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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been using Friel's plan from his book (MTB Training Bible) and today came time for me to complete a test for the conclusion of Base2. This test is a 10mi time trial. For the last two seasons I have had incredible luck and been able to complete the test on a fairly warmish day. In fact as I looked back over my log most of the tests have taken place on 50F days!! This morning I was not so lucky and the temp during the test was 25F. I am used to training in the cold and am pretty well acclimated but my time was less than stellar this morning.
My question is what kind of performance drop should I expect in the cold? My understanding is that the body is already working a little extra just to create body heat and that will take away from the available energy to push the pedals. Is there a change in how the lungs take in oxygen during an all out effort in sub freezing temps? I was warmed up at the start but i still was choking on the chilled air for the first minute or two.
 

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Don't have an exact answer for you but I can certainly agree, colder temps definitely creates a noticeable drop in my cycle performance abilities. It's that cold air intake that's killer.
 

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More than breathing is all that cold muscle mass TRYING to kick over solid efforts.

25 degrees isn't so bad for tempo - but to try and lay down a solid 10mi. TT effort will be really hard - as not only is your body struggling for warmth, but every capillary in every joint and muscle is likely more constricted than on a warm day - so less blood / oxygen is getting delivered to those muscles.

In a nutshell - cold is OK for moderate workouts, but anything aside from steep, standing at times, work-your-ass-off-going 8 mi. per hour, slow climbing is hard to get really "warm" for on cold days...
 

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Cold air is also about 18% denser than warm air (something like 40 degrees verses 80 degrees), so you have to work harder than you would in the warm to go as fast. However, if you are doing a threshold TT, the amount that your body is working to keep itself warm is minimal. At that point, you are pretty much getting close to where your body is trying to cool itself. Just what it seems like to me...
 

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It's -20C this morning but I'm going to let it warm up abit before I go and jog my 12 km loop. The biggest problem I have is seeing because my glasses are all fogged up. Just watch the exposed skin(don't have any) and it's bearable or even fun if you have a masochistic bent, along the lines of prepare to suffer.
 

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I don't know...

I seem to perform as well if not better in the cold. I think that I get bogged down by the east coast humidity in the summer when the temps hit the upper 80s, but in the winter, I'l ride no matter what temperature it is, and as long as I keep moving I feel great. I hate cold road rides though... thems are the pitts...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks all!!
It never occured to me that cold air is denser than warm air thus creating more resistance. (guess that's why i dont work for the CSI)
That would explain slower speeds across the board in the winter months.
The effect of the cold on capillaries/muscles is also an interesting point.
 

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on top of all those affects mentioned above, another contributor to slower speed for a winter TT is the clothing.

I can't stand my winter clothing (for 25 degree riding).
-The bunching of cycling shorts with Triflex tights between my legs
-my windbreaker flopping in the wind
-my god-awful thick pearl izumi winter gloves, seems to reduce my grip on the handle bar
-thicker winter wool socks;

these all seem like contributors for less speed.
 

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We run long distance in the winter. It is something like you are deprived of some oxygen in the winter cold, trains your heart to use less oxygen but still run as hard just like Kenyans. And makes you run faster to keep warm.
 

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I've been noticing the same thing

I went out for a 3 hour ride on fresh legs yesterday in this 15 degree F New England weather. Right from the start, my legs didn't feel powerful, my breathing felt restricted, and my heart rate seemed elevated by about 10 bpm than it normally is for the same perceived effort. Anybody have any real, informed info on this phenomenon?
 

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A couple of weeks ago I had a discussion with my boss, who had open heart surgery in June (6 bypasses!). He goes to therapy several times a week, they always check his oxygen levels and other markers when he comes in. He stated that his oxygen level was 85% of norm one day when he came in, the temps were in the 20F range. The therapist, albeit, not very scientifically, stated that the cold can reduce your efficiency. He did his therapy for an hour or so then they rechecked him and he was back up to his normal range after being in room temps and working his heart. It's an interesting anecdote for sure, and I know the cold affects my breathing a lot, however, I'm asthmatic so just about everything affects my breathing:mad: I personally think the 55F-60F is my optimal temperature for racing etc, too bad it's 20F in the winter here and 90F in the summer! I think it's time to move.
 

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I think optimum temp for me is about 12 C, warmer I start to sweat more etc colder all the above start to happen.

My weekly averaged last summer was a pretty reliable 20.5 to 21 km/h. for my trails.
This winter (colder and snowier than usual) my average over about the same trails has fallen to about 18.5 to 19 km/h. The temp has probably averged oh -7 C with some real cold snaps thrown in.

So I would say expect at least a 10% drop in performance, at oh 20 F.
 

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Now I'm no scientist, but I am a biologist :p

I don't look at humans at all in my work, but I do know this. Everything in your body (proteins, energetic favorability of biochem. pathways, cellular respiration, etc.) is optimized to work at a mean temp of just under 100deg F. Any drop from this temp will reduce the favorability (ie. rate, speed) of these reactions.

Now I've never stabbed remp probes into my thighs on a cold morning before a jog, but all evidence tells me my extremities are colder than core T. I believe science backs me up on this, but like I said; I know little of human physiology.

The process of bringing O2 from the air via your lungs into the blood would be similarly affected buy reductions in temperature, and you're essentially bathing your alveoli in very cool air as you exercise to continually dissipate generated body heat away from the lungs.

In other words, there's some data from the Biology Tent to corroborate your hypothesis. Your body is only really happy at the right temps, otherwise it's having to survive just a little as well as perform.
 
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