Friday, September 24, 2010

I found myself reading Jessica Reeds blog in the Grauniad this week on increasing her enjoyment on her extended commute. I was a little taken aback by the number of, what appear to be, regular cyclists who think ten miles a long way. I think I ride regularly, but obviously not enough as I’m patently bigger than I was four years ago but I do think ten miles shouldn’t seem like Tour D’Afrique to a reasonable fit adult. I am more than well aware of the obesity epidemic that is sweeping the pages of the Daily Wail raising house prices and other horrors but is this so hard. You don’t have to fly along a la Bradley so forty five minutes shouldn’t be heart breaking should it? I did half hear an article (possibly on Womans Hour) explaining that Cheer Leading and Yoga are more likely to be physical exercise at school than hockey or cricket. So maybe I’m wrong.

However helpful or entertaining the comments on the blog are it came down reasonably on the side of decent clothing. A long time ago in a tent in a damp inhospitable bit of the Galaway forest a colleague asked me why I was wearing Sealskinz socks as opposed to the Service issue fibre(unknown) ones. Before I could reply another denizen of said tent piped up with, “Any bloody fool can be uncomfortable.” In the ensuing years I have kept this little bit of wisdom close during my outdoor activities. A few key garments can extend your commuting weather envelope so you only drive or take public transport in the very worst downpours.

A good water/wind proof jacket is a must. Not too thick or you will cook on mild wet days but really good quality. I have been humming and ha-ing all summer knowing I need a new jacket. The zips on the removable sleeves of my Goretex jacket got damaged in an icy prang last February so it is now a gilet. It’s lasted seven years and was getting a bit leaky around the cuffs and cost me £100 then. Its’ current version is twice that and I’m loathe to part with the cash without trying it on. I have a Polaris waterproof that is too warm at the moment and an old faithful Patagonia jacket I bought in Alaska in 1998 that I love but again is a bit warm and the proofing is beyond the wash in re proofers which have kept these jackets going so long.

I wear ¾ shorts as long as possible but when you arrive at work with scarlet shins you know it is time to break out the full longs. My first windproof longs were from Adidas and I loved them. They opened my eyes to how much body temperature is lost to wind chill. I’d done basic Arctic training in the military, I worked on helicopters for fifteen years, I knew what wind chill was, I just hadn’t put the knowledge to work on the bike. When Adidas reorganised their cycling clothing to in house distribution the vast majority of us were deprived of their excellent kit. I bought a pair of Campag longs in an end of season sale and excellent as they are they are not £150 excellent. But they are windproof, stylish (shame about the contents) and they have Campagnolo in a reflective logo across my rump, I’m shallow, job done. I have two pairs to try this winter one from Santini and one from Lusso spring will reveal the comparison.

The rest is accessories. Overshoes from BBB, they do what it says on the tin keep my posey leather shoes dry. Socks, I use DeFeet Wooliators, just lush. Gloves, I eat gloves. The best I had were Goretex but the finger you use to change gear with wore out on both pairs in a season. This has proved to be the same on all gloves. This year’s trial model TBA. I have a few hats, a Northwave fleece that is the dogs danglies in real cold weather, a winter Buff for general wear and a waterproof Crag Hoppers mountain hat for those hideously wet days, christened hat ridiculous (because it is). In the post however, should be my SealSkinz waterproof peaked beanie. I bought this as it looked great at Eurobike and it stopped me spending silly money on a posey Rapha waterproof cap.

So have a good weekend I’m off to celebrate a friends’ wifes birthday.

-Neil

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