the lucky few amongst us arrive in this world built for speed. i am most definitely not one of them, though i can think of a few to whom i would attribute this redeeming feature. of course, being one of the stealth-like brings its own disadvantages; nobody likes you much on the tuesday chain-gang because after the first turn, they and most of the fellow peletonese are simply hanging on for grim death. and despite an appetite that would put many a plague of locusts in the shade, not one ounce of fat has migrated to those places the rest of us try to hide.
there is also a less than healthy obsession with numbers, most of which relate to heart-rate, power output, or simply maximum speed in a straight line. these are all quite telling aspects of the racing game, but ones that many would prefer remained a matter of confidentiality between self and coach. thus it is that clothing pertaining to these lucky/bedevilled few has to closely fit the form of the honed athlete, that no extraneous material be allowed to flap in the breeze. nor, indeed, should there be any time wasted in ridding of excess heat or moisture, yet for long, hard hours in the saddle, a modicum of comfort would most definitely not go amiss.
this all seems gravely serious, very much at odds with the joy and happiness that we would normally associate with riding a bicycle; even, on occasion, at speed. but there is humour to be had even in the depths of an srm power readout, for though such professional attire is undoubtedly out there, clothing the fast and the furious, there are many amongst the great unwashed who will naively purchase a verisimilitude of this professionalism to wear in those weekend moments of leisure.
and recently, i have been one of them.
almost twenty years past, jim livingstone returned from australia and formed endura clothing, based in livingston, near edinburgh. initially more well-known to the offroad community, their decision to sponsor a fully-fledged and highly successful road team has brought them considerable attention from those on narrower tyres and ostensibly smoother surfaces. if you are well-founded and respected cycle clothing suppliers, it ill-behoves you to ignore the ideal conditions for product development provided by a continental grade race team, and all credit to the chaps in livingston for having taken advantage. the clothing that sees direct benefit from professional rider input is the endura equipe range, which has a website all to itself.
i bear no illusions whatsoever as to my propensity for speed, even if clad from head to toe in the same equipe clothing as accompanies the endura race team around the european circuit. in so doing, i open a mass of contradictions, for though the right chest says look i am in fact riding a colnago. similarly, my shoulders pay tribute to the tyres of continental and fizik saddles, while the reality is that the master is shod with vittoria and seating is courtesy of san marco. and as if merely to add insult to injury, despite changing ten gears via campagnolo's ergopower shifters, the side panels display sram in a very convincing red.
however, this is the iniquity of the replica. i am displaying my support for a team native to the country of my birth and residence, yet am perceptibly undermined by their own, separately negotiated affiliations. this is not a malady confined to the world of cycle team clothing. unless i am very much mistaken, not all the nine year old boys i see at the local playpark are named ronaldinho or beckham and have a penchant for one or two premium lagers at such an early age. it is a contradiction that is seemingly accepted by society at large, its saving grace being that, though somewhat slower than the real endura riders, i am still quick enough to avoid a knowledgeable readership.
the endura equipe team replica kit basically consists of a jersey featuring all the above mentioned logos, and a pair of bib shorts. though blessed with a couple of unnecessary coloured swoops from the armpit to the shoulder, mercifully the principal panels simply vary in the shininess of their shade of black. endura did warn me prior to sending that the jersey is of aero-fit cut and thus my more usual medium size may be a tad restrictive. comfortable in my own skin, so to speak, i stuck with the requested medium, and in retrospect, i'm glad i did so. however, if you are possessed of one or two lumps and bumps that you would prefer not to display to the world at large, i'd shift up a size; this is a very close-fitting jersey.
the interesting bit is that the jersey is made in the uk, despite its sizing being more akin to that of italy. i think this is something on which endura might place slightly greater emphasis, particularly when many others are manufacturing in the far flung reaches of europe and asia.
it features a full-length zip and a lower cut collar than is the norm on most cycle jerseys. the hem is elasticated and trimmed inside with the silicon gloop that keeps it where it's supposed to be. rather excitingly, the inner ends of the closely fitted sleeves also feature gloop, something that added a slight frisson to the practice of actually getting the jersey on in the first place. once on, the equipe jersey is like a second skin, offering pretty darned near no wind resistance at all and staying put under all sorts of duress. the rear pockets are capable enough for a true race jersey (few professionals carry the contents of a bikeshed with them), but surprisingly a very welcome zipped valuable pocket that is surely surplus to requirements when arguing with brian smith in the team car.
i have made my feelings know in previous endura mentions, that i have my aesthetic doubts over the equipe logo, particularly that opening 'e', but i have rather warmed to the lime green in which it is depicted. if you can comfortably fit into one of these jerseys, you will love it. the fit alone is worth an extra 3kph, and there is little to compare with the closest most of us will ever get to looking like a professional.
knowingly, endura also provided a very slick pair of lightweight armwarmers; it may be summer according to the calendar, but a hebridean ambient temperature say otherwise. most armwarmers are simply tubes of a lycra-type fabric with gloop or elastic at the top to hold them in place and, if you're lucky, some nice warm fleece on the inside. endura's equipe armwarmers are tailored to within an inch of their lives. and your arms. these, bright green logos on the outside notwithstanding, are very particularly left and right, with inner gussets for the inward bend of the elbow, and an outer panel that covers above the outer elbow. they easily manage to continue the second skin effect of the jersey, look ruddy fabulous, and accomplish just what you hoped they would.
if i have to make a criticism it is that the left armwarmer featured a rubberised line green tab that eased the job of getting it on and off, but the right version was bereft of same. i'd put this feature on both.
interestingly, the made in the uk badge of honour is not carried through to the shorts, featuring as they do an italian seat pad and italian power lycra. i'm afraid that even during several lengthy rides as a clandestine member of team endura, i was unable to figure out what was the difference between power lycra and the ordinary stuff. that, however, matters not one whit. unlike their upper torso brethren, the shorts are of more regular dimensions, but then there is probably more emphatic movement to contend with than the stillness of a pro's upper body. the bib section starts around half-way up the torso with two mesh straps at the front merging to a single white mesh portion that meets the word endura at the lower back. not that the jersey made any attempt to move upwards during riding, but if it ever does, there is plenty of power lycra to keep the lower back from breathing in cold air.
the outer leg panels are perforated, presumably for both comfort and air conditioning, while the legs are gripped with tenacity by more of that gloopy stuff.
as you would perhaps expect, the dimpled pad inhabits the same fluorescent green that colours the 'e's on each leg, and in common with the very best of padded shorts, once in the saddle, you'd never know it was there. i'd like to think i cut a striking figure in my team replica kit, that were i to infiltrate one of smiffy's pre-race talks, they would accept me as one of their own. sadly, that's more than likely a clinical delusion which would be immediately dispelled even on a training ride. if i were endura, i'd make a plain version of this jersey, bereft of the sponsors' logos, for it is a superb item of apparel that can easily hold its own with its peers, and not everyone wants to look like a wannabe. the shorts are of the usual impeccable endura equipe quality; not fussy, not flashy, but a triumph of both form and function.
i nearly got past the audition, but smiffy said my yellow shoes clashed with the molteni coloured colnago. some folks just don't know class when they see it.
the endura team replica jersey retails at £74.99, in sizes small to xxl. endura also offer a cusomisable version on which your name and national flag can be added for an extra £15. the equipe bibshorts retails at £99.99 in similar sizes.
posted tuesday 9 august 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................