i'm informed by my colleagues in the office that the rapid disappearance of days, weeks, months and years are simply a sign of getting older. in which case, though i'm admitting to nothing, if i've recalled the wrong year with which to start this review, then you will perhaps look fondly and kindly on the failing memory of the more mature cyclist.
i believe the first time i took part in hot chillee's londres-paris bike ride was in june 2007. despite paying at least lip service to the ageing process above, this was my first unaccompanied cycle expedition anywhere other than islay or scotland. as to the intricacies of european travel, i was but a mere novice, unsure when i'd be likely to have need of foreign currency or, perhaps more importantly, when to have my passport to hand.
the latter fact was one that almost tripped me up before even leaving the safety of the golf club start (yes, really). somewhat fearful of my ability to hang onto anything important in the face of potential adversity, i thought it better to leave my passport safely ensconced in my kit bag, an item carefully stacked in the back of a truck, ready for onward transport to our port of departure. however, conversation with those more adept at this sort of thing led me to believe that it might be more prudent to have the item about my person just in case it was asked for or required en-route.
this turned out to be sage advice.
the problem, however, was quite where to place the passport in order that i did not find an empty pocket on arrival at customs. though i nowadays pretty much expect any properly constituted cycle jersey to feature a zipped security pocket about its person, in those far off days of last decade, very few jerseys were built in this fashion. what was the international traveller to do?
of the jerseys i'd packed for that first trip to paris (well, if truth be told, it was versailles that particular year), two had zipped rear pockets, just large enough to carry a passport, but unfortunately, precious little else, and i'm ever so glad i was sat at the front of those jerseys, because i dread to think what sort of a shape my international identity papers imposed upon that pocket. in deference to our sponsor, i carried an ardbeg single malt wallet, one that was enturely the wrong shape and bulk to be carried in any sort of jersey pocket, so that did indeed travel in the truck.
however, every year, on the occasion of the ride of the falling rain, conversations with fellow pelotonese bring to the fore just how many of them sign up for endless numbers of foreign sportives. in retrospect, i think it very likely that many will suffer the same set of incongruous circumstances as my own indecisions and iniquities that are wallet related. with so much by way of security at airports and ports, it would be less than prudent to be caught card, cash, licence or passportless.
and just in case there were insufficient liabilities to contend with, every now and again, it rains.
living the sheltered life, it strikes me as verging on the eccentric to consider there's a company whose sole purpose in life is to scour the four corners of the earth, sourcing all manner of fine wallets that might benefit those , like me, who had no real idea we needed such excellence in the first place. but that's just what the chaps at lombres do each and every day. and while your first impressions of australia might not contain allusions to large amounts of precipitation, that is exactly where bellroy fashion their water resistant leather elements travel wallets. these large biscuit shaped wallets hold not only cash, cards, licence and, believe it or not, a sim card, but also the aforementioned passport.
in fact, when unzipped via the ykk waterproof zip, inside the right hand side of the bellroy wallet is a verisimilitude of a passport. in this case, it offers false hope to customs officers, for 'tis truthfully a rather handy notebook, one that can be written in with the tiny ballpoint pen cossetted in a similarly tiny pocket on the wallet's inner spine. it even comes with a spare refill. there are three stitched and perfectly sized slots to take care of credit and debit cards as well as a driver's licence. according to lombres, there is also space to hold an iphone or similar; in the absence of such a device, i rode about during one wet bike ride with my ipod touch inside, during which it suffered no ill effects.
though i have perhaps unkindly referred to the elements travel wallet as a large biscuit, in point of fact, it fits very neatly into any one of a jersey's three rear pockets, keeping cards, money and ipod protected from the big, bad, wet, galeforce world. in fact, just to give it a harder time than its quality and price surely deserve, i popped it in the rear pocket of my rapha hardshell for a rainy two hour bike ride. when it came time to pay for coffee, my five pound note was as dry as it was when i placed it there the previous eve.
unfortunately its shape prevented it from being placed in the chest or inner pockets of several of the jackets i own, but the same argument could (and has) be levelled at it's ardbeg predecessor, and several others i can think of. of course, quality doesn't come for free, and £99 might well be considered a tad on the expensive side to carry cards, money and passport. however, i'd venture that this might rather pale into insignificance when trying to contact the british embassy in a foreign land on discovering your passport isn't where you thought it was.
several years ago, i travelled from glasgow to kansas city to learn how better to apply the art of pipe band drumming (don't ask). with more than a few of us heading off on the same flight, one poor fellow had to remain behind, because he'd allowed his passport to get wet and delaminated the covering over the photograph. passport control wouldn't let him travel. if it can happen to one, it can happen to any. because this situation was adjudged his fault, he lost the cost of his ticket and kansas hotel accommodation.
a £99 wallet seems rather modest expenditure by comparison.
even if you travel as infrequently as yours truly, you'll likely more than appreciate the quality and practicality of the bellroy elements travel wallet. and you'll appreciate its water resistance all the more if you live north of watford.
the bellroy elements travel wallet is available in slate grey (as reviewed) cognac or black at a cost of £99 direct from lombres.com
saturday 1 november 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................