Is it just harder to go fast when it gets colder?
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  1. #1
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    Is it just harder to go fast when it gets colder?

    Now that the weather is getting cooler here in the Pacific Northwest, the speed of our bike rides seems to be following the temperatures downwards. What is it about cooler temps that slow you down? Less efficient muscles? Blood flow trying to keep you warm instead of making you go fast? Wearing lots more cloths? All the above?
    Last edited by ivanthetrble; 4 Weeks Ago at 09:06 AM.

  2. #2
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    When I'm on a ride and it gets cold, I push harder. If it is cold at the start, I'll pass.
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  3. #3
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    I don't think the bike gets slower, I think it's just a lot less fun to go faster when it's colder....

  4. #4
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by ivanthetrble View Post
    Now that the weather is getting cooler her in the Pacific Northwest, the speed of our bike rides seems to be following the temperatures downwards. What is it about cooler temps that slow you down? Less efficient muscles? Blood flow trying to keep you warm instead of making you go fast? Wearing lots more cloths? All the above?
    All of the above and more.
    More clothes restricts your body movement and friction. And it also creates more wind drag.

    Colder air is more dense than warm air, so there is more friction and drag.

    With shorter days and decreased riding, your fitness is dropping.


    If you were really concerned you'd be better measuring power than speed. But you'd still be putting out less power.
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  5. #5
    pmf
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    For me, its all the clothes. If you crank it up, you start sweating, which sucks when you're wearing tights, a jacket, gloves, balaclava, etc. Just feel good that you're making yourself ride in the cold rather than sitting on the sofa. Doesn't matter how fast you're riding.

  6. #6
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    When it's cold I'm riding fewer rides that are shorter and slower while doing more cycling laundry.

    I'm looking forward to late March, early April.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    When it's cold I'm riding fewer rides that are shorter and slower while doing more cycling laundry.

    I'm looking forward to late March, early April.
    Same. Cycling takes up a lot of time and the cold months give me a chance focus on other things. I'll do some Zwifting and a few outdoor rides but I take a more casual attitude towards riding.

  8. #8
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    I find now that I am old I have difficulty keeping sufficiently warm. So my strategy is to control the chill with hills. When I get a chill I just aim for the hills near my route and grind up em. Around here a number of the hills get up to 15% and take me up to 25 minutes per hill so that hurts the average speed big time. Upside is such tough hill workouts means I do not need to ride for 3 hours to keep up the power and burn calories.

    Covid made my work schedule go haywire, so lately I am unable to get out on the bike in daytime during the week. I have hired more staff and so am hoping I can get out for a couple hours in afternoon daylight starting tomorrow, though. On my new winter bike!
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  9. #9
    xxl
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCSaltchucker View Post
    I find now that I am old I have difficulty keeping sufficiently warm. So my strategy is to control the chill with hills. When I get a chill I just aim for the hills near my route and grind up em. Around here a number of the hills get up to 15% and take me up to 25 minutes per hill so that hurts the average speed big time. Upside is such tough hill workouts means I do not need to ride for 3 hours to keep up the power and burn calories.

    Covid made my work schedule go haywire, so lately I am unable to get out on the bike in daytime during the week. I have hired more staff and so am hoping I can get out for a couple hours in afternoon daylight starting tomorrow, though. On my new winter bike!
    Worthless without pics.
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  10. #10
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    I also have noticed that cooler temperatures affect my overall average speed . I have read a few articles on this effect , here's one if your interested. https://fitwerx.com/why-do-we-bike-s...-cold-weather/

  11. #11
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    The only cycling I plan on doing in Winter is on the wind-load trainer. One week to go until our cross-country ski area opens, 1.5 feet of snow on the ground and more falling, just checked the webcam a few minutes ago.
    Routine will be: at least three good workouts on snow per week and indoor cycling if I feel like it.
    Aiming for 1000km of XC skiing this winter, which is more or less the equivalent of 2500km of cycling.

