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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 01-06-11, 04:59 PM   #1
hobkirk
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Cold Chest & Belly

I find my chest and belly get cold and turn red when I ride in temperatures under 30. My arms, legs, and face are OK. My feet also get cold, but I understand that. This has been going on for a while but most of my rides are 3-5 hours, so I could imagine reasons related to being exposed for such a long time. But yesterday it happened on a 17-mile training ride where my average heart rate was 90% of my maximum and I hit my max on two of the climbs - i.e., I was working really hard. When it happens, it feels like the front of my torso is slightly chilled - I feel like I am on the verge of being cold. Originally I wasn't really sure if it was really cold until I felt my flesh after I got home and stripped.

I'm wearing a medium-weight thermal shirt and pants, a long-sleeve cycling jersey, leg warmers, and bib shorts (plus hat, neck gaiter, gloves, socks & shoes for the extremities). On my colder rides (20 degrees) I've added a PI rain jacket (too hot after 10 miles), my arms sweat. I tried a new LG vest (once - I may return it) but I didn't notice any difference.

Questions:
  1. Why didn't the vest make a significant difference? It's a Louis Garneau 2010/11 Men's Vent 2 Cycling Vest. I was quite surprised that it didn't make my torso noticeably warmer, like my jacket did (or maybe it didn't, and I was unknowingly led astray by my arms being warmer).
  2. Any observations or suggestions that might help?

This is another case where I am awed by my ignorance. I've backpacked in winter, mountaineered, and run distance throughout many, many winters. It doesn't seem I should need ask these questions, but I've learned you guys (and gals) are good. Thank you!
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Old 01-06-11, 05:21 PM   #2
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That vest looks like it's fairly useless for weather and temperature protection. The weather rating on the LG website is "light", and only having softshell fabric on the front is going to limit how effective it is at preventing heat loss.

Try going with a more substantial, full-torso (as opposed to just the front) softshell vest. Maybe one of the Foxwear cycling vests.

On the other hand, if it's not affecting your performance and not lowering your core temperature, maybe you don't even need to worry about it.

Edit: I just realized the Foxwear vest as a lighter back as well. You might even want to ask Lou at Foxwear about getting a vest made entirely of Power Shield.

Last edited by Arcanum; 01-06-11 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 01-06-11, 07:02 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by hobkirk View Post
I find my chest and belly get cold and turn red when I ride in temperatures under 30. My arms, legs, and face are OK. My feet also get cold, but I understand that. This has been going on for a while but most of my rides are 3-5 hours, so I could imagine reasons related to being exposed for such a long time. But yesterday it happened on a 17-mile training ride where my average heart rate was 90% of my maximum and I hit my max on two of the climbs - i.e., I was working really hard. When it happens, it feels like the front of my torso is slightly chilled - I feel like I am on the verge of being cold. Originally I wasn't really sure if it was really cold until I felt my flesh after I got home and stripped.

I'm wearing a medium-weight thermal shirt and pants, a long-sleeve cycling jersey, leg warmers, and bib shorts (plus hat, neck gaiter, gloves, socks & shoes for the extremities). On my colder rides (20 degrees) I've added a PI rain jacket (too hot after 10 miles), my arms sweat. I tried a new LG vest (once - I may return it) but I didn't notice any difference.

Questions:
  1. Why didn't the vest make a significant difference? It's a Louis Garneau 2010/11 Men's Vent 2 Cycling Vest. I was quite surprised that it didn't make my torso noticeably warmer, like my jacket did (or maybe it didn't, and I was unknowingly led astray by my arms being warmer).
  2. Any observations or suggestions that might help?

