there is currenly a spate of movies, none of which i have seen, referring to the action heroes of marvel comics, or if not specifically the latter, certainly not a million miles removed. you will forgive if i manage to fail in my duty to accurately reflect the personalities involved, but i believe the first concerned the masked avengers, an entire phalanx of super heroes who can manage everything from rescuing nuclear missiles from imminent destruction, to carrying the shopping home from tesco's. making possibly a welcome return to the streets and the silver screen, are also spiderman and batman, each in their respective moving picture shows.
what never seems to be considered in these 'who was that masked man' situations, is just how each individual super-hero copes with the frequent change of clothing. consider how inconvenient it must surely be to have laid out a cool pair of jeans and a favourite sweatshirt in the morning, only to receive the call from someone in distress just across town. and perhaps more to the point, how difficult must it be to alter not only one's personality depending on outer garment wear, but adjusting to the relative bagginess of a cotton sweatshirt after many an active hour in spandex. these are issues that receive little or no attention.
anyone would think we were discussing fictitious characters here.
it is, i'd like to point out, much the same state of affairs for those of us intent on being members of the pelotonese at the weekend, yet to all intents and purposes, mere covert civilians every other day of the week. for obsessed by the bicycle as we undoubtedly are, there is no way that alternative transportation is going to be favoured over our beloved bicycles in the attempt to reach work in timely fashion. let's be quite clear here, sportwool and lycra in the workplace tend to attract unwarranted attention and possibly just a p45 if the boss cares less about cycling than he/she ought to.
so, in order to appease those without any form of super hero status, we who blatantly inhabit such immortal stature have necessity of dressing down so to speak. except there is a conceit at work here, for in truth some of that weekday cladding retains all of the racing elitism harboured by something as innocuous looking as a beloved everyday. this bicycle, if you remember, presents the persona of mild-mannered clark kent, while purring beneath the shiny paintwork is a race bike ready to pounce. thus, living contentedly in commuter-wear, many of us are really mark cavendish or tommy voeckler.
there are a number of apparel contenders for the commuting crown; one or two are less than interested in the race game, while others see it as a complementary adjunct to their race face. i make no serious discrimination against one or t'other, but in the present case, the latest in urban wear pops up from livingston, near edinburgh, scotland, home of endura. the scottish company has a lengthy reputation as provider of mountain bike clothing, a reputation that has been somewhat altered by the considerable success of the road team under the managership of brian smith, but one that persists despite skinny wheels and bendy bars. however, with one foot in each camp, endura have a considerable wealth of experience on which to draw.
thus we have the endura urban range, a moniker i confess to having little sympathy for; not everyone cycling to work and the coffee shop is surrounded by claustrophobic streets of building facades. some of us inhabit wide-open spaces, yet have need of similar apparel. however, in mitigation, it must be something of a struggle to invent an appropriate name for cycle clothing with both sartorial and pragmatic qualities.
the endura range consists of a shell jacket, a softshell, a merino jersey, merino polo, stretch trousers, shorts, a cap, leather gloves and some rather stylish argyll socks. for review, the rather fine folks in livingston sent a merino polo shirt, stretch trousers and two pairs of argyll socks. all, with the exception of the socks, in black. it's at this point i can hear the ire rising in many a committed commuter, for though black trousers and black shirt are often de rigeur in the confines of the office, the fact that both softshell and shell jacket proffer the same or less than bright and shiny colours, will disappoint those who advocate an enhanced degree of visibility.
while i'd be inclined to agree with them over the jackets, though i have not had sight of the endura offerings, suitable approbation was forthcoming from my office colleagues as to the style and cut of the trousers and polo shirt. the former are fashioned from a softshell-like material with greater than modest water-resistance which, though not tested in the field, did suffer some spilt green tea last monday without undue distress. there are two zipped rear pockets matched by two front pockets. fastening is by means of a single hook and two poppers, accompanied by a most accommodating belt (perhaps made for someone of considerably larger girth than myself).
pedalling south-west to the al fresco supping facilities at debbie's, these were, to put not too fine a point on it, flipping marvellous. they're windproof, ostensibly water-repellent and stretchy enough to allow for speedy and energetic pedalling, yet retaining all the sartorial elegance promised at the grand depart. the coolmax socks, offered in two impressive colour formats, are the ideal accompaniment for the trouser legs, providing an ankle length that allows tucking-in. the fact that they are an argyll pattern could not be more geographically appropriate for thewashingmachinepost.
the polo shirt is something of a piece de resistance, fabricated in remarkably fine merino and sporting a vertical ribbed pattern that lifts it above the ordinary. were this a regular cycle jersey, the neck opening would be described as half-length, behind the front flap, closure is effected by means of individual poppers apart from a top button. this latter feature is the one point with which i'd take issue; heading off into what passes for the urban hinterlands round these here parts, i fastened all the way to the neck, wimp that i am. though this was in the latter days of july, the ambient temperature was adjudged a smidgeon too cool not to underlay the polo with an endura baabaa merino long-sleeve baselayer.
less than half-way there, a modicum of cooling was required, but could i get that flipping button to unfasten? i would have preferred, if choice were offered, either poppers all the way to the neck, or perhaps a zip like a real super hero. behind that front wind-flap, no-one would be any the wiser, and my unimpressive prestidigitation would not be called on in the face of adversity.
whether the surrounding landscape is of urban sprawl or agricultural hue, the likelihood of precipitation is fairly evenly spread. too warm for either of the urban series shell jackets, yet too erratic to ride without a safety net, the polo's side-zipped rear pocket is capacious enough to swallow an entire endura pak-a-jak whole, comforted by a compact digital camera. how unbelievably cool is that? i can say little other than that i am impressed, for even after swot and hettie chasing me all the way from deb's back to bowmore, endura's urban clothing was still appropriately composed to allow for an afternoon of productivity in the office. and an evening of slouching in the armchair, if truth be told.
so, when that bat-eared mask, cape and utility belt are off to the dry-cleaners (a less often noted super hero requirement on occasion), dressing head to toe in black with argyll footwork could well be the very enhancement required when cycling to the batcave or the nearest phone box.
endura's urban stretch pant retails at £59.99, the merino polo shirt at £49.99 and the argyll socks for £12.99.
tuesday 1st august 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................