i can repair an inner tube with the minimum of faff, but in all honesty, i'd far rather just replace the darned thing, simply for peace of mind. all that dipping the tube in a bowl of water to find the hole, marking it with yellow crayon, then drying it off before abraiding the surface slightly prior to squidging far more rubber solution than is seemly in polite company. after probably not leaving it long enough to become appropriately tacky, plopping on a decent sized patch then dusting the area with chalk dust to prevent it inadvertantly adhering to the inside of the tyre. far simpler to bung in a new tube, because if past experience is anything to go by, that patch will fail to stick, and the process will require to be repeated only a day or two later.
and i hate it when that happens.
of course, in a well equipped, ventilated, lit and heated workshop with oodles of space, i might well have to reconsider my profligacy, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. however, replacing an inner tube or a gear or brake cable are two of the very basic mechanical necessities that ought to be part of the qualification process required to ride a bike in the first place. it has been said that every peloton of whatever size, will always contain amongst its number at least one mechanically adept fellow, with a tool to meet most eventualities.
in the velo club, that's usually me.
the more arcane tasks, however, such as adjusting a finnicky rear derailleur or, more recently, dealing with the intricacies of electronics (perish the thought that hydraulic discs become de riguer on road bikes) are not the tasks you'd be happy carrying out by the roadside, assuming you'd the wherewithal to manage them in the first place.
and while we're on the subject of undertaking less than simple mechanical tasks, i surely cannot be the only one who has become endlessly frustrated holding a cable in one hand, a bicycle tool in the other and failing miserably to keep the page of an instruction manual open with my elbow? surely someone at product headquarters realises that even the most adept amongst us has need of clear instruction on at least the first occasion? in which case, why not create manuals that can lie flat when open.
rouleur editor, guy andrews, has obviously experienced the very same problem, for in his new pocket road bike maintenance from bloomsbury, he has made sure it can be laid flat for clear following of his well illustrated instructions. and taking pragmatism to the ultimate, the book is perfectly formed to enable its carrying while out riding. not for nothing has the word pocket been appended to the title.
of course, i have already made mention of the fact that repairing stuff at the roadside, other than punctures or even a broken chain, should be filed under the heading 'don't do it'. that, however, may have been a slightly premature statement, bearing in mind the well worn mantra a stitch in time.... though i doubt i am in the same league as mr andrews when it comes to mechanical skills, i do have sufficient grasp of the inner workings of each of my bikes to figure out what may have gone wrong mid-ride. it is my experience that such is not commonly the case; likely the very reason this book has been published in the first place. knowing what might be going wrong and carrying out a remedy en-route could save considerable expense later.
as if the ability to lie the pages flat were not sufficient, guy andrews has an entirely personable style of passing on his knowledge, one that supports the knowledgeable yet does not patronise the newbie. there is little disincentive worse, in my opinion, than entering an all but incomprehensible world of nuts, bolts and fiddly little wires and being made to feel like an idiot. everyone, including guy andrews, has been there at sometime in the past.
as we near the period when resolutions become the order of the day, if 2014 seems like the right time, learning at least basic cycle maintenance might just be the ticket for you (so to speak). this book is quite probably the ideal way to start climbing that particular mountain.
pocket road bike maintenance by guy andrews is published on 30 january 2014 by bloomsbury publishing. there is also a corresponding pocket mountain bike maintenance published simultaneously at the same price.
monday 16 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i'd be very inclined to refer to a yak simply as a hairy beast or at best, an animal. however, it has been pointed out to me that the yak comes under the heading of bovids; cloven-hoofed ruminants, apparently in the same class as cows, deer, sheep and the like. this particular bovid is, by definition, almost always associated with tibet and the himalayas, though also herding as far north as mongolia and russia. contrary to my misapprehension, the majority of yaks do not roam wild, threatening the peripatetic inhabitants of these north eastern plains. there is a small population of wild beasts, but the majority are domesticated. the name yak is derived from the tibetan gyag, and though in their language this refers specifically to the male of the species, western civilisation has lazily adopted the word to refer to both.
