i generally avoid watching the weather forecast, but inadvertantly watched the prognostications for today while channel-hopping last night. it wasn't good. but they have been well wide of the mark before, mistaking our micro-climate for that of the west coast of scotland. sometimes individuality and a smattering of eccentricity have their advantages. because it's summer; if july doesn't constitute summer then i do not know what does. the year-long promise has been to venture forth upon the bicycle as frequently as humanly possible (everyday would be a good start), preferably first thing in the morning and before any pretence of work.
there is porage to be scoffed for calorific intake (scotts old fashioned) after which, this part of the world is my oyster. the fly in the ointment was that weather forecast; damn me if it wasn't correct, though i'd failed to notice the wind-speed. outside, the smirry drizzle was being whipped into a frenzy by a 40kph south easterly that turned my spectacles into bathroom windows in a matter of minutes, and unmanicured the haystack i like to call hair. no cycling for me this morning.
i had, however, spent long enough in front of the telly to be aware that the very same doom and gloom had prophesied a brightening in the afternoon, and plans were made to complete the day's workload in double quick time. much like a pet dog, those bicycles won't walk themselves. the point at which it seemed not unreasonable to expect meteorological conditions to improve, was somewhat conspicuous by its absence, but a plan's a plan. well isn't it?
how can the weather be this crap on the fifth day of july? there are folks on holiday walking demoralised around bowmore main street, fervently hoping to find shops that don't exist, to gain further respite for conditions they knew we suffered from, just not at this time of year. i doubt very much that anyone holidays on the western isles to improve their tanline, but it's all too easy to fall for the visitscotland and caledonian macbrayne-waves marketing hype and believe otherwise. character building it most certainly is, optional it isn't.
i know you will not think less of me if i admit to simply taking the long way round for a coffee, and in true flandrien style i demurred from soya froth and opted for a double-espresso. of course i could be totally honest and admit to the fact that debbie's had run out of soya (my fault, apparently) and espresso was all that the menu offered. flandrien is an adjective particularly apt for a quick spin in cooling gale-force winds, and i wonder whether there are cyclists in belgium who consider themselves part scots. armwarmers and a gilet should probably be temporary apparel for early morning or late evening at this time of year, not mid-afternoon post independence day (great movie). yet a honed athlete has to do what a honed athlete has to do. it is here that scotland's renner sport fulfils well its niche market. john anderson, to whom you have been previously introduced, opted not to join the ever-increasing club that finds it necessary to bring to market an entire range of cycle clothing, but to offer those unsung necessities that rear pockets were designed for.
in this case, my tuesday afternoon was saved from a level of discomfort and exposure by the donning of a pair of renner sport armwarmers and a gilet that is as distinguished as it is practical. neither are the pinnacle or cutting edge of sartorial elegance, but framing both against their intended use, anything greater is surely surplus to requirements. in weather such as today's, and that i expect to inhabit later this same year, stuffing such ancillaries unceremoniously into rear pockets is all that's necessary; bracing body and soul against a wall of wind to avoid creases in the material, is not the flandrien way.
the armwarmers fulfilled everything asked: they remained firmly in place, didn't prevent blood flow to my fingers, and shielded sensitive skin from copious helpings of air-borne sea-spray. the gilet is impressive, unrestrictive yet not flappy in the wind, well vented through the mesh back, and most importantly, cut well at the shoulders, so often a failing in your common or garden offering. the full-length zip is simplicity itself to open and close in motion, and the hem is not so restrictive as to prevent easy access to the rear pockets of the jersey underneath. and don't tell me there wouldn't be an insufferable level of pride and grandiosity with that lion on the front and upper back. should doubt ever rear its ugly head, there's that little belgian flag on the back of the collar. comfort and joy.
40kph is likely the best recommendation for a windproof gilet you (or i) are likely to get. tested on a (not awfully bright) animal.
it's a bit of a surprise that no-one's though of offering the extremities as a solo artist before; it seems so frighteningly obvious. practicalities are never far from the prepared cyclist's kit bag, and renner sport have positioned themselves according to their love of the sport. fanaticism would not be too strong a word. if you're the sort of rider who pays more attention to the ride and fitness, than to the fripperies, there's a whole range of renner sport pragmatism ready and waiting.
the windproof and water-resistant renner sport gilet sells for £65 in sizes small to xl; the armwarmers are a rather fabulous £15 in xs to xl.
posted tuesday 5 july 2011