blessed are the hebrideans, for they shall have two days of summer in july. and that has now come to pass. tuesday and wednesday were sunny, a tad breezy at times but sporting a temperature in the mid teens celcius. that is positively balmy for round here. though i have made previous mention of a propensity to play hooky from work on a friday afternoon, i took the opportunity for a 40km ride on wednesday pm, since the forecast for today was less clement. granted that forecast altered somewhat by the time thursday dawned, but you can never be too sure.
the atlantic ocean can be a real swine at times.
however, even on days when loch indaal could easily be mistaken for the playground of the pirates of the caribbean, you will find members of the velo club riding in formation (peloton or echelon; both are almost interchangeable) with the central rear pockets stuffed with a rain jacket. too often has the crowded house hit record four seasons in one day acted as a pelotonic earworm for much of the sunday ride. it may be bright and sunny in bowmore, but approach saligo bay with anything less than a tentative cadence, and you could be looking at hailstones in july.
i really wish i was kidding.
the old adage that there really is no such thing as bad weather, only poor choice of apparel is pretty much anathema up here. it would be hard to find anyone who'd pay even lip service to such a southern pronouncement. we have indeed been occasionally remiss in our choice of outer garb, but it's a mistake you don't make twice. bad weather exists and w all have the scars to prove it.
thankfully, for the so-called summer months the remedy is simple. stuff a folded waterproof jacket in a back pocket and hope that there is never any need to find out how well its waterproofing abilities are versus its breathability. those south of the border may view 17 degrees celcius as a chilly day, but we'd be inclined to spray on the ambre solaire prior to departure. on such a day, were it to rain, it might be every bit as comfortable simply to get wet as opposed to donning a rainjacket. but not always.
the iniquity of spending a small fortune on any waterproof, be it the type that truly qualifies as a jacket, or the lightweight folders, is that the proofing eventually ceases to be as effective as it was at point of purchase. we've all experienced that childlike joy at watching rain collect as little droplets on the sleeves, harmlessly rolling off onto the handlebars. it can look quite impressive, but after a few washes, those droplets are more likely to soak into the fabric, not necessarily invading your inner space, but not appearing quite as weatherproof as the few hundred pounds had offered.
there are many products on the market that promise to re-proof pretty much any such garment while maintaining the breathability that came with the price tag. i have no evidence to contradict the latter contention, but plenty that would undermine the concept of re-invigorating those little droplets of water on the sleeves. many consist of a two part treatment: one to wash the garment and a second to apply during the drying process followed by a brief tumble dry on low heat.
i know i'm not the only one who has experienced less than impressive results with such products. muc-off, however offer no wash product, simply a can of fabric protect that is sprayed onto the offending jacket, preferably in the great outdoors. this, i presume, is due to its chemical composition that seems likely to leave you walking a few inches above the ground if inhaled in an enclosed space.
i took my team sky blue rapha race cape, pegged it to the washing line, and sprayed every inch of it with the muc-off fabric protect. leaving it to dry for ten minutes or so, as per the instructions, i did it once more, and again following a second ten minute interval. when all is dry, muc-off advise leaving the garment for a 24 hour period to allow it to completely infuse into the fabric.
i confess, based on previous experience, i really wasn't expecting too much when a tiny velo club peloton opted to circumnavigate the loch. but it had started raining even as i left the croft and continued to do so until only a few hundred metres from debbie's. i'd scarcely noticed the intervening kilometres, obsessed as i was with watching the aforementioned little bobbles of water run down both sleeves, an event that hadn't been witnessed for many a long winter's day.
with heavy intermittent showers all morning we had jackets on and off about five times between leaving deb's and returning for lunchtime coffee and cake; muc-off's fabric protect worked seamlessly (forgive the pun) throughout. the best bit is its particularly reasonable price; a 400ml can retails at only £10 and if you're a bit more careful than yours truly, you can probably manage to proof two jackets per can. it also offers the added benefit of protecting the jacket against undesirable stains. while attempting to fold the jacket in a windy passing place, i managed to have one of the sleeves rub against the big chainring, leaving an oily smudge near the elbow. on returning home, this was easily removed by wiping with a water-infused piece of kitchen roll.
now that's what i call a result.
thursday 16 july 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................