Sunday, January 4, 2009

First cold ride of the season

I am glad that JayP called this morning to let me know how cold it was in Wilson, WY. I was gearing up to start my ride from my house but was “only” -4F on my back deck. Jay told me it was -22F on his back deck so I scrambled to start my ride in Wilson and get a real dose of cold weather riding.

The coldest air settles along the Snake River

By the time I got over the pass to Wilson, it had “warmed” up to a balmy -18F. T-Race, who is training for the Iditarod Trail Invitational this year, met me along the way and we rode together while Jay had to work. Overall, I had a great ride and felt more comfortable in the frigid temps than I have in the past. I rode for 4.5 hours at a moderate clip and enjoyed being out there on a gorgeous bluebird day. I do have a few details to work out before the Su100 in six weeks.

Coldest morning of the year

My feet and hands are still my biggest liability as I seem to be cursed with poor circulation in my extremities. Using chemical warmers in my pogies is a necessity. Although my Camelbak hose froze three different times, I was able to thaw it out each time by shoving the whole tube down my pants along my thigh and riding like this for a while. Ha! I am not sure why it has taken me this long to figure this trick out but it works well.

My feet got cold enough by the 3.5 hour mark that I had to hop off and walk for about five minutes which helped a little. By the end of the ride my feet were cold again and I would have needed to walk again for a while to try and get the blood flowing again.

I think my face was too frozen to smile but I was trying

Today’s layering:

Bib shorts
Icebreaker 200 knickers
Softshell Pants
Craft Pro Zero sleeveless top
Icebreaker 200 long sleeve
Hooded softshell jacket
Patagonia R.5 Balaclava
OR PL400 mittens

Smartwool liner sock
RBH Insulated Vapor Barrier sock
2 pairs - Smartwool heavy weight hunting socks
New Balance size 13, 4E walking shoes (my normal shoe size is 11 E)
XXL Neos Navigator Overboots

Random lessons learned today:

1) I don’t like riding with the balaclava covering my mouth but when it is this cold I need something to cover my nose.

2) When sunglasses fog up at these temps, they freeze instantly and it is tough to thaw them out again. Goggles work ok but I prefer sunglasses if I can wear them.

3) The hooded softshell (Christmas present this year) is pure greatness. It is really easy to regulate the temp and keep out a breeze with the hood.

4) Riding when it is -18F is not too bad, but basic tasks like eating, pulling the Camelbak hose out of your jacket, or adjusting tire pressure are tough. The key is to keep moving.


Anonymous said...

Hah! I was thinking of you guys and wondering if you got in an "Alaska" ride yesterday. (I had to go ski powder instead)I know you'll be ready come Feb!

Chris E.

Anonymous said...

As much as I want I Pugsly yesterday would have been one of those days it stayed in the garage.

I'm glad you guys are getting after it though. Hope you thawed out without too much pain. I have the same hand and feet problems you do.

Jill Homer said...

Great ride! As far as the balaclava goes, a lot of riders in Alaska use an earband to go over their nose, leaving their nostrils and mouth free and open. I personally like the face mask/ balaclava, because all of that toasty moist air from my lungs circulates inside of it.

I use neoprene when it gets super cold, because balaclavas tend to ice up and freeze right off my face.

Cold feet are rarely a problem for me during long rides because there's so much walking in snowbiking. That would be a wonderful problem, though - only needing to get off and walk once in four hours. :-)

Jill Homer said...

Also, I look forward to meeting you at the Su100! I have backpedaled on entering that race, but Geoff is running the Little Su 50K, so I will probably hang out at the race start either way.

Doug said...

I had foot problems too. I took a slightly different approach. I use a polypro liner, a VP sock, and a Smartwool hiking sock. This goes inside an insulated hiking boot (Northface Liftys) that are two sizes bigger than my shoe size. It's the air space inside the boot that traps and retains the heat. Prior to this my feet would freeze in 30 minutes at 35 degrees. Now I've taken this set-up down to an air temp of -28 on a ten hour ride with no problems. The air space also allows the use of chemical heat packs.

It may sound counter intuitive, but maybe try it with one less sock, maybe your shoes are too snug fitting.

I always find I learn something new every time I venture out in sub-zero weather. Looks like you had a great day for a training ride.

Dave said...

Jill - the earband trick is next on my "to do" list of things to try. Have you used a vapor barrier vest? Any thoughts?

Doug - I have wide feet (think Fred Flintstone) so my options are a bit limited. I totally agree that more room is better than more insulation and I knew the two socks were pushing it a bit. I am actually thinking about grinding the tread off of the shoes that go inside my NEOS and using that extra room for closed cell foam.

Dave said...

Jill, I am looking forward to meeting you and Geoff in AK as well.

Jill Homer said...

Dave, I do use a VB vest. I think it's Golite brand. It's very good at directing almost all of the moisture through the arms, where it can escape through vents in most coats. It also keeps frost off the back of my coat, which is great if you're wearing a backpack.

Your base layer will be completely drenched. I use polypro, which doesn't seem to make much difference in insulation value wet or dry (as long as there's no wind moving through it.) I think the VB is worth it to have more control over your moisture flow.

I'd ask the question of Doug as well. He's had more experience in real brutal cold. Mine is admittedly limited.

See you in February!

Anonymous said...

If not already, try running your camel hose from bladder inside under your arm instead of up on the shoulder strap This might mean some alteration to the pak but works better for most cold and can eliminate freezing. If your jacket allows, you can even run the nozzle into a chest pocket and then just unzip the pocket instead of the dang jacket.

KB said...

Have you ever tried Hotronics heated insoles? I originally bought them for my ski boots but use them for cycling as well. On super cold days, I also add chemical toewarmers on top of my toes. Toe warmers (as opposed to foot warmers) are very thin with an adhesive side for attaching them to your sock. I have a bad case of Raynaud's syndrome but this has worked for me (but I've never been out below -5 deg or so).

Dave said...

KB - I have Hotronics in my alpine ski boots and like them...however, even the "good" batteries only last about 6 hours at best and they weigh a ton. Not sure the benefit is worth the weight penalty.

Doug said...

Dave...Jill suggested you ask me about the VB vest. I haven't tried one. I've thought about it, but haven't gone there yet. My main concern is the fact that I sweat very heavy at any temperature. I'm concerned with the VB causing even more sweat and where would it all go?

But on the other hand, I sure am sold on my VB socks. Keeping the inuslating layer dry is priceless.

Ed said...

Nice ride DB, that's some cold temps to be out there!