the legacy of john boultbee brooks - part two

brooks saddle

it has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but for reasons of personal preference, i prefer not to concur. likely my friend michael at velodramatic would take issue, but then he has the luxury of being a better than fine photographer, as indeed is daniel wakefield pasley, the brains behind the rapha continental, and a man who could sit on either side of the fence being both excellent photographer and a writer of note (incidentally, daniel was the photographer and art director behind the re-vamped cielo website. who knew?). i have rudimentary photographic skills, compensated for by a deft cursor in photoshop, so i have to rely pretty much on words to get across whatever it is i think i have that's worth saying. but if we return briefly to mr pasley, the majority of the text accompanying the rapha continental stories describes the severity of the routes, the gravel roads, in certain cases, the weather, and the folks met along the way. it's documentation of roads well travelled, and the company enjoyed as the days roll by; i'm tempted to say that i'd settle for the words alone, but since i rather enjoyed dave christenson's videos and daniel's photos, i'd be telling a fib.

however, if you cast your mind back to the early days of the continental, to pages that still lurk on the website somewhere or other, the various partners in epic were listed in a right hand column, one of whom was brooks of england. i well know that not all the continental riders had english leather atop their seatposts, but a number of them did, and many of the bikes when displayed in their pristine state, were unmistakably traditional in their seating arrangements. yet if you read carefully, not only the lines, but between them, epic can be seen in its original glory; pain and suffering are on almost permanent display, but nowhere is it specified how much of that was experienced through the saddle.

at the stage of building the cielo last december, it would have been a travesty of the highest order, in my opinion, to have placed anything other than a brooks on the oval concepts seatpost. and it had to be honey leather, because a black frame with a black saddle, despite evidence to the contrary, just doesn't do it for me. never mind the fact that in use, any colour is concealed beneath lycra. and as detailed in my previous writings on this subject, i was ready for the coal bunker ride that most new brooks saddles are famous for. brooks saddle in this respect, i wasn't disappointed. there is vast contradiction at play here, for just today lunchtime in debbie's i was discussing my alcohol free imbibing. when in younger days i displayed a negative reaction to beers, lagers and spirits, i was encouraged to persevere, because whichever liquid happened to be distasteful at point of order, someone would always propose that it was an acquired taste. except, i was already quite happy drinking orange juice, and could see no need to spend enough time or money for such acquisition.

yet here i am, thousands of years later, supposedly older and wiser, willing to walk like john wayne off the bike for more than a few months, just to prove my insouciance, hardiness and bloody mindedness for both style and substance in the seating department. yet, i am nothing if not impervious to common sense, and opted to open myself to a battle between english leather and my backside. at the last update, the saddle was beginning to show signs of relenting, though it could still put up a good fight if i chanced to take my eye of the road for a moment or two.

but the battle is now over, and i'm happy to report that my lycra covered bottom has proved the victor. this may seem decidedly shallow and a hollow victory, but i have known of cyclists who have let the saddle win, removing the legacy of john boultbee brooks in favour of something with far less character and visual appeal. i cannot condemn such souls for their timidity, for after all, the pain and suffering engendered by rain, hail and road surfaces that would give paris-roubaix a run for its money should really be enough, and it may only be those with a level of perseverance and discrimination that would add to that through one of the three points of contact.

i bet dave brailsford never asked that question at the interviews.

brooks england


posted sunday 14 march 2010

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rapha merino polo shirt

merino polo shirt

i regard myself as a perfectly normal human being. i live in a nice house, i have a relatively fulfilling mode of employment, i get up every morning and have breakfast, and in the evening i have tea/dinner (delete as applicable). so far so good, and much the same as everybody else, but my obsession with bicycles apparently removes me from the norm and places me squarely in the category of slightly eccentric, aided and abetted by the fact that i do not own a motor car, and i don't particularly care for driving, though i do have a driver's licence (which, i confess, i haven't seen hide nor hair of for the better part of fifteen years). i daresay it is a feature of eccentricity that i don't figure such an appellation applies to me, but then, surely that goes for everyone? after all, if you think you're going mad, you probably aren't; mad people are not noted for their perspicacity as regards their state of mind.

