Last Sunday, I managed one and half hours in a temperature of 2 degrees. I promised myself, that any temperature less than 2 degrees was officially too cold for outdoor riding. The weather forecast for the next seven days means I’m either going to do no cycling or will become very well acquainted with my rollers and conservatory.
Going cycling in very cold weather, is an ‘interesting’ experience. There are certain observations about the differences from cycling in cold weather.
- When your body temperature is colder than usual, the body responds by restricting the size of the veins. (It does this to conserve heat near vital organs – known as peripheral vasoconstriction ) This makes blood flow slower than usual. It means that
- Hands, feet and extremities more likely to be cold. If you keep your body warm, it will be easier to keep feet warm.
- It’s harder to cycle. One reason you’re slower when cold is that there is less blood being pumped around your body. With less oxygen you’re bound to be slower.
- Cold temperature inhibits aquaporins in various places throughout the body, including the brain and kidneys so that less water is taken up by the cells Therefore kidneys respond to cold by passing urine quicker through the body. (according to first year med student) This is why on a cold day, you’re more likely to be looking for suitable trees. It’s also a time when the colour of your urine is not a guide to dehydration. Because you’re going to the toilet more often, you can be more dehydrated than you imagine.
- You burn more calories keeping warm. Cold weather cycling is good for those looking to burn calories, more energy is used in keeping warm. Keep eating to maintain enough fuel. The last thing you want to do is to ‘bonk’ in the cold weather.
Wind Chill Factor
Be careful when it’s windy. Also, cycling creates its own wind chill factor. Great for hot weather (cycling more bearable than running in hot weather). But, it means we get cooler quicker. For instance in calm conditions at -29°C a well clothed person is in little danger, a light wind of 10mph gives the same effect as a temperature of -44°C when exposed flesh can freeze in a minute or so. A breeze of 25mph gives an equivalent of -66°C . (cold air science)
Overall, when cold, you do go slower.
Weekly mileage in cold
will be a big drop off this week
just about on target at 4,500 km