not entirely unexpectedly, i rode up the glen road today, leading from the high road to ballygrant; i know none of this means anything to most of you, but it puts the article on a far more sound geographical footing, and is, i believe, called setting the scene. of course, in amateur fingers such as mine, the fact that a scene is entirely ancillary to the gist of my discourse will have to be accepted, at least until i learn the proper use of same. however, the glen road is germain to my main motive here, because the bulk of the land on either side of said road belongs to dunlossit estate, the owner of which has a predilection for farming pigs. hundreds of the little blighters, some of which once tried to eat the back wheel of a brompton i had on test, live behind high fences (curious - i had no idea pigs could jump) in what to the passing cyclist seems like mud and squalor. it has always seemed a shame that most of these little squealers to which i believe they may safely be referred, are pink, since this renders them as dirty little individuals after spending day upon day scrounging for roots and the like in the mud.
the latter substance they seem to thrive in, a thriving that is likely now to spread to many members of pelotons all across the world as cyclocross season approaches. mountain bikers will scoff at such temporal proclivities, immersed as they are year round: a sort of occupational hazard it would seem, but it is surely worth remarking that the new boys on the cyclocross stage at schlamm should choose to colour their first training jacket white and red. surely they must have seen the effect it has on those pinky little pigs?
new boys on the scene is really rather unfair in the circumstances, since partners dan elmore and simon burney can hardly be tarnished with such an epithet after years and years of glorious mud, leaping tall buildings in a single bound, playing in the sand and overuse of the washingmachine weekend after weekend. but in the competitive land of cycle clothing they are newbies, and as such have obviously been paying attention to their own requirements and those of their prospective, muddy customers. additionally, they have researched their market and competitors well. specific competitors in the cyclocross market are, as far as i know, somewhat on the rare side, but since the atmosphere in cross is a tad more relaxed than most other forms of cycle competition, i doubt there is any compulsion to wear clothing pertaining to any discipline for racing or training - certainly in the lower levels.
but why on earth would you make a jacket destined for mud in white? i asked dan elmore and he gave me to understand that it has something to do with the world champion's kit and also the uci series leader's outfit. but then i've often wondered why those are white too. still, i don't think they're wide of the mark, since my friend davey graham, cyclocross fiend in mull, has professed a desire to race in totally white kit for this coming season. it must be a cyclocross thing.
that said, the wetzikon jacket is fashioned from good old fleece lined polyester, and scrubs up remarkably well on exit from thewashingmachinepost washingmachine.
pockets, often the bane of many a jersey and jacket are positively overflowing on this garment: there's a zipped, waterproof left breast front pocket with a vertical tagged zip. there's another of the same on the outside of the rightmost rear pocket, very much a favoured position on any jersey, jacket, whatever that i wear for riding. uci legislation surely must be pending, whether eddy merckx had one or not. the three regular rear pockets are verging on the cavernous; you could probably get a folded up brompton in any one of the three. the front bears a full length zip with a windproof guard to sit behind the zip when closed. this was the only bit that gave trivial problems, since its lightweight often allows it to snag in the zip, particularly closing up during pedalling. a modicum of care will help of course, but slightly stiffer material would obviate the problem entirely.
training for cyclocross appears to have a slightly different interpretation than those of us used to metalled roads, as in this is a jacket that can be worn while pedalling aimlessly around the periphery of a cross circuit prior to the get go, as well as standing about the pits while your mechanic figures out why there's no longer a derailleur where a derailleur used to be. to facilitate these extra curricular activities, the jacket has a luxuriously high, fleece lined collar: you will not want to take this jacket off. but since events dictate that you will almost definitely have to, there are two lengthy tagged zips at the end of each sleeve covering a red gusset allowing the wetzikon to be taken off without removing gloves. i did occasionally experience the same problem with the gusset catching in the zip as happened with the main jacket zip, but again, modest care gets over this with ease.
i tested the medium size which is a loose(ish) fit, but this is august and i wore only a merino baselayer underneath - it's a very warm, windproof jacket. however, the relative roominess would easily accommodate a jersey, and likely will as the mercury drops. ironically, my very first outing suffered from a thunderstorm before i could make it to debbie's: the jacket is one heck of a lot more waterproof than schlamm had indicated. of which i am very glad.
the pattern along the arms is a clever repeat pattern of the schlamm logo, there is a large schlamm across the back, another vertically placed on a rear pocket, and a very neat and tidy patch applied to the collar. no-one will have any doubts as to who made your training jacket.
i'll re-visit this jacket nearer the cold months, because as yet the ambient temperature on islay is a smidgeon too high for comfort, but in my mind this augurs very well for its intended purpose and for the months during which the majority of use is likely. and for a jacket of this versatility and quality, £125 seems an appropriate price, given that even now, it has proved better than its makers advise. such modesty is becoming, but i have no such modesty, and thus have no qualms about pointing this out. if the rest of the schlamm range is as fine as this, and i see no reason why it shouldn't be, cyclocross riders are about to enter a new world of sartorial quality aimed specifically in their direction.
but could i suggest a darker colour?
posted on wednesday 2 september 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................