it is but a few days since i waxed lyrical about endura's latest slogan appended to their garment hang tag that stated "if you think the spring classics are bad, try scotland.", words that appear all too true to those who live north of the border. despite this weekend's sunday ride taking place in glorious sunshine, there's an inherited mindset that wonders when the house of cards will come crashing in again, and usually sooner rather than later.
though one hesitates at the thought we may become a blasé nation of cyclists when it comes to shrugging off the weather, the truth is that, for those on the west coast at least, it has all the marks of being our birthright. as the mighty dave t has mentioned on more than one occasion, if the weather becomes a problem, it's time to spend sunday in the pub playing dominoes. i cannot deny that having missed not one sunday ride throughout last winter is something of a feather in our collective caps. perchance we didn't always head out at the usually agreed time; waiting for conditions to ameliorate can be a particularly sensible strategy.
it would also be hard to defend some of those rides in wind and rain that really ought to have kept us indoors. there's being hardy, there's being brave, but there's also being particularly stupid. at one point duirng january i had to accept defeat and return home after only 6km because i could not maintain sufficent forward speed to avoid being blown off my bike. that is one moment i'd prefer not to recall, and i now know that riding in 60km winds is not a safe option.
common folk-tales would have it said that there is no such thing as bad weather, simply the wrong choice of cycling apparel, a mantra with which i have some sympathy. however, tolerance limits will eventually be met, something that has occured more often than we are collectively willing to admit. there is, however, every possibility that continued developments in materials technology will eventually make this a perfectly true statement. combined with a marked alteration in the thinking behind the way our clothing providers wish to fend off the elements possibly means that, galeforce winds notwithstanding, there may soon be no longer any valid excuse for not going out in the rain.
probably the biggest dilemma faced by any cyclist in such conditions is whether to clothe the upper torso in the commonly proffered, breathable waterproofs or just risk getting wet. i know of no single garment of this flavour that breathes well enough to remain dry inside after many kilometres of hard-riding. and if they do, the chances are precipitation will have inveigled its way through to the jersey below. as a few others have already sussed, perhaps the best idea is to sidestep the situation altogether and concentrate resources on keeping the bulk of the rain at bay while making the rider as comfortable and warm as possible even when wet.
it may sound like a bit of a cop out, but if you recall milan-sanremo of 2013, think of how many professional riders subscribed to this mode of defence even in the face of the dreaded sponsorship question.
according to the tags that accompany endura's latest equipe classics jersey it has been tested by the movistar team of which the scottish firm are clothing sponsors. in which case, if we accept that the pros will give such a garment a far harder time than a bloke living on a rock in the atlantic, is there any real point in my continuing past this point? well, at the risk of inciting a reprise of my blasé attitude and more than happy to reiterate endura's latest slogan 'if you think the spring classics are bad, try scotland.'
possibly the big difference in attitude that ought to accompany the wearing of such a weatherproof garment is the rather tautological knowledge that professional riders pedal a darned sight faster than the rest of us. accepting that very fact explains why this jersey and others like it are not intended as total replacements for the waterproof/breathable genre. if i might cite as an example, the sunday ride is usually conducted at a velocity well below that of your average spring classic. and if a mechanical or puncture calls a halt to proceedings, on a wet and windy isle it's very easy to cool down at an accelerated rate. so i wear a proper jacket.
however, saturday often assumes a research and development phase, when the tempo is likely to be a tad higher as is the distance. thus endura's equipe classics jersey can be made to work particularly well. it is lightweight, water-resistant and windproof and exceptionally breathable, but what it isn't is particularly thermal. thus heating is provided either by way of that which you wear below (in my case, a merino baselayer and a movistar team s/s jersey) or a continued propensity to cycle hard in the face of adversity. combine both, and you're sorted.
it is a predilection of the professional rider that they favour short sleeves with the option of armwarmers. watch any one day classic, and you'll see those armwarmers discarded fairly early in proceedings. the rest of us are wimps by comparison, holding onto those armwarmers even in the face of a hot cappuccino and some carrot-cake. to allow for both eventualities, the classics jersey comes complete with a pair of matching armwarmers. and for those riding without mudguards (as necessitated by the bicycle currently in for review), the jacket features a very bright lime-green tail flap that can be pulled down over your ass as and when necessary. its brightness ought to keep you safe from inattentive neutral service car drivers.
murphy's law dictates that any waterproof garment delivered for review will be met by particularly dry and sunny weather, precisely the conditions that met the parcel from endura. a morning's worth of occasional dampness was hardly likely to upset either jersey or rider, but a few moments inattention to incoming cloud cover meant that just as home was gaining a welcome degree of proximity, both jersey and rider were doused in torrential sleet for almost nine kilometres into a searing headwind.
as marcel wust would say, first thing i noticed was the relative ineffectiveness of those matching armwarmers. i'll admit that they hadn't necessarily fulfilled the warmer part of the equation as well as i'd hoped, but as pointed out, i tend not to ride quite as fast as alejandro valverde. the sleet, however, soaked them within minutes, leading to a rather cold pair of arms. the jersey fared considerably better, keeping the movistar team jersey impressively dry, with only minor dampness around the top of the sleeves. considering the ferocity and length of the shower, believe me, it earned its keep.
the collar's great, the front zip easy to zip up and down while riding, and the three rear pockets, with their laser-cut drain holes (never sure if these are more for effect than pragmatism) are marvellously capacious. my only caveat would be the lack of a zipped valuables pocket, but then i doubt the pros have much need for such frippery. that's what team cars are for. the short-sleeves are actually long short sleeves of which i wholeheartedly approve. its impressive built-in stretch meant that draping it over the baselayer and movistar jersey really didn't hassle it much, nor did it cause any discomfort.
as the temperatures increase (who am i kidding?), wearing the jersey without the armwarmers over just a baselayer means that it's truly a year-round item of apparel, ready to fend off april showers and be on standby for the ride of the falling rain in august. my only real quibble, one that pertains to more jackets/jersey than simply the equipe classics, is why no hanging loop inside the collar?
maybe this winter i could persuade valverde to join me for a classics training camp on islay. after all, we'll be wearing the same jersey.
endura's equipe classics jersey is only available in black, in sizes ranging from small to xxl at a cost of £139.99
monday 20 april 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................