there's a gent in the village who's been here for a number of years, yet seems not to have quite fitted into what might be termed the local groove. don't get me wrong; he's affable enough in a curt sort of a way, but he's the only bloke i know who still wears a long trench coat in winter. while to most of you this may not seem even close to aberrant behaviour, it's worth my pointing out that nobody, but nobody wears full length coats on islay (though there may have been the odd one or two during the goth period). it's the wind wot does it.
the rest of us all wear jackets (this only concerns the male population; islay women seemingly have little idea of sartorial presence).
i cannot claim total immunity from this deviation. having failed to even grasp the basic rudiments of the gaelic language and failed miserably to recognise any birdlife other than the ubiquitous barnacle goose, i attempted to reclaim some degree of locality by purchasing a waxed cotton jacket (yes, even worn while cycling) and even a similarly constituted cap. not of the cycling variety i might point out. heaven knows what i must have looked like; i'm sure that rather than seamlessly fitting in, i likely stood out like a sore, waxed cotton thumb.
this bears velocipedinal comparison. the act of cycling in the uk, prince bradley notwithstanding, is still seen as something of an eccentric activity, particularly in the light of the clothing most of us are (seemingly) happy to wear. the happy factor appending to this state of affairs is that cycling's sartorial rules, despite what you may think, are comparably lax. no matter the label affixed to the inside of the jacket or the logo applied to the leg of your bibshorts/bibtights, the very fact that we are dressed thus, automatically singles us out as members of the pelotonese. however, as with waxed cotton jackets, some are substantially better than others.
and if i may carefully reprise a portion of my opening gambit, the wind has a great deal to do with the perceived quality of any item of cycling apparel, particularly the jacket. and it is noticeable that cycle clothing has evolved to a level where the full panoply of jackets occupies that of speciality. for we are incredibly well supplied with waterproof stuff-jackets, water-resistant softshells, fully waterproof hardshells and those that offer at least minimal shelter from precipitation but full shielding from the wind. that's without even considering the varying levels of cosy insulation on offer.
the latter is a fabulously impressive factor in mavic's cosmic windjacket, apparently constructed from three different fabrics with an exterior windshell, a breathable membrane and a fleecy inner that extends all the way down each sleeve. in fact, had i realised that on my initial outing, i'd have been happy with a short-sleeve baselayer rather than the long-sleeve i wore instead. while the breathability is every bit as good as any comparable jacket, it's easily warm enough to wear with baselayer only, even in relatively cold weather.
those cosy sleeves are of an impressive length, ending in mavic's ergo cuffs which succeed in clinging closely to the wrist in order to keep the cold at bay. perhaps its most eccentric visual oddity is the full-length zip that begins in the middle of the hem, but wends its way gracefully towards the left shoulder. the fact that the zip ends in a zip garage as part of that high collar is perhaps unremarkable in itself, but starting in one seems wholly unnecessary and a bit of a footer, if i'm honest.
and while we're on the subject of zips, there's an almost full width version closing an internally portioned rear pocket, the tag of which features a pull-toggle to simplify use when riding the bike. sadly, the front zip does not possess this feature, nor is there provision for an after-market remedy. that makes life a tad more awkward when riding with gloved hands, if unzipping is deemed necessary for aerodynamic cooling. a minor detail, but...
having been inadvertantly caught in heavy rain on my way home from froth supping one saturday, i had rather resigned myself to reaching the croft a trifle damp inside. for though the cosmic jacket advertises itself as water-resistant, a lack of any taped seams seemed likely to expose its limitations in the face of a downpour. however, i'm happy to relate that those water droplets bobbled delightfully on the jacket's surface and my insides (so to speak) were nice and dry.
overall, the cosmic wind jacket is a substantially versatile item of cycling apparel, more than i'd have figured when formally introduced. come 1 january, when the jlt condor team put away their current-day clothing in the cycling wardrobe, this is one item of mavic clothing that will cheerfully see them through the rest of the winter.
thanks to mavic's michel lethenet and claire beaumont of condor cycles for assistance with this review. the cosmic jacket retails at £170.
wednesday 17 december 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................