This is another case where I am awed by my ignorance. I've backpacked in winter, mountaineered, and run distance throughout many, many winters. It doesn't seem I should need ask these questions, but I've learned you guys (and gals) are good. Thank you!
It sounds to me that you just need some better breathable wind protection on your torso. And perhaps a little more insulation. The light windbreaker vest's are usually not wind resistant enough for below freezing temperatures. Above freezing they can work for many. Even though your inner core will stay warm in below freezing temperatures when you are working hard. The wind can remove far more heat from your body at these temperatures than you can generate for a long period. Thus, on a long ride your outer layer of skin down to an inch or so is cold even though you are warm enough on the inside or core of your body. This large temperature difference often can cause flu-like symptoms with some people. I personally think it's a little unwise for riders to do this. You will eventually become hypothermic in this situation. Perhaps after 5-7 more hours and the body gets too tired to keep itself warm.

Since you seem to be the type that needs to keep your arms cooler, I would suggest a full on Gore-tex or event cycling jacket with zip off sleeves. They are much warmer and more wind resistant than a standard lightweight vest or jacket. And you can carry the sleeves with you in your back pocket if you need them. You might also consider heavier weight jersey or base layer when it is 20 degrees. Generally you need a little more on at 20 as opposed to 32 degrees or so.

I have been where you are at. You are closed to getting your cold weather cycling clothing dialed in. But you have to respect the wind chill issues when riding for longer periods in below freezing conditions.

Another option that might work for you is to use your long sleeve jersey as a base layer and then wear a cheap department store fleece vest over your jersey. Then use a full Gore-tex cycling jacket. You will only have one layer of insulation on your arms and a wind resistant outer shell. Your torso will have more insulation with the fleece vest under the cycling jacket.

Last edited by Hezz; 01-06-11 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 01-06-11, 07:13 PM   #4
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I can get away with using a light vest, like shown, only if I have 3 good quality layers below. I'm using a wicking base layer, a Merino wool middle layer and a breathable top layer. I then will add the vest if I need wind protection beyond these breathable layers.

I have the common issue of a heated core that triggers sweat production, but a chilled skin that is below normal body temperature.

I want my under-arms to breathe and shed moisture, so the vest works well. However, I need the other layers to hold heat while filtering out perspiration.
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Old 01-06-11, 07:42 PM   #5
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Well, depending on your body fat in those areas, if it's high your outer skin will be cooler because circulation there probably isn't so great. Fat can be an insulator, but like all insulators there is a temperature gradient.

Does the redness go away immediately? soreness or warm/burning sensation a few hours after? The redness is probably from a cold-response vasodilation. Are we talking santa clause's suit red?
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Old 01-06-11, 08:06 PM   #6
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My stomach gets ice cold when cycling in the winter, even on my 1 hour commute. Rather than wear an additional layer I've been wrapping a scarf around my stomach, on top of my base layer and below my outer layer.
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Old 01-06-11, 08:26 PM   #7
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But yesterday it happened on a 17-mile training ride where my average heart rate was 90% of my maximum and I hit my max on two of the climbs - i.e., I was working really hard. When it happens, it feels like the front of my torso is slightly chilled - I feel like I am on the verge of being cold. Originally I wasn't really sure if it was really cold until I felt my flesh after I got home and stripped.
Your blood goes to where's it needed - to the legs where you're working hard. You're restricting the flow to the rest of the body like your chest.
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Old 01-06-11, 09:41 PM   #8
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Well, depending on your body fat in those areas, if it's high your outer skin will be cooler because circulation there probably isn't so great. Fat can be an insulator, but like all insulators there is a temperature gradient.

Does the redness go away immediately? soreness or warm/burning sensation a few hours after? The redness is probably from a cold-response vasodilation. Are we talking santa clause's suit red?
  1. Yep, I meant to include the fact that I'm FAT (I'm 6'2" and lost 25# in my first two months of cycling and none since but I still weigh 222 - should be 195 max - 30 years ago I was 175 when I was running sub 3-hour marathons)
  2. The redness (light red) lasts for a while - 30-60 minutes and it's still there after a long hot shower!
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Old 01-07-11, 12:08 AM   #9
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  1. Yep, I meant to include the fact that I'm FAT (I'm 6'2" and lost 25# in my first two months of cycling and none since but I still weigh 222 - should be 195 max - 30 years ago I was 175 when I was running sub 3-hour marathons)
  2. The redness (light red) lasts for a while - 30-60 minutes and it's still there after a long hot shower!
Well, the hot shower may be making it worse... wait 30-60minutes for your body to re-warm the skin and then take a shower. You want to be careful with that...

