winter has quite a lot going for it, though you may find that hard to believe as the shorts and short sleeve jerseys are put away to hibernate until summer arrives next year. i always rather enjoy the fact that, despite wearing at least one layer more than i was in august, i can pedal just as hard, if not harder, without melting in the same way as the wicked witch in the wizard of oz. such are the mammoth steps taken by technical clothing these days, that breathability has been considerably downgraded in the problem stakes.
but personal attire aside, the landscape has changed considerably; here on the southernmost tip of the inner hebrides, the appellation, green, grassy islay has a ring of truth about it in the summer months, contributing to the island's reputation as a stalwart of agriculture. now most of the greenery has turned to brown and ochre, while the sheep are fluffy with wool rather than looking as if they'd been run over by a strimmer. and every birdwatcher's delight (seemingly), thousands of overwintering geese from greenland, fill most of the available gaps around the top of loch indaal, sounding much like lots of little dogs yapping in the distance. the downside is, of course, the likelihood, rare though it may be, of being spotted as they fly overhead for more grass munching.
that's the scenery; the weather of course is the principal factor influencing the apparel to be drawn from the cycling wardrobe. while southern england, at the time of writing, is being battered by high winds, presumably keeping even the most frenzied of cyclists indoors watching re-runs of the fausto coppi story on dvd, islay bears only its regular wind, a wind that we have to regard as an occupational hazard, otherwise there would be no need of winter clothing becasue we simply wouldn't go out. the favoured mainstay, apart from a decent pair of overshoes, is a good long sleeve-jersey.
having been introduced to the le col winter range through their bib tights and winter jacket, it was a continued pleasure to substitute a black sportwool jersey with soft fleecy stuff on the inside for that warm, comforting feeling before and during stepping out into wet and windy. in similar vein to that of the windproof winter jacket, the theme is black and gold, with the same style zip, to which my previous comments still apply, but also with that small touch of sophistication, embroidered wording on the left breast. behind this is a replica inner waterproof pocket as featured on the jacket, while the standard three rears are augmented by a mandatory zipped pocket outboard of the centre. the long sleeves are judged to perfection, meeting the cuffs of even a pair of track mitts, and leaving no gaps. not that today was a short fingered glove day.
the trademark triple stitching is in evidence on all seams, as are a number of gold coloured scotchlite reflective tabs and strips. for a winter jersey, i'd have preferred a slightly higher collar, but in view of the increasing amount of merino and cotton neckwarmers available these days, this is hardly of major concern. the fit is, as le col state on their website ultra-aero, meaning you might just have to spray it on. while the winter jacket supplied was a medium, the winter jersey is a large, and even then it's a very snug fit on my less than considerable frame. you may want to try before you buy.
this should not be taken to infer that the fit is in any way restrictive, indeed far from it, but if you take your cycling and/or training seriously, aerodynamics is bound to enter the fray at some point, and the lack of any flappy bits would mean that any lack of progress cannot be laid at the door of the le col jersey.
strictly speaking, le col are not positioning this jersey as an antidote to winter on its own: it's too light and not seriously windproof (though surprisingly more so than i expected), but it is warm and cosy, and can easily be worn in conjunction with a gilet (which le col also offer) or under an outer shell. its close fitting properties come into their own at this point, because wearing under an outer is happily bereft of the bulking that sometimes occurs with looser fitting garments. but assuming you don't have too many bulky bits of your own, one of the finest side effects of wearing a le col long sleeve jersey is that it makes you look about 5km per hour faster than you probably are. worth the price of admission alone.
real cyclists of course, will not have missed the point that probably the finest benefit of winter training and/or cycling, is that the cup of coffee supped at mid or end point, is eminently more satisfying (and warming) than on a comparable saturday earlier in the season.
the le col long sleeved jersey is fabricated in a mid-weight sportwool in sizes small through to xl, and retails at £130. it can be ordered direct from lecol.net and as mentioned above, it would likely be an idea to order a size bigger than usual
posted saturday 14 november 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................