i can, of course, muster a degree of sympathy with those who view me, and others of the larger peloton as being of an eccentric nature. stepping into debbie's most saturday afternoons, i'm relatively unlikely to meet anyone else supping their lattes and cappuccinos, dressed in lycra and sportwool and walking across the lino in a manner more befitting a duck. contrary to popular opinion, dressing in this way is not specifically to draw attention to myself, nor to reinforce the smug knowledge that my transportational means is one of choice rather than convention or enforced conformity. few people go swimming in jeans and a t-shirt, and i haven't noticed many of the local rugby club wearing slippers and smoking jackets; we wear the most appropriate clothing for the job at hand. shorts with a comfy pad, jerseys with back pockets and shoes with cleats make the act of cycling marginally less about pain and suffering.

merino polo shirt

however, in this way, i have taken cycling out of context, since my regular trips to debbie's or a mustering of kilometres into a headwind are generally by way of enjoyment, however eccentric that might make me appear. were the act of cycling, in my case, to have more affinity with the need to be somewhere on time, in order to carry out a task for which i had been employed, then clippy, cloppy shoes, lycra shorts and a contrasting hoop on the left sleeve may not be quite the attire that lets one blend in with the surroundings. i'm not denying that this could be the case, simply pointing out that it has its moments. it is, therefore, a great boon to be able to clothe oneself in fabrics and style that would not look out of place at the local chess club or community council meeting.

so today, matthew, i was the model of sartorial deference.

ok, so maybe i didn't manage the whole nine yards, but i managed close enough that the huddle of three at the neighbouring table merely glanced in my direction before continuing their hushed conversation. the white catlike helmet doubtless undid much of the heavy disguise; well, that and a pair of rudy projekts with yellow lenses, but in my mind no worse than a pair of driving gloves and a cashmere scarf. rapha's merino polo shirt arrives in black only, continuing the stealth persona by allowing the left sleeve hoop and logo to employ the very same colour. should it be necessary to advertise your cycleness in a crowded room, the lining inside the three button collar is pink gingham; necessary at present because there is no sun strong enough to create those little tanned patches on the back of the hand. to aid the notion of normality, i wore the polo under a rapha bomber jacket which, to all outward glances is normalness itself, though the orange lining does rather frighten the horses.

merino polo shirt

going back to an article of a week or so, you don't have to wear these clothes the way ben ingham has crafted them in the photos. yes, ben has insider information as to the psyche of the peloton, but he was in sardinia when he did so; this is islay in march: while the sky may well be blue, the mercury is not rising. therefore it does one's street cred no harm whatsoever to wear the short sleeves over a long-sleeve contrasting merino baselayer. coupled with a merino winter hat, this ensemble would likely garner a gig with chris 'daddy' dave. there would be no eyebrows raised if wayne shorter's speak no evil were playing on the ipod. however, cyclists are nothing if not traditionalists, and thus loathe to dispense with pockets at the back altogether. where else is the five pound note and the debbie card to go? rapha's merino polo has that well in hand, with a single rear pocket on the right.

in practice, clad in the above, and sporting a pair of fixed shorts and quoc pham leather shoes, the cycling experience is no less enervating for all that. sure, bertie the accountant is unlikely to swap his astana kit for the final parade into nice, but then he really is eccentric, and he hasn't been seen at debbie's for a week or so.

the rapha merino polo shirt retails at £90 ($125), is available in black only and in sizes from xs to xxl.



