How cold is too cold ?

Tjgoodhew
Tjgoodhew Posts: 628
edited January 2014 in Road general
I am aware of the statement "There is never bad weather just bad kit" however what would be your lower limit when it comes to temperature outside.

Obviously ice is one major concern when the temperature gets low but do you have a specific temperature that you draw the line.

I was thinking this as i want to get out tonight but looking at the weather its going to fall to about 3 degrees by the time im home so i am now starting to think the turbo might be a better idea.

Or do i just MTFU and get out there !!
Cannondale Caad8
Canyon Aeroad 8.0

http://www.strava.com/athletes/goodhewt
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Comments

  • Secteur
    Secteur Posts: 1,971
    If it's dry and there's no ice, then I go out.

    Strong winds and ice are the only things that stop me.

    I don't ride in the dark though.
  • slowbike
    slowbike Posts: 8,498
    Depends what you're trying to achieve.

    I've ridden the commute in anything down to -5°C - not that that is the bottom temperature I'd ride in - just that's the lowest I've recorded during a commute. But - other than "miles in the legs" it isn't a very good training routine.

    Riding in a cold, clear night can be very refreshing, but if you're looking to achieve a specific goal then turbo is probably a better bet (unless your goal is to cycle in the cold and dark!)
  • As long as it's reasonably dry and not raining - or likely to rain. Then about 2-3C is my minimum, but then I'm a wuss.
  • marcusjb
    marcusjb Posts: 2,412
    Ice is more of a concern than temperature. It is perfectly possible to ride in very low temperatures and have a great, safe, ride.

    Equally those temperatures might be a few degrees higher, but conditions leading up to the low temperatures may mean that there's ice (and particularly black ice) everywhere - that's not good conditions to ride in.

    3 degrees is not where I personally draw the line - but I have spent a few years honing my kit for riding long distances even over the winter months.

    These were the conditions on a reliability ride I did a couple of weeks ago - temperature was hovering around freezing - but you can see how much ice there was - it was very tricky. Equally, I have ridden in winter rides, even at night, with temperatures well below freezing (minus 7 to 8, so about as cold as it typically gets in the south east) and not had any issues at all:

    1529699_10201949531354534_385748519_o.jpg
  • binsted
    binsted Posts: 182
    Tjgoodhew wrote:
    I am aware of the statement "There is never bad weather just bad kit" however what would be your lower limit when it comes to temperature outside.

    Obviously ice is one major concern when the temperature gets low but do you have a specific temperature that you draw the line.

    I was thinking this as i want to get out tonight but looking at the weather its going to fall to about 3 degrees by the time im home so i am now starting to think the turbo might be a better idea.

    Or do i just MTFU and get out there !!

    Ice is the major problem, forget the MTFU heroics, wind and rain is doable with the right gear, ice is just Russian roulette, it WILL get you in the end.
  • Tjgoodhew
    Tjgoodhew Posts: 628
    binsted wrote:
    Tjgoodhew wrote:
    I am aware of the statement "There is never bad weather just bad kit" however what would be your lower limit when it comes to temperature outside.

    Obviously ice is one major concern when the temperature gets low but do you have a specific temperature that you draw the line.

    I was thinking this as i want to get out tonight but looking at the weather its going to fall to about 3 degrees by the time im home so i am now starting to think the turbo might be a better idea.

    Or do i just MTFU and get out there !!

    Ice is the major problem, forget the MTFU heroics, wind and rain is doable with the right gear, ice is just Russian roulette, it WILL get you in the end.

    This might sound stupid but how do you know its icy before you get out and ride ?

    Obviously some mornings then you can visibly see it but the majority of the time im guessing black ice is the problem
    Cannondale Caad8
    Canyon Aeroad 8.0

    http://www.strava.com/athletes/goodhewt
  • marcusjb wrote:
    Ice is more of a concern than temperature. It is perfectly possible to ride in very low temperatures and have a great, safe, ride.

    Equally those temperatures might be a few degrees higher, but conditions leading up to the low temperatures may mean that there's ice (and particularly black ice) everywhere - that's not good conditions to ride in.

    3 degrees is not where I personally draw the line - but I have spent a few years honing my kit for riding long distances even over the winter months.

