Thursday Morning Commute: Cooling

Thursday Morning Commute

We’ve had triple digit (or close to it) weather for the past week or so, but we’re looking forward to a forecasted cooling trend as we head into the weekend. This morning was absolutely perfect with temps in the mid-60s and a cool breeze out of the south. I have to admit, once the temps hit 100F+ my interest in bicycling withers. If I had to choose between near-freezing temps or high heat, I’d take the cold weather every time (those of you who regularly ride in extreme conditions can pipe in now and make fun of us weather-wimp Californians ;-)). I’m curious; given a choice, would you choose high heat or freezing temps for your commute?

Given a choice, would you choose high heat or freezing temps for your commute?

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22 Responses to “Thursday Morning Commute: Cooling”

  • Garth says:

    Both present challenges. I would give the preference to heat, since it creates fewer equipment issues than cold. It’s all fun and games until your derailer fills up with grimy snow. You need ever so many more clothes, your bike starts falling apart and you can’t clean it, and the ice can get pretty slippery without special equipment.

    In either case, though, it beats driving in the heat or cold.


  • Doug says:

    In Montana we openly talk about how our winter cold snaps are what keep out the Californians!

  • Randy H. says:

    I wonder if this poll would be different if you did it again in the winter. Here in OK we have had triple digit temps for about 3 weeks already with no relief in sight. I’m longing for cooler weather.

  • Greg says:

    In cold weather, I can always pile on another layer of clothing to keep me warm. But in the heat, I can only get so naked!

  • Eric Welborn says:

    I voted for the high heat, because down in Texas it’s the norm to ride in high temps. Riding in the cold/freezing temps is not the norm for us.

  • Philippe says:

    I would choose freezing but normally in Montreal, the freezing temp comes with freezing rain, snow and wind. So heat isn’t so bad after all.
    If it was pure cold, it would be my preference.

  • Michael says:

    ‘Extreme’ weather does not compute. Mention snow, and I’ll give you a look like you asked me to bike on Mars. Heat, 90F, dry makes me wilt. If it looks like wet stuff will fall out of the sky –> car.

    (CA native, naturally)

    If I had a preference for one end or the other, it would have to be (relatively) cooler temps. But then again, 40F is pretty darn cold to me!

  • doug in seattle says:

    High heat for sure. Though “high heat” in Seattle generally means 90 degrees, which isn’t so bad. Riding in cold rain for 9 months of the year is plenty for me. It’s well into July and I was only able to ride in shorts and short sleeves starting last week. I’m looking forward to heat.

  • Benjamin in Minneapolis says:

    I’ll take the heat over the cold. However, to me, ‘cold’ means well below freezing. I’ll ride until the temp is somewhere in the neighborhood of 0 F, depending on wind. Basically, if I have to cover my face for my half hour commute, I’ll take the bus. I’ve never been too hot to ride. I’ll just be soaked in sweat (which means riding provides a nice cool breeze).

    Cold requires managing a lot more gear and leads to ice. Snow is rarely an issue, unless it’s become compacted by motor vehicle traffic.

  • TD says:

    I chose freezing temperatures, although one of my worst commutes to work was when it was around 9 degrees (F) outside, with a 25 mph wind. I got rashes all over my legs from the windchill…and yes, I was wearing thermal layers.

  • Michael says:

    Here in Houston, TX, I’d rather have freezing tempertures. I can always layer more clothes on for my commute. When it is cold I can actualy wear my work clothes while I commute. When it is hot an humid you can only take so much off.

  • Molly says:

    I almost answered freezing temperatures. But then I realized the lunacy of that response, seeing as it seems Minnesota just got done with winter and there’s no way I’d go back. A few weeks ago, Minneapolis was the hottest spot in the country at 102F. Riding was hot, but I took it slow and wore next to nothing. Cold weather riding isn’t so bad, but the wind really is an affront when temps are below zero.

  • Steve Butcher says:

    It seems hot weather arrived earlier then usual this year here in S.W. Missouri. Must have been sent here by our neighbors down in Oklahoma. [Thanks Randy H. :) ] Anyway, with the humidity from all our spring rains, our heat index has been well into the triple digits making ordinary activity cumbersome. Even breathing is difficult with that much heat and humidity. Tonight there is a cool breeze blowing out of the north which is unusual. It has dropped the temp. into the low 80’s at dusk which feels much better than the 90 degrees at 10:00 p.m. we have been having. Still, I think I’d rather ride when it is in the 30’s than in the 90’s. As it was stated above: ask me again in January!

  • Blake says:

    Close call, but I’ll take the heat. I get soaked, but a change of clothes takes care of that. Too much below freezing and I find it hard to keep my hands and feet warm without using the little warming packs. Here in Austin, it is not the cold or heat that stops me – it is the threat of hail or lightening during summer thunderstorms.

  • kanishka azimi (new england!) says:

    heat. but only because it is easier to navigate amongst your gear outside. if its very cold, you dont’ want to expose much skin, so its a little difficult to open bags, detach them, use your cell phone, etc. also, you feel more rushed to get inside somewhere, where its a little safer, warmer.

  • Perttu says:

    Depends really what counts as freezing temperatures. 32F or a little below is just fine, although one has to be careful with icy spots on the road. In something like -4F it’s much more difficult to cope with the temperature. Therefore I’d take high heat over freezing temperatures anytime but maybe that’s because the winter is so long, dark and cold where I live.

    Greetings from Finland :)

  • Ira Kinro says:

    I read the question as do I prefer 32F or 100F. I picked 100F. I don’t pick 32F for anything. Ever. F that. :-) I’ve lived in all manner of extreme climates. I’m very happy here in San Diego.

  • Doug says:

    I have rethought the answer as follows:
    Ideal temp: 58F-62F (wear normal work clothes)
    Nice temp: 40F-72F (slight modification to work clothes-jacket or shorts/pants change, etc)
    Not bad: 15F-85F (significant change to work clothes)
    Tolerable: -10F-95F (specialized clothes and pre/post ride preparation: showers, chem warmers, etc)
    Possible: -25F-105F (specialized clothes, pre/post ride prep and discomfort)

    What I noticed was that in varying from the ideal, there were longer ranges in the cold temps than in the hot temps to reach the next threshold. Almost a 2-1 exchange–2 degrees colder has the same impact to the ride as 1 degree warmer.

  • brad says:

    heat. i’m north of sacramento and it gets nice and hot up here. i laugh at the century mark. for those who are pleased that the cold weather keeps us californians away, i say the same for you. my oregon and washington friends look like they’re going to die after a few blocks.

  • Ryan says:

    For me getting warmer is easier than getting cooler when its super hot out there isn’t much to do aside from dress lightly and drink lots. Caveat is that I am life long resident of the Pacific NW (the wet side of the mountains) and so heat is relative to us Seattle area heat wimps, above about 85 you get cries of its “too hot” on the rare 100 degree days its a crushing heat wave driving the city to its knees (only slightly tongue n cheek. Rain, cool days -no problem.

  • Aaron says:


    I just moved to Houston from PA. The heat here is killing me. Any tips?

  • Ira Kinro says:

    Tips for cycling in heat, cold, humidity, rain….. has a “how to” section. Once in the website, there’s also an advice button near the top of the page. Topics are many and the articles are good.

    Also, there’s a great tip for dealing with heat here.

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