on the basis that it is very easy to be a big fish in a small pond, i would think there are few folks on islay who can mentally separate me from association with bicycles. a proverbial little old lady who used to live a few doors along from the croft, was wont to mention to her daughter when referring to me in despatches as the bicycle man. whether she knew my real name or not, i'd be unwilling to hazard a guess. therefore, on one of the rare occasions when i had cause to visit the averagemarket in bowmore main street to purchase a necessity for sunday brunch (one that i had faithfully assured mrs washingmachinepost had been acquired the previous day), my wearing of sportwool, lycra, tinted rudy projects and a bright yellow helmet elicited no untoward response from my fellow shoppers.
i'd agree that this latter incident sounds like it would be an almost everyday occurence, yet though i'll happily sup froth clad in racewear, certain day to day duties merge uneasily with such incongruity. it is an extension of what i can only surmise is an untoward bout of self-consciousness that originally weened me off becoming a mobile advertising hoarding in the first place.
logos for satellite broadcast systems, wooden laminate flooring or mobile phone companies are all very well in a graphical appreciation sense, but on the basis that no-one has actually offered me my own seat on the team bus, i do truly have to ask 'where's my motivation?' much like my teetotalism and vegetarian status, i feel no real obligation to advertise or impose my velocipedinal tendencies to the civilian population, though clippity-cloppity shoes and the aforementioned bright yellow helmet tend to give the game away in any case. therefore there seems scant inducement to wear team clothing in the first place.
which is precisely why the heidi jacket from cote d'azur's cafe du cycliste finds a great deal of favour even on west coast scotland. and all the more so during the current cold season. the appearance of this winter jacket is initially what sets it apart from its peers. in the knowledge that islay is composed of several estates governed by absent and not so absent landlords, wearing a heidi jacket while surveying the peasants would almost immediately identify one as a member of the landed gentry. granted, i have yet to prove this theory, but i feel sure of my ground by positing it in the first place.
the black frontispiece resembles that of a quilted body warmer, interrupted only at the front of the shoulders where cdc have craftily inserted two zipped vents, should one's exertions ever get the better of its inherent breathability. this quilted section is not only windproof, but more water resistant than i had expected. too lazy to extricate a thin waterproof shell from the large, zipped rear cargo pocket, i pedalled on through a quick, yet heavy shower of rain, emerging at the other side a lot drier internally than i had expected. though not advertised as rainwear, it will suffice through the occasional brief shower.
the full length front zip heads slightly to the right as it reaches the collar, obviating any bulked zip garage pressure on your neck. a burgundy inner wind baffle behind the zip complements the predominantly grey colours of the jacket rather well, and the high, soft collar is neither too tight nor too loose and a very welcome feature in cold weather. there's even a loop inside the collar to hang it on a coat hook when relaxing with coffee clad merely in a cdc marie-josette jersey. i figure the heidi is part way between a generous i'm not a cyclist fit and a close-cut race fit; there was no noticeable flapping when pointed into headwinds.
a criss-cross stitched inner fleece lining has the effect of warming the cockles before the jacket has even been worn. however, the only feature with which i had minor gripes was that of the storage area at rear. the zipped centre pocket is most generous in its capacity, but though the two outer pockets are popper fastened at the top and elastic in their construct, the tops of each are less than accommodating. so when the cargo pocket was full and zipped, yet a foldaway rainjacket had still to find space, i was unable to fit the jacket in either of the smaller pockets. i have a notion that they would have accommodated what is a tightly packed and none too large waterproof had i only been able to get it past the more stubborn tops.
however, a more logistical method of storage would proabably see such an eventuality happening only on rare occasions. it was a silly time to give the team car the day off.
having tacitly agreed to accurately measure the length of a marathon running course with a bike-mounted garmin gps unit, stretching from portnahaven all the way to port ellen, i spent the bulk of my saturday last riding what turned out to be the wrong distance. for starters, i was under the misapprehension that a marathon was exactly 26 miles, when it appears there is an extra 0.2 added to the brief. add to that my having apparently commenced measuring in the wrong place, and you will no doubt see why it is that, come the new year, i'm going to have to do it all over again. however, not wishing to draw too much attention to myself, yet maintain the sartorial decor which i'm sure nobody's noticed, i donned the heidi jacket for the full length of the trip.
though carrying out my errant duties actually resulted in my riding the equivalent of two marathons to measure just one, even the varying wind strength and intermittent showers failed to disturb the jacket in any way, shape or form. which is rather more than could be said for the rider in this case. it's a remarkably comfortable jacket that makes me look nothing like alejandro valverde and retained its composure enough to be worn once more on the following day's albeit shorter ride. the chaps and chapesses on the cote d'azur, despite presumably having little experience of scottish west coast riding have yet again successfully provided cycle clothing that does not depend on sun, sea and sand.
the cafe du cycliste heidi winter jacket is available only in grey and in sizes ranging from xs to xxl and retails at £163 ($265)
tuesday 10 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................