the largest of their particular genus, the wild version can grow to over seven feet tall and weigh as much as a metric tonne. not the sort of animal you'd like to meet in a dark tibetan alley. the domesticated herds are considerably smaller, weighing around half as much, though still large enough to offer doubts as to whether to shoo them out the way. intriguingly, it's a type of animal that has a reputation of being somewhat on the aromatic side, yet both animals and their poop have little or no detectable odour. their wool, which is pretty much germaine to this particular discussion, is naturally odour resistant.
and that is a good thing.
while we have endured, and in some cases, still do so, the synthetic baselayer for keeping us warm during our athletic ministrations, man-made fibres have pretty much proved to be rather smelly in even short periods of use. one or two manufacturers have incorporated pure silver threads into their polyester fabrics to minimise this aspect, but with varying degrees of success. none that i have tried could be said to have been entirely triumphant in this respect. many of us are therefore more than grateful for the benefits of natural merino wool, both for the silkier feel and obstinate refusal to become niffy in prolonged use. a close look at the fibres of merino shows a complete absence of anywhere for the bacteria that causes niffyness to abide. thankfully.
merino wool has become almost ubiquitous in its use nowadays throughout several cycle clothing ranges, much of it originating from new zealand. however, a quick look at lord of the rings and the hobbit movies will demonstrate that new zealand contains one or two regions that seem a tad on the cold side, i've no real idea as to whether those areas are inhabited by merino sheep. i tend to think not. yaks, however, indisputably meander about some of the coldest regions of the earth, with only their wool to keep them warm.
putting two and two together, it seems only reasonable to assume that if that wool keeps yaks warm and toasty, it could, perchance, perform the same service to the average over-wintering cyclist.
though not specifically aimed at the cyclist, kora, purveyors of the finest yak wool baselayers offer (at present), a minimal range consisting of zipped tops and leggings, though it seems likely that the latter would be pertinent only to cyclists in regions inhabited by the yak itself. the top, however, is not only verging on being too stylish to hide beneath a cycle jersey, but seriously vying as the next big thing to keep cyclists warm in winter. according to kora's own statistics, yak wool is up to 40% warmer than merino, yet my own experience on a day that could only be described as temperate rather than chilly, proved it to be just as adept at maintaining a comfortable and desirable body temperature.
though there is only the long-sleeve version available at present, allied to a half-length front zip and high collar, worn beneath a short sleeve sportwool jersey and waterproof jacket, i doubt i was ever in danger of overheating at any time during my velocipedinal exertions. unsurprisingly, kora are keen to make comparisons with that of merino, and it seems that, in terms of breathability, yak wool has 66% greater air permeability than its new zealand counterpart.
percentages, however, are very hard to quantify from behind the handlebars; it pretty much comes down to whether it works or whether it doesn't. in my opinion, it achieves everything promised by the manufacturer and then some. considering the fabric in the shola baselayer seemed a smidgeon more substantial than the average winter edition, there's no real suprise that it easily mastered the cosy bit of the equation, but more than impressive that overheating remained merely a distant concept.
prices are a bit higher than those commanded by merino, (the shola retails at £105) but it would be hard to deny that farming yaks is likely a bit more strenuous than cossetting several thousand sheep in a great big field. i'd be more than intrigued to see kora produce a thinner, short-sleeve version for summer wear, as i fear the long-sleeve baselayer would be rather stifling even in a scottish summer, despite the statistical claims of the manufacturer. however, if you're a fan of merino, or sad enough to be still clad in polyester, you might be happy to join the vanguard of odourless winter toastiness with a covering of yak wool.
it just gets better and better.
the kora shola yak wool baselayer is available in blue only and in sizes small to extra large at a cost of £105. the women's version, is similarly specified.
sunday 15 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the art college at which i was a less than exemplary student featured as part of its claim to fame, a remarkable similarity to an art institute in chicago. or at least, so i was informed. from the outside the overall impression was one of acres of glass, deliberately so in order to effect this verisimilitude. however, into the american building had been incorporated an appropriate air conditioning system, allowing all that glass to remain permanently shut even in the height of a very warm summer. the scottish equivalent, according to legend, had not been provided the same financial resources and was thus devoid of such cooling.
this meant, of course, that even in the depths of winter, a sunny day could render the environment nigh on stifling, and therefore those sealed windows had to be replaced with less aesthetic but openable versions. i can't say this made one whit of difference to the inmates, though i daresay the architect wasn't best pleased. and surprisingly enough, though the college featured a substantial and well constituted library, there was at least a single shelf given over to books on architecture, despite our contention that architects simply couldn't draw in the first place.
