if i were the cycling expert i'd like you to think i am, you'd figure i'd have picked up on this jacket's versatile nature from even a cursory glance at the specialized website. but, if you promise not to tell anyone, i didn't. in fact, even when releasing it from its packaging, the deflect jacket failed to reveal its cleverly versatile nature and that's in spite of the nomenclature describing it as a hybrid. a hybrid of what, is the question i should have been asking myself, but until donning the garment for its first real outdoor adventure, i remained as naive as when i was born.
reflective cycling jackets are nothing new, but i think i could count on the fingers of one track mitt, those that are all-over reflective; sleeves, collar, back and front. that, however, is not the deflect jacket's claim to fame or, as the marketing department might categorise it, a unique selling point. though a particularly well-made item of cycling apparel, hidden in the seams where the sleeves join the torso, are a couple of zips, allowing both to be removed should the weather become less inclement and perhaps a tad milder.
for reasons which escape me and have done so throughout the extent of my cycling career, when my core temperature is on the rise, it manifests itself through the arms first. though my anatomical understanding is limited to life classes at art college, the human arm seems devoid of much in the way of heat generating tissue. but no matter the item of clothing in which i am clad, when it starts to get warm, the sleeves of my baselayer or jersey are the first to feel the perspiration. thus, the option to remove the sleeves when the opportunity arises strikes me as a neat bit of lateral thinking.
as mentioned in relation to the jacket's reflectivity, this is not a brand new idea; it has been done several times before, but it is not a commonality that populates the cycling milieu and thus worthy of remark.
setting the sleeves free from imprisoning shoulders is not, as you may have gathered, something done on the fly. i have no doubt there are well-balanced cyclists who could actually perform this task in an altogether ostentatious manner, but i cannot count myself amongst their number. the zip does not fulfil a full 360 degree sweep; there's a small tab on the shoulder of each that velcros onto a small patch under the collar, a neat touch that retains the jacket's sartorial completeness.
i cannot deny that the curse of the waterproof review made itself known across the review period. though i have spent several hours in the rain, none of it was the sort that caused noah to build the ark. much of it comprised what is locally referred to as mizzle, sort of a cross between heavy mist and drizzle. in mitigation, the latter is often more iniquitous than it sounds and there's no doubt that the deflect jacket achieved a decent soaking.
taking account of the legality of descriptive terms, the deflect could reasonably be noted as water-resistant. none of the seams are taped and the removability of both sleeves hardly advertises itself as able and willing to repel inclement elements. additionally. there are a few laser cut holes to aid ventilation, coupled with two mesh-backed front zipped vents, but in point of fact, while scuttering about hither and thither in the rain, i didn't actually get wet. at least not on the inside. however, though the specialized website states that "This fabric is extremely lightweight and breathable, so you won't ever experience that rainforest feeling in high humidity conditions.", they might be guilty of a slight untruth.
in what persists in being an october devoid of the cold we have ususally come to expect, figuring out what might constitute appropriate apparel for a weekend ride has become almost an art in itself. thus the unfortunate deflect jacket offered a tad more cosiness than was truly necessary. and guess what? the sleeves of my merino baselayer were close to saturation when stopping at debbie's for saturday lunch, and i guarantee it wasn't rain induced. i cannot devolve all blame to the jacket; as you may recall, i pointed out that both sleeves are removable, the option of which i really ought to have taken advantage of before things got to this stage. but with the front zipped vents open, the rest of me was adequately comfortable rather than a sweltering mess.
i should point out at this juncture that i am still firmly of the opinion that the waterproof jacket that breathes at the same rate as the average cyclist has yet to be invented. one or two have come close, but with such a wide variation in any individual's propensity to perspire, this is a holy grail yet to be realised.
this aside, however, the two most obvious downsides to the reflect deflect jacket concern the sleeves and the single rear zipped pocket. though the fixing and unfixing of the sleeves is very cleverly thought out and implemented, there is perhaps a degree more flappage than one would like, though i'm willing to admit that i do have a pair of spindly arms that don't necessarily fill out the way arnold schwarzenneger probably would. as regards the pocket, i'd really rather any jacket adhered to the tried and tested three pocket arrangement. in my opinion, it balances the load better. however, my gripe with this example relates to the size.
