Long underwear and studded tires January 1, 2009 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Icycle Challenge, 2009 edition: The colder it gets, the higher your score -- this time exponentially -- so break out the long underwear and the studded tires!

As usual, the challenge will be tracked at Weendure. To participate, create an account, start entering rides, and add the ride time temperature (or multiple temperatures) in the tags field. Remember to put units (F or C) along with your temp. Note that Weendure doesn't allow duplicate tags, but the scoring script does process one decimal place. So.. if you are on the road for several hours you can enter tags like "-12C, -14C, -14.1C, -15C". That will score better than either "-12C, -15C" or "-12C, -14C, -15C", while being a lot more honest than just "-15C".

Scoring rules are as follows (please, don't be scared off by the math.. just know that colder is better!):
Rides will be tracked from January 1st to January 31st. Your score will be distance in km multiplied by a temperature based scale factor.
scale factor = e-T/10
If you've entered multiple temperatures, the scale factor will be averaged in a way that gives maximum credit for cold.
scale factor = 1/n x (e-T1/10 + e-T2/10 + ... + e-Tn/10)
If that isn't clear, check out this years beta, and my profile for a metric example, or mikepop's profile for American.
posted by Chuckles to MetaFilter Gatherings at 1:44 PM (22 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Even when you win, you lose.
posted by stavrogin at 2:01 PM on January 1, 2009

No wind chill?
posted by DU at 2:07 PM on January 1, 2009

Heh. It's been stupid cold around here enough that I might just get a few rides in for the fun of it.
posted by niles at 2:09 PM on January 1, 2009

Man, if my first impression of "icicle challenge" was right, my brother would have been in the running for sure.
posted by Plutor at 2:22 PM on January 1, 2009

I missed my traditional New Year’s Day ride this year due to an annoying cold. It would have been good for this though given the 15°F weather. Does wind chill count (40 mph gusts)?
posted by caddis at 3:09 PM on January 1, 2009

I was just commenting to a friend last week that it was "4 degrees, but in Fahrenheit, not your wussy Celsius."

So, C & F peeps are treated completely separately? Oh, from a baseline of 16C/58F.

posted by Pronoiac at 3:15 PM on January 1, 2009

Wind chill, on a bike? Ah.. no. :)

So, C & F peeps are treated completely separately? Oh, from a baseline of 16C/58F.

posted by Chuckles at 6:45 PM on January 1, 2009

Do you get extra points for rubbing menthol into your eyes before you ride? Staying indoors thanks. Will get the bike out when it's sensible.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:46 AM on January 2, 2009

So, C & F peeps are treated completely separately? Oh, from a baseline of 16C/58F.

I first thought temperatures, Fahrenheit or Celsius, were thrown into the formula without any conversion, resulting in different scales depending on which units you use. I looked at the "this year's beta" link, spotted the 16C/58F assumption, & guessed that you factored that in, thus giving a unified scale for everybody.

I'm in San Francisco, so that's the point where I shrugged & decided this wasn't for me.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:40 AM on January 2, 2009

The 16/58 assumption is just for people who don't bother to enter a temperature. You could compete from San Fransisco as long as you cycle A LOT!
  T (in C) =   10      5      0     -5    -10    -15    -20
  T (in F) =   50     41     32     23     14      5     -4
exp(-T/10) = 0.37   0.61   1.00   1.65   2.72   4.48   7.39
I mean, you are only at a 5 to 1 disadvantage, give or take. Just think about all those extra days you can go out due to no frostbite :)
posted by Chuckles at 10:59 AM on January 2, 2009

Shouldn't we get some sort of location adjustment? No way we Southerners can really be competitive. I do live far enough north where I get in sub-40 F rides regularly but have yet to have the opportunity to be involved in sub-30 F insanity.
posted by Carbolic at 11:12 AM on January 2, 2009

I’m not clear on why this is the Icicle Challenge and not, say, the Icebike Challenge, as that is the generally accepted slang for winter bicycling. (It’s the only neologism of mine that ever survived more than a week.)
posted by joeclark at 1:57 PM on January 2, 2009

Or, how about "Bicicle Challenge?"
posted by Pronoiac at 2:41 PM on January 2, 2009

It's pronounced "Bicycle Challenge."
posted by Pronoiac at 2:46 PM on January 2, 2009

Carbolic, there's also the monthly ranking based on pure mileage (see December here). Southerners are probably at an advantage in that one over the winter months.

