. Those massive tires/wheels create a massive amount of wind drag too and above something like 15mph, you are mostly fighting wind drag.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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