i have based the reputation of the velo club on deeds and tales of derring do, of mornings built on slogging ourselves silly into screaming headwinds, horizontal rain and crosswinds that threaten to rip the wheels from under us. i hope to have created a mental picture of three (occasionally four) ruggedly determined cyclists with no fear of adverse weather conditions and a constitution that will have no truck with rear sprockets larger than 25 teeth (and were it not for the mighty dave-t, we'd be looking at a more humbling twenty-three).
and yet the oddity of the situation is my still truthfully held contention that i could never successfully write fiction.
apparently, unless december turns out to be a heck of a lot colder than is currently the forecast, 2014 will be noted as the warmest year on record since somebody started writing these things down in the 18th century. and the hallowed isle has benefitted every bit as much as the rest of the uk. we have pedalled our sunday morning rides in relative peace and quiet, mostly devoid of the headwinds upon which our reputation has been constructed. and though none amongst our number would be silly enough to leave home without a waterproof jacket stuffed in a back pocket, in truth, that is mostly where they have remained.
the conversation has, therefore, turned to whether such a state of affairs is likely to continue all through the festive season and into the new year. though probably not a subject heading brought to the surface on bike rides elsewhere, the main concern is a possible undermining of our reputation. there is, or rather, was, the possibility that we would end up as just another unremarkable group of cyclists. and since our superpowers are based entirely on a fearless acceptance of a tempestuous breeze, would we have need of continuing to wear our underpants on the outside of our waterproof bibtights?
but as of this weekend, we need voice our concerns no more. the wind and rain has returned with a vengeance, while the forecast promises 60mph winds for later in the week. not known for resting on our laurels, there is the not inconsiderable need to adjudge an appropriate level of attire to fend off the elements, and in my own case, headwear is front and foremost. though i believe the myth that the majority of heat loss is through the head has been roundly undermined as being not entirely true, i'm taking no chances. helmets may be constructed of heat retaining polystyrene, but the vents can be awfully draughty at this time of year.
britain's industrial past may be pretty much gone and almost forgotten, with the last vestiges of shipbuilding hanging on by their fingernails on the clyde. many others have been unceremoniously lifted in their entirety and relocated overseas. though we still make cars, it appears we don't make a whole lot else. but we do still make cycling caps; handbuilt ones at that. the fine people at this is cambridge have been busy with cotton and sewing machines for a year or so, offering up individually crafted casquettes to suit all flavours of cyclist. no more one size fits all, even arriving in personally written, carefully sewn up paper packets.
the all important individual touch.
but when the weather turns to decidedly the wrong side of inclement, a regular cotton cap is, quite frankly, about as much use as a chocolate fireguard. flandrians/hebrideans not only demand more, but expect it to be delivered in timeous fashion, something that this is cambridge have had the alacrity to satisfy. they have described this superbly named item of headwear as a retro winter cap, but i would dispute the adjective; i figure it to be every bit as contemporary as any of their other ranges.
my other concern was that peak. the cap is made from merino wool, which gives it a well-judged level of comfort and substantiality, but the peak is every bit as soft as the rest of the cap. unfortunately, experience has taught me that soft peaks, no matter their predilection for reducing the pressures allegedly promoted by the reinforced variety, tend to flap and flail in strong winds. this not only reduces their effectiveness, but has, on occasion, interfered with forward vision. in this particular case, the peak has been well thought out. though there is little or no resistance to being manually flipped or flapped, despite the waterproof membrane within, its size manages to keep helmet-borne rain drops at bay yet be impervious to the wind.
in short, it's flipping brilliant (if you'll pardon the unintended pun).
at £55 it might appear just a tad on the pricey side for a cap, but believe me, it's worth it. the cap's comfy, warm, more weatherproof than you'd think and the corrugated merino ear panel completely protects both from crappy weather without impairing the ability to hear en route to somewhere.
the velo club's reputation has been maintained by a handmade, authentic item of headwear, reinforcing my contention that hebrideans are the flandrians of the west.
sunday 7 december 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................