Getting Ready for Winter-Acclimatization

I don’t know about where you live, but around here October has the power to unleash a few snowstorms at whim. So I am doing everything I can do to insure that when the snow flies my bike and IΒ willΒ be readyΒ for it.

An important part of my preparation for the coming winter is getting my body used to colder temperatures again. Back in April 35 degrees felt balmy, but right now it feels downright chilly. There is a purpose to autumn beyond pretty-colored leaves and pumpkin patches and that purpose is to be a transitional period into winter.

For the past few weeks I have been using the cooler autumn temperatures to let my body get used to keeping itself warm again. I don’t do anything too weird or drastic, but after the heat of summer I do have to ignore the impulse to throw on layers of clothing just because the temperature has began to drop. Here are a couple things I am doing to get my body thermostat adjusted.

I keep my windows open and the heat off.
I love a fresh breeze anyway and after so many warm nights in summer the crisp air helps me to get a good night sleep. If the temperature stays below freezing all day I will probably shut my windows, but only until the temperature gets warm again.

I dress for comfort, not warmth.
Frostbite is not a fun thing to mess around with, so when I am biking on cold mornings, I always cover my ears and hands. Beyond that, I dress to keep my torso and legs comfortable but not warm. It can be tricky to get right sometimes but I always carry extra clothing if I feel like I am getting chilled.

I use movement to stay warm.
Whenever I feel cold I try amping up my activity level before reaching for a long-sleeved hoodie. I want my body to do the work of keeping me warm without relying on extra clothing. If I have been sitting down, taking my dogs for a walk usually does the trick.

I stay outdoors as much as possible.
This is the most important one-the more time I spend outside in the changing temperatures, the more ready I am going to be for when it really gets cold.

It basically boils down to enjoying autumn the way it is meant to be enjoyed-without a parka!

DSC01361

Two weeks ago

DSC01368

Today

Of course the real question is, do these habits actually make a difference? Both of these photos were taken at 45 degrees Fahrenheit, if you look closely you can tell there has already been a slight change so far.

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28 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Winter-Acclimatization

    • Hey don’t talk about my ski goggles that way! When the temperature drops to -20 they are my best friends along with my balaclava, super thick gloves and hiking boots. It might make me look like an arctic explorer, but I really could care less, haha πŸ™‚

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      • I dress for the cold too. Not that cold, but cold. And wet! I wear a balaclava and waterproof gloves, booties, pants, helmet cover, and jacket. I’m almost as unrecognizable as you πŸ™‚

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      • See, all you need is ski goggles! I even have an extra pair if you want them πŸ˜‰

        I feel weird but like a total boss in my winter gear, I can’t wait to put it on again!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I bet you will miss your road bike πŸ™‚ and that you start thinking about a winter holiday somewhere warm where you can cycle. That’s what I’m going to do this winter.

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      • I would love to travel to different places to cycle, but unless having a road bike changed me completely this summer, I would not skip out on winter, it is special to me. The only exception would be if the winter was a nasty winter-constant thawing and slush isn’t my favorite!
        Have you decided where you are headed off too?

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      • Not yet. I am on the west coast so Arizona and California are relatively close with great cycling destinations. Phoenix and Tucson are are top of mind right now.

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      • I do seem to take a lot, don’t I. I have always liked photographs, have even had professional training, but the iPhone has made it so easy. I always have a camera with me now πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Now that I have a better idea of where you live (from your tour posts), I have an increased appreciation for your winter riding. It gets COLD up there. Good luck with acclimating. I have just broken out my tights, vest and long sleeve jerseys down here in DC. (Moving south makes you a total winter weather wimp.)

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    • Yeah, moving south does seem to have that effect, haha! I think our bodies can adapt to a wide range of temperatures but from what I have observed in others, we tend to adapt more easily to heat than cold. So I guess the moral of the story is to be careful about moving to warmer climates because coming back to the cold could be tough πŸ˜‰

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  2. I was wondering…cyclists speak of biking in winter as being not that bad as long as you prep well but no one ever mentions care for the bike when AT work. They say to degrease and wash the bike after sloshing through snow but you can’t do that when you arrive to work, just when going home. Do you do a quick wipe down to prevent freezing / rust prevention or build up during your 8 or so hours at work?

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    • This is a great question to which I have not yet discovered the answer. Last year was my first year biking through the winter and I was horrible, so horrible at taking care of my bike that I decided on getting a new (to me) MTB for this winter. This time around I am more aware of the toll winter takes on a bike and I am going to try to do a much better job taking care of my bike.

      While I am at work my bike stays in an unheated shed for 10 hours, so I think I probably will go for a quick wipe down routine and see how that goes…

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      • I just noticed that the care stuff is always for when you get home, but if I want to bike to a hockey game or work, can I not prevent damage to the bike and that. I will try a wipe down too and just do a more thorough job later when at home.

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      • Yeah, I think that’s really the best we can do. Some damage has to be expected unfortunately, cars get rusty after a handful of winters as well, it is just a part of winter and all the salt and chemicals that are used on the roads. Poor bikes, they work so hard for us 😦

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  3. Spoken like a true winter cyclist. Me, I’ll get on my trainer and my treadmill and park my bike during the winter. I feel such a wimp after reading your post. I don’t do winter riding. My bones can’t handle it.

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  4. I don’t care how “acclimated” I get to the cold, I will still go into it kicking and screaming! Today, it’s on the road at 6:30 to commute 45 miles to work. Short day on the bus.

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    • 45 miles commute? You are rocking it! Yeah, I do have an unfair advantage this time of year, I just flat-out love these temperatures! That makes you the impressive one for biking out in the cold weather πŸ˜‰

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  5. I will have to start over acclimating to the cold. It’s noon and 90 F in Austin right now. Riding to the LBJ library in a few minutes then to the Driveway series bike crit tonight. Then to a bar.

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    • It looks like you are having a blast in Austin! It is neat that you decided to bike everywhere. 90 degree weather though…you will have to spend a few weeks in a walk-in freezer to readjust, haha!

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      • Funny. When I’m away on business or holiday alone, I usually rent a bike. It’s the only way to travel.
        The rental bike could be a great winter beater for me. I’m going to try to work out a deal when I return it this morning.

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  6. I am just in awe … lived in California all my life, and 20 F is cold for me, so I can’t imagine cycling in sub-zero temps. However, I still wear biking shorts even when it’s 45 F. I do like your train of thought … spend as much time outdoors, so that your body can acclimate to the colder temps. I do the same thing, even though it doesn’t really get that cold here.

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    • A lot of folks even around here don’t bike in 45F weather-that is pretty cold if the coldest temps you get are around 20F! I think it is pretty awesome the way our bodies will adapt to the climate we live in-if we give it a chance to do so πŸ˜‰

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