there's a distinct possibility that i am a bad person. not for any specifically vicious reasons you understand, but mostly because i have not toed the party line, so to speak. i am led to believe not only by mrs washingmachinepost, but at least two of the girls in the office, that the male of the species is particularly guilty of not reading instructions. it's an accusation that i find hard to deny. only the other evening i was charging a rear light via the usb port on my mac, when i realised i had no idea how i would know know when charging had completed.
granted, when the flashing blue light became a steady blue light the answer became somewhat self-evident, but that does not obscure the salient fact that i did not read the instructions prior to plugging it in.
and that is sort of what has created my current predicament. of course, i could fib, becasue there's really no-way you could check the veracity of my facts. not unless you were the guy driving the council tractor past rannochmore farm last tuesday morning. that, however, seems just a little unlikely and far-fetched. i'm sure you'd agree.
the humble gilet is a much maligned garment, one that finds no favour with the mighty dave t (for what reason i know not). there are those that resemble quilted duvets or sleeping bags with armholes which are more readily known as body-warmers, perhaps a darwinian evolvement of the humble gilet, though not one that i feel ought to be favoured with approbation. i harbour a sneaking suspicion that the term is much bandied about in the name of fashion, having seemingly lost the link with pragmatism. therefore, i would contend that we ought to offer rapha a round of applause for returning it to its roots, particularly taking into account the fabric of which this particular example is constructed.
originally known as rapha's fixie range, clothing directed at those who leaned more heavily upon the bicycle for transport rather than sport, it was hard to reconcile the nomenclature if, like me, you were heavily into freewheeling as a hobby. perhaps the folks at perren street recognised this apparent faux pas, renaming the collection as urban, a moniker that was arguably nearer the truth, but inadvertantly offering an opportunity for me to willfully dispute their contention in the name of humour. i confess that even i realised this was a joke that wore thin in a very short space of time, a realisation that unfortunately did not prevent my milking the situation for all it was worth.
which wasn't much.
at the risk if incorrectly paraphrasing led zeppelin, here we are in the autumn/winter of 2013 and the song remains the same, only the name has changed to protect the guilty. rapha have now brought such non-sporting apparel under the heading of their city-riding range. this is probably considerably more accurate, but still allows those with a weakened sense of humour to point the finger on a few more occasions.
that in itself is not the feature that i fear has made me a bad person, but the manner in which i have worn rapha's city-riding merino gilet for the past while. oh, i have indeed been seen on the briefest of occasion riding a bicycle while cossetted by its merinoness, but i cannot deny that the bulk of its short time on islay has been spent over a merino long-sleeve baselayer, and sat in front of an imac. if you too inhabit such an existence, whether in the rural idyll or in the central metropolis, i can attest to the magnificence of this gilet. though i have not made use of the sole rear pocket with its bright pink closure tab (the modern day equivalent of that oval tanned patch on the back of each hand), the small zipped version at front lower left has found favourable use for things like money.
mostly, however, is its visible estrangement from the cycling milieu, equally at home in the creative atmosphere of an adobe inflected office as it is traipsing down the street to purchase a daily copy of the guardian. it is lightweight, non-restrictive and the recipient of both admiring glances and verbal compliments. and it's cosy and warm into the bargain; in short, pretty much everything you'd want or expect from a gilet.
i can see quizzical looks that mirror my own when considering a gilet hewn from merino wool, particularly when its constitution is not the world's heaviest. merino, as we likely all know, is hardly renowned for its wind resitant qualities, even though i have rarely seen sheep at the roadside shivering in the breeze. this aspect of rapha's city riding merino gilet is handled by windproof panels fitted either side of the full length front zip. these are decorously augmented with a track sprocket design meaning both style and substance in a single package.
i have no city in which to ride. the largest village on the island is home to just over 1,000 people; most of the remaining habitations are considerably smaller. of course, i am no stranger to the occasional bout of eccentricity, and have shamelessly ridden the length of bowmore main street clad in an item of cycling apparel deigned primarily for use in far larger centres of population. yet, despite my shallow attempt at continued humour, it worked just fine. and it also worked just fine at keeping me warm while i sat in the armchair typing this review.
assuming you have members of your family who are not averse to the occasional flash of bright pink, this is the very garment it would not be unseemly to purchase for their significant christmas, even if they'd never held a handlebar in their puff. you will perhaps forgive my puerile visual humour in having the photos taken at a nearby farm. not many of those in the city.
rapha's city-riding merino gilet retails at £120 in black only and in sizes from xs to xxl. (medium size reviewed)
wednesday 13 november 2013