on the occasions i have visited the country's metropolises (glasgow, edinburgh and london, but that's enough to be getting on with for now), when it comes time to return to what my wife's grandmother always referred to as god's own country, i have become enamoured of the cliche that i am returning to civilisation. though cliches inhabit the description predominantly through over-use, that does not always devalue their pertinent intent, thus though i make mention with a smile, i for one do not doubt the veracity of my statement. for those ensconced in the hustle and bustle it is no doubt seen as an empty platitude, but for me it is completely and utterly true.
my most recent visit to london earlier this year involved at least two traipses up and down oxford street, at which point it was completely impossible to avoid most of those heading in the opposite direction, more often than not with their heads buried in study or text mode on a mobile phone. but the most concerning part was that truly and honestly, nobody seemed to have any intention of moving to avoid anyone else, often resulting in perambulatory stalemate. this does not excuse the scottish towns, where similar behaviour has been experienced en-route to the apple store in buchanan street.
hardly civilised behaviour, i'd warrant.
i lead a sheltered existence in more ways than one, its estrangement from eternal fractiousness one of its more attractive features. though not one to gloat, the complete lack of what might reasonably be termed urban sprawl is a joy to behold. open the back gate, take the bicycle from the bikeshed, and wide open spaces and acres of sky are my playground, even when they are, in fact, the road to gainful employment. to employ more regularly used terminology, the commute.
for reasons that are none too obvious to me, the commute is part and parcel of urban sprawl, being the means by which the great unwashed move like shoals from their suburban residences to the claustrophobia of a fourth floor desk with a view into an adjacent fourth floor window and corralled by a jumble of black dell flat panel monitors. it is, i am reminded, the civilised way. ok, so i lied; i perfectly understand the need for the commute, but what i don't fully understand is the need for specific cycle clothing to match the twice daily task. if we take the art of the pelotonese from the equation, surely the mundanity of riding a bicycle to and from work ought to be simplicity itself? get up, get (appropriately) dressed and commence pedalling. why should there be any level of discussion over specific clothing for the purpose?
i think that to be a particularly necessary question if one is to avoid the appearance of soggy, crumpled paper on reaching the office. and might there not be a modicum of comfort required in the process? have you ever ridden a bike in a pair of bog standard levis? that's got to hurt. with more and more joining the merry throng aboard a bicycle, there are are more than just a few cycling apparel providers intent on stylishly and pragmatically clothing the unwary, that they might find the act of getting to and from work a more pleasurable experience than it would purport to be. this, i am led to be, constitutes an urban activity, one which, not unnaturally, has lent its name to the style of clothing employed in its practice.
except, that's not entirely true, is it? the bit about it being an exclusively urban activity i mean. for on the occasions upon which i am called to visit the village of keills to restore wi-fi to an imac, do i not commute from home and back? and by my own description and admission, do i not live in rural surrounds? so will everyone please stop referring to this genre of cycle clothing as urban?
if you'd gone down to the woods today (to be more accurate, a few days ago), depending on your outlook on cycling life, you may have been in for a small surprise. for having arisen first thing, and with duties other than immediate cycling, i dressed accordingly: trousers, long-sleeve tee, and a polo shirt. it would better suit the purposes of my narrative if at this point a made it plain that all three of these garments bore the v in a circle logo that is applied to all vulpine clothing. duties past, the option for some cycling presented itself and here's where i become even more convoluted than i have been up to this point.
though monday to friday would more regularly be regarded as workdays, thewashingmachinepost is also my (most enjoyable) work, and when items arrive at twmp cottage for review, it is my sworn duty to incorporate those into my workload. perhaps somewhat tautologically, this almost always involves the photographing of said items. if i could bring to your attention, the confluence of events that this diatribe concerns, here i am with at least two items marked out for photography, which i will require to wear to the location in which said photographs will be taken, thus they can be considered as appropriate for the commute to my work.
is everybody following this so far?
additionally, am i not entitled to enjoy the type of cycling regularly undertaken of a saturday without the concern and faff of changing into proper cycle clothing which is; cyclocross? i have never thought of myself as one to blur borders, but here was surely the ideal opportunity. to briefly recap, i am off out on my ibis cyclocross bike dressed head to toe in vulpine clothing, including the very latest, sage coloured, lightweight harrington jacket and khaki hued tailored trousers, about to get down and get dirty in my urban wear amongst the trees and river while attempting to photograph at least a portion of the process. doesn't everybody?
rather surprisingly, the experience was less bizarre than my mode of dress would imply. sure, sven and jeremy are unlikely to follow in my tyre tracks, but that's their lookout. the vulpine tailored trousers arrive with a built-in cycle clip, sort of, consisting of a tab and a button that tightens the leg around the ankle. since this was cyclocross, i decided not to rely purely on this device, but to tuck the leg inside my sock. and on the left too, where the hem features that v-in-a-circle. i am somewhat narrow of waist, but after brief discussions with mr hussey, he of vulpine's ceo designation, i was sent the size small, equating to a 30/32" waist. the variation is taken care of by means of two flaps on the waistband which can be tightened over two vulpine monogrammed buttons. to complete the fit, this i had to do, for though there is provision for a belt, i am none too enamoured with such.
though these are described as tailored, they are in fact a comfortably loose fit, not so that they interfered with my cyclocross emulations, but skin tight they are not. composed of a lightweight, stretchy and weatherproof fabric, they have two front pockets and an almost hidden third zipped security version. vulpine's famous magnetic fasteners have not been altogether ignored; the rear flapped pocket keeps itself shut by this slightly eccentric but effective means. cyclocross, not altogether surprisingly at this time of year involves mud; with islay estates intent on driving every square inch of track with their landrovers, there was a bit more than evident a couple of weeks ago. yet despite a jackson pollock masterpiece of spatters all across the legs, when dry, it simply brushed off.
i had no idea that a harrington jacket was a bona-fide style of jacket. i thought it simply the result of an over-active imagination at vulpine headquarters, rather pointing to my sheltered rural upbringing. created from the very same epic cotton that informs the vulpine rainjacket, though of a lighter weight, it is a somewhat pared down garment relative to its rain and softshell stablemates. (though i'm none too sure that someone called harrington would ever admit to having companions of such pedigree). the harrington jacket has a commendably high collar of relaxed fit, no dropdown rear flap, one magnetic flapped rear pocket which is substantial enough to contain a digital compact camera, a mini pump, a spare tyre lever and still a bulk of space for other small items without pulling down on the jacket.
the back also features two buttoned flaps, one each side to further tailor the fit, there are a couple of zipped pockets on the front at around elbow height and a single, buttoned large top pocket above the left breast. in a similarly clever manner to the vulpine rainjacket, the outer pockets also create two secure inner pockets in which it is a mere snap to keep valuable s safe when in any of the aforementioned metropolises all in, it's a particularly stylish garment, pleasantly lightweight and very effective for churning about in the mud of a saturday morn. i must apologise in advance for my language, but urban my ass!
this is not racewear, nor indeed, is it cyclocross wear, at least not by design and despite my dubious use while commuting to work to photograph the clothing in which i commuted. that, i believe, rather underlines my excessively laboured point. the chaps at vulpine know not of my extra curricular and often ill-advised excursions (well, they do now) but definitely have their idea of urban particularly well covered. i almost don't have the heart to tell them that rural is the new urban.
yet again i'm well ahead of the game.
monday 26th november 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................