a washingmachinepost bike ride is rarely that simple; there is usually one aspect that involves reviewing of one kind or another, at the very least dictating the need to carry a compact digital camera. then there's a spare pair of gloves if it's raining, coffee money and last but not least, a bicycle pump (to say nothing about both sleeves if i opted to wear it as a gilet). i managed the spare gloves, the camera and the coffee money but there was no way that the pocket real estate was going to swallow an admittedly slightly larger than usual mini-pump. and even assuming it had done so, i would be once again moaning about all this being crammed into one central pocket.
considering this is, in effect, a winter jacket, there's every likelihood that there will be a jersey worn beneath, capable of carrying a pump (which is precisely the solution i employed.) though it's eminently possible that this jacket could be folded and squeezed into a jersey pocket, it's something i've not yet tried. it is commendably light weight and allows internal room to manoeuvre that comfortably straddles the line between race-fit and relaxed-fit. though the price does give momentary cause for watery eyes, considering it's really more than just a single garment, it could reasonably be expected to lower the pressure on your wardrobe.
the reflectivity adds a third string to its bow.
the specialized deflect reflect hybrid jacket is available in sizes from small to xxl at a retail price of £300.
monday 31 october 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
for my sixth year studies in english, i chose as a dissertation subject 'modern visions of utopia'. aside from the required writing as a conclusion to my year's studies, there was the inevitable prior reading, titles which included lord of the rings, 1984 and, inevitably, thomas more's utopia, the latter coming as something of a revelation to a seventeen year-old. for in the pages of more's own dissertation was surely the template for perfect living?
each individual received payment for the prescribed work undertaken; unlike our capitalist society, there was no hierarchical discrimination leading to separation of the haves and the have nots. there was no unemployment as all work was for the common good and each and every individual and family was provided with accommodation, once again based on need rather than desire. if there seems to be a remarkable similarity to the principles of communism that is hardly coincidental. but of course, what thomas more failed to take into consideration was human nature.
for though his cunning plan was theoretically sound and ultimately just, as soon as human beings are added to the mix, the construct begins to fall to pieces. there will always be one or two who want to be in charge or those who consider their daily workload to be infintely greater than that of their neighbours. this is not to suggest that a capitalist society dependent on its market forces is any better, but i think you can see the point i am labouring to make.
this book entitled reinventing the automobile seems to have fallen into the same trap as beset thomas more. it's a book that is so very wrong in many ways, despite being undeniably right in many of its prognostications. from the point of view of the cyclist, its wrongness could not be more profound than in the authors' (mis)interpretation of history. if i may quote from the book's introduction:
"Horses remained a leading source of transportation power until they were supplanted, a hundred years ago, by mass produced automobiles."
at the risk of my own misinterpretation of what is meant by the word 'power', it is surely tantamount to rewriting history to suggest that there was no intermediary between the horse and the motor car? it seems that the authors have not read carlton reid's excellent 'roads were not built for cars' (in mitigation, this book was first published in 2010, the paperback version reviewed in 2015. but revisions are not always outwith the realms of possibility). it is more than likely that i am playing devil's advocate here, given that the subject of the book is the motor car and not the bicycle, but it is worth my pointing out that the bicycle receives no consideration whatsoever, even in the latter chapters concerned with 'personal mobility in an urbanizing world'.
where i think the authors are guilty of discounting human nature is in their 'one size fits all' intelligent electric vehicle. in fact the principal object on which many of their futuristic contentions rest is (perhaps not unnaturally) the mit media lab's citycar. there's no doubt that the design of this vehicle is quite impressive, allowing for a minimising of the space it takes up when parked along with a clever degree of practicality. however, i think they may have fallen into the trap of believing this to be the sole solution to the future of the automobile. any subsequent illustrations demonstrating energy use, parking, vehicle autonomy etc. are entirely based and illustrated by the citycar.