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Chilblains are usually the result of an abnormal reaction of your body to cold. They tend to develop on skin that's exposed to cold and then warmed too quickly, such as by warming cold hands directly in front of a heater or fire. This rapid heating of cold skin can cause small blood vessels under the skin to expand more quickly than nearby larger blood vessels can handle, resulting in a "bottleneck" effect and the blood leaking into nearby tissues. Exactly why this occurs in certain people is unknown.
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Old 01-07-11, 04:32 AM   #10
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You need a winter-grade windproof with no membrane or waterproofy stuff, just a very tight weave of polyester, nylon or polycotton. Look for a high collar and good seals at neck and waist.
If you need to insulate your torso, use a sleeveless gillet. My Go-Lite one is lightly padded and a useful extra layer of warmth.
Does tight clothing restrict circulation, eg arm and leg warmers?
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Old 01-07-11, 09:05 AM   #11
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The difference with cycling vs other winter activities is that you're getting hit by wind all the while you're riding. I've had that cold torso problem and it was usually because I wore too much then unzipped my jacket and got wind-chilled in the front, while the rest of me was still toasty.

I wear a light sweater and a wind-resistant jacket that has a light fleece lining. I'm fine as long as it's zipped up and the cinch cord isn't completely loose.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:22 AM   #12
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I've had the same trouble before. It seems to be wind related. If I wear only something insulating--like a fleece--the wind still gets through and turns me red. I need to wear something wind-blocking and then, less insulation to compensate.

Also, my HRM strap made it worse. The sweat would run down from under it, making my belly wet and colder. I no longer use my HRM in winter.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:23 AM   #13
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Bibs, thermal or regular, will give you good lower coverage. A wind vest with a mesh back should help your upper areas.
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Old 01-07-11, 11:41 AM   #14
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You may be capturing too much perspiration, are the garments soaked with chilled perspiration before/when you first start to feel cold? If so, you need more insulating space and to wick the dampness somewhere where it will evaporate, otherwise you need to block all the wind so you can be comfortably wet and warm. I find that longer rides at 20F and below reach a point sometimes where you can feel all the air gaps and insulating layers solidify with moisture saturation, and from there it's a quick trip to being chilled. So, wear less, or wear more depth but a looser weave underlayer, or wick the persipiration somewhere where it can evaporate. In my case, since I ride laying down and not much evaporates off my back, I wound up with bib shorts and live with the wet and warm feeling.
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Old 01-07-11, 12:41 PM   #15
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Gore-tex vest ive been wearing one for a few years now, works really well the one i have is fairly light weight keeps my core warm so i don't have to wear multiple thick layers. http://www.bergsskishop.com/mountain...2457c2128.html this one is similar to the one i have mines a different model but mountain hardwear brand, i wear merino/polypro mid weight under it with a columbia rain shell down to about 0f and stay comfortable.
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Old 01-07-11, 02:20 PM   #16
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Thanks all. I thought any cycling vest would stop the wind (it seems to when I drape it over a fan). And I thought that would be sufficient. Live and learn.

I will try a non-cycling fleece vest that I happen to have to see if it works before I consider spending more money.

Note to Electrik: I almost always do wait at least 30 minutes before I shower. It lets me upload my Garmin data, fill out my log, and decompress a little. But your point about warming up too quickly makes sense.
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Old 01-07-11, 03:35 PM   #17
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MY commute is 18 miles one way, year round. I use a base layer, a wool sweater and a new balance running jacket that is wind proof in the front for winter biking. Take a 11x14 fed x or other shipping envelope, rip off the tape cover and apply to your base layer. Covers my large size belly well.
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Old 01-07-11, 06:01 PM   #18
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If you were able to see wind currents as they hit your body, you would notice that there is a large concentration in the stomach/chest area. This applies in both summer and winter. Just look at a cyclist on a bike and see how we are shaped like a < as we head down the road.

