there are few barriers to cycling participation. somewhat obviously, a bike is a rather important pre-requisite, hopefully appropriate to the discipline in which one intends to participate, but all things being equal, a bike's a bike. in all honesty, what you wear on the bicycle is entirely up to you; naturally enough competition has a certain expected dress code, but otherwise the rsvp bears no diktat.
however, while we're on the subject, there are garments that will ease the pain that inevitably follows strenuous hours on the bike, and i'd wholeheartedly advise that you at least take a look. the comfort afforded by a pair of adequately padded cycle shorts really cannot be overstated. but we're talking here about new adherents to the faith, those who still wonder how you change gear on an sti equipped cycle. and it is not altogether unusual for these newbies (if i may be so presumptious) to be carrying one or two extra pounds that they're fervently hoping the act of cycling might alleviate.
come to that, there are several members of the pelotonese who, through relative inactivity in the day job, or because they like their food just a bit too much, find it difficult to acquire cycle jerseys in a size that might maintain a svelte profile. many of the so-called race-fit jerseys seem built to fit human beings who have need of running about in the shower to get wet. this tautologically means that many a mamil is left exasperated on the changing room floor. which is why yorkshire's fat lad at the back have quite possibly arrived at a particularly apt time. to quote from the website "It occured to us that, if we couldn’t find top quality cycling gear in proper manly man sizes, then probably, no one else could. So we took a bit of a punt and set up a sportswear brand which didn't just do 'usual sizes' but it also did bigger sizes.
as one who often manages to inadvertantly fit into regular small size race jerseys even when medium was requested, it seemed a potential travesty of justice to request a review sample for myself. so doing would, i figured, prove very little. so i turned to the velo club's very own fat lad at the back (though to be honest, he's not actually fat, just bigger than i am), lord carlos of mercian, who regally accepted the role of apparel reviewer for a strikingly fine lanterne rouge long-sleeve jersey.
"Being invited to review a new jersey by the coolest cycling website on the Outer Edge is of course a great honour. Or so I thought. You will forgive my mixed feelings however, when the product in question turned out to be the latest offering from FLAB; otherwise known as the 'Fat Lad At The Back'.
"I fit seamlessly into some of the criteria. I am (slightly) overweight, and I do enjoy being at the back (there is less pressure there), but what's all this about being a 'Lad'? I'm not at all sure that this is an appropriate moniker. I have always been rather proud of my lack of 'laddishness', but it appears that Our Great Leader, none other than mr washingmachinepost himself, takes a different view.
"And I am nearly sixty you know. Sigh.
"Anyway. Having extracted the garment from its plastic pack (why can't these things be wrapped in nice environmentally friendly brown paper?), I am immediately taken by the cheery choice of colours. This is a noisy red jacket with a pleasing lack of symmetry. One sleeve is a different colour to the other. I rather like that; it sets the tone. 'We are going to challenge convention with this outer layer.'
"Because it is a 'sort of' jacket. Long-sleeved, collared and with a full length, robust-feeling zip. We like that too. Slipping it on over my amply proportioned figure is easy. Feels good. And the generous length of the sleeves is immediately apparent. We Fat Lads have gibbonesque tendencies, meaning long arms. We like our limbs to be adequately covered at the extremities. These particular arms are nicely finished with proper cuffs. Excellent.
"It also has three extremely generous pockets at the back. I can almost squeeze in one of those little pumplettes that seem such a good idea in the shop and such a bad idea when you are ten minutes into trying to blow up your tyres post-puncture, somewhere on the Col de Storakaig. Almost, but not quite. There is however, plenty of room for quite a substantial lunch, while still leaving space for a couple of tubes and assorted snacks, soft drinks and sticky concoctions. This is important for Fat Lads.
"I have now proudly worn this splendid garment for several hundred miles of what passes for road out here on cycling's nether regions. Given this experience I would not like to claim it is overly warm. The summer this year has been but a couple of notches to the starboard of gruesome up here, and it's mostly been necessary to wear a couple of layers underneath it to fend off the shivers. Not always with total success, but that is hardly a criticism. Not everyone has to deal with summer temperatures that remain resolutely in single figures, while kicking into forty mile an hour winds. A true winter jacket it is not.
"But it is very comfortable. The fit is suitably generous and yet it looks, as well as feels, very cool. It radiates quality and I like it very much. It has very quickly established itself as my outer layer of choice. In summer. Incidentally, the rear of the garment is dominated by a huge logo declaring that the wearer is the 'Lanterne Rouge'. I am proud to say that I have no idea what this means, but I must remember to ask my Directeur Sportif for a translation next time I see him.
"He is usually somewhere up front."
Lord Carlos of Mercian.
a fat lad at the back long-sleeve 'lanterne rouge' jersey will set you back a less than demanding £59.99. for obvious reasons, it is only available in the red/black colourway as reviewed but is available in chest sizes 40, 44 and 46.
sunday 21 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................