to compound this perceived failing they purport "For many urban dwellers, one automobile is too much but no automobile is too littl to meet their mobility needs. [...] (shared cars) are generally less convenient to access than privately owned automobiles. But intelligent, connected vehicles transform this picture. [...] by creating sophisticated, electronically managed mobility-on-demand systems."
the above premise completely ignores the fact that very few motor vehicles are purchased from a utilitarian point of view. if so, we'd likely all be driving fiat cinquecentos, a vehicle that can take you to the shops, school or library every bit as practically as an audi, bmw or porsche. many cars are purchased as a status symbol, even if their owners would rarely admit to the fact. that fact in no way undermines the technical validity of intelligent vehicles making use of dynamic pricing in their purchasing of electricity on the fly when connected to a sophistitated back end computer system. though this is in danger of transforming a vehicular means to an end into an end in and of itself, in point of fact, the authors are probably spot on in their prognostications.
but there will undoubtedly be a (lengthy) period of transition, where the electric cars of the future must co-exist with those of the present and of the past. the theories presented, however sound and capable of being implemented tomorrow, mostly depend on everyone driving or having immediate access to an intelligent electric vehicle.
and disappointingly, those prognostications for the supremacy of the sophisticated electric vehicle make no mention of the bicycle. in fact, in this futuristic if slightly flawed world, the motor car assumes the mantle of a simple node on a global internet of things, able to communicate with every other vehicle in proximity, theoretically eliminating traffic snarl ups and congestion. if we assume that the humble bicycle remains extraneous to this internet of things, there's every probability that cyclists will not be accounted for in the grand strategy played out on a daily urban basis.
of course, it is worth reiterating that the the book's title does not concern the bicycle at all; to have taken it into consideration in the narrative would likely have been at least partially counter productive. and these are hardly draconian imperatives that are about to be adopted by american or european governments. it is, to be blunt, a visionary edict, one that's both scary and inevitable in equal measure. taking a broad perspective, if it all comes to pass, i fear for the urban or city cyclist of the future. the combination of technology's steam roller momentum allied to a motoring lobby that has never been backward in coming forward, if we think we're marginalised on today's roads, i'm not sure it's going to get any better.
it's a book well worth reading even if, like yours truly, car ownership is total anathema. but just like the original 'utopia', i'm sure that human nature will get in the way.
sunday 30 october 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
in 2008, i undertook to ride the hot chillee londres-paris ride for the second time, principally because i'd enjoyed it the previous year and because they'd changed the route for that year, incorporating a few of the paris-roubaix cobbles and closed one side of the champs elysées to allow us delusions of grandeur on our way to the eiffel tower. though not really relevant to this particular monologue, i've signed up to it all again next year, ten years after i first rode it, but more about that later.
if only to demonstrate how much things can change in less than a decade, before i set off to head for the french capital, nokia (remember them?) loaned me their first mobile phone to combine onboard gps with newly released tracking software, the idea being that i would review the app (as we have since learned to call them) on my return. though the gps performed reasonably well, there were three notable negative factors to the review.
firstly, the phone's battery life when fully charged seemed to be capped at six hours, something of a major fail when our days of velocipedinal activity often lasted up to eight hours. nowadays a hub with a usb outlet would solve that problem, but as i said above, it's quite enlightening just how much has changed in less than ten years. aside from that, the means of attaching a mobile phone to a handlebar at right angles was fraught with problems, not least of which was that any finger interaction with the phone either tipped it towards me or the road. and in a something of a design faux pas, the band rresponsible for clasping the phone to the bars obscured the on-screen buttons to stop and start the application.
but the ultimate fail was the phone's lack of water resistance. thankfully the rain stayed in the few clouds that we met along the way.
scrabble forward but nine years and apple computer are currently advertising their iphone 7 by way of a gent who rises from bed in the night during a thunderstorm and prepares to go out in the pouring rain with his iphone firmly attached to the stem. we can but infer from this advert that not only is the gent as obsessed as the rest of us but that an iphone 7 has a level of waterproofing that renders it safe to go ride in the rain. but then, i'm left wondering what he needs his iphone for, especially at that time on a wet and windy night?
