those of you endeared of thursday evening's television (uk only i'm afraid), i have been watching trailers for a new american series starting this evening on e4. it's called 'two broke girls' and the snippet i have seen involved a couple of blokes in a diner being served by one of the two broke girls. after berating one of them for his method of catching her attention, she admonishes the other for wearing a woolly hat indoors because of his affection for the band 'coldplay'. this is humorous because of the truth that lies behind it.
at one time, it was cold weather and perhaps the need to work out of doors that enforced a need to wear a woolly hat. the same reason, come to that, some of us wear woolly hats under our helmets with flaps that cover our ears. because it keeps us warm.
it's doubtless a feature of boring-old-fartness to suffer a degree of incomprehension as to why the youth of today (though i'm none too sure that coldplay fit this age group anymore) find it necessary to wear woolly hats throughout the day both indoors and outdoors, not so much as protection against the elements but as some sort of badge of honour. and now that i come to think of it, the rather bizarrely named edge, guitarist with u2 always wears the very same type of woolly hat. and he is definitely in the same age bracket as myself, so it's more than likely i'm the one out of step; which would explain why i find the trailer for two broke girls rather whimsical.
the woolly hat, of course, is hardly alone in being worn for reasons other than those it was originally created for. an erstwhile riding colleague of mine purchased a substantial amount of winter gear for cycling: a thermal headband, neoprene overshoes, thermally lined gloves, neck warmer and winter jacket. most of us, i'd tend to suggest, would wear the above when conditions dictate, but my riding partner wore all the above at each and every opportunity. distinctly not cool in both senses of the word.
acquiring an item of cycle clothing for the purpose it was specifically designed for seems to me to make perfect sense. when you reach the degree of cycling obsession that i and others have achieved, being comfortable on the bicycle becomes just as paramount as having a chain that doesn't squeak, brakes that don't squeal and tyres that still have sufficient tread to deserve the apellation tyre (or tire if we're being continental). having a rainjacket folded in the back pocket of a short sleeve jersey is an appropriate precaution on scotland's west coast, for even in view of the three plus weeks it took me to get wet during my review period for this saving it for a rainy day series, you just can't trust the forecasts here abouts.
what is perhaps required, in order that such garments can be worn as the cycling equivalent of a coldplay woolly hat, is a modest degree of versatility, not only by way of the fabric de jour, but in concomitant style. how often have you owned a jersey, jacket, pair of shoes, or shorts that you have been so in love with, that you've wanted to wear at every opportunity, even though there are alternatives available in the hallowed innards of the cycling wardrobe? i know i have. sometimes the gestalt attached to a favoured item of apparel becomes just overwhelming.
mavic have spent most of their lifetime producing rather excellent rims and wheels, an area in which they excel and one that would have undoubtedly brought home the bread and cheese for many a long year to come. however, at some point in their recent past, the decision was made to branch out into the world of cycle clothing, footwear and, more recently, helmetry. excellence in one field, certainly as far as mavic are concerned, quite obviously creates an inherent level of excellence no matter the direction in which the belief system is pointed. mavic's hc h2o jacket does not let the side down.
i will spare you the reiteration of my challenging time attempting to get wet in the earlier part of april. suffice to say, precipitation was eventually achieved, and folks have now started accepting me as one of their own and not a bizarre individual with leanings towards those who spend their lives chasing storms and tornadoes.
if you've ever ridden a bicycle that wears any variation of shimano's di2 electronic shifting system, you may perhaps have enjoyed an extended period of watching that front gear mech shift the chain on and off the front two chainrings. though i have no great affection for electronic shifting (as opposed to its mechanical counterpart), there is something wonderfully star trek about its smooth and efficient operation. i must, therefore, put my hand in the air and admit to having experienced the same sense of joy when getting wet in this mavic jacket. watching little baubles of water rush off its red, white and black fabric even midst a thunderous downpour, is something to tell the grandchildren (not quite yet, admittedly).
the jacket could not be more waterproof if it tried. in an effort to acquire better images of this waterproofing, i poured water from my chris king bottle onto the sleeve, but it simply ran off onto the road, leaving a disappointingly dry fabric. i could watch it do that all day.
of course, there are two halves to a waterproof jacket (not literally, you understand): that of waterproofing, and that of breathability, and more often than not, it's the latter that suffers. so while enjoyment is to be had watching a concerted level of dribbling, it's often at the expense of being as wet inside as you hope to prevent on the outside. relying on the inherent breathability of the fabric alone is often not quite enough, and to this end, mavic have employed a commendable degree of lateral thinking. aside from two zipped vents on each side, the flap that hides the divided rear pocket also reveals mesh panelling to aid breathability. so far so ordinary, but the bonus is in the front zip: there are two of them. the first features more of that yellow mesh, while the second, taped version closes the front of the jacket against the elements.
should you find that the process of dropping the entire peloton at will has brought on an internal steam, even with both front zips undone, the outer zip can be completely undone to let in lashings of fresh air without the jacket being fully open ot the elements and without turning the jacket into a drogue 'chute (as we say at nasa). the seams are completely taped and the grey patterned inner fabric is of the breathable variety. as previously intimated, your mileage may vary with any form of breathability depending on personal make-up and the number of garments being worn under the h2o. i did manage to incur a modest degree of clamminess while wearing the jacket for an extended period, but it gives me great pleasure to inform that opening that first outer zip provided a remedial cooling that has to be experienced to believed.
add to all this, the jacket can be scrunched in any way you like and stuffed in a rear pocket, emphasising as if emphasis were required, that this is one heck of a versatile jacket. i can honestly see me wearing this in july and august when the weather is less than clement . but just when you think all avenues have been explored, in addition to a velcro outer strap on each cuff to vary the closure, on the outer side of each sleeve, just above the cuff is yet another taped zip. my friend james lamont is on record as stating that the ideal way to induce cooling on a warm body, is to expose the forearms to a cooling breeze. strange, but true. yet here, in the 21st century, this is the first jacket i have come across that offers the opportunity to expose those wrists and lower forearms to the breeze.
i will readily accept all accusations of triviality when i find it necessary to point out that the jacket's one failing is the lack of a tab inside the collar to hang it up in the coffee shop. that does not, however, detract from this being one heck of a fabulous waterproof jacket. even if you only like watching water literally run off the fabric when it rains.
mavic's hc h2o jacket can be had in sizes from xs to xl at a recommended cost of £190
posted thursday 18 april 2012...........................................................................................................................................................................................................