    PS I no longer ski when it gets past -15ºC; too old to be that tough or " not so smart"
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  12. #12
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    A lot of it is also the conditions you train in. It's relative.

    What I consider "unbearably" hot, some people consider ideal.

    What some people consider chilly, I consider pleasant.

    I used to love cooler races. Maybe a little rain in there if the course wasn't technical. My body would more readily respond to the conditions than some. When they would be hunkered down in the suffering mode, I'd be looking for my chance.

    But at a certain point, just like with heat, you just don't want to push anymore.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska Mike View Post
    A lot of it is also the conditions you train in. It's relative.

    What I consider "unbearably" hot, some people consider ideal.

    What some people consider chilly, I consider pleasant.

    I used to love cooler races. Maybe a little rain in there if the course wasn't technical. My body would more readily respond to the conditions than some. When they would be hunkered down in the suffering mode, I'd be looking for my chance.

    But at a certain point, just like with heat, you just don't want to push anymore.
    It seems, to me, that others suffer the conditions more when they see you suffering the conditions less. Your lack of suffering seems to accentuate their suffering.
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  14. #14
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    Breathing is less efficient in colder weather. I find myself huffing more in colder temps.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Breathing is less efficient in colder weather. I find myself huffing more in colder temps.
    I don't know if less efficient is true seeing that colder air is denser, packing more oxygen into each breath.
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  16. #16
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    Knowing your body, and perspiration management with clothing is key to road riding in winter temps .

    Winter riding ( below 34 F) is amazing . Roads in my NY town 90 min. north of NYC are black within 4 hours after a 2-3ft snow storm.
    Bigest issue is the cinder junk put down and the SpellingNurse. onthis hear forum.

    I think lower sub freezing temps enables more oxygen in blood .
    It certainly provides more exzilleration.
    Velo gets it.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    I don't know if less efficient is true seeing that colder air is denser, packing more oxygen into each breath.
    the denser oxygen level of cold air does not make up for alveoli contriction of the lungs. The result is a net negative gain of oxygen.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Colder air is more dense than warm air, so there is more friction and drag.
    Aero drag is directly proportional to air density, so if you increase density by 10% (temperature drops by 49F or 27C) you will slow by about 1 mph (using 20 mph as the starting point).

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    the denser oxygen level of cold air does not make up for alveoli contriction of the lungs. The result is a net negative gain of oxygen.
    ^^^This.^^^
    "Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital." - Aaron Levenstein.

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    bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by xxl View Post
    Worthless without pics.
    true that

    ok, my new used winter bike

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  21. #21
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    If the temperature drops 49degrees, my speed will drop 20mph, based on a starting speed of 20mph. It just ain't go'ta happen!
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  22. #22
    xxl
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCSaltchucker View Post
    true that

    ok, my new used winter bike


    Nice, but without your saddle in the shot, how can we tell whether your seat's too low?
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  23. #23
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    At 5°c, I'm on average 2.5 km/h slower than at 20°c. Cold air ruins my lungs, I'm less aero because of my jacket, air is dense and thus pretty draggy and I can't feel my extremities so I tend to be careful in descents.

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    If the temperature drops 49degrees, my speed will drop 20mph, based on a starting speed of 20mph. It just ain't go'ta happen!
    same thing happens if temps rise over 30C 85F for me ... bike is parked. luckily it is at most 2 days a year like that.

    my cut off for MTB is about -2C which is what 28F or so. road bike maybe 3C
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  25. #25
    wut?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Aero drag is directly proportional to air density, so if you increase density by 10% (temperature drops by 49F or 27C) you will slow by about 1 mph (using 20 mph as the starting point).
    ^^^^
    There was a group of engineering grad students a few years ago that did a research project addressing the question of why we go slower in winter. While there are many factors, they established that the single most significant one was increased air density.
    There I was...

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