at least, i did wonder until being introduced to the self-titled bike computer, currently a free downloadable app for both ios and android phones. this app displays pretty much all the information most of us would need, even in the middle of an early morning thunderstorm: temperature, elevation, heart rate, speed, elapsed time, average speed and distance are all on clear display. but perhaps the bike computer's unique selling point is enabled via a user definable button entitled 'keep me safe'
intent on achieving pretty much what it says on the button, this feature monitors both the phone's gps and gyroscope; in the event of an accident, it sends an sms message to your nearest and dearest, informing them not only of your mishap, but the location and the speed at which it took place. no sense in panicking someone if you simply failed to unclip at the road junction and fell over sideways.
the ride and its associated factors can be directly uploaded to strava if that is your facebook and in order that you do not suffer the iniquity of a failed ride, the app has been coded to keep a close eye on battery use, offering a projected ten hours of use. i think it likely most of us would have headed for a coffee long before reaching that many digits on the clock.
of course, technology hasn't the faintest idea of how to stand still for even a moment, so by early next year, the folks at bike computer intend to add in history of activities, offline maps, navigation, statistics and advanced sharing on social networks. and you thought you were only going for a bike ride. download the app this minute and you can have it free of charge; leave it too long and it's going to cost you cash money.
in a world becoming ever more enslaved to the smartphone, it's kind of nice to see that its place on the handlebar stem might be of greater practical use than a game of angry birds ii.
saturday 29 october 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the mighty dave t is, as he never tires of reminding us, a pensioner, albeit one who has the skill and treachery to wrong foot any one of the peloton at the bruichladdich sprint. no matter your take on relativity, there's no doubting that the mighty dave can be classified as elderly, though you'd scarcely believe it if you met him in person. he is the direct antithesis of the elderly cyclists depicted in a recent survey by oxford brookes university. they set out to investigate how the ageing cyclist regards the uk cycling experience and how it plays upon their independence and health and wellbeing.
the danger of surveys such as that briefly described above is often the size of the sample nominated for investigation; in this case, a total of 240. considering british cycling were recently trumpeting membership approaching 125,000, combined with that of cycling uk, even accepting that the proportion of those members considered as elderly (including yours truly) is nowhere near those figures, 240 seems to err slightly on the minimal side. add to that the fact that the sample was drawn from oxford, bristol, reading and cardiff and one begins to question the empirical validity of the survey's results.
for example, according to oxford brookes university, the elderly cyclist pretty much demonstrated that cycling "has the potential to improve physical and mental health in the older population" but that factors such as "poor infrastructure and fear of injury from other traffic..." impinged upon any positive experiences engendered by the health benefits.
the results as portrayed above are not unduly surprising. the very fact that an individual such as the mighty dave t is not only able and willing to roll up at debbie's each and every sunday morning before occasionally tearing the legs from some of the velo club peloton makes him the perfect poster boy for cycling. but unlike the generic perspective most of us hold of the elderly cyclist, aboard a sit-up-and-beg roadster, clad in tweeds and plus fours or a bicycle clip, dave is aboard a carbon focus road bike.
perhaps oxford brookes are guilty of typecasting.
but let us consider the regions in which the study took place. it may come as something of a surprise for me to inform you that the islay village of port wemyss is scarcely comparable to oxford, bristol or cardiff. in fact, i'd venture to suggest that the traffic density experienced in any of the previously mentioned conurbations would easily outpace that of many a scottish rural town. it's every bit as likely that the elderly cyclist in such locations might categorise the distances between villages as something of a negative factor in their appreciation of cycling. or not, as the case may be.
however, where i think it highly likely that there would be a concurrence amongst not only the elderly, but the majority of those who pay their annual membership to either or both of britain's national cycling organisations is in the infrastructure provision (or lack thereof). as dr tim jones from the university's school of the built environment (?) "... they find that infrastructure in the UK is generally unsupportive of their needs and the small minority who do cycle, who we classify as 'resilient riders' use various coping strategies to deal with declining capabilities and road danger." he goes on to describe these as timing rides to avoid peak traffic periods, riding away from traffic, adapting their bicycles and even (illegally) riding on the pavement.