The Icycle Challenge is designed to encourage people facing somewhat more challenging weather conditions to keep going. Too bad there's no way to accurately record and compare the full range of winter obstacles beyond cold: ice, black ice, deep snow, slippery packed snow, slush, ridges of slush with ice underneath, snowbanks shedding onto the street, and generally narrower and nastier "bike lanes". Temperature is a public, objective measure, so that seems to be the only fair way of doing it.
posted by maudlin at 6:12 PM on January 2, 2009

If you're looking for tips on how to survive these chilly rides, Ants On A Green Roof has a great post about what she wore biking to work in Chicago all winter last year.

Sadly she stopped posting last June, but hopefully you will all get some helpful hints from her experience.
posted by bilabial at 11:47 PM on January 2, 2009

The key to winter rides is fighting the wind. Windstop pants and gloves. Helmet cover. For shoes, no road shoe, go mountain (change pedals if you are a roadie) with room for a nice thick sock and use one not well ventilated, then get a really good shoe cover as this is perhaps the hardest part of your body to protect against the cold.) Layers. If you bring liquid to drink, bring warmed liquid. There is nothing like taking a big drink of near freezing water when it is below freezing. Your body responds by shutting down circulation to your extremities - oh that is not pleasant. Use an insulated water bottle or a carry your water next to your skin. That $30 helmet without many vents, that is your winter helmet. If you don't buy special big shoes with room for thick wool socks (you should) then wear thin wool dress socks, yes the kind you would wear with suits, in your normal shoes. They are as thin as regular bike socks but much warmer. You are wearing leggings so no one will see the socks. Following these guidelines I have ridden comfortably (except for the breathing part) down to about 0 degrees F.
posted by caddis at 1:21 AM on January 3, 2009

I will provide the winner with MetaFilter bike stickers, or others of your choosing.

Plus I gave everyone a four day head start by being out of town with no bike all last week.
posted by mikepop at 7:48 AM on January 5, 2009

maudlin, I generally like sbatterman's proposal of adding a 'HellFire Summer Challenge' to give all of the southerners an excuse to show-up the Canadians who are revelling in the 'Winter Icicle Challenge".

though, of course, having said that, watch sequential throw in a subfreezing century in January and show all the rest of us what's what.

to caddis -- the thing I would also add is a balaclava / face mask. January is misery without one.

oh, and to add to the hydration advice -- if you plan on consuming calories during your winter ride, have some tips:

Gu and gels are very susceptible to freezing. If you're taking one on a ride that's below 30F, consume it in the first 30 minutes in the ride or it might as well just be dead weight.

Clif Bars are nibbleable down to -10F.

Candied ginger gives you some quick, sugary calories and temporarily increases your perception of bodily warmth.
posted by bl1nk at 4:54 PM on January 5, 2009

A HellFire Summer Challenge sounds like fun. It gets hot up here, but we don't have many days that go over the equivalent of 100 degrees F, so the southerners could totally rock that one. I guess August would the hottest month, but that means that if we tried a streak challenge again, we'd have to stagger it not to run into August, so as not to overload our chief statistician.

We discussed some other potential challenges back in this old thread. Too bad we didn't choose a "screw up your left shoulder in some mysterious way" challenge because I could have crushed all of you at that.
posted by maudlin at 7:44 PM on January 5, 2009

Am I a hypocrite for thinking that we need to factor the humidex into hot weather determinations? :)
posted by Chuckles at 8:28 PM on January 5, 2009

You're deliberately tormenting us, aren't you?

(What I said earlier about staggering the challenges? Screw that. Run 'em all at once, take away his script, and make him count on his fingers. That should keep him out of trouble.)
posted by maudlin at 9:15 PM on January 5, 2009

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