Author Topic: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?  (Read 1970 times)

Offline Dualsport

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Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« on: January 26, 2018, 03:18:27 pm »
I just left Oklahoma for a 3,000 plus mile "iron-butt" trip  this December 26th at 5 am and the temp was in the mid teens. I basically chose the I-40 route out to Los Angeles and other than stopping for gas and a quick bite, it was my intent to go straight through.  I did 300 miles in the panhandle area in freezing rain with a very staunch northern crosswind. I returned on January 2nd, leaving from San Diego and took the more southern route: I-8 to I-10 with a planned overnight stop in Las Cruces, NM, but from there on back to NE Oklahoma was ridden in extremely cold conditions where it got down to 1 degree F. I got home at 1;30 am and the temp was 10 F.
I learned A LOT, and would like to convey any tips or wisdom, however it's such an extremely long ride in such odd conditions, I question the value of a long detailed post? So, rather than try to do a long post, is there any specific questions or topics any of you would like me to share?
I did the ride on a 100% stock 2009. Yes, with the small stock windscreen, OEM seat, no cruise control, and non-heated grips.
It was kinda a bucket-list thing for me, I had a blast and would consider doing it again. There's so much I learned and so much to empart, I just thought it best to ask, or answer, specifically on any points anyone might be interested in. Cheers, -Curt 

Offline sanmo

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2018, 06:12:54 am »
Thanks for the offer of wisdom. Simple question really - -How suicidal/bonkers should I be, before attempting a similar ride? Logic dictates that it would have to be the absolute last item on my bucket list, since the probability of surviving the ride would be near zero for me. Now, if the ride had the bike on a trailer being towed by a warm cage.....
Seriously though, bravo. I'm sure the more ambitious, less yellow-bellied members will have more relevant questions.
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Offline fartymarty

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2018, 08:23:15 am »
....is there any specific questions or topics any of you would like me to share?

1) Are you crazy? Were you off your meds? (Curt, these are Rhetorical smart ass questions, that I'm required to use every so often to maintain my curmudgeon certificate. I get extra points for being almost first.)

2) I would like to know more about the panhandle part of the trip (now there's something I never thought I'd type out loud  ;D). I think a cross wind trying to blow my wheels into the other lane in the rain would be bad enough, but freezing rain too? I'm assuming it was freezing on the bike but not on the road? How much build up was there on the bike? ..any pics?

3) I'm not sure what to ask here specifically.....
...... There's so much I learned and so much to empart.....

.......so generally, what did you learn that you feel like imparting.


Offline Dualsport

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2018, 08:29:52 am »
It was an enjoyable trip, it’s got a steep learning curve though to make it enjoyable, so if I can assist by making it easier for someone else, I’m here.

Offline mikeyw64

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2018, 08:44:55 am »
my first thought would be a full heated Gerbring suit including socks & gloves.

Might even consider a helmet with heated visor


My second thought would be a nice warm comfy car ;)


DIY heated visor solution from a Norwegian
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Offline lather

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2018, 11:56:56 am »
Ive got gear to keep core and extemeties warm but have found no good solution for my chin and face. After 30 miles with a mask or balaclava my face gets itchy and fogging is a problem. What is your solution?
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Offline Dualsport

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2018, 01:35:16 pm »
Ive got gear to keep core and extemeties warm but have found no good solution for my chin and face. After 30 miles with a mask or balaclava my face gets itchy and fogging is a problem. What is your solution?
Solution was to put the helmet into wind outside the protection of the windscreen. I know that seems backasswards, because as the temp falls to 25 degrees keeping the helmet out of the airstream is the way to go, but below 25 other tactics become practical. The heated gear will take you much deeper into the cold than the helmet/"traditional" balaclava will allow. Below 30 degrees the faceshield gasket gets evermore hardened and it begins to leak and vibrate-sing. If you have a balaclava with a large eye opening, then your forehead gets super cold. At first I fought it all by trying to keep it from happening, (trying to seal the gasket better in various ways) then I realized the seeping cold air was the key to keeping the visor clear below 25, especially at the sides. Then it became a question of how to keep the face warm. Had to ditch the two balaclavas I already owned and I purchased a Harley brand 100% neoprene balaclava that had two unique features: a nose piece that deflected all breath down into the low pressure air area under the chin guard (My iicon helmet has an optional chin wind blocking piece that makes it quieter as it keeps this low pressure area from "gurgling" in the wind) and the second feature was the brow hangs atypically low, down low to mid eyebrow, and it has a point in the center nose bridge that drops down even lower yet. These features are what most would shy away from, but they're exactly what's needed when it gets super cold. Number one problem is starting back up after you've stopped for gas, as this is when fogging is the worst. I took several pairs of glasses, most of which had the foam around the eye socket, thinking that would curb the fogging and they were the worst at helping. That ever so tiny amount of breath going up out of the balaclava goes right in under the glasses and foggs instantly. I bought an anti-fog face shield and tried several anti-fogs that all worked above 30 and didn't work below 20 degrees. I found that by taking a clean, never-used microfiber cloth and polishing the inside of the faceshield to the point of being obsessed was the only thing that worked. I turned the new cloth and never used any area twice. after a very thorough polishing to remove any films or debris worked. Id hit the onramp with the shield cracked and at 75 mph I popped it closed. I pursed my lips like I was whistling downward as i exhaled for about a couple of miles and as the shield got super cold, I could then breath normally. The air would seep in around the face shield gasket thereby keeping it fog free and the neoprene balaclava covered everything but my eyes. Note that when the face shield is below 20 and the air in between your eyes and the shield is "crisp" fogging does not occur because the dew point temp is now between your skin and the balaclava and not out near the visor.  Once, one of my eyes did water from the cold air, but I can state that the setup in those conditions was not uncomfortable. Once you go below 20 degrees you have to establish cool in all the right places to avoid both fog and sweating. Cool to strive for is not the uncomfortable cold, it's just not warm. You do not want your hands to be toasty, or your face because once your hands sweat, it's a condition that's almost impossible to recover from, save a glove swap, which I did at about every tank fill. The 100% neoprene kept my chin just fine, the expensive Schampa Warm Gear did not work as well, as it allowed some freezing of my breath to occur. The 100% neoprene was windproof, and it had small holes near the mouth, then the extra long nose flap took the nose breath and mouth breath and moved it all quite well out the bottom of the helmet.