posted saturday 13 march 2010

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icebreaker merino cycling socks

icebreaker socks

it's the extremities that spend the most time in a rarefied atmosphere. on the cold, frosty mornings that have been fairly common over the past couple of months, while the bulk of me is well clothed, there's a distinct limit as to how much padding can be placed on either head, hands or feet. on occasion, my body has worn a baselayer, jersey, gilet and softshell to keep it warm until coffee break, yet those poor wee fingers have limits. too much windproofing and thermal insulation and it becomes hard to brake and/or change gear. in fact, too little has engendered the same: i cycled all the way to deb's unable to change gear, and not a little concern over how i was going to stop in bruichladdich due to the wearing of gloves that were somewhat on the thin side.

however, my feet fared rather better, clad as they were in socks, shoes and neoprene overshoes. the problem is one of mechanics; fingers don't tend to require much movement on cold frosty days because on icy surfaces, pedalling is often on the tentative side, requiring few if any gear changes. and the feet are clipped into pedals and simply going round and round. not quite the same as running the 800 metres. but there are ways of mitigating the rebirth of cool at the pedal end, because for one reason or another, feet seem to handle cosseting far better than hands.

for the case in question i had armed my tootsies with a pair of icebreaker merino cycling socks in the hope that toastiness would ensue, and i really wasn't far off the mark. icebreaker have indicated that they might well have designs on the cycling market, other than the off-road fraternity. as a company extolling the virtues of all forms of outdoor activity, the ruggedness of knobbly tyres and farm gates with springs provides perhaps more indication of character building than skinny wheels and bendy bars. so in this period of possible transition, i feel a certain generosity towards the chunkiness of the socks which is far more mtb than velo club d'ardbeg. this is not to deny them their day in the snow, however, since the integrity of construction and warmth does them proud, as does the length of the ankle. no danger of looking like larry armstrong in these.

you see, like it or not, we of the road cycling fraternity are a bunch more used to the finer things of life; a degree of finesse, if you will, and i rather fear that the thickness of the socks will mitigate against adoption by the carbon brigade. that said, winter is not the time to place such finesse on display, and covered under a pair of overshoes, who really cares, particularly if they carry out the very job for which they were designed? merino socks from one or two of the more recognised cycling brands may not quite compete on construction or ultimate warmth, but pander more to our conceit.

if your concern is insulation, i can thoroughly recommend the icebreakers. such is the range available of various sizes and styles, i'm partly guessing at the price being around £12 to £16, which is pretty stunning for what is on offer. i think i'll save any finesse i may have for the summer months.



posted friday 12 march 2010

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yes, but how does it feel?


it's definitely a budget thing, because all of us have financial restrictions, whatever those might be; when it comes to choosing a new bicycle, there's always a notional amount beyond which it is not wise to go, a limit either self-imposed, or imposed upon us by a partner who really can't see why it is necessary to own more than one bicycle. just as an aside, i do have a certain sympathy with this, because it cannot be denied that the colnago has been sorely neglected since the cielo turned up (though i have told it that it is still loved as much as ever). i can only ride one at a time, review machines notwithstanding, and i figure most riders are the same, though i can see exceptions being made for those who need both road and cyclocross, and maybe mountain bikes, though i'm inclined to discount the latter option. just because i can.

anyway, to return to the budgetary constraints, this translates to an upper range of cycles within the designated price bracket; i think probably to a man/woman we're apt to stretch to those upper reaches, possibly pushing them just a bit further if at all possible. a t-shirt i owned many years ago stated cycling is life - the rest is mere detail, therefore the more common purchasing decisions revolving around how cheaply can i buy? are cast by the wayside and replaced with an unrealistic importance of the bicycle versus everything else in the world. the bicycle always wins.

i noted recently on that many of the colnago dealer network in the uk are now offering a try before you buy, and i have little doubt that they're not alone in doing so. but it's asking rather a lot of any dealer that they kit out £3200 worth of carbon fibre with a appropriately valued components and wheels, and keep it in abeyance until you feel the need to nip along and give it the benefit of your impressive handling skills. a bit like asking the shop assistant to take that gold-plated gibson les paul off the wall, till you fire up that applauded rendering of stairway to heaven. thus many of us purchase our bicycles, if not quite sight unseen, almost certainly unridden to any great extent.