having reached the event horizon at which the term elderly has some personal substance, i am thankful that my immediate environment bears little resemblance to any urban or inner-city backdrop. but even here, where an inordinate number of articulated trucks (distillery traffic) ply our less than motorway-like singletrack roads, for an elderly newbie approaching cycling for the recognised health benefits, road-life can be a tad intimidating. within the past year, a three-mile shared use path has been constructed leading from port ellen village to ardbeg distillery. this path is noticeably separated from the road, but is currently the sole example on the island. there must be hordes of towns and villages all across scotland bereft of even that, meaning that the conclusion of oxford brookes university may almost inadvertantly be just as relevant in sparsely populated areas as more dense, southern conurbations.
dr tim jones again: "The way our towns and cities are designed [...] needs to consider the diverging capabilities of different users, if cycling is to be embedded in the lives of an increasingly older population." i'd be inclined to include villages and hamlets in that designation. though allegedly the population of argyll and bute (including islay) is on the decrease, there's no getting away from the fact that there is a disproportionate number of well-heeled pensioners leaving the rat race and moving to more secluded locations, of which we offer more than just a few. if those folks decide to take up cycling as a means of maintaining their wellbeing, it would be prudent for any region's planning authorities to take this into consideration when approving new housing schemes and or road improvements.
and if any would care to join our admittedly ageing sunday throng, the mighty dave t will still skoosh them in the sprint.
friday 28 october 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i actually owned one, a bright yellow version, not the one with the round headlights, but the more modern oblong versions. yet it still featured a starting handle in case of obstinacy on colder mornings, the wheelnuts could be tightened or loosened by no known spanner or wrench and i had to offer a "thanks, but no thanks" to a well-meaning neighbour who offered me the remainder of his carton of anti-freeze. when time came to cart around something the size of a drumset, the rear seat could be easily removed by means of releasing two clips, while sliding the boot lid sideways accomplished a similar process.
on the cold mornings referred to above, heat could infiltrate the interior very quickly due to the engine's air-cooling, while an excess of heat was dispersed by opening a flap beneath the windscreen. and aside from the 70mph top speed, the car's finest moment was not only its proximity to riding a bicycle, but a finessed rolling movement on cornering while those four wheels remained pretty much glued to the road. though i generally have no truck with motor cars of any shape or form, i cannot deny that it was great fun to drive, especially with the roof rolled back (though scottish weather didn't allow for that to happen too often).
i've always thought it a great shame that while fiat have revived their cinquecento and volkswagen their beetle, citroen have not found it in their hearts to bring back the 2cv.
it's a car that features in a fifteen minute video posted on the front page of the café du cycliste website. yes indeed, the principal velocipedinal content tends to find itself with front and rear springs appended, but all is saved by the central placement of a more elderly citroen 2cv than that once owned by yours truly. there are french shades of danny macaskill, but it alludes remarkably well to café du cycliste's eccentricities in the realm of cycling garmentage, if only as far as their obscure naming regimen.
for where else would you come across a men's gilet listed as lucette? i cannot deny that i have tended to keep that information quiet during the post-ride coffee conversation. no matter what café du cycliste have decided called the gilet, it is a particularly attractive item of apparel, whether on or off the bicycle, particularly due to the italian merino blend tweed style front panel which keeps the wind firmly at bay. though a comfortably close race-fit, the four way stretch provides the ability to cope with any guff you may have stuffed into the rear pockets of the jersey underneath. this is aided and abetted by a couple of buttoned adjustable side loops.
doing so, however, is scarcely an onerous problem, given that lucette provides two capacious tweed-covered rear pockets in which to store a spare pair of gloves, a mini-pump, musette, coffee money and the all-important digital camera. all this without overly disturbing the svelte look. the back section with its wide black central stripe is bordered by two highly reflective panels ensuring a high level of night time visibility.
