Winter miles V Summer Miles?

AndyK2479
AndyK2479 Posts: 75
edited January 2011 in Road beginners
Hello all,
I've been road cycling since last April, I do it for enjoyment more than anything, but enjoy the fitness that comes with it as well. I'm in training for a London To Paris bike ride in May and so am out in all weathers, as long as road surface is safe!

My question is :- Does anyone elase think that a winter mile sems a lot harder thana summer mile.

I've just got in from a 30 miler that I do quite regularly and since the winter set in it seems to have doubled in distance!!

Do you think the extra cold/wind plays a part, or is it all in my head?
All I know is 'roll on summer'
Andy

Comments

  • meanredspider
    meanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Air density goes up in winter so will slow you down (or cause you to work harder for the same speed).

    You carry more weight in clothing (and probably flappier - more wind resistance)

    I've heard it said that tyre rolling resistance goes up when it's colder

    Wind could be a factor

    I carry more body weight in the winter

    Psychologically it's probably just harder too, as you suggest
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • SBezza
    SBezza Posts: 2,173
    It is slightly harder IMO. Alot of it will be psychological, as it is never nice going out in the cold and wet weather, but things like the extra clothing, possibly tyres that are more durable and hence slower will all slow you down as well.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 74,624
    Absolutely.

    I dislike winter miles enough that I hibinate in the winter.

    Puts pay to any plans to start racing, but I just cannot stand cycling in the cold.
  • In a weird way I quite enjoy it, I sometimes cycle mid week due to shift work and the lack of traffic, relatively speaking, makes the country lanes a bit more cycle friendly.

    I definitely feel it more after a winter ride, I feel a lot more 'fresh aired', meaning I sleep like a log after a days ride out.

    I agree that the air seem 'thicker' to ride through this time of year, I'm on Specialized All Condition 25mm tyres at the mo, they came as stock on my Secteur Comp, but looking at Continental GP4 with the Black Chilli for the summer.
  • meanredspider
    meanredspider Posts: 12,337
    AndyK2479 wrote:
    I agree that the air seem 'thicker' to ride through this time of year,.

    It is - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Density_of_air
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • ColinJ
    ColinJ Posts: 2,218
    I am finding miles infinitely hard this winter which is why I haven't ridden my bike since November 20th 2010!

    I do manage it at other times of the year though...
  • danowat
    danowat Posts: 2,877
    It is harder, I did a 10mile TT on boxing day (admittedly dressed as santa), and it was a real struggle, the air was so cold it was a struggle to get enough in.

    Although saying that, I did a 50 miler yesterday in 2:44, which is pretty much as fast as I have been over a 50 so.....

    There is something in winter miles being harder, cold muscles don't seem to work aswell, air is thicker, cold air is harder to breath etc etc, but alot of it is also phsycological.

    As for not liking riding in the cold, the correct clothes make it quite a pleasent experiance, and theres nothing like getting in a steaming hot shower after a long, cold ride!
  • meanredspider
    meanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Yup - somebody else wrote in in another thread - but arriving at the end of your ride in the winter is somehow more satisfying (especially when it's -11C and the rest of your office think you are mad... :wink: )
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • I did a 50 on new years eve that I did twice in the summer and it felt loads easier - might have been because I wanted to get home quicker.
    Cheers

    Andy
    Cyclist, Massage Therapist & Ice Cream Genius
    Andrew Creer Massage
  • There is definitely something in the harder to breathe theory. When it was getting down to -8/-10 temperatures I thought it was quite a struggle to suck the air in. It would seem logical that it is more difficult to absorb cold oxygen than warm, most chemical and biological processes slow down with less heat. Also, although we feel warm with all the mechanical heat we are producing there are still vast surfaces of area exposed to the cold that still have to be kept warm such as the head, hands feet and, for me, shins. All soaking up those vital calories we need for pedalling. I have been eating like a horse this winter.
    I like riding in the winter, I would much rather endure 2 minutes of being cold than spend 5 minutes scraping ice of my windscreen then another 10 inactive driving in a cold car.
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,470
    I'm always a little slower in the winter when I get a chance to get out (which isn't often as I'm based in Helsinki - I'm mostly on the indoor trainer during the winter). When I was in the UK over Christmas I managed to get out a few times, and my average speeds were about 1.5 - 2mph slower than in the summer.

