though i have many american friends and acquaintances, it's not that often that i feel particularly sorry for them, mostly because there seems little reason so to do. a country that has ideally named towns, cities and roads with which to entitle many a popular song, such as 24 hours to tulsa, route 66 et al does not need my sympathy. when the scottish equivalents would be something along the lines of half an hour to milngavie, or 'get your kicks on the m77', it is perhaps this side of the pond that ought to be on the receiving end of deserving sympathy.
however, what the americans do not have is autumn, that magical time of year when the skies are clear, there's a defined chill in the air and there are golden brown leaves all along the roadside verges (oddly, quite often where there are no trees. presumably wind-driven). there is little better than arriving early at work with a spring in one's step announcing to all within earshot that things are looking decidedly autumnal.
america, on the other hand, only has the fall, announcement of which occasionally gives rise to being mistaken for an odd sounding pop band. or maybe even for having suffered an unfortunate incident of a gravitational nature. entering that same early morning office environment announcing that 'it looks like fall outside' clearly has the same effect as my reference to milngavie. thus, in meteorological and seasonal terms, the continent of america deserves a soupcon of sympathy.
nomenclature, however, does not detract from the tangible benefits or disbenefits that the season engenders. no longer is the sun as high in the sky as was the case only a month or so ago, and the mercury in my neighbour's thermometer struggles to reach the heights it once hoped it could become used to. the anemometer atop his garden shed will soon threaten to take the roof with it as the atlantic gales become commonplace once more and roubaix-lined bibtights and softshell jackets become the dress du jour.
however, if the layering system has taught us anything, it's the necessity of choosing those layers carefully. though it's not too hard to remain toasty when riding, any mechanical misfortunes or punctures interrupting our demonstrable souplesse, and substantial cooling can easily become our bête noire. i have found through years of experience, that beginning with a long-sleeve merino baselayer is often the most strategic of clothing decisions, one that will ameliorate any subsequent stupidity in the choosing of outer layers.
the time for beginning such a regime would appear to be round about now.
i know very little about the economics related to farming, despite having lived in an agricultural region for almost thirty years. no amount of perusing the prices received for cattle of sheep will give rise to any logical sense and i am often given to learn that it can cost more to have the sheep sheared than will ever be recouped by onward selling of the fleeces. though merino wool occupies a superior strata, you still have to wonder how supermarket brand aldi can retail an excellent long-sleeve merino baselayer for a mere £15.99?
suspicions would quite rightly be raised at such a price, when others sell for almost three times as much. is it inferior quality wool? is it half the thickness of the more pricey brands? how long will it last? at present, i'm unable to answer the last question and probably will remain unable to do so for a good number of washes and wears still to come. but on initial acquaintance, i'd say this merino baselayer is pretty darned excellent.
in common with almost everything merino based (with the possible and strange exception of socks), it seems impervious to sweaty smells. and in the heat of battle, even when rather damp, it fails completely to transfer that sensation to the rider. on slightly warmer days, i wore it alone, devoid of jersey, under a light(ish) weight jacket with no complaints on the chittery front. other than a small pure merino tag at the hem, it is devoid of logos. should it be the sort of thing that might bother you, there's nothing outwardly to signify you bought it from a supermarket rather than a cycling outfitters or café.
the biggest problem i can foresee is aldi's continuing habit of offering such a garment as part of its super buy sales days, meaning that there's no guarantee that your local branch will have any in stock, or that your size will be amongst them. it's a bit of a shame, but the next time you're in autumnal mood and near an aldi's supermarket, pop in and buy every last one you can find.
friday 9 october 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................