though i never did get round to reading it in while an enrolled student, one of the books in that section was entitled ghastly good taste, a book written by sir john betjeman on the apparent loss of aesthetic sensibilities in modern architecture. written in the 1960s, and despite my superficial appraisal based on its seemingly nonsensical title, it is regarded as an important milestone in architectural criticism. i now have a paperback edition sitting in the upstairs bookshelf.
in the intervening years, however, ghastly good taste as become a phrase that could be applied to many an item of consumerism, frequently on an ever-changing basis. though i cannot think of a specific example right this minute, there are many items that have survived the iniquity of initial damnation to become not only much sought after, but highly popular objects or accoutrements. the christmas sweater seems like a good seasonal example.
beloved of television or movie producers at this time of year, the character at which fun was being poked would often find themselves dressed in a thick woolly pullover featuring a reindeer, santa or some other seasonal graphic. though innocent enough in their own right, and seen on many a child at christmas, dressing an adult in such fashion was regularly seen as an infallible visual joke. in recent years, however, the fortunes of the christmas sweater have improved immeasurably, as has its retail availability. a quick search will reveal plentiful offerings of ugly christmas sweaters, surely paralleling betjeman's ghastly good taste.
while obviating the former description, a rather fabulous offering from hackneygt in the shape of a fully formed long sleeve, fleece-lined cycling jacket has joined the party. the dye sublimated print from a mere two paces distant, bears an uncanny resemblance to a knitted sweater. as i whizzed past, accordingly dressed, i have little doubt that innocent civilians would have been suitably convinced. having replaced santa's reindeer with bicycle riders on both front and back, the jersey's provenance is advised via the letters hgt on the sleeves, spelt out in red stars.
no doubt the superficiality of the season could have been cheerfully encompassed wihtout disdain, but in fact, this is a bona-fide cycle jersey that's not just for christmas. highly pertinent to the conditions currently battering the hebrides, it is commendably windproof with a fleece lining similar to the common roubaix material and a close-fitting but very welcome collar. i must confess that it turned out to be a lot cosier than i expected, with a decent length of sleeve and a set of three large rear pockets to swallow the rainjacket that i feel compelled to carry in such conditions. though the green, red and white design is surely bright enough to identify the wearer in traffic, there's a scotchlite reflective strip 'neath the centre rear pocket. the hem also features some red gloop to keep it from riding up in use.
whether you're happy to wear this hackney gt alpine jacket at other times of year is entirely down to your own sensibilities. i certainly would, but i guarantee it will be worn with great pride at next sunday's velo club mince pie ride. it might just be the very item that loved one could buy you for christmas or even the other way round.
ho, ho, ho.
the hackneygt green alpine fleece jacket is available in sizes from small to xl and retails direct from the hackneygt website at a cost of £79.95.
saturday 14 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
one of the fringe benefits of writing the post is the number of books that head my way for review. as one with an insatiable need to have a constant supply of reading material, a large pile of cycling books by the side of the armchair is a most satisfying sight (though mrs washingmachinepost would most certainly disagree).
however, from time to time, a volume of words passes me by, for one reason or another, and i am therefore grateful to gordon daniels for having sent me the following review of albergotti and o'connell's wheelmen. i hope you enjoy a slightly different reviewing perspective.
this book is about an american hero who could do no wrong. for a decade he hypnotised many with his exploits and swagger. however, the confession of a proven liar showed him to have feet of clay. it's amazing how long the conspiracy lasted but threats, bullying and bribery ensured that lance armstrong stayed untouched, at least publicly, for many years. a brilliant athlete, he used his cancer foundation to shield the most effective doping scandal seen in sport.
reed albergotti and vanessa o'connell, reporters on the wall street journal, spent over three years researching the armstrong story. commentators often conflate the doping issues with the off-bike, corporate corruption that permeated armstrong's career. albergotti and o'connell strip out the fine detail to show that there were two things going on simultaneously. a strong point of wheelmen is that its authors, though established journalists, are not specialist cycling writers and therefore owe no allegiance to cycling for their livelihoods.
