i may regret admitting to this, for there is every likelihood that you will be thinking me more deranged than normal, but it's something i have borne in secret for many a year, that has now resurfaced in the wake of the recently completed olympics. doubtless many of us would have wished to have been a a part of team gb's cycling entourage, possibly never having to buy a raspberry and banana smoothie ever again, as long as that gold medal was visible for all to see. i think i speak for most of us when i point out that, in the real world, that is never going to happen. unless you already have a team gb tracksuit in the wardrobe, it is very unlikely that dave brailsford has your telephone number on speed dial.
brailsford is a man i have never equated with cycling on a personal level. like you, i watch him providing almost pre-scripted answers to the media and moving about the centre of track, or in and out of either the sky bus or an impeccably turned out black jaguar with a blue stripe down the centre. but it never dawned on me that he might actually enjoy cycling; more of a numbers sort of chap. however, a recent conversation with one more professionally connected with team sky, informed me that during the tour, dave was up and out every morning around 6am, no doubt on a suitably attired pinarello.
with most of us now past the point where any meagre cycling talent we may have at one time owned now locked in a cupboard and unlikely ever to see the light of day again, our best stab at glory might be to affect membership of either team sky or team gb in some more subdued and menial role. the bonus, should such come to pass, is that we would be entitled to officially wear an appropriately badged polo shirt. for me, that would be the culmination of a hard won career.
i have, over the past few years, taken it upon myself to attend the occasional gathering of the cycle industry, mostly in large hangar-like buildings, filled with all that is great and good in the land of carbon fibre. despite a name-tag swinging pointedly from its sponsor's lanyard, i thought it meritorious to dress in a corporately styled polo shirt, one that reflects the black and yellow colours of its progenitor and makes not infrequent mention of the website it is designed to represent. it is more than likely that such attire is all but ignored by those standing beside their product range. thewashingmachinepost is always a fine conversation opener, but rarely from a point of recognition. those whose polos advise of an affinity with an italian cycle manufacturer not only seem to carry more weight, but do so due to their relatively larger numbers.
comforting though it would be to dress similarly and hope to pass myself off as a fully paid up member of the great and good, it would surely be tantamount to idolatry to have the right to wear a polo shirt that connected me with that of great sporting prowess? it may be that the daily task is simply to polish those inordinately expensive team gb chainsets, but if you don't mention it, neither will i.
reality dictates, however, that this remain an unrequited pipedream, but not a situation that need be left unanswered. nick and philip of new, yet perfectly formed kids on the block, vulpine, having made almost the perfect start in clothing us for the stylish normal as opposed to the stylish fast, are now consolidating their rested laurels by augmenting the range. first to this escalated sartorial offering is a finely crafted merino polo shirt, a garment that confers enhanced status upon the wearer yet subtly so. made from the finest of new zealand merino wool, the syle would not be out of place at wimbledon (though the colours might implement heated debate) or royal st andrews. thankfully, we are less dogmatic in our traditions, and to be seen cycling in an indigo blue or black polo shirt is unlikely to trouble the commissaires unnecessarily.
style is somewhat vacuous unless accompanied by soupcon of pragmatism, something the chaps at vulpine have not left us wanting. a flapped pocket on the left breast is joined by a similar receptacle on the lower right rear, allowing the carrying of modest and preferably lightweight cargo. bearing in mind the fineness of the merino knit, heavy items would be more than likely to predicate unsightly bulges in one's faux officialdom, but it is something of a bonus that they offer a modicum of closure via those monogrammed flaps. i confess i would have preferred the front pocket flap to have offered either a vulpine logo'd button or popper to prevent the flap from sitting less than in line with the shirt itself. or perhaps a variation on the magnetic closure offered on the rainjacket and softshell, but the flap that is the flap, is preferable to an altogether unfettered example.
even those intent on less than speedy motion are wont to sit less than bolt upright in the saddle, thus the drop-tail afforded by the rear of the shirt ensures that no gap will appear to trouble the lower back in colder weather. undoubtedly a part of the style of such a garment is the means of buttoned closure below the collar, not always the cyclists' friend when it comes to one-handed unbuttoning while cycling. the object of vitriol is often the very topmost button when it steadfastly refuses to be undone despite a necessity for so doing. happily in this case, such was not the case; though i doubt i could fasten all three while riding, that is more often than not, an unlikely happenstance in any case. unbuttoning was not a problem.
in a similar manner to oval tan marks on the back of each hand, there is a certain satisfaction to be gained from wearing an apparently normal item of apparel that holds a secret identity. and while i'd be the first to admit that vulpine's short sleeve polo is not going to get you past security at manchester velodrome or on the champs elysees, it's probably the next best thing.
the vulpine short sleeve merino polo shirt is available in either indigo blue or black, in sizes ranging from xs to xl at a cost of £70.
Friday 17th august 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................