    These were the conditions on a reliability ride I did a couple of weeks ago - temperature was hovering around freezing - but you can see how much ice there was - it was very tricky. Equally, I have ridden in winter rides, even at night, with temperatures well below freezing (minus 7 to 8, so about as cold as it typically gets in the south east) and not had any issues at all:

    1529699_10201949531354534_385748519_o.jpg


    Also a good example of why wearing black makes you less visible, esp the two at the back.
  • Depends which roads you're riding, if say in a group and using main roads all the way, then freezing temps aren't an issue since the roads are gritted. Up in the hills on narrow lanes, you need higher temperatures.
  • binsted
    binsted Posts: 182
    Tjgoodhew wrote:
    binsted wrote:
    Tjgoodhew wrote:
    I am aware of the statement "There is never bad weather just bad kit" however what would be your lower limit when it comes to temperature outside.

    Obviously ice is one major concern when the temperature gets low but do you have a specific temperature that you draw the line.

    I was thinking this as i want to get out tonight but looking at the weather its going to fall to about 3 degrees by the time im home so i am now starting to think the turbo might be a better idea.

    Or do i just MTFU and get out there !!

    Ice is the major problem, forget the MTFU heroics, wind and rain is doable with the right gear, ice is just Russian roulette, it WILL get you in the end.

    This might sound stupid but how do you know its icy before you get out and ride ?

    Obviously some mornings then you can visibly see it but the majority of the time im guessing black ice is the problem

    If the temperatures are near freezing and the roads are wet thats a pretty fair indication that ice might be a problem. Main roads are more likely to attract the attention of the grit lorries so if you must go out try and stick to these. There are plenty of weather sites that give you now temperatures, also if you are cycling locally you get to know the frost hollows.

    Once you have been down a few times you get a bit more circumspect. I left my ride until 11am this morning and still found one road that was so bad I had to walk.
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,897
    binsted wrote:
    If the temperatures are near freezing and the roads are wet thats a pretty fair indication that ice might be a problem. Main roads are more likely to attract the attention of the grit lorries so if you must go out try and stick to these. There are plenty of weather sites that give you now temperatures, also if you are cycling locally you get to know the frost hollows.

    Once you have been down a few times you get a bit more circumspect. I left my ride until 11am this morning and still found one road that was so bad I had to walk.
    It's worth checking what the temperature has done overnight (you'll find lots of local weather stations here: http://wow.metoffice.gov.uk/) - my last big off had been preceded by a very sharp drop to -8C at about 3am, it stayed there for an hour or two, and though it was round 0C when I went out, the sudden drop had created solid ice where water was running across the road - no chance to slow down, and down I went. But also, I should have stayed to the big main road. Very helpfully Devon County Council publishes a gritting map, so you can be pretty sure which routes have been gritted: http://www.devon.gov.uk/precautionary-s ... etwork.pdf - BUT - it also says "Never assume a road has been gritted". And also, if there is lots of water around, and a very sharp frost grit won't save you.

    These days I err on the side of caution, have another coffee ... and stay off the bike, apart from my short commute into town.
  • ednino
    ednino Posts: 684
    I don't like to go out in less than 5 or 6C. Not on the road bike anyway.

    I've been in -4C and snow on the mountain bike but that's different
  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    On road ice stops me going out, having come off twice not looking for a hat trick. Off road on woodland or gravelly tracks snow and ice is fine.
  • vs
    vs Posts: 468
    I've posted this before, but worth a view on this thread: http://toonecycling.wordpress.com/2014/ ... stive-500/

    -22F (-30C in new money)
  • Mikey23
    Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    Very unusual conditions in Jan and Feb last year for down here in cornwall when it was consistently below zero but completely dry and no chance for ice to form. So managed to get out most days but even then stuck to tried and trusted routes, when visibility was good and at steady pace. Correctly togged up including two layer spesh below zero gloves, merino socks and overshoes, remained snug.