the writing is matter of fact and skewers armstrong at every opportunity. greg lemond appears spasmodically, injecting a sense of integrity in to an amoral orbit that consumed many and discarded them once their usefulness was over. corruption at the uci sustained armstrong's career following positive dope tests. dodgy doctors, retained at considerable expense, enabled lance (and his team, sponsored by the us postal service and later, discovery channel) to dope virtually with impunity.
sca promotions had agreed to pay bonuses to armstrong for his tour de france wins but had cold feet following the allegations. lance's reputation and veracity came under scrutiny in the subsequent court hearing. he won the case but it turned out to be a pyrrhic victory.
evidence of armstrong's cheating lay in the public domain for many years before the tipping point in his fortunes; the confession of former team-mate and tour de france winner, floyd landis. landis reflected on the uneven application of rules in cycling and the financial fraud that accompanied it. he sent an email to usa cycling admitting to doping and implicating lance armstrong and george hincapie, plus others on the us postal team.
jeff novitzky, of the us federal food and drug administration, worked with landis to ensnare armstrong. lance hired a team of expensive lawyers but felt safe when the two-year investigation was unexpectedly closed without explanation. but time was running out; the us anti-doping agency (usada), led by travis tygart, then invited armstrong to come clean on doping in us postal and the discovery channel cycling team.
byzantine is the only way to describe the proceedings that followed tygart's invitation. usada planned to press ahead with the case no matter the outcome of the criminal proceedings fronted by novitsky. the usada arbitration panel required a lower level of evidence for conviction than the criminal case. armstrong began to wriggle. he couldn't beat the arbitration panel, and uncharacteristically decided not to fight usada's reasoned decision. the doping case brought against armstrong was proven. sponsors began to drop away with many, like trek and oakley who had supported lance for years, taking advantage of his celebrity, and then dumped him.
oprah winfrey's cable channel, oprah winfrey network (own) was struggling for ratings. she had earlier sought an interview with lance. at the time he was unready to talk but later saw the opportunity to put his case to the american public. oprah and lance needed each other. armstrong's lawyers thought him reckless but he went ahead with the interview. carefully staged, he showed no contrition and made doping seem banal. the encounter was compelling for what he didn't say than for his admission of wrongdoing. for example, his influence over the uci was not addressed. in the aftermath, some observers felt that armstrong's performance confirmed his perceived personality disorder.
albergotti and o'connell can be proud of their work. the armstrong saga has been as diverse as it has been long. there is still much to be disclosed as the focus moves away from doping and shines a light on the economic fraud committed by people outside of usada's jurisdiction. a novelist would be stretched to plot something so complex and pervasive. indeed, as someone has said 'you couldn't make it up.'
gordon daniels, december 2013
friday 13 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
they're crafty, treacherous and indubitably devious. product manufacturers will append whatever they like (within reason) to their website descriptions and advertising copy in mostly successful attempts to persuade us into swapping our hard-earned cash for their damnably attractive goods. there's often a fine line between need and want, needing simply a gentle nudge to convert from the latter state of mind to the former. it's called marketing.
you may think my castigations to be unfairly cruel, but i'm sure the majority would adopt an innocent and angelic disposition, all the while protesting that they were merely doing their job, (guv). in truth, they are not entirely wrong, for even a cursory look at a job description would confirm that convincing people to buy stuff was pretty much their sole purpose in life. but isn't it not only possible, but quite likely that the thoughts uppermost in their collective minds when describing the purpose of the un-named product are rather different from our own?
apple computer has long had a tradition of appending the abbreviation pro to the end of many of their products. as many users of apple products would never stoop so low as to be recognised as other than pro, it's a cunning plan. thus sales of these not only outdo those perceived as being of the consumer range, but often confer a faux superior status upon the purchaser. that's just one of the ways in which marketing can improve its return on investment; making people feel good about themselves while unleashing more pennies than absolutely necessary.
but what of the humble item of cycling apparel? is it not only possible that both purveyor and marketer were considerably wide of the mark when deciding its purpose. sure, you'd figure there ought to be at least a modicum of cycling involved, otherwise we'd have to reconsider their position in the grand cycling panoply. thus certain features may of necessity be included. in the case of vulpine's brand new softshell gilet, these amount to a high, yet adjustable collar, a full-length zip, two front pockets and a variety of rear examples hovering over a drop tail to keep wet bum syndrome at bay. and if you're going to ride really, really fast along clerkenwell road, or even uiskentuie strand, something's going to have to keep that wind at bay.