richard sachs

if you're of a rural or island disposition, the first you see of your extravagance may well be when barry lifts the cardboard box off the back of the truck, at which point it comes down to those first few exploratory steps (so to speak). however, discussions have been in rumination over the past few years as to the growing ubiquity of carbon fibre, whether 'tis to do with much emanating from the same factory in taiwan, or whether, in similar manner to the motor car, the increasing use of computer analysis has resulted in die-stamped conformity. but we have been told for many a long year that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, so perhaps i am being decidedly unfair in tarring all with the same resin; under that shiny but decidedly less artistic clearcoat, those carbon fibres might just be heading in directions unbeknownst to the pilot.

we shall let that be for the moment and turn our steely gaze to the componentry garnishing the ready-to-ride velocipede now divested of its cardboard and bubblewrap outer. buy frame and components and build it yourself gives ultimate control, always keeping in mind those purse strings mentioned at the outset of this diatribe, whereas the seemingly more common complete bicycle available from your local online retailer are built to a budget; in many cases, a smidgeon of quality has been devalued to keep the price finishing in abignumber99.99. in practice, this often makes less difference than you'd otherwise be inclined to think. it might generate feelings of inner peace to have a super record or red rear derailleur framed by that lighweight carbon wheel, but you can't see either when you're pedalling.


so now it comes down to that of feel, a highly subjective area that ultimately ought to be the real proof of the pudding. after all, you're going to be riding the bicycle for quite a while (hopefully), so it would be good if the handling, sprinting, climbing, dawdling and stability were well in excess of its bragging rights in the peloton. i am of the opinion that every bike rider has the inbuilt skill to discriminate between yuk and wow, though i'm perfectly willing to accept that most cannot necessarily put it into words. and along with the feel of the bike comes practicality, and just how relevant that is to the purchase. if the daily travail is through the urban maelstrom, then perhaps a colnago eps with di2 is not the very machine in the centre of the target, so here we may find ourselves back where we started, discussing how many bicycles it is prudent to own. a brompton for the urbanity, and an eps for the weekend peloton. horses for courses was never a truer statement.

not being of the racing fraternity, i am unaware whether there is still an annual acquisition of a new frame/bike for a new season, but might i suggest that you set the purchase aperture to confine the componentry to a greater depth of field, and concentrate more on making the feel of the bike the object of focus? that way those unbroken fields of carbon that can be seen at the autumn cycle shows might just be placed more in context with the alternatives.

anyone for steel?


posted thursday 11 march 2010

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park and ride


a theme with which i am wholly unfamiliar, at least through direct experience, is that of safely and courteously parking my bike. yes, i have read various articles, and watched several eye-opening videos of the perils of parking a bicycle in many of the world's major conurbations, but it's very much a case of delete as applicable over here. for though the very idea of carrying around several kilos of hardened steel with which to protect my pride and joy at journey's end, would entirely negate the vast expense of lightening the carbon to the point of defying gravity, i can accept that for many of you this is a daily necessity. lord carlos cheerfully leaves his bright yellow velocipede twixt lamp post and wall for the bulk of his working day, and the worst that has happened to this point, is somebody tying their dog to the rack. when we are out and about en masse, when it comes to parking we simply rely on fence posts or even slow moving sheep.

it's easy to scoff and make fun; the reality has not hit home in these here parts throughout the 22 years i have been resident, and there's every likelihood that it will stay that way for a good few more to come. that fact, however, has not stopped me berating, bullying and pestering the islay energy trust to clean up this town and fit one or two sporadic bicycle racks around the village. come june and july, we will oft times be greeted with the dawn chorus of car alarms going off, because one of those single-minded shopping trolleys has mis-directed an unassuming shopper into the wing mirror of a visiting audi. of course, nobody pays any attention to such an irritating noise even in the city, so the efficacy of fitting said tweeter is somewhat lost on us country folk.