    This winter is rather different with roads wet most of the time and if freezing overnight there is a strong possibility of lethal patches. So the turbo has been out much more regularly. You can't really tell what its like till you get out but with a plated clavicle I just ain't taking the risk. I go out if I'm certain that it's not risky otherwise stay at home
  • Cumulonimbus
    Cumulonimbus Posts: 1,730
    Personally I don't ride when there is a risk of ice as it just isn't worth breaking something, either on me or the bike, just for the sake of one ride when I could do a day indoors. Otherwise I will venture out if I have a ride planned - generally leave it until the early afternoon though to make use of what little warmth the day can produce. Just have to watch out for temperatures dipping quickly in the late afternoon!

    Regarding ice, air temperatures and road temperatures can be several degrees different. Road temperatures are generally lowest when skies are clearest so clear skies at night and an air temperature of 3C can still mean a risk of ice. Generally, wet conditions in the days beforehand are likely to mean more ice around than when conditions have been dry - but out in the countryside you often find some lanes that are wet at this time of year regardless of the previous week's weather. Main roads should have been gritted if a chance of ice was forecast so sticking to main roads makes sense but there can always be problems with large puddles, especially if you cycle close to the kerb. Doing a quick google search can sometimes reveal the exact roads which your local council aims to grit. During the day the roads warm up but areas which are shaded from the sun but otherwise quite open will warm up less and can stay icy longer. Highest road temperatures at this time of year are generally around 1-2pm.

    Some local councils do post on twitter when they are gritting but not every council does this and some that do post their actions only do so sporadically so you can't take a lack of published gritting action as meaning that there is no gritting action.

    There are actually a lot of sites around the country which give road temperature measurements helping councils make their decisions but this information is generally not available to the public.
  • I've read enough accounts of people coming off on ice for it to be a complete no-brainer.

    Let's see, go out and risk pain, broken bones, screws, plates, possibly weeks off work and months off the bike...

    ... or stay in till it's warmer.

    If you're in any doubt, think of it as an IQ test.
    Is the gorilla tired yet?
  • awavey
    awavey Posts: 2,368
    marcusjb wrote:
    Ice is more of a concern than temperature. It is perfectly possible to ride in very low temperatures and have a great, safe, ride.

    Equally those temperatures might be a few degrees higher, but conditions leading up to the low temperatures may mean that there's ice (and particularly black ice) everywhere - that's not good conditions to ride in.

    3 degrees is not where I personally draw the line - but I have spent a few years honing my kit for riding long distances even over the winter months.

    These were the conditions on a reliability ride I did a couple of weeks ago - temperature was hovering around freezing - but you can see how much ice there was - it was very tricky. Equally, I have ridden in winter rides, even at night, with temperatures well below freezing (minus 7 to 8, so about as cold as it typically gets in the south east) and not had any issues at all:

    1529699_10201949531354534_385748519_o.jpg


    Also a good example of why wearing black makes you less visible, esp the two at the back.

    its more an example of a camera on auto settings having measured the exposure for the whole frame, so its taken the bright sunlight and sky, as well as the people in shadow and the tree blocking everything completely, and tried to give you a "middle" setting that copes with everything, which it cant, and its clipping the sky and darker colours and you lose the true contrast, which is why the riders clothing at the back are less distinct.

    fortunately our eyes/brains dont work like digital camera sensors which is why we dont tend to experience the same problems :)

