car owning or rail season ticket holding cyclists can maintain a certain sense of velocipedinal distinction, keeping that sliver of italian carbon fibre cossetted in its abode, polished, and fettled ready for the weekend warrior outing, either alone or as part of the peloton. apparel for the occasion will be select: a jersey with those very necessary three rear pockets, bibshorts in whatever colour your cycling prowess will allow you to wear, and likely other ancillaries as prescribed by looking through the cycling monthlies or team rosters.
however, in common, no doubt, with many others, i am a voluntary none car owner, so the company colnago is not only used for the purpose as described above, but has to fulfil the purpose for which the bicycle was designed in the first place: a transportation device. popping round to debbie's for a coffee is sort of the mid-point in the transition between the two; it's certainly the easiest way to travel from bowmore to bruichladdich, but it doesn't quite come under the heading of a necessary journey, however much i try to convince myself to the contrary. and in weather such as we currently enjoy on the isle, it is always aspirational to sup al fresco on the patio, trying very hard to appear as one would in the village depart (sadly, usually failing miserably).
on those occasions when the colnago has to fulfil truly transportational functions, there is usually a meeting or training session at the other end, in which case looking like a weekend warrior doesn't always cut the mustard (whatever that means). the lower half of me is generally clothed in a pair of shorts over the top of bib shorts, maintaining a semi-businesslike appearance while allowing for padded saddle comfort during there and back. but what would should the conscientious rider cum business person wear that will allow for practical comfort on the bike, and similar levels of comfort while sat in front of a computer screen or across whatever passes for a conference table?
the above has to be qualified by the e-mail tag-line as preferred and professed by my sometime cohort, mr hastings: be the cyclist, even when they're not looking. this rather excludes that white colnago logoed shirt and likely most of my wardrobe of polo-shirts and t-shirts. the latter may look just fine and dandy in the normal world, but are hardly conducive to sweat and wrinkle free riding. enter the endura baabaa merino tech jersey, a confusing piece of apparel, since the swing tag says jersey, the website says jersey but the screen printed collar description says base layer. because it's merino wool, it could quite likely fulfil the position of undershirt, but the cut would rather mitigate against that. it's a short sleeve merino jersey, but with a threequarter front zip and a small zipped pocket on the rear right, something that would be kind of hard to get into if worn under a top.
i'm normally a medium in everything that anyone ever produced in a jersey, but the medium in this was way too big, which endura kindly remedied by supplying the small; this fitted far better. however, even the small is just a soupcon too baggy around the chest and shoulders, but that may say more about my scrawny physique rather than any wide of the mark design by endura. the jersey features a commendably high collar, loose enough not to constrict but high enough to deflect cold draughts. i wore this over an endura baabaa long sleeve baselayer, which may have been just a tad too warm on the day i travelled, but a combination that is eminently practical due to merino's temperature regulating properties, as well as the fact that it doesn't smell. these are enhanced by aerated sections under the arms and across the shoulders on the back.
the small rear pocket is really only ideal for some loose change, perhaps an ipod or phone, and at a squish, half a peanut butter sandwich. i have suggested to endura that by tightening up the fit slightly (this jersey is admittedly aimed more at the off-road community rather than the skinny tyre brigade) and adding three rear pockets would present a more realistic appeal all-round, and certainly more so for those of us on bendy bars. the jersey is available in black, grey and the red colour as tested; even the latter comes across as perfectly acceptable in a transportational situation, and i hope that if endura do make a revised edition available to the roadie community, they stick with the single colouring and resist the temptation to resort to different coloured panels as often exhibited on some of their fs260 jerseys.
i don't mind admitting that i'm a big fan of merino wool; while it doesn't present itself as a skintight fit in the mode of many lycra/sportwool jerseys, admittedly ideal for the sunday ride and all that solo training we tell ourselves we're doing, the more relaxed fit makes it ideal for a variety of situations. unlike some heavier merino tops, this one can be chucked in the washing machine with that devil may care attitude that cyclists tend to have with regard to their wardrobe. i like that, and i've no doubt you will too. because of the inherent breathable properties of merino, the top lends itself well to layering: a true baselayer, the merino jersey, heavier wool top and possibly even a waterproof mean that this is something that could be worn year round. nifty.
the price of £45 is good for such a fine jersey in merino wool, and if you need a jersey that can be worn on and of the bike, this is a good choice. just bear in mind the sizing: i'm 5'10" with a 38" chest and the small is a good, if loose fit. maybe try before you buy.
posted on sunday 28 june 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................