however, i would be the last person to openly confront the owner of said audi, and quiz as to why bother with the alarm in the first place. because if our many visitors were to befriend the residents by leaving the darned thing in the off position, there's every likelihood that the habit would have stuck on return to civilisation (a little rural joke there), and their tin box would disappear in the night, or at the supermarket car park. and this goes just as well for those on two wheels, many of whom look distinctly lost without a nearby construct round which the curvy bit of their d-locks might fit while visiting the sights and sounds of island life. there really is no need to lock four bikes together outside the cottage restaurant or the tourist information office, but perish the thought that the habit is lost before getting back on that calmac ferry.

what we don't really want is the contradiction posed by wheely bins throughout our more or less pristine countryside. i'm all for recycling as much of our garbage as possible, but it seems sad that, in these days of what is laughingly referred to as kerbside collections, the more remote domiciles require to leave estranged green and blue wheely bins lying prostrate next to the farm gate. we might be saving the planet, but we're making an unwholesome mess of it in the process. so, if my single-handed campaign to persuade any powers that be to plop a few bicycle parking units around the conservation villages are to succeed, then these are going to have to be of a visually transparent nature. and i have something in mind.


plantlock, manufactured by the front yard company, seems just the transparency i'd be looking for. dan monck and duncan kramer have fashioned a big steel bin, for want of a better word, that can be filled with soil and some seasonal flowers, not only rendering it anything but portable (which is pretty much what we want), but helping it not to stand out in a crowd. in fact, some examples have been so successfully disguised, you might conceivably wander past, still looking for a home for the bike anad d-lock. but there is no need to take just my word for this, because i'd be the first to admit that i can get slightly carried away with my enthusiasms from time to time. no, the plantlock has now garnered the attention of the design musem, who have nominated it for their design of the year award, likely doubly so if my cielo was locked to its big handle.

so if you are a shop owner, county council, school or just a pest like me, this is the solution you didn't ever realise you were looking for. in fact if i'm perfectly self-effacing, a couple of those wouldn't look out of place at debbie's. i'm sure i had a packet of seeds in that top drawer.

one plantlock costs £117.40 plus vat. contact the front yard company.

the front yard company


posted wednesday 10 march 2010

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apolis activism/rapha transit elite sweater

transit elite sweater

i think it was greg lemond who said that cycling doesn't ever get any easier; the pain and suffering is just as bad, you just get faster. it's a telling statement that i wish i'd been aware of before i embarked on my fast colnago phase, where enormous effort was expended on my part in an attempt to reach the stage where plain sailing would result. think of it this way: if i bust a gut for long enough, up hill and down dale, eventually the magic 32kph would be well within my grasp. once that point was reached, as it surely would, the daily cycle would be a simple matter of climbing aboard the carbon fibre, winding things up to 32 and coasting around with a smug grin under that peaked cap. conversation could be as sophisticated and involved as i liked, because being out of breath would be a thing of the past, as long as i didn't get notions of reaching for 35kph.

the lemond principle kicked in without my knowing, which was somewhat of a disappointment. you will know yourself if you have ever had your own fast colnago phase that there is simply no way on this earth that you're going to get to 32kph and call a halt. the speed will move up to 35 and beyond; cycling will just be as hard as it always was, but now you'll be going faster. this really only applies to cycling alone, or in company aiming for the same ever shifting horizon; come the sunday ride, we're all back to the lowest common denominator, because that's what the sunday ride is all about. if you want pain and suffering, go do it on a saturday.