the mighty dave t, for whatever reason, is somewhat disparaging of gilets in general, but i rather love the little blighters, particularly this one. a few wind-smitten rides on the outer edge remain as testament to not only its constitution, but an impressive flexibility when fighting a similarly wind-smitted bicycle. granted, it is highly sparing on the thermal insulation front, but the windproofing offsets that particularly well, allied to the undeniably stylish tweed covering. in fact, that particular feature is the very one that might well have you dipping into your savings to the tune of £180 to suffer less when you have your race face on. if there is such a thing as state of the art applicable solely to gilets, lucette is already there.
the only thing missing is the citroen 2cv team car.
the café du cycliste lucette gilet is available in sizes ranging from xs to xxl at a retail price of £180.
thursday 27 october 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
it remains to be seen how difficult european travel will become when the prime minister decides whether we endure a hard brexit or a soft one, always assuming any of us knows precisely what either of those mean in the first place. however, such matters are more appropriate for discussion by kevin hague than by a political naif such as myself. i can recall reading in melody maker in those dim, dark days of yore about the trials and tribulations suffered by touring musicians with regard to the equipment stowed in the back of their battered white transit vans. european borders were apparently a great deal more strict about what went where before we became members of the european economic community.
that does not, however, lessen in any way, the superb opportunities for quality cycling through countries such as france and switzerland, the very practice of which concerns this excellent guide by mike wells. this, his fifth book for cicerone, takes the intrepid cyclist from the drama of the swiss alps all the way to the french mediterranean, ending at port st louis, but a mere stone's throw from marseille. commencing in furkapass, the route takes in lausanne, geneva, lyon and avignon before reaching the ocean, a trip which wells has thoughtfully broken into twenty stages averaging around 45km each. that seems to me to offer an ideal pace to take in some of the finest scenery on the continent.
while those with an unlimited amount of free time will already be drooling at the mouth in anticipation of pretty much three weeks of velocipedinal joy, it would be simplicity itself to pick and choose from amongst those twenty stages depending on your sphere of influence.
the route makes use of the rhone valley long-distance cycle route, one making copious use of traffic-free tracks and less-travelled country roads. it's just what we've always promised ourselves. in common with all cicerone guides, the actual cycling is presaged by a surprisingly comprehensive historical and geographical precis of that which you are about to cycle through. it is also well populated by a phalanx of maps that leads me to think that if you were to inadvertantly stray, it would be very hard to apportion any blame to mr wells. though it would be a tad naive to undertake any continental ride bereft of the local equivalent of an ordnance survey map, the convenient size of the guide makes it no hardship to fit the river rhone cycle route in a back pocket or under the clear window atop a handlebar bag for travel reassurance.
though testament is justly paid to the quality and fortitude of these compact and bijou volumes, it would ill behove any reviewer not to make comment on the photography peppered throughout their pages. in this case, they not only highlight many of the sights seen along the way, but might just prevent the taking of a wrong turn. additionally, there are boxed features pertaining to salient points of interest.
"Legend has it that Evian water was first discovered in 1789 when the Marquis of Lessert, while out walking, drank from the Ste Catherine spring on the land of a monsieur Cachat. Lessert was suffering from kidney and liver problems and it appeared the water improved his health."
while i cannot pretend that i am currently arranging for three weeks off work next summer to ride on a page by page basis (heck, i've scarcely heard of half of the places mentioned here), but a feature of well's writing is its compulsive nature, meaning that alps and warm, sandy beaches are now scribbled on my bucket list.
wednesday 26 october 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
it all started so well. the team took care of most of the early primes, providing the upper hand over the polish and czechoslovakian teams. the only real danger seemed to emanate from the germans who latched on tenaciously over the first few stages. aside from a bevy of primes filling the team car with medals for 'working valour', picture postcards of the cinema in warsaw and some slightly careworn copies of 'das kapital', taking top honours in stages one and two was pretty much the icing on the cake.