Fortunately this is very treatable mainly because your torso is one of the easiest things to keep warm in winter cycling. You found that by putting on the unbreathable rain jacket. To address the stomach you need a midweight insulating layer next to your body, a windproof vest and on top of that a wind proof jacket.

That will fix your chest, the problem is that currents will still come from the bottom and make your stomach red. I solved this by having my tights made extra long by www.foxwear.com. While on the bike my tights rise up well past my naval while seated on the bike. That was the end of my red stomach after trying so many other things.

Again, the stomach and chest shouldn't get red. I ride down to zero Fahrenheit with no problems. However I used to get the same symptoms as you until i figured it out.
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Old 01-07-11, 06:14 PM   #19
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Your blood goes to where's it needed - to the legs where you're working hard. You're restricting the flow to the rest of the body like your chest.
You're right about one thing. Blood goes where it's needed. Your brain prefers to save your internal organs situated inside of your torso before your appendages, so if there is a choice to be made the torso will always get the better circulation. That is why the torso is pretty easy to keep warm. Probably the easiest part of the whole body.
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Old 01-09-11, 10:25 PM   #20
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Thanks all. I thought any cycling vest would stop the wind (it seems to when I drape it over a fan). And I thought that would be sufficient. Live and learn.

I will try a non-cycling fleece vest that I happen to have to see if it works before I consider spending more money.

Note to Electrik: I almost always do wait at least 30 minutes before I shower. It lets me upload my Garmin data, fill out my log, and decompress a little. But your point about warming up too quickly makes sense.
There is a very large difference in air permeability among different materials. The inexpensive tight weave polyester might allow 30-50 times more air to pass through it than a Gore-tex membrane. Even though it blocks a lot more air than a standard cheap non membrane fleece jacket. So there is a balance here you have to find that works for you. Many cyclists or bike commuters have a hard time wrapping their mind around a 200 dollar cycling jacket that has no insulation. But the right one really works better than anything else. You can often find entry level Gore-tex jackets on Nasbar or the internet for around 100 bucks or less.
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Old 01-10-11, 08:31 AM   #21
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There is a very large difference in air permeability among different materials. The inexpensive tight weave polyester might allow 30-50 times more air to pass through it than a Gore-tex membrane.
Gore also makes another fabric called Windstopper, that is also windproof and is supposed to be more breathable at the cost of not being entirely waterproof.
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Old 01-10-11, 09:10 AM   #22
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Some people just stick newspaper between a couple of layers for extra wind protection. It works, and it's free.
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Old 01-10-11, 03:16 PM   #23
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It sounds like overall you're warm enough - otherwise your extremities would be very cold. You probably sweat most in the area of your chest and belly and your base and mid layers are not adequate at wicking and managing the moisture.

I'd probably start with a polypropylene base layer to replace your thermals (cotton? polyester?)
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Old 01-11-11, 09:14 PM   #24
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Gore also makes another fabric called Windstopper, that is also windproof and is supposed to be more breathable at the cost of not being entirely waterproof.
Ya, that is probably a better choice for a hard rider or heavy sweater. But I think you have to pay 50 bucks more for one. Seems like Gore has 3-4 different membranes now. They all have slightly different air permeability rates. They all trade a little less waterproofness for breathability. Event was at one time the most breathable of the near waterproof membranes. I think it's best to get the manufacturing literature and try to make an educated guess as to what would be the best as a first try since the jackets are kind of expensive.
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Old 01-12-11, 08:56 PM   #25
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Keep the vest you have, but wear a plain old, snug-sized Eddie Bauer fleece vest under it.

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