however, maybe my needs on receiving the rather elegant claret gilet were entirely at odds with those of vulpine central command. in fact, there's a better than evens chance that we occupied completely disparate headspaces at the time. for instance, is it likely that mr hussey peered intently at a copy of adobe illustrator featuring the gilet design drawings and immediately thought of a trip on the megabus gold between glasgow's buchanan bus station and that of victoria in central london? if he did, there's a great deal more to the concept of serendipity than i was previously aware.
strangely, there is no railway sleeper service between glasgow and london on a saturday night, for what reason i know not. sitting in however comfortable a seat on a national express coach bound for the nation's capital is not the ideal manner of travel. particularly when the coach pulls into a motorway service station just as you've dropped off to sleep, the lights go on and the driver announces that a fifteen minute break will ensue. it's a largely unwelcome feature that can be repeated at least another twice. why, you might ask, would i wish to get to london for an early december sunday in the first place?
i'll tell you.
since their appearance on the cycle clothing scene, vulpine have been happy to make their own way in the world; eccentrically some would say. thus, instead of setting out their wares in accustomed fashion in the grandiose halls of a myriad of cycle exhibitions, vulpine were (and are) more content to do it differently in the form of the cycling fete. though i recall at least one of these having been north of london, the rest have remained within the region of big ben and the river thames. when the recent vulpine cyclogames were announced in early november, i e-mailed mr hussey in the mistaken assumption that this event would surely take place north of the border. like that's ever going to happen.
however, i was invited to join the party at hackney's ovalspace on sunday pm, 8 december.
dressing for the occasion was the least of my concern, but had little or nothing to do with nipping out for a bike ride. plying the route between the two cities is the aforementioned megabus gold service; effectively, beds on a bus. a thoroughly customer unfriendly situation occurs at glasgow buchanan bus station where the coach departure time is signalled as 23:30, but the heated and seated concourse closes at 23:00. this entails an half hour wait in the great outdoors at close to sub-zero temperatures. though they've easily catered for such an event, i doubt vulpine ever had this in mind. long-sleeve baselayer, softshell gilet and harrington jacket took care of the torso, and a pair of epic cotton trousers were not only more than adequate armoury against the chill, but consummate travel apparel into the bargain.
an early sunday morning walk from euston to look mum no hands! in old street, past legions of boris bikes, proved the veracity of the concept of city riding as complementary to city walking.
the velogames were not only well attended by exhibitors and visitors alike, but notable for witnessing the inimitable ned boulting take victory over kenny van vlaminck on the rollapaluza race bikes. and not a cobble in sight. trackstands, most beautiful bikes, sartorial cyclists and most impressive quads all combined to make the afternoon more than worth attending and sleeping on a bus. if given the choice, i'd have opted for a jazz trio rather than the dj sessions, but i figure that's an age thing.
ok, so i have ridden more than 100 kilometres clad in the softshell gilet, a few of which consisted of wet rain, and all of which were windblown. though i have long considered myself a medium sort of a guy, in this case, a small softshell gilet fitted just ginger peachy thank you very much. the two front handpockets are more than welcome off the bike, but not really much given to storing stuff for cycling. the latter task is, however, easily accomplished by an open rear pocket, a zipped version for coffee money and one bearing the magnetic closure now seen as vulpine trademark.
the front zip is commendably waterproofed and that high collar features a rear drawcord to close out any influx of cold. once zipped to the neck, there's a double magnet flap to close over the front. try as i might, i was unable to find any mention of its suitability for sitting in cold bus stations and sleeping the night away on a megabus gold. perhaps i've found a gap in the market, even if someone has already inadvertantly filled it.
maybe they're not so devious, crafty and treacherous after all.
the vulpine softshell gilet is available in claret, grey or fluorescent green, in sizes ranging from small to xl at a cost of £115.
thursday 12 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
despite the onset of winter weather, appropriate for the time of year, it is bearing little, if any consistency. i can leave the croft of a morning, wearing my look mum no hands! woolly hat (the one with the blue pompom on top), waterproof cosy jacket and a pair of thermal gloves, intent on a hard day's graft in my comfy chair, (mentally at least) dictated by a swift glance out the kitchen window at breakfast . however, come lunchtime, in the search for some bread and cheese - i am nothing if not parsimonius in my quest for victuals - it appeared the hat and gloves were surplus to requirements.
