i'm not altogether sure how it happened, because i think i may have been looking the other way at the time. my transportational device for the first few years on islay consisted of an original muddy fox courier, modified with a short, tall stem (those were the days of the quill) and touring handlebars. speed was so very far from my mind, to the point of obstinacy.
some would say it looks like that's still the case today.
i had affixed a cycle computer to the handlebars, mostly to help keep track of time, but also to poke in the face of my few cycling companions, not to boast of my strava-like alacrity, but quite the converse. for, well in advance of the contemporary slow movement, i was keen to show that my average speed was barely into double digits (miles per hour, lest you think me a total slacker). for despite my untold appreciation of the climbing abilities of robert millar and his peers, i had no real desire to emulate them on islay's roads. not that there was too much chance of that happening, if truth be told.
at that point in my cycle-related career (as i like to call it), the idea of assembling a bicycle from scratch, including the wheels seemed an apposite one, demonstrating that i had the mechanical skills necessary to be the sole repository of cycling knowledge in such a small space. these were rather early days, and handbuilt mountain bikes were in short supply, so i opted to acquire a 531 steel road bike frame for the stated purpose. as most of you will know, from a speed point of view, skinny wheeled road bikes are somewhat quicker off the mark than their leaden tyred cousins. this made my self-imposed slowness harder than had previously been the case.
this brought something of a conundrum in the sartorial stakes, for while it may have even been considered cool to dodge in and out of sand dunes while dressed as a slob, the call of the road called for more svelte attire, most of which was only available with countless logos advertising products i'd never heard of. this mode of apparel brought with it certain attractions, based mostly on a misapprehension of the perceptions pertaining to the civilian population.
in other words, nobody paid any attention whatsoever.
it was, however, an unwarranted photo of yours truly outside the gates of bruichladdich distillery, clad in an early example of the landbouwkrediet colnago team jersey. married with a colnago c40, it seemed a match made in heaven. or at least it was until i saw the photo. why the heck would anyone, other than those paid to race in such colours, voluntarily dress in such a manner? it was, to be sure, time to gain a little perspective on one's place in the hebridean firmament and move to something less akin to an explosion in a paint factory.
sadly, at that point in time, plainer alternatives were hard to come by. modern times, however, bring changes that are a tad more palatable, and the contemporary cyclist can virtually pick and choose from a wide range of cycle clothing with less than sporting pretensions. many of these riders, however, are happier to be simply folks with bikes, as opposed to being classified as cyclists and thus immune to the silent protestations of appropriate clothing. and it is here that the phrase cutting off one's nose to spite one's face seems more than apt.
if you consider that those in the professional peloton wear clothing that caters to their every need, rather than to their every desire, it is not too much of a stretch to note that such apparel may be suitable for the civilian with velocipede. you and i both know this to be true. enter, at this point, the vulpine merino alpine jersey
built, as you would expect, with the finest of merino, and available in four solid colours, the alpine jersey closely emulates the form of a professional style cycle jersey, yet manages to avoid the skin-tight fit that arrives as the baggage of the latter. a full length zip meets an internal flap at the neck disappearing into a zip garage on the outside of the collar. and as you would perhaps expect on a garment of this type, there are three rear pockets, the central example of which is zipped for security.
bearing in mnd the somewhat poor reputation that wool has for containing substantial sized objects in any of those rear pockets, prospective owners of the alpine jersey need fear not in this respect. i unceremoniously dumped a compact digital camera, a multi-tool and a couple of slices of fruit malt loaf on their mercy. they acquiesced most amenably. though i am more of the long-sleeve brigade, in this instance, the wearing of a vulpine long-sleeve merino baselayer underneath kept me warm and cosy while offering a certain tailored insouciance to one's demeanour.
it will hardly have escaped the notice of most of you, that the weather has remained distinctly unfavourable for the hapless cyclist. thus more than one outing in alpine mode, necessitated covering all with a vulpine harrington jacket to keep wind and precipitation at bay. it is, to put not too fine a point on proceedings, a fabulously funky jersey. rather than appearing as a disorientated member of the pelotonese sat supping froth, i was notably more relaxed on my coffee bar stool at saturday lunch time. in truth, only the stuffed rear pockets and drop tail gave the game away.
if i have any criticism, it would relate to the collar which i felt was just a smidgeon too loose around the neck. in the hideous weather currently being experienced, believe me, the draughts need no encouragement, though i'm sure were the mercury slightly higher in the thermometer, those words would come back to bite me.
vulpine's merino alpine jersey (a women's version is also available) offers the ideal opportunity to be as comfortable on the bike as nibbles probably is in italy at present, but without drawing undue attention to itself in public places. if you're not relaxed when you put it on, it will not be long before its inherent informality has you listening to brian eno's music for airports. and it's hard to find fault with that.
the vulpine merino alpine jersey is available in red, blue, green and grey with contrasting zip, and in sizes small to xxl at a retail price of £80 ($123).
thursday 16th may 2013