Too cold/icy/snowy for touring?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
djb
Posts: 222
Joined: 24 Mar 2013, 9:27pm

Re: Too cold/icy/snowy for touring?

Postby djb » 11 Jan 2021, 1:21pm

I assume you are all Brits, but boy oh boy, reading of biking in Siberia, that super deep lake in Russia, or anywhere that the lady describes -40, -50c temps, it's just really hard getting my head around.
As a Canadian growing up doing outdoor activities, and being out at times at -20c regularly, and maybe -30c at times, it's just simply hard to imagine traveling by bike at those temps, and much colder.
I'm sure none of you are familiar with -30c, but you would have to be so prepared with all the details of all aspects of clothing, and fueling yourself, as the margin of error and potential for any little thing becoming a big thing is just so real.
As she mentions, plastic breaks, metal and bearings stiffen and get stuck.....It's just all rather frightening to be honest.

User avatar
andrew_s
Posts: 5300
Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 9:29pm
Location: Gloucestershire

Re: Too cold/icy/snowy for touring?

Postby andrew_s » 12 Jan 2021, 11:54pm

djb wrote:I'm sure none of you are familiar with -30c

I used to be (Antarctica, Halley IV).
As Helen notes in one of her blog posts, there's as much difference between -35 and -45 as there is between 0 and -10, and it feels it.
-15 was shirt sleeves weather (if there was no wind), but we didn't usually get far from base if it was much below -35

Of note, there was the traditional midwinter streak - everyone starkers on a loop round the main base buildings (~300 m), at -39. Footwear was permitted. The South Africans, up the coast at SANAE, also had a winter streak the year I was there, on what they thought would be the coldest night of the year. The temperature was about the same, but the two who took part ended up spending a week or three in the sick bay with frostbitten toes.

djb
Posts: 222
Joined: 24 Mar 2013, 9:27pm

Re: Too cold/icy/snowy for touring?

Postby djb » 13 Jan 2021, 9:14pm

andrew_s wrote:
djb wrote:I'm sure none of you are familiar with -30c

I used to be (Antarctica, Halley IV).
As Helen notes in one of her blog posts, there's as much difference between -35 and -45 as there is between 0 and -10, and it feels it.
-15 was shirt sleeves weather (if there was no wind), but we didn't usually get far from base if it was much below -35

Of note, there was the traditional midwinter streak - everyone starkers on a loop round the main base buildings (~300 m), at -39. Footwear was permitted. The South Africans, up the coast at SANAE, also had a winter streak the year I was there, on what they thought would be the coldest night of the year. The temperature was about the same, but the two who took part ended up spending a week or three in the sick bay with frostbitten toes.


Yowzer!!
That must have been quite an experience being there (not the streaking), a very unique and socially challenging experience. Last year I read a good article by a lady describing the over winter no sun experience there (don't recall which base). You have probably only astronauts who can relate to being there.
Ya, -30c has been my max, with wind it probably has been like -40, 45, but I really can't fathom being out in that for long.
I've luckily not had real frostbite, but thereabouts , and the pain is not much fun. Gives you respect and fear of getting that cold for real, and the seriousness of it.

You're not a kiwi are you.? Married and with your wife did lots of trips, used to be up on CGOAB? Pan and Pan the bikes? "The day we......." ?

brumster
Posts: 319
Joined: 8 Sep 2009, 7:50pm

Re: Too cold/icy/snowy for touring?

Postby brumster » 14 Jan 2021, 8:55pm

Discovered this chap on YouTube this morning cycling Siberia in -50C !! - He also has a video cycling the Pamir Highway in Winter. Both entertaining and hardcore :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdWe9wEEbyM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrmCP1vuWzc

djb
Posts: 222
Joined: 24 Mar 2013, 9:27pm

Re: Too cold/icy/snowy for touring?

Postby djb » 15 Jan 2021, 2:04am

brumster wrote:Discovered this chap on YouTube this morning cycling Siberia in -50C !! - He also has a video cycling the Pamir Highway in Winter. Both entertaining and hardcore :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdWe9wEEbyM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrmCP1vuWzc


I've gotta say, this fellow and Iohan G are really tough cookies. Watched a bit of the first Italian guys vid, in Russia starting at Magdan......ooooof. Hats off to him, but ooooooof.

francovendee
Posts: 1651
Joined: 5 May 2009, 6:32am

Re: Too cold/icy/snowy for touring?

Postby francovendee » 15 Jan 2021, 8:13am

I've watched this guys videos almost since his first one on Youtube. He seem to suffer (enjoy?) really wild and difficult places.
He started with a touring bike set up but moved on to fat bike backpacking. He's even taken an inflatable boat with him and explored area he couldn't get to by land.
Truly remarkable guy.

pete75
Posts: 13647
Joined: 24 Jul 2007, 2:37pm

Re: Too cold/icy/snowy for touring?