but then it all began to fall apart, when whatever luck may have been with us at the start made a startling about-turn. missed turns, taking three steps forward followed by two steps back and being easily passed by both the germans and the czechs undermined the optimism that had pervaded the team at the start of the 223km stage three from lodz to chorzow. yes, there was the odd moment when, despite "freezing cold crosswinds and pan-flat herringbone brickroads, four punctures, three shipped chains and one stripped bottom bracket," the most exhilarating cycling we've ever done pulled back a good couple of spaces.
the rest of the race really looked something of a lost cause, but at the last moment, a lucky throw of the dice brought the team leader across the finish line in prague ahead of the east germans who had looked pretty much invincible to the very last. granted, they easily scooped the team prize, with us brits languishing in second place, but at the risk of being overly parochial, a scotsman in yellow was a more than satisfying result.
the ingenuity of writer herbie sykes is nowhere more manifest than in the creatively constituted peace race board game available as an optional extra accompanying rapha's commemorative peace race jersey. herbie published an interview with peace race winner ian steel in rouleur 18, and further renewed his association with the race in the more recent 'race against the stasi'. though the majority of board games follow a similar pattern, the graphical content of this one is tailored to those seen behind the iron curtain in the 1950s, even down to the rendition of the word rapha on the instruction set and the cloth bag containing the necessary pieces to play the game.
but the crowning glory, for me at least, is herbie's writings on the back of both the chance and prime cards. even though two of those playing the board game were civilians, their enjoyment was considerably enhanced by those often abstruse explanations.
"For some reason there's an elephant at the departure and a mangey looking llama. A furtive looking guy comes up and asks you to help him find his brother. He says he's somewhare in Siberia, stuffs a photo into your jersey pocket and then scarpers. It's of a guy, probably early twenties, and there's a German address on the back. It unsettles you (what are you supposed to do?) and you can't concentrate. Go back a place.
and there's a lot more where that came from.
if there's a downside to this, it's the fact that the board game was only available as an option to those intent on purchasing the rapha sportwool jersey and at extra cost. but then that's now of academic interest, for the game was produced in a limited edition of 100 and though the jersey has scarcely been around for more than a week or so, the games are now all sold out and likely destined to become collectors' items.
the jersey, however, is still very much available and in a variety of colours. it celebrates the victory of the aforementioned scottish rider, ian steel, who sadly passed away almost exactly a year ago today, steel won the race in 1952, a date subtly embroidered on the central rear pocket. it differs from the more usual fare from imperial works in its emulation of the style of the period; there's no zip to be found anywhere about its person; the collar is fastened by means of two buttons on the left-side of the collar. i cannot deny that these are somewhat of a faff to fasten, especially when you're running a tad late on a sunday morning.
however, as my mother always used to say "pride bears no pain."
yet, in order to obviate one of the major fashion faux pas that a modern-day rider can impinge on an adoring public, one displayed by a rider who accompanied us only a couple of days ago, the accompanying armwarmers are securely fastened to the jersey's sleeves by a series of buttons. it really beggars the question as to why this trend hasn't been continued into the 21st century; there is little worse in a speeding peloton than a noticeable gap between armwarmers and sleeves. oh, the shame. those armwarmers are of a length that brought smiles of joy on a chilly sunday morning. of course, the inherent style of any of the jerseys on offer places a burden on the wearer; you really cannot simply wear this garment just because it was the one within easiest reach. there is a concomitant level of panache that must be displayed during the sunday ride; at the very least, you'd want ian steel to be proud of both the jersey and rider.
so far the temperatures on the edge of the atlantic have demanded that the armwarmers remain firmly affixed to the jersey, though i am firmly of the opinion that removing them would require a pit stop to accomplish. that would undoubtedly come under the heading of faff once more, but in truth, it would be an honour to suffer so lightly in tribute to those who rode one of history's hardest events.
it is our birthright.
rapha's commemorative peace race jersey is available in blue (as reviewed), burgundy, deep red and brown, all featuring the peace race dove on the left breast. it is available in sizes ranging from xs to xxl at a retail cost of £150. the board game is now unfortunately sold out.
tuesday 25 october 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................