Louisville Bicycle Club

Louisville Bicycle Club Newsletter -- January-February 1997

Jack Frost Nipping At Your Toes . . .

by Joseph A. Kipp

If you've ever waited for a bus on a cold day, you'll know that a strong wind makes you feel much colder than the temperature on the thermometer might indicate.

The wind makes you feel colder for two reasons. First, it blows away a thin layer of warm air that normally surrounds your body. Second, it draws away heat by quickly evaporating any moisture that forms on your skin. It's also why you feel chilled when you step out of the shower or cooled when you fan your perspiring skin. The stronger the wind, the greater the evaporation and the colder you feel.

Wind-chill is just one of the many factors that can affect winter comfort. Others include the type of clothes worn, level of physical exertion, amount of sunshine, humidity level, age and body type. For cyclists, the wind chill takes on new meaning because we’re riding a moving bike. Therefore, you must take into account the speed at which you are riding. If you’re moving at 20 mph with no wind, your effective wind speed is 20mph. If you are riding into a 5-mph headwind, your effective wind speed is 25 mph. Likewise if you’ve got a 5-mph tail wind, your effective wind speed is 15 mph, so remember to take this into account when riding and dressing this winter. Hopefully with a little luck and information, Jack Frost won’t be nipping at you nose, toes or any appendages.

Below is a small table to help you figure the wind chills at various temperatures and speeds. A special thanks to the Canadian Department of Environment for the information contained in this story.

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last updated: 19 December 1996
by Duc M. Do