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Cooling Vest for Dealing With Hot Riding Conditions?

See my notes on coping with heat at the Everest Challenge.

The 2013 Everest Challenge takes place August 24/25. That time of year temperatures can exceed 100° F—but radiated heat from asphalt and canyon walls one or both sides add to the heat of the sun itself.

Regrettably, the race start times were not adjusted for the earlier sunrise in August (versus September), hence the sun will be up for 45 minutes baking the desert before I even start. Which might mean 90°F at the start; the desert remains warm even before sunrise with all that heat soaked up from the day before. As soon as the sun kisses the ground, the temperature shoots up.

The start times were not thought out: civil twilight (legal to ride without lights) is 30 minutes before sunrise. That is when the riders should start. But the first group starts 4 minutes after sunrise (6:20 start, 6:16 sunrise), and thus 34 minutes after civil twilight (5:46 AM). In short, all the groups could trade 34 minutes of the coolest part of the day for 34 minutes of the hottest.

But the rigidly inflexible bureaucrats over at USAC apparently won’t allow start-time changes, even though the heat could have unpleasant consequences for riders who really don’t understand the hot and dry conditions. Or even for those that do. Cutting out even a half hour of sun-bake time is a very good idea for ALL riders. One can hope for a cold front.

Cooling vests

Even a small reduction of core body temperature is a huge influence on performance. If the air is above body temperature, wind still cools (by evaporative sweating), but the body has to sweat even harder to compensate for the heat gain from the air itself.

And so I’m researching cooling vests as one race-legal option to keep my body temperature down and to offer a leg up on competition that is less well prepared.

The idea would be to zip on an ice-cold cooling vest at the top of an ascent (say at the top of the 2nd climb each day when it is now very hot), let it cool me all the way down and across the flats, and then remove it (for weight reasons) for the next ascent, or once the hottest part of the ascent is over.

The trick is finding an effective vest that can be donned and removed quickly, positioning it pre-race (frozen or semi-frozen). And in pre-testing it to see if it really accomplishes the mission.

IZI Body Cooling

I recently came across (online) the IZI Hydrogel Deluxe cooling vest. It appears to meet my rapid on/off efficiency need, and reasonable weight metrics. I’ve requested one for review as my local bike shop doesn’t carry any cooling vests of any brand.

IZI Hydrogel Deluxe
Material: polyester
Finish: IZI DRY, IZI FIREWALL, gloss
Weight: 250 grams (dry), 1500 grams (activated) Cooling duration: approx. 48 hours evaporative cooling; approx. 2 hours as an ice vest Cooling method: evaporation and ice Fit: unisex tight fit
Suitable for: sport, medical, industrial Size: XS – XXL Medical CE: yes

Update: I requested an IZI vest for review, which was declined:

... do not see any benefit in this review and how this will lead to sales. As you requested it as a press inquiry I am thinking newspaper article or a specific magazine.

If any readers *are* interested in seeing a review of the efficacy and quality of this or similar products (or any other), please encourage that vendor to contact me.

IZI Hydrogel Deluxe cooling vest
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