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Do you bike slower in the cold?
CREATED: 11/29/10 by kkaufer REPLIES: 7
kkaufer's ravatar kkaufer    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 125
Do you bike slower in the cold?
POSTED: 11/29/10 12:10 PM

So yesterday I decided to go for a ride. I bundled up like a Michelin Man and was more or less comfy-warm, but was shocked to see that my average speed was down 2-3 mph throughout my ride. I wasn't really sore or tired, so I'm wondering if it's normal to have less oompfh and be slower in the cold weather (note: I'm a walking goose bump)? I don't normally ride this time of year so I have no frame of reference. Or was I bogged down by too much turkey??? Txs.

kev7's ravatar kev7    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 456
RE: Do you bike slower in the cold?
POSTED: 11/29/10 1:12 PM

I hate to admit this, but yesterday I road 35 miles and averaged only 14.9 mph. And I was working really hard to get that pace! I road all through the winter last year and never seemed to move that slow. Think I need new tires...

Keep up the good work and don't get discouraged! Biking through the winter will establish a solid base for the spring and summer.


pmart15's ravatar pmart15    JOINED: 12/14/09    POSTS: 125
RE: Do you bike slower in the cold?
POSTED: 11/30/10 11:35 AM

I did 25 on Sunday and had the same thing happen. I was like "I am not going 15 mph..." but quickly figured out that my Garmin was losing its way in the tree cover and drifting from 15 to 9 and in between.

I hammered it (for me) on the way home to make sure I was really working :).

PotomacTriathlete2009's ravatar PotomacTriathlete2009    JOINED: 9/19/09    POSTS: 518
RE: Do you bike slower in the cold?
POSTED: 11/30/10 11:56 AM

I do most of my winter cycling on the mountain bike. Now THAT'S what you would call slow. I usually train by perceived effort. That helps me avoid the problem of trying to translate mtn bike speeds to tri bike speeds. I just go according to the target effort level for the planned workout. (I toss in some high-rpm drills to help my legs remember what it's like to pedal at a fast tri bike cadence.)

I don't plan to do any high-intensity workouts until later in the winter. Joe Friel says that it only takes about 8-12 weeks to develop your muscular endurance and to build for target races. For the early base period, you can focus on aerobic endurance and it doesn't necessarily have to be on the tri bike. Many people mention the benefits of cross-training in the early base period. Cross-country skiing is often mentioned as a great wintertime workout. It's not easy to ride on skinny tires outside and many people get bored out of their minds on the trainer.

Hopefully the La Nina weather pattern this winter doesn't result in another harsh and long winter so that we can have clear roads by mid-February.

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 682
RE: Do you bike slower in the cold?
POSTED: 11/30/10 1:30 PM

yes i ride slower in the cold.

i would even bet that EVERYONE rides slower in the cold. of course i'm meaning really cold where you have to actually bundle up and not just slightly chilly weather like 65 degrees outside

from an equipment standpoint remeber you are wearing more clothes than warmer weahter, so you have less range of movement, also more clothes equals more weight to carry around, so that makes you slower.

also, i dont' remember any world record sprints i runnign or cycling ever taking place in the cold weather outdoors.

Chad's ravatar Chad    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 116
RE: Do you bike slower in the cold?
POSTED: 11/30/10 2:09 PM

I also read somewhere, although it may not have been very authoritative, that colder air is more dense and therefore harder to push through. Of course this means you are working harder to overcome the drag breaking through the colder air on a bike than you would be in warmer temps; if that theory holds true of course.

AndyJB444's ravatar AndyJB444    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 401
RE: Do you bike slower in the cold?
POSTED: 11/30/10 2:43 PM

I would also imagine the colder weather affects the viscosity of liquids in those parts that go around in circles...increasing the resistance and slowing the speed?

dsgrunning's ravatar dsgrunning    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1295
RE: Do you bike slower in the cold?
POSTED: 12/01/10 8:00 PM

Andy ... your explanation makes perfect sense. It's one of the reasons why I believed that my IMFL swim in 40 degrees weather was so slow ... well, that and lead feet and dense bones :)


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