there was, last time i looked, a shop in glasgow central station featuring the decorative legend that spelled out the word 'accessorize'. though i can only blame the vicissitudes of an ever-changing education system, i would, on this side of the pond, have replaced the 'z' with yet another 's, but i believe that the oxford english dictionary would be inclined to prove me wrong on that particular point. however, the matter in hand is not the spelling of the word, but just what it was/is this particular establishment offered for sale.
it transpires that the branch of 'accessorize' to which i refer, is not a standalone retail outlet, but one that is a small part of a far greater organisation, featuring a head office in london's notting hill village designed by a prizewinning group of architects. however, what is of particular interest in relation to my point, which is not too far away now, are the products to be seen in the group's shop windows.
we are a race often besotted with paraphernalia and trinketry, most often purchased after the fact and by way of complement to a singular idea. though i may be in danger of tarnishing an entire gender by way of a generalism, many are the members of the female sex who purchase a dress or coat in full knowledge of the fact that such will subsequently need to be accessorised with a handbag, a pair of shoes and perchance a matching or contrasting hat and gloves set.
the male of the species is not exempt from such habits, though more often than not, pertaining to items other than clothing. my son purchased a rather sporty looking motor car a few years ago, a vehicle that apparently demanded a set of wider alloy wheels with matching low-profile rubber. i think it may only have been the onset of domestic bliss and the acquisition of a dog that prevented further modification by way of bucket style seating and the sort of seat harness most often worn by the likes of jenson button and lewis hamilton.
however, when related to the repelling of inclement weather in the pursuit of ever more satisfying cycling, it seems only right and proper that we dispense with the word 'accessories' and substitute 'necessities' instead, fully confident that the general public will immediately notice the difference and offer their wholehearted approval.
the allegedly warmer weather that arrives with a british summer, can be every bit as fickle as that pervading the winter months, encouraging liberal application of sun tan lotion in the morning, yet have us reaching into a back pocket for a wind jacket just after lunchtime. i am appalled at my own level of optimism prior to last saturday's bike ride when i covered knees, legs and arms with the ambré solaire prior to departure, only to have most of it washed off in the afternoon's torrential rain. i am, however, mightily impressed with my foresight to pack a pair of armwarmers with which to accessorise my short-sleeved jersey while battling bad-assedly through that very same rain on the homeward leg of the journey.
here, unfortunately, comes the weak link in the chain (if you'll pardon the pun.) though there are several cycle jerseys available nowadays that profess to remain oblivious to rainfall, you could count on the arms of one sleeve just how many armwarmers fulfil a similar function. rapha must admit to being previously complicit in this matter, by releasing their excellent pro team shadow kit in the first week of january this year; rarely the month in which many cyclists in the northern hemisphere can be seen plying their trade in short sleeves.
though it has taken a matter of some six or seven months to remedy this situation, the solution is every bit as welcome and effective as the apparel it now necessarily accessorises.
the shadow fabric, just to recap, is composed of nylon threads coated in a water repellent prior to being woven into lengths of material. the latter is then shrunk to minimise the gaps between each thread before being once more treated with a durable water repellent (dwr). the end result is an item of cycle clothing that simply forces the rain to roll harmlessly off its surface, offering a visual stimulus that can be quite distracting and fascinating at the same time.
as yet, there is no sign of a long-sleeve version of the jersey, nor that of bib three-quarters or bibtights manufactured to slip into the shadow range. that is hardly an iniquitous situation to be in, given the time of year, but i fervently hope that any limitations the fabric might harbour do not prevent the arrival of any of the above. however, summer showers being what they are, a pair of shadow arm and knee warmers are a more than welcome addition to the range, performing every bit as well as their forebears in the water repellency stakes.
however, though occasionally a nomenclature inadvertantly misused, both items promise not only a level of waterproofing previously unseen in the sunday morning peloton, but by their very apellation, a certain concomitant degree of insulation. in an ideal world, the summer months ought not to require any level of heat retention whatsoever, but oddly, the north atlantic would seem to disagree with that premise, playing straight into the hands, arms and knees of rapha's shadow offensive.
despite needing to be flexible in the face of human joints, both sets of additional waterproofing coped admirably with intermittent, yet substantial rain, offering visual confirmation by way of myriad water droplets on the surface that dispersed to the wind when playing the hokey-cokey stood outside debbie's. of course, if more verifiable evidence were required, arms and knees were as dry as the far corner of the mojave desert (according to common lore).
thus, whether summer or winter, until rapha see fit to offer their customers the aforementioned bib threequarters, bib tights and long-sleeve jersey, world domination in the face of adversity is ours to own and flaunt in the face of the elements.
rapha's shadow armwarmers are available in sizes small, medium and large at a cost of £70 per pair, while the kneewarmers can be had n the same sizes for £5 more. rpaha also offer full-length leg warmers at a cost of £85.
friday 15 july 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................