Offline lather

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2018, 03:12:27 pm »
Very interesting! Thank you for the detailed reply. In the deep south I doubt I will ever be dealing with sub 25 degrees but I will start looking for a neoprene balaclava.
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Offline mikeyw64

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2018, 01:38:33 am »
Ive got gear to keep core and extemeties warm but have found no good solution for my chin and face. After 30 miles with a mask or balaclava my face gets itchy and fogging is a problem. What is your solution?

Grow a big thick bushy beard and use a loose wrapped silk scarf ;)
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Offline lather

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2018, 07:47:14 am »
Grow a big thick bushy beard and use a loose wrapped silk scarf ;)
I don't want to look like Santa Claus...
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Offline Dualsport

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2018, 11:00:10 am »
Here's a picture of the bike iced up as I entered Amarillo, TX, A picture of how I had the bike loaded (In Gallup, NM after fixing a rear flat tire), and a picture of my visor iced and fogged up. The roads and overpasses where the bike iced were still dry as the condensation was only forming on me and the bike. It only lasted about an hour and then it turned into a brutal 30 - 40 mph 90 degree right crosswind. Luckily I found a compassionate trucker that let me ride in the pocket just behind his tractor's rear wheels. He must have been a fellow rider because he really helped me for about 180 miles and his truck shielded me from the crosswind. The pack over the seat solely held gear as I layered up and down as conditions changed. Amarillo was the only place I had to put on the rain gear, which was used solely to cut the crosswind from entering anywhere. The raingear worked great ( Nelson-Rigg brand, model Aston AS-300 2-piece rainsuit. I never needed it again, even when it got down to 1 degree F - the coldest temp I experienced.
The pack on the back luggage rack held the tools, air compressor, tire repair stuff, spare visors, and face-shield cleaning stuff etc. The throttle side pannier was used to hold spare layering (varying levels of base layers) and the clutch side pannier was holding all my personal items. I keep the things I might have to access on the side of the road in the pannier furthest away from the road.

Offline Dualsport

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2018, 11:01:24 am »
The face shield in Amarillo, TX 12/26/2017

Offline Dualsport

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2018, 11:18:07 am »
The bike in Gallup, NM after having to stop to fix a rear flat tire. I plugged the large screw I'd picked up, however. the contact cement didn't cure due to the extreme cold, so the plug kept pulling out. When you're riding below 20 degrees, and it was 13 degrees when the photo was taken, you can't get geared up inside. You gotta go outside in the cold and gear up in order to prevent any sweating. Trust me, it's just starting to get sweaty even in 13 degree temps when you're layering up.
The bike didn't want to start because after a night outside near 5 degrees the oil gets pretty thick and bike batteries just don't have the CCA's. I'm a pilot that flew in Alaska for 3 years. We'd pre-heat the engine and pull the prop. As soon as I hit the starter, I knew I was in trouble and immediately stopped. I took off all my gear above the waist and pushed the bike up a gradient in the hotel parking lot. Put the bike in neutral and started coasting in 2nd gear with the clutch in. I slowly and partially let out the clutch to turn the engine over. I did this twice. I put back on the gear and the bike cranked over and started immediately. Had to let her idle for about 1.5 min. before pulling out for the freeway. 

Offline Dualsport

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Re: Long Distance ride in the extreme cold. Any questions?
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2018, 11:30:51 am »
My '09 typically indicates 14.4V. WIth the heated jacket liner, pants, insoles, and glove liners it would drop to 14.2 on high, 14.3 on medium or low temp settings, and 14.1/14.2 on the maximum setting. I was using Sedici Hotwired gear. ALmost didn't buy it because they say "only goes to 100 degrees" where Gerbings and others say above 130 degrees, or something like that. TRUST ME, the HotWired liners will get hotter than you can stand even at 1 degree F.  I used a thin summer base layer of polyester "long-johns" the entire trip, even though I had medium and super-cold weights with me. I burned my right hip to the point of blistering (never felt or noticed that it'd burned me it until later in CA). This occured where my skin folded over when sitting on the bike. I guess I'd gotten the heating elements in that folded skin. I didn't have a problem on the way back because I was now conscience that this could happen, so once in the bike and rolling down the freeway, I just pulled up on that section of my pants at the hip, so the situation wouldn't occur again.