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Wind Chill Factor

Wind Chill Factor

Posted by Wiley Moody on Feb 11, 2019

Almost immediately into my chilly winter ride I realized there was an exposed area of my neck out in the cold air. Even with multitude of bandanas around my neck, there was a small enough opening that, right away I started to feel the burn. After a while the burn goes away, sort of like getting used to jumping in a cold swimming pool. But then I got a little concerned about actually freezing my skin and what actual the temperature was at highway speeds. 

man riding motorcycle at highspeed under windchill temperature

When I got to my destination I wanted to see how to figure out the windchill temperature. I found this simple formula.

Multiply the temperature by 0.6215 and then add 35.74. Subtract 35.75 multiplied by the wind speed calculated to the 0.16 power. Finally, add 0.4275 multiplied by temperature, multiplied by wind speed calculated to the 0.16 power. Your result is defined as T(wc), which equals the current local wind chill factor.

I thought that was a lot to remember, so I found this windchill calculator from the National Weather Service.

Turns out I was riding in about 8 degree air. That is enough windchill to cause frostbite and hypothermia, and care needs to be taken to prevent serious injury. After my ride, the exposed area on my neck looked and felt like sunburn. Apart from that, the rest of my gear worked well in the cold. Here are a few things I like to think about before going on a winter ride.

The Road. Do a little recon. The roads my be clear, but there are places where melted snow refreezes across the road, and it always happen on a corner for some reason. No matter what, you can not ride on ice.

My gear. Insulated boots, winter underwear, layers including wool clothing, and a nice snug fitting full-face helmet are things on winter gear riding list. Leather over all of that to keep the wind out and seal up any exposed areas. Heated gloves and or Heated Grips really help with keeping your fingers warm.One important step that's often over looked is not to bury your wallet and cell phone under layers of clothing. Keep those things readily available in your outer pockets.

My ride. The normal check over is suffice. Adjusting the air in the tires is important in the cold since it tends to under inflate the pressure. But a mechanically sound machine is even more necessary in the cold temperatures since it's your ticket to finding warmth at the end of your ride.

Myself. Mentally preparing for the cold is very important. You want to understand the symptoms of hypothermia and it's affects. Also knowing your limit when you extremities become to cold. If you're having trouble pulling the clutch for the front brake because your hands are cold, you need a break. There is no shame in getting warm. Warmth keeps you mentally and physically sharp.