though clear(ish) skies still pervaded, the temperature was considerably milder than i'd assumed. there is no glory to be gained by walking the village streets carrying a pair of gloves. to make it worse, i almost left the darned things in my shopping basket. come hometime, the weather had deteriorated into showery precipitation of which we'd all been oblivious due to an unaccustomed bout of industry and the fact that the blinds had been closed all day. hat and gloves were welcome accoutrements at that point.
the relevance of this to velocipedinal activity is perhaps not immediately apparent, but nonetheless something worth bearing close consideration. for though many are keen to advertise their wares as being breathable and impressively waterproof, those are two features not always deemed necessary. such is the situation perhaps for no other reason than cycling activity is taking place in dry and less than onerous weather; a lack of taped seams is conditionally represented as water resistant and almost by implication, more breathable than their taped counterparts. sometimes windproofing and a modest level of shower resistance is perfectly acceptable.
closely fitting those demands are the showers pass crosspoint wind gloves, handholding that closely resembles their softshell outdry brethren, recently reviewed in these very pixels. as both pairs lie in the box of winter accoutrements in the kitchen, seen from the back, even their own mother might have difficulty telling them apart were it not for the thin line of reflectivity below the showerspass wording. flip them to the palm side however, and the black covered padding clearly distinguishes the outdry version from the wind glove. an elasticated and impressively long cuff, adjusted via a velcro strap on the back allows the breathability to be dialled in to the wearer's demands.
to read the relevant text on the showers pass website brings a touch of misapprehension to the equation, one that can be cleared up by not stopping at the end of paragraph one. the words '3 layer Artex windproof, waterproof and breathable technology' fooled me into thinking i would be bulletproof even in unrelenting rain, a situation that didn't take long to be physically undermined through a pair of soaking wet hands. at that particular time, the words showers pass were failing to live up to expectations. however, had i read to paragraph two, i would have seen the advice 'for a fully waterproof option check out the Crosspoint softshell glove.' in other words, read the flipping instructions.
the wind glove, based on my expertise in the wind, cheerfully repels all boarders in this respect, and it has comfortably fulfilled expectations as water-repellent when pootling about in weather interspersed with occasional showers. despite being bereft of the softshell's outdry membrane, the breathability is quite impressive. however the question bears asking as to why you'd consider these as an alternative to the softshell gloves, when the latter appear to incorporate all the features of the windgloves in addition to their own? the answer is almost certainly one of season and application.
depending on your location, mileage and weather conditions, you may not require the serious waterproofing available with the softshells. and come the spring classics, the rain may still be hanging around, but in less persistent quantities. the windgloves are a smidgeon less bulky than the softshells due to a less substantial thermal lining; in short, the wind gloves are of lighter constitution. so despite this review arriving a matter of weeks before christmas day, these are likely the very gloves that will be regularly grabbed from the pile as easter gets a little closer.
cycling's not much fun if you're uncomfortable on the bike.
the showers pass crosspoint windgloves effect a stylish and very well made solution to constant wind allied to occasional showers. and though i have highlighted their undoubted lightness of being, it would need to be very cold indeed before your hands have need of looking elsewhere for refuge. at a cost of around £34 per pair, perhaps an ideal christmas present even if for yourself.
and always remember, cycling gloves are not just for christmas.
showers pass crosspoint windgloves are available only in black with grey padding on palm and fingers. sizes range from small to xl.
wednesday 11 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
on the basis that it is very easy to be a big fish in a small pond, i would think there are few folks on islay who can mentally separate me from association with bicycles. a proverbial little old lady who used to live a few doors along from the croft, was wont to mention to her daughter when referring to me in despatches as the bicycle man. whether she knew my real name or not, i'd be unwilling to hazard a guess. therefore, on one of the rare occasions when i had cause to visit the averagemarket in bowmore main street to purchase a necessity for sunday brunch (one that i had faithfully assured mrs washingmachinepost had been acquired the previous day), my wearing of sportwool, lycra, tinted rudy projects and a bright yellow helmet elicited no untoward response from my fellow shoppers.
