yesterday morning, in order that i might transport a couple of items to our beloved leader, the mighty dave t, i cycled the 30 kilometres from washingmachinepost croft in bowmore, all the way to the grand metropolis of port wemyss and that delightful whitewashed cottage that is the residence of the man himself. what seemed like a cunning plan at the time, turned into something of a badass slog, with a galeforce headwind and occasional heavy showers featuring head-on from bridgend all the way to the southernmost westerly tip of the island.
i had hoped to have enough time to indulge in conversation and metaphorically shoot the breeze with our directeur sportif, but so long did it take me to slog my way south, that on arrival i had little option but to carry out the delivery task in hand before immediately setting of to return home, via a timeous stop at debbie's café for a soya cappuccino and double-egg roll as some much needed sustenance.
the tailwind on my return was more than welcome and even though i was aboard the specialized awol elite, a rather heavy means of transport on 42mm tyres, i was not long in reaching the welcoming village of bruichladdich.
as you can perhaps imagine, after being sandblasted and rained upon, as i reached my back door ready to slump onto a kitchen chair, i could hardly avoid catching sight of my reflection in the kitchen window. regular visitors will be well aware that i have an aversion to hairdressers and though my greying, scraggly locks are always clean and shiny, i cannot recall the last time upon which i was commended for my neat and tidy appearance. in fact, give me a worn alpaca jacket, a woolly hat and an empty starbucks takeaway cup, and i could easily pass for the guy sat opposite the entrance to buchanan bus station, late on a saturday night.
sartorial may be a word often read, but scarcely inhabited in these black and yellow pixels, but it's very much a case of 'do as i say, not as i do'. however, surprising though it may be to hear, ever since i have entered the fray of velocipedinal commentary, a whole host of folks have seen fit to not only have yours truly turned out in a more respectable manner, but many another cyclist too.
where once we would have been satisfied to appear at the sunday morning ride in a replica motorola jersey thinner than most toilet paper, matched to a pair of shorts that only once resembled that which they purported to be, the intervening years have seen a more holistic approach to cycle clothing, an approach intent on having us appear more an integral part of society, than the pariah's we are often portrayed to be by those who are behind us in the queue for coffee and a piece of lemon drizzle cake. not least of these stalwart entities is britain's john smedley.
i am embarrassed to admit that until relatively recently, john smedley was a name i had not once come across. had i met the man in bowmore main street i would have known neither he nor that which he did for a living. but smedley's is one of, if not the oldest manufacturer in the united kingdom, having been founded at lea bridge, just outside matlock in 1784. and that wasn't yesterday.
if you take a moment to peruse the john smedley website, you will be introduced to a substantial range of highly prized knitwear, a fair proportion of which is fashioned from the cyclist's favourite; merino wool. this salient fact has obviously not by-passed the keen eyes at matlock, with one or two offerings casting more than a passing nod towards velocipedinal styling, an example of which can be seen within this feature in the style of the hugh merino sweater. as a dishevelled scot, i would be happier categorising this as a jumper, but whichever apellation by which you address it, there is no denying its style and quality.
though john smedleys do not specifically quantify this as pertaining to the inner-cyclist, it's not hard to make the connection via the half-length zip and stand-up collar. the only feature missing is those three rear pockets. it is constituted of a very fine merino knit, a superbly judged length in the sleeves and a warmth that easily belies its lack of bulk. this was made perfectly clear when heading to bruichladdich aboard my stately italian steel taurus, having need of opening the accompanying jacket just a tad to feel that cool prevailing south-westerly. rarely has such finely crafted luxury been nudged in the direction of the cyclist with taste and elegance (yours truly excepted, obviously).
but lest you think that all need have a pelotonic connection to be featured on thewashingmachinepost, i might also point you in the direction of the john smedley jig pullover, a teal coloured hooped jumper that takes me back to my late teens when i owned a scrappy, but much-loved acrylic jumper that i wore until it literally fell apart. of course, the crew-necked jig is of an order of quality far above that of the jumper of yesteryear, but its blue stripes evince the same vibe, if that doesn't come across as too pretentious?
the jig (a range currently at sale prices) is every bit as desirable as the hugh, perhaps more so if you prefer to keep your velocipedinal life separate from your civilian identity. i cheerfully wore this to the office every day for a week (it is merino after all), as well as one or two coffee inflected travels. though i am more than enamoured with the styling of the hugh jumper, i've a feeling that the jig will, just like its predecessor, be worn until there are only a couple of merino threads remaining.
stunningly fabulous. and that's not a phrase that can be applied to many entirely british made products these days.
the john smedley hugh pullover is available in a range of colours and in sizes that range from small through xxl at a price of £175. the jig pullover in three differing colourways is currently on sale at £75 in the same sizing range as the hugh.
tuesday 3 may 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................