most cycle clothing nowadays is highly specific in both form and function. by the time the first week in august arrived, it's doubtful that mark cavendish was still sitting in his living room wearing a green jersey, and when he did swap, it probably wasn't for one from htc. ned boulting's recent masterpiece how i won the yellow jumper gives rise to thoughts of cosiness and perhaps a smidgeon of practicality. if only it weren't for the fact that they all seem to zip up the back.
jumper as a word, has softer and warmer connotations than that of the word jersey, even though in ned boulting's mind, they are likely one and the same. thus, for the more sportingly and athletically inclined, cycle specific garments are readily on hand when it comes time to remove the velocipede from the bike shed. though many have produced jeans and trousers that are all too happy to step up to the plate, 'tis a mode of dress that is mostly, and quite rightly, employed more by the commuting masses. i have scanned through many an image from the 2011 tour de france and at no time did thomas voeckler wear chinos and a checked shirt in the peloton.
the pelotonese are corralled by the simulacrum; there is a pressing need to either emulate their idols completely, or at least give the impression that unbounded and unfettered acceleration is a less than distant possibility. this is something to which the firmament is happy to subscribe.
but, philosophically, theoretically and practically speaking there is a before and after, two periods of time that could not be defined as such were there not a substantial period of bike riding in the middle. and while that part is comfortably taken care of, as i have already alluded, for some of us at least, the fore and after create their own concerns. the after period is perhaps slightly less of a concern, however; having ended this morning's ride cold and wet due to an influx of unexpectedly lengthy precipitation, there was little need, point or likelihood that i would inhabit my cycling garb for longer than truly necessary.
however, the moments before heading out to muddy the hakkalugi provided an intriguing and discomfiting period of transition. i'm sure i cannot be the only one who would wish to take on the notion, premeditated or otherwise, for a ride on my bicycle, something i'd like to be as seamless as going for a walk. the latter rarely requires any unique mode of dress, though i'll agree that donning a waterproof in this clime is a pretty darned good idea.
i am not possessed of the bluntness to deny that a bike ride could be perceived in similar fashion, but despite a psyche that talks to my inner-self, prescribing a more relaxed pace than usual, my inner-self is demonised by my devotion to the spring classics, the grand tours and a cyclocross course that eats casual garb for breakfast. surely it cannot be outwith the bounds of possibilities that technical could meet with jumperism resulting in offspring that could be worn while masquerading as owner/occupier?
that offspring, seeing as you asked, answers to the name yolande and has been thoughtfully provided by the chilled folks at cafe du cycliste for the purposes of riding one's bike, indulging in coffee and carrot cake, or simply getting in the way of mrs washingmachinepost as she vacuums under my pile of rouleurs. fashioned from merino tecnowool it follows in the footsteps of many who use similar fabrics. unlike the wool jerseys of yesteryear, there is no danger whatsoever of the back pockets dragging on the rear tyre in the rain. add to that merino's outstanding reputation for softness and comfort, and you can perhaps see where i'm coming from with this.
unlike a liquigas jersey, the yolande is not figure hugging. this is not to imply any form of baggyness; the style is very much that of the slim cyclist, but the yolande has a decidedly relaxed air about it that would commend its being worn more often than purely in the saddle. such a demeanour is enhanced by the affixation of (faux?) leather elbow patches, matched by a similar material running full length as a baffle behind the zip. this material also appears backing the buttoned collar. my only criticism, and it is slight, of this mode of styling relates to that collar which i feel ought to be a tad closer in fit to keep out untoward draughts at the neck. i am, however, reminded that the purveyors of the yolande jersey are ensconced in the cote d'azur where cold, biting winds are perhaps the stuff of myth and legend.
rarely has any jersey arrived so well-equipped with pockets: there is a vertically zipped example on the front right, three very accommodating pockets on the rear and the mandatory zipped outboard instance on the right rear. both shoulders feature padding that would surely allow comfortable use of a backpack and there are strategically placed reflective strips should your cavorting take you out past lighting up time. the dropped hem enjoys the services of silicon gloop to prevent untoward vertical movement, and something i have not seen on a jersey before, the cuffs have thumbloops preventing the sleeves from riding up and any ingress of the elements between sleeve and glove. a thoughtful and practical extra.
i cannot tell a lie; i look in envy at the photographs on the cafe du cycliste website showing a yolande clad rider bereft of outer shell, seemingly enjoying the comfort of his jersey and the absence of cold, wind and rain. sadly, my past weeks with the yolande have not seen many moments such as these, other than half a day lazing about the house, testing my theory that this jersey is as warm and practical off the bike as it is on. though marvellous in so many ways, technical merino wool is not windproof, so at the very least, in a hebridean january and february it would be unseemly to pedal without at least a windproof covering. however, with one or two exceptions, most rides have required something substantially more weather repellent than a simple gilet.
for those of us living in the british isles it is more than likely to be a few months yet before long-sleeve jerseys can be worn unfettered, so it is as well to gauge the efficacy of one so stylish when unceremoniously hidden beneath a softshell. to put it in a nutshell, just equate it with ned boulting's allusion to a jumper. the yolande is a triumph of style, function and practicality; i have little doubt i could wear this to the office without garnering undue attention from the fashion police.
undoubtedly one of the best jerseys/jumpers on the market.
the cafe du cycliste yolande jersey is available in navy or rust, sizes small to xxl at a cost of £125 ($199). arriving in delightfully traditional french themed packaging, it can be purchased from select dealers in europe and the uk or direct from the website.
posted saturday 4 february 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................