    There are a whole bunch of factors acting together I think - firstly, in my case I lose a little endurance-type fitness during the winter as my indoor efforts are all fairly high-intensity, 40mins - 1 hour sessions. It takes me about 6 weeks in the spring to regain this and get up to "summer speed". However this can't be the whole story, as I also start to get a little slower again towards the end of the autumn once temperatures are consistently below about 8 degrees C. Don't know if this is air density, muscle temperature, clothing or whatever... It does seem to be progressive with falling temperature however. On the few occasions I've cycled in really cold weather (minus 20C) I've just felt that my muscles haven't been able to work properly. In these sorts of temperatures you seem to lose the ability to keep your core temperature warm just through sustained exercise alone, however hard you try, so it's as if half of your energy is being used to keep warm instead of fueling the muscles (Finns would probably just tell me I wasn't dressing properly!). I don't think this applies to temperatures above about minus 5C however, as long as you are wearing reasonably sensible clothes.

    I have a theory that as well as bulkier clothing increasing air resistance, the cold simply makes your upper body more tense, so you are stiffer and less fluid on the bike and thus less aero. In warm temperatures it is easier to relax certain muscle groups to fine-tune your aero postion, even if you are doing this unconsciously.
  • vorsprung
    vorsprung Posts: 1,953
    Quite apart from air density, temperature, wet or icey roads, thick clothing and heavier winter bikes people go better in the summer

    Just wait til spring
  • I doubt anybody would be able to feel the difference in air density, plus denser air equals more O2 per volume of breath surely? All the rest sounds fesible but not air density. I went out Sunday for the first time for weeks and the last excuse I had in mind for my inability to cycle at any kind of speed was the air density.
  • meanredspider
    meanredspider Posts: 12,337
    edited January 2011
    Brommers76 wrote:
    I doubt anybody would be able to feel the difference in air density.

    Drag is directly proportional to air density and air is more than 5% more dense at 0C than at 15C. Whether you can "feel" 5%, I don't know, but I'm sure you could measure the difference over an hour, especially if you are cycling fast (velocity is squared).

    How much this additional air density helps breathing, I have no idea. If you breathe a higher percentage of )2 than normal, does that make you perform better?
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • meanredspider
    meanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Anybody have any view on how bib tights affect your performance? I always sense that they "pull" or stretch as I pedal. I know some of the stretch will be given back on the leg extension but I certainly feel less constrained when I'm cycling in shorts
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 74,624
    Doesn't anyone else find the cold air really hurts their lungs if they have to breathe quite hard?

    Puts me right off.
  • nevman
    nevman Posts: 1,611
    IMO cold weather requires a greater energy load from the body to keep up with heat loss-this extra energy added to normal cycling as in summer equals harder work,more tiredness.
    No evidence,just a theory..willing to test it out on a winter tour of the Caribbean if funded.
    Whats the solution? Just pedal faster you baby.

    Summer B,man Team Carbon LE#222
    Winter Alan Top Cross
    All rounder Spec. Allez.
  • Garz
    Garz Posts: 1,155
    It is harder for sure. Besides the freezing cold and the many layers we wear, the last two routes I cycled at the weekend were completed in about two to three average mph less.

    This is chiefly due to being slick with wet (ground) and taking the descents with caution, but the colder muscles and air would cement your assumptions.
  • Tom BB
    Tom BB Posts: 1,001
    Doesn't anyone else find the cold air really hurts their lungs if they have to breathe quite hard?

    Puts me right off.

    Yep. :( Didnt get on a bike at all in December-although I was ill for a fair bit of it......been out on 3 mtb rides so far this year and my lungs have really bloomin hurt everytime I've finished :( Roll on summer.....
  • wheezee
    wheezee Posts: 461
    Doesn't anyone else find the cold air really hurts their lungs if they have to breathe quite hard?

    Puts me right off.

    Yus. Lungs, throat, nasal passages all feel like I'm dragging razor wire back and forth through them.

    My asthma seems to get worse too. And it definitely hurts more when you fall off.