Bikestyle Lifestyle: Wind chill factor

Today I write to you from my sick bed. I have caught what my gran refers to as “a chill”. I’m not actually sure if the concept of “a chill” extends beyond my family, but let me explain…

My gran would often say,

“Don’t swim for too long, you will catch a chill”


“Blow dry your hair straight away otherwise you will catch a chill”


“Put another jersey on you will catch a chill”.


So from what I understood from my gran’s warnings “catching a chill” had something to do with being cold (and wet) for too long. Having never caught a chill in South Africa, I doubted their existence (Sorry, Gran).

The other night I went out with friends. In Oulu that generally means that you bike to the city centre about 7km away (yes, I biked in wedges – thank you, thank you). It was a balmy -3’C which is great biking weather actually. I wore a nice warm jacket but negated to give similar protection to the bottom half of my body. And this is where the wind chill factor came into play.  The wind chill factor means that whatever the temperature is, the more windy it is, the colder it feels. When you live in windy Cape Town and it’s 30’c and the wind chill factor means it feels more like 25’C, the wind chill factor is not such a crises. However, when you’re biking in Oulu and the wind chill factor turns -3’C into -8’C, you are dealing with quite another beast. And the wind chill factor is a factor that I had forgotten about.

Even if there is no wind blowing (rare for this time of year in Oulu), the mere fact that you are biking creates your own wind chill factor. Let’s say you bike on average about 15 km/hour that means that your windchill factor is about -5’C. At the same time you are exercising so your internal body temperature is a bit raised. If you are used to this, you can balance your clothing accordingly because if you dress too warmly, you die and if you don’t dress warmly enough, you die… or at the very least catch a chill.

So, having horribly misjudged the wind chill factor and then being cold for too long after that, I can officially say that it is very possible to “catch a chill”. Now that I have caught one, I can tell you all about it. It’s a sore throat, a headache, a loss of appetite, sleepiness, lethargy and a feeling of malaise. It’s like the beginning of a cold that never evolves but drags on a bit. Because it’s not caused by a virus or bacteria,  there’s no medication other than symptomatic medication and lots of rest, drinking warm drinks, keeping warm (saunas are a good idea) and more rest to get you better. So, that’s my plan and I hope to get better soon soon.

And for next time, I saw this great tool on facebook which I will use from now on…

(The fact the the actual temperature measurement only starts at 0’C and goes down to -45’C scares me a little)


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