Postby pete75 » 15 Jan 2021, 11:04am

djb wrote:I assume you are all Brits, but boy oh boy, reading of biking in Siberia, that super deep lake in Russia, or anywhere that the lady describes -40, -50c temps, it's just really hard getting my head around.
As a Canadian growing up doing outdoor activities, and being out at times at -20c regularly, and maybe -30c at times, it's just simply hard to imagine traveling by bike at those temps, and much colder.
I'm sure none of you are familiar with -30c, but you would have to be so prepared with all the details of all aspects of clothing, and fueling yourself, as the margin of error and potential for any little thing becoming a big thing is just so real.
As she mentions, plastic breaks, metal and bearings stiffen and get stuck.....It's just all rather frightening to be honest.


Dino Lanzaretti says 'I think that up to -30°C it does not change much if you are well equipped, cycling in the cold is pleasant and you can sleep in the tent without too much difficulty if you have high altitude mountaineering materials. However, there is an invisible wall against which you bang when temperatures fall above -35°C. It is a perceptible threshold even without the need for a thermometer because everything changes in a second.' https://cycloscope.net/cycling-siberia-dino-lanzaretti

Coldest I've been in is -67 and it's not pleasant.

djb
Posts: 222
Joined: 24 Mar 2013, 9:27pm

Re: Too cold/icy/snowy for touring?

Postby djb » 15 Jan 2021, 6:56pm

I quickly read some of his interview. Interesting that he says below -35c your nostrils begin to pinch together. I personally have used that as an indicator of about -30c, that's when it starts with me, and it really is one of the indicators of the temperature, even if you haven't seen a thermometer. He did say that he used special grease for some bike parts, and I believe it.
And what he says about touching metal objects is very true, I've hurt my fingers in the past taking photos outside at night at about -30c and from touching the tripod and parts of the camera, even with my thin liner gloves (under big puffy mitts under a shell) because at times I had to manipulate small buttons.

really though, I guess I'm just incredibly aware of how hard these people are who have travelled by bike in such harsh conditions--and like I said, the possibility of things going south quickly.

and I'm just average Joe Blow Canadian whose cold weather experience is fairly average, except for maybe doing cross country skiing a lot in my life and out in a range of temps, but nothing like these examples.

User avatar
andrew_s
Posts: 5300
Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 9:29pm
Location: Gloucestershire

Re: Too cold/icy/snowy for touring?

Postby andrew_s » 17 Jan 2021, 11:22pm

djb wrote:You're not a kiwi are you.?

No.

Halley is the British base on the Weddel Sea, at about 75S, 25W.
It's on the ice shelf, so there's snow/ice accumulation, and movement towards the edge iceberg calving area.
The first 4 bases got buried, and abandoned when they got too deep, or started to get crushed, the 5th was on jackable legs, and was abandoned when it got too close to the ice edge, and the current one is in segments, on legs with ski feet, and can be moved to a new location, as happened ~3 years ago when a crack in the ice shelf threatened to have the base float off on a big (35 km) iceberg.

Coldest was -49.8, on the night I picked for a bivvy outside.
ME Everest sleeping bag, cotton cover, Helly thermals, and a bobble hat, with the sleeping bag draw cord pulled as tight as it would go, and the remaining hole plugged by the bobble. Just about tolerable, provided I kept reasonably still.
Most painful was driving a Skidoo in -35 into a relative 45 mph headwind, with no windshield/fairing, and a thumb trigger throttle.
Slight frostnip on the cheekbones a couple of times, and round the wrists when de-icing the anemometer one time. The damage is sort of like sunburn, except you peel in considerably thicker sheets.
The closest to frostbite was skiing 5 miles from a coastal hut back to base in -30. I was on XC skis with 3-pin boots with a single layer of leather, the other chap was in Koflach mountaineering boots (plastic shell and inner), on mountaineering bindings and DH skis; I was fine, and not even uncomfortable, his toes went black. Keep that foot flexing to encourage the blood flow :)

djb
Posts: 222
Joined: 24 Mar 2013, 9:27pm

Re: Too cold/icy/snowy for touring?

Postby djb » 18 Jan 2021, 2:03am

very impressive achievements any of those bases, with all the logistical challenges of well, everything.

can only somewhat relate to the snowmobile experience from downhill skiing experience at -25/30c or so, and how skiing at probably 20-25mph makes the windchill just painful, but nothing like what you experienced.
Like most Canadians, Ive only had minor skin peeling, earlobes, a bit of cheek stuff, but again, it was minor.

I've XC all my life, and while I've never used them, its common for real hard corers to use boot "overwrap" thingees that go over and around their boots. I used to participate in an event called the Canadian Ski Marathon, and the toughest folks would ski about 80k a day, carrying everything on their own to eat and sleep out overnight. They would start out at 5am or something and we would get passed during the day by those tough ladies and men with their backpacks on--and a lot of them were over 60. Real toughies.

again, my life experience with our "regular" cold makes me even more aware of the accomplishments/challenges/dangers of being in the environment you've been--again, a very unique experience you had.