    as for how cold is too cold, just anytime its icy, and you can normally judge if its icy or going to be icy the next day, from the temps the night before and whether there is or has been lots of water left on the road. classic case yesterday it was up around 9C perfectly fine & warm out, but the roads were still wet in lots of places even though it hadnt rained for a day or so, temperature drops negative overnight, next morning the roads are icy.
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    Anywhere it's really cold you are going to have permanent hard snow or ice and you need proper winter tyres (i.e. with studs). Personally I don't find it much fun below about -15C as your facial extremities get freeze-blasted and if you wear a scarf over your face you get a lot of moisture and condensation. Also somehow the cold just saps the strength out of your muscles in a way that it doesn't in toasty temperatures above -10C :wink: The winter tyres are really heavy and slow too. When I first came to Helsinki I used to commute through the winter in all temperatures, but these days I actually find the indoor trainer more fun.. :)
  • Agent57
    Agent57 Posts: 2,300
    I don't think I'd go out for a recreational ride when it's around zero. Having to get to work is another matter, and I've done the 5 mile commute in -7 Celsius before. I did have studded tyres, which helped.
    MTB commuter / 531c commuter / CR1 Team 2009 / RockHopper Pro Disc / 10 mile PB: 25:52 (Jun 2014)
  • As long as the roads are dry I would face it.me and a mate went out tonight at 6 o'clock when temp was around +2ish I would guesstimate but as soon as we came off the main roads onto the b roads(not even country lanes) they were covered in ice.so as we dont like being on the unlit A roads we decided to call it a night, much much better than hitting the deck...got 13 miles in and was gutted about having to come home as it was a beautiful clear calm night....grrrrr lol
    Lapierre Aircode 300
    Merida
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,897
    As long as the roads are dry I would face it.me and a mate went out tonight at 6 o'clock when temp was around +2ish I would guesstimate but as soon as we came off the main roads onto the b roads(not even country lanes) they were covered in ice.so as we dont like being on the unlit A roads we decided to call it a night, much much better than hitting the deck...got 13 miles in and was gutted about having to come home as it was a beautiful clear calm night....grrrrr lol
    Very wise. The world is littered with corpses of people who didn't know when to turn back. The roads will be there on another (warmer) day ... you just have to make sure that you will be too.
  • Slowbike wrote:
    Depends what you're trying to achieve.

    I've ridden the commute in anything down to -5°C - not that that is the bottom temperature I'd ride in - just that's the lowest I've recorded during a commute. But - other than "miles in the legs" it isn't a very good training routine.

    Riding in a cold, clear night can be very refreshing, but if you're looking to achieve a specific goal then turbo is probably a better bet (unless your goal is to cycle in the cold and dark!)
    + 1 to this.
    Cycled 15 miles to work after clearing thick ice of Emmas car ?
    Main roads were Ok but on my way home tonight,freezing light fog slippy wet main roads, no great training effect on this ride .
    To be honest I was s******g myself for an hour or so.
    This has been my first full winter commute, I am unsure about what is safe / unsafe , in the words of Beautiful South , "how do you know you cant swim until you have drowned?"

    to be honest I would have been better on the turbo.
    regards
    ILG
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,527
    I've ridden on crisp morning in -5 with no issues and then did a ride just after Christmas when the temperature was slightly above freezing but the roads were badly iced up so setting a arbitrary temperature is pointless. I go out and if it looks ropey I'll either turn back or stick to treated roads.
  • peteco
    peteco Posts: 184
    Minus 13 deg C is my record. Took the mountain bike though as there was a fair bit of compacted snow around.
    As others have said, ice is the issue, not the cold (for me anyway).

    Pete
  • verylonglegs
    verylonglegs Posts: 3,954
    As Pross says and also what Mikey pointed out too, it's not solely down to temperature. Like Mikey I was out riding last winter when it barely got above freezing for about a fortnight because it was a very dry cold, there was no moisture to result in any ice.
  • its simply down to the Ice levels. if i don't fancy the roads out of the bedroom window i will consider the MTB first before the dreaded rollers. i got caught out the other evening, i went to the office the other night to pick up my laptop and it was 2ish degrees but by the time i turned for home cars we well frozen up and the road nice and sparkly. However i didnt wobble once. i was sensible and didnt take the corners (or rounabouts) at any kind of speed and had a really enjoyable 20ish miles.
    Cube Cross 2016
    Willier GTR 2014
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,897
    Mind you, I hate having to use the car when it's frosty - by the time I've faffed around with de-icing all the windows properly I could have gone halfway to where I'm supposed to be going. My eyes have a brilliant de-icing system built in.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,527
    ..The world is littered with corpses of people who didn't know when to turn back. .

    Is it? Scary! :shock:
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,897
    Pross wrote:
    ..The world is littered with corpses of people who didn't know when to turn back. .

    Is it? Scary! :shock:
    Mostly on mountains, and on foot. Paths that are perfectly safe in the summer are death traps in the winter. But the principle is the same.
  • I draw the line really at around 5 degrees C, as i'm from Southern USA and my body just can not handle the cold. I still go out to the garage to use the turbo trainer, but definitely going to ride out into cold wind!