i'd agree that this latter incident sounds like it would be an almost everyday occurence, yet though i'll happily sup froth clad in racewear, certain day to day duties merge uneasily with such incongruity. it is an extension of what i can only surmise is an untoward bout of self-consciousness that originally weened me off becoming a mobile advertising hoarding in the first place.
logos for satellite broadcast systems, wooden laminate flooring or mobile phone companies are all very well in a graphical appreciation sense, but on the basis that no-one has actually offered me my own seat on the team bus, i do truly have to ask 'where's my motivation?' much like my teetotalism and vegetarian status, i feel no real obligation to advertise or impose my velocipedinal tendencies to the civilian population, though clippity-cloppity shoes and the aforementioned bright yellow helmet tend to give the game away in any case. therefore there seems scant inducement to wear team clothing in the first place.
which is precisely why the heidi jacket from cote d'azur's cafe du cycliste finds a great deal of favour even on west coast scotland. and all the more so during the current cold season. the appearance of this winter jacket is initially what sets it apart from its peers. in the knowledge that islay is composed of several estates governed by absent and not so absent landlords, wearing a heidi jacket while surveying the peasants would almost immediately identify one as a member of the landed gentry. granted, i have yet to prove this theory, but i feel sure of my ground by positing it in the first place.
the black frontispiece resembles that of a quilted body warmer, interrupted only at the front of the shoulders where cdc have craftily inserted two zipped vents, should one's exertions ever get the better of its inherent breathability. this quilted section is not only windproof, but more water resistant than i had expected. too lazy to extricate a thin waterproof shell from the large, zipped rear cargo pocket, i pedalled on through a quick, yet heavy shower of rain, emerging at the other side a lot drier internally than i had expected. though not advertised as rainwear, it will suffice through the occasional brief shower.
the full length front zip heads slightly to the right as it reaches the collar, obviating any bulked zip garage pressure on your neck. a burgundy inner wind baffle behind the zip complements the predominantly grey colours of the jacket rather well, and the high, soft collar is neither too tight nor too loose and a very welcome feature in cold weather. there's even a loop inside the collar to hang it on a coat hook when relaxing with coffee clad merely in a cdc marie-josette jersey. i figure the heidi is part way between a generous i'm not a cyclist fit and a close-cut race fit; there was no noticeable flapping when pointed into headwinds.
a criss-cross stitched inner fleece lining has the effect of warming the cockles before the jacket has even been worn. however, the only feature with which i had minor gripes was that of the storage area at rear. the zipped centre pocket is most generous in its capacity, but though the two outer pockets are popper fastened at the top and elastic in their construct, the tops of each are less than accommodating. so when the cargo pocket was full and zipped, yet a foldaway rainjacket had still to find space, i was unable to fit the jacket in either of the smaller pockets. i have a notion that they would have accommodated what is a tightly packed and none too large waterproof had i only been able to get it past the more stubborn tops.
however, a more logistical method of storage would proabably see such an eventuality happening only on rare occasions. it was a silly time to give the team car the day off.
having tacitly agreed to accurately measure the length of a marathon running course with a bike-mounted garmin gps unit, stretching from portnahaven all the way to port ellen, i spent the bulk of my saturday last riding what turned out to be the wrong distance. for starters, i was under the misapprehension that a marathon was exactly 26 miles, when it appears there is an extra 0.2 added to the brief. add to that my having apparently commenced measuring in the wrong place, and you will no doubt see why it is that, come the new year, i'm going to have to do it all over again. however, not wishing to draw too much attention to myself, yet maintain the sartorial decor which i'm sure nobody's noticed, i donned the heidi jacket for the full length of the trip.
though carrying out my errant duties actually resulted in my riding the equivalent of two marathons to measure just one, even the varying wind strength and intermittent showers failed to disturb the jacket in any way, shape or form. which is rather more than could be said for the rider in this case. it's a remarkably comfortable jacket that makes me look nothing like alejandro valverde and retained its composure enough to be worn once more on the following day's albeit shorter ride. the chaps and chapesses on the cote d'azur, despite presumably having little experience of scottish west coast riding have yet again successfully provided cycle clothing that does not depend on sun, sea and sand.
the cafe du cycliste heidi winter jacket is available only in grey and in sizes ranging from xs to xxl and retails at £163 ($265)
tuesday 10 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................