as is so common in the world of cycling, all is subjective and relative, unless you have sold your soul to the heart rate and power monitors. under those circumstances, there is nowhere to hide, and it's the fun factor that becomes subjective and relative. i say this because it is perfectly normal and acceptable to collapse on the kitchen floor having covered half the distance and expended half the energy than the guy (or girl) on the fast colnago next to you. each to their own. but reward and cossetting is the norm for the pros at the end of both training and racing: massage, enormous quantities of food, mechanics to tweak the bar tape and clean and sparkly leisure kit to wear. we, on the other hand, have probably less to look forward to; i have not noticed any proclivity on behalf of mrs washingmachinepost to rush forward with sponge and soapy water to wash the bicycle, while i partake of the substantial repast awaiting my cleated waddle into the kitchen. heck, i even have to make my own waffle-mix on a saturday eve ready for the return on sunday.

transit elite sweater

it's hard being a civilian.

however, the transition from cyclist to civilian is often one that you would wish to be a slowburn. returning from several hours of purgatory that subsequently translates as euphoria on two wheels, the possibility of sitting on the sofa, cleated shoes cast to one side, and in no desperate hurry to divest jersey and tights, is often one to savour along with a coffee. and an ideal way to improve this savouring is having a suitably constituted woolly top to throw on, preventing that cooling down way too quickly feeling, that might hasten a trip to the shower. there are obviously times when this intervening state of relaxation is not possible, making it all the more welcoming when time and tired limbs is this very state of self-reward that apolis activism and rapha likely had in mind when the notion for a hand-knitted cashmere and merino jersey suggested itself. vaguely reminiscent of rapha's merino training top from around five years ago, the transit elite sweater is unabashed luxury that is likely to increase the desire to go out and hammer yourselves on the potholes and byways of wherever it is you reside. hand-knitted by the women of the citta co-operative in khatmandhu nepal, the blend of wools has resulted in the softest and cosiest sweater i can ever remembering pulling on over a baselayer. in fact, despite the low temperatures we are experiencing at present, i had to switch to rapha's v-neck short sleeved baselayer, because the long sleeve version was just too warm.

modeled in similar fashion to that of a cycle jersey, though just a tad looser fitting, the transit-elite features ribbed cuffs, round collar and hem, with a quarter length ri-ri zip in case it gets just too warm (and it did on one or two occasions). the sleeve/shoulder interface is very relaxed, providing the ease of movement that a clumsy cyclist such as myself has to hope for in a sweater. lazing about on the comfy sofa at debbie's mid-ride was the ideal way of relaxing with a large soya cappuccino. and that is no different at the end of the ride, still togged up, sweater on, knifing and forking my way through a pile of belgian waffles with sour cream, maple syrup and a dollop of sliced banana (at least two of my five a day).

transit elite sweater

i'm more than willing to believe that the excessive luxury can be readily attributed to the skill of the knitters in nepal; the physical experience of wearing the sweater cannot possibly be presupposed from the photos on rapha's or apolis activism's websites, nor from the video appended below. the rapha story label on the inside? a federico bahamontes anecdote. and just because they can, there's token pastel cross-stitch on the back.

the transit elite sweater costs a lot of money, but it is a limited edition, and in keeping with apolis' stated aims 'we believe humanity has a common thread, a common hope for unity, freedom, and sustainability. apolis creates opportunities for developing economies by connecting them to the global marketplace through seasonal stories and products.

"through our activism timeline for the sweater, 50 knitters were employed over a three month process. our goal is creating opportunity through jobs instead of offering charity through donations. we feel this is our way to invest long term in people through product." shea parton.

if you're reaching the peak of your fast phase, or expect there to be a few of these across the season, now is the time to consider what must rank as possibly the ultimate reward for consistency in the face of adversity. if you're as individual as we probably all are, you just know that no-one else has your very best interests at heart.

absolute luxury.

the transit elite sweater, hand-knitted from 30% cashmere/70% merino, to the best of my knowledge will only be available in 400 pieces worldwide and can be purchased from either apolis activism or rapha online, at a cost of £285 ($396). it's only available in blue/black and sizes xs to xxl.

