according to radio four's weather forecast of sunday 24th april, listened to through a liberal dose of half-asleepness, saturday 23rd provided the highest april temperature recorded since some long-distant date which my half-asleep brain faled to recollect. i cannot demur entirely, for though saturday morning dawned slightly greyer and windier than had been my hope, it performed true to mrs washingmachinepost's assertions that all would be well by lunchtime, and sun would prevail.
she was correct.
still, i have more than just a faint suspicion that radio four's weather felicitations are rather heavily based on the uk capital, quite blatantly the land of the wimp, where cold atlantic winds are all but missing in action. while tinted rudy projects were not unseemly, the early morning chill necessitated both armwarmers and a wind-cheating gilet. sunday morning, however, offered far greater persuasion for character building endeavour, for was today not philippe gilbert's opportunity to equal the success of the man in the doghouse, davide rebellin, and take three successive classics?
liege-bastogne-liege, and on islay it was raining.
racing shorts with aspirations to emulating sean yates' leg length, and a short-sleeve jersey with full length zip; wearing of such would surely confer not only lashings of character, but releasing and gratuitously displaying that inner flandrian? despite gigging until the wee small hours, and experiencing the chill that inhabits such unearthly times while wending one's way home, i laugh in the face of adversity. show me what you've got, would be the watchphrase of the day, with no consequence for record southern temperatures.
all this was, however, in the realms of the hypothetical, for descending to breakfast, skies were grey, and though the wind-speed had reduced from yesterday's near gale-force, it had lost some of the temperature gained during saturday afternoon. at this point, reckoning has it that i am man or mouse, but by the time the residential car-park had been reached, only mere metres from the bikeshed, propriety dictated that the gilet be removed and replaced with a handily stowed waterproof; armwarmers still in situ.
it is always more favourable if one can review cycling garments in their unadorned state; there is much that can be learned form their performance under one or two layers of wind and rainproofing, but i cannot say it does them much justice in any accompanying photographs. happily, all that was taken care of during saturday's circe du soleil, while sunday's liege-bastogne liege conditions were surely to be the proof of the pudding. particularly if the belgian road were to be traversed. this was an important consideration, for cervo rosso's national pride jersey takes its nomenclature from a subtly applied colour to the left sleeve; in my case, that of belgium. switzerland and italy are also on offer, but you cannot deny the flandrian in the worthy.
hard work never hurt anyone; at least not in retrospect. how many times have you had both legs scream at you in the company of lactic acid, then reminisce how epic it all was? agonism at its best. saturday's hard work, followed by sunday's different but equally hard, gave credence were credence required, that this cervo rosso kit is deserving of our attention. if i recall correctly form my interview with cv's carlyle ware, his reason for germinating the swiss clothing firm was an inability to find the type of clothing he felt the modern cycling world so desperately required. i may exaggerate slightly here, but he would surely have to be possessed of an overweening degree of obsessive compulsive disorder not to have found something to suite his velocipedinal requirements from all that was on offer?
however, having inhabited cervo rosso shorts and jersey for a surprisingly large number of hardened kilometres, i cannot deny that cervo rosso's offerings here reviewed can confidently be added to the panoply from which choices are made.
the mk2 bibshorts are a revelation; made from slivers of lycra, they hug those chris hoy thighs with comfort. thin, clear dots of silicon gloop on the inner leg hems confidently prevent them riding up at a most inappropriate point in the sprint. adopting the old system of sizing, my size 2 (small) version proffered a sublime fit, while the hg07 elastic pad provided the oft-searched for comfort and joy while sat on a racing saddle for several hours. the white mesh bib section has a degree of stretch that will suit most upper bodies, remain on the shoulders through all sorts of strident exertions, and leave no tell-tale marks on removal. but perhaps the best compliment that can be paid any pair of cycle shorts is that they are all but invisible in use (though i will agree that the reality of such would not be a pretty sight).
short sleeve jerseys are often just (unsurprisingly), short sleeve jerseys, sometimes with an enhanced feature set, but short sleeve jerseys just the same. but i confess i have rarely come across one with longer sleeves than the phrase short sleeve would suggest. by this i do not wish to infer that the cervo rosso sleeves finished closer to the wrist than to the shoulder, but they did a marvellous job of covering those bulging biceps (leave a guy to his dreams why don't you?). the ideal of this, as conclusively proved over the course of frenetic riding, is never being susceptible to the cardinal sin of naked skin being visible twixt armwarmer and sleeve end. and just to make doubly sure, the inner cuff is peppered with the same dots of gloop as seen on the shorts.
yet again, the fit has been well considered, as has a full-length zip. while the shorts were size 2, my more manly upper torso (leave me alone) fills out a size 3, and very comfortably it did so. windproofing is all but non-existent, but then same goes for most of its peer group. what was missing, and in my mind it's a big miss, is a fourth, zipped security pocket; i am aware of the arguments against such fripperies, given that the racing gentleman or gentlewoman rarely has to carry car keys, mobile phone or change for a soya cappuccino and a piece of carrot cake (oh what a giveaway), but few are the professionals likely to clothe themselves in cervo rosso's finest. this is apparel for the rest of us, and the rest of us wants a zipped rear pocket.
while having become an ardent admirer of both items over my period of flandrianism, i have one criticism that may or not be a trivial one depending on your point of view. cervo rosso, while a very alluring nom de plume, is italian for red deer, as alluded to by the deer head shield applied to various parts of the jersey and shorts. in and of itself, i have few qualms over this adoption, but i'd far rather the name be a touch more discreet in its application. the name appears in script writ large across both front and back, down both side panels, on the red collar and repetitively around the sleeve that doesn't advertise its belgian affiliation. as if this were not enough, the web address reads across all three rear pockets. the shorts receive similar marking down the side of both legs, around both hems and across the back panel.
i'm all for cervo rosso advertising their wares in the peloton, but i think you need to know where to stop.
however, it may be that i am here in the minority; perhaps prospective purchasers are happy to advise all and sundry of their judicious choice in cycling finery. there is much to praise in both items, and they are most certainly not lacking in their functional duties; that may be more than worth advertising, but...
the cervo rosso 'national pride' jersey is available in sizes 2 to 5 and with belgian, swiss and italian sleeve decoration at a cost of £75. the mk2 bibshorts are available in sizes ranging from 2 to 6 at a cost of £87. well priced in my opinion. they are available direct from the cervo rosso website.
posted sunday 24 april 2011