rapha | apolis activism | the transit elite story


posted tuesday 9 march 2010

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two pink stowaways

rapha pink stowaway

according to the met office's statistics, in england you can expect to get wet one day in every three. i don't live in england, and i'd be willing to bet that those statistics are slightly less generous for the extreme west coast of scotland. statistics, of course, prove not an awful lot, and depend much on how they are interpreted; or even whether they're ignored altogether. the past few months up here have been refreshingly free of precipitation: it has rained occasionally, it has snowed once or twice, but overall, this has been a long cold lonely winter (as the late george harrison would have it). however, as one of mrs washingmachinepost's catalogue affected only the other day, it's almost spring; the clocks go forward in the uk at the end of this month and we seamlessly move from greenwich mean time to british summertime. clocks only have two seasons.

so now we gradually move out of softshell jackets, winter jerseys, heavier weight baselayers, from tights into three-quarters and, if we're feeling incredibly brian smiffy, eschew the long fingered gloves for a handsome pair of crochet-backed leather track mitts. it's an annual cycle (see what i did there?) that most of us are well used to by now, a cycle that, with luck, has become as much a part of the year as those seasons i mentioned earlier. but rain is still an ominous factor that needs to be anticipated and catered for. this is kind of where the stowaway jacket enters the fray; a water-resistant, breathable, windproof and hardy piece of kit that can be approximately folded in the most carefree of manners and unceremoniously stuffed in a back pocket.

rapha original pink stowaway

rapha's first affectation of the genre from around five years ago, was headed in roughly the right direction, in that it was most certainly waterproof (seriously so) with taped seams and plasticky breathable interior lining with a nice swirly pattern on it. the breathabiity was sort of its downfall; it didn't really get rid of the internal atmosphere of a cyclist quite fast enough. the outer fabric was quite close to that of a modern day softshell, beautifully soft, very hardy and flexible enough for that pocket stuffing. and it was pink. despite the leader's jersey in the giro having been pink since the early days (thank you gazzetta), adoption of the colour for the benefit of the weekend warrior had been pretty much overlooked until perren street's bold strokes. visible it most certainly was/is, and thankfully not fluorescent yellow.

development pretty much implies flux and change, hopefully in the general vector of improvement, and so it was that rapha's stowaway changed format, becoming formed from a water-resistant and windproof fabric that made toilet paper look thick. this would appear to have been a very quick learning process, because the garment has remained pretty much true to this style of fabric to the present incarnation released as part of the 2010 spring/summer range.

but that early day strength of conviction in the colour department meandered in other directions, arriving in grey, in black, lime green, orange and one or two others that escape the memory. pink was notable by its absence. until now, that is. and with the release of a 2010 pink stowaway, it sems that rapha newbies, or perhaps aficionados in countries where rapha had no real infiltration in the early days, are blissfully unaware that there was ever an original pink stowaway. i like my pink stowaway, and i still wear it from time to time, despite owning a team issue version, an orange stowaway and the much lauded rainjacket released last autumn/fall. the one thing that they all do with practiced ease, is scrunch up into a small enough pack to thrust into one of those pockets we mentioned during our earlier conversation.

rapha stowaways

so how do they compare? have the intervening years provided us with elemental protection of an improved nature? is there still a cache majeure to be acquired by waterproofing yourself with pink. i'd love to be able to tell you, but it hasn't rained. however, as pointed out, i do have the equivalent stowaway in orange, a garment with identical properties to that under consideration, one that has been well used to west coast rain and wind, a jacket that i was wont to confirm to an rotfr participant as the one that perren street got absolutely right. if the original pink stowaway could speak, it would regale you with deeds of derring do; of days spent at untenable angles in the face of driving winds and of precipitation that could float a calmac ferry, protecting the honed athlete from the elements, but unfortunately retaining just a smidgeon too much internal climate for comfort.

if you only buy one stowaway this coming season, make sure it's the pink one.

the short movie below has no real point to it, and was surprisingly overlooked in the oscar nominations. but it was fun (sort of). there's no prize, but see if you can figure out how often the pink stowaways changed places.


posted monday 8 march 2010

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