several years ago, i had the excellent fortune to cycle out to club headquarters at ardbeg distillery, on a sunny saturday in may to take photographs of whisky enthusiasts milling about the still room, old kiln cafe, washbacks and warehouses many intent on spending ludicrous amounts of money on bottles of the amber nectar specifically produced for that very day. many of them had spent the preceding seven days doing exactly the same at islay and jura's other distilleries. if middle-aged men in lycra can be readily accused of disposing of their excess income on carbon and sportwool, then the world's whisky enthusiasts in their hundreds could probably outdo mamils without troubling their card limits.
however, wishing to fly the flag, so to speak, i sped my way southwards clad in ardbeg jersey, ardbeg socks, an unfortunately shiny pair of bibshorts, and knee-warmers that i had hoped would keep the skin quotient to a minimum. as i'm sure you will agree, dressed thus i presented the verisimilitude of a member of the professional peloton, an image that all but disappeared after climbing from the colnago and donning a pair of converse all-stars. cleated road shoes and still room stairways are not good bedfellows. though the intention had been to blend in (i know; what was i thinking?) with the assembled ardbegians, in point of fact i could not have been more prominent had i been using a race radio in the uci building.
in retrospect, could i not have been more sartorially quiet? after all, the idea was to photograph the milling crowds, not to have them photograph me (oh yes, it happened).
a bit like learning not to play every fill in the book when sat behind the drumset, it has taken a long while to realise that, in polite company, not everyone is mightily impressed by a skinny bloke with ponytail, dressed as an advertising hoarding (actually i prefer the word slim but it failed to have what i felt was an appropriate mental picture). it may well be that the pelotonese gathered round corner table, seated on the sofa at debbie's, feel themselves to be the coolest thing since sliced bread - and who's to say we're not - but take the wannabe out of the agglomoration, and suddenly...
happily, there are those who either have sussed this predicament from afar, or whose modus operandi does not encompass lycra, and who offer a more appropriate mode of apparel. the simplicity in this equation, would that it were so, is in recognising one's dilemma. and subsequently doing something about it. this is not to dismiss the team strip; it has its place in society, but i now know that this place is not standing around like an obvious spare part in the courtyard at ardbeg distillery.
there is an ever-increasing number of cycling apparel providers intent on saving my world. some you will already know, some you've perhaps never heard of. i'd be lying if i said new york's outlier was a secret up till now. my erstwhile opposite number in san jose, michael robertson at velodramatic recently reviewed a rather fetching shirt from their range, and i have now threatened to enter photoshop mode and combine his upper half with my lower limbs (i believe the correct term is mashup. in this case, those undeniably friendly people at london's tokyo fixed were kind enough to send me a pair of outlier's four season og pants in order that i travel almost incognito, looking for all the world like a normal person (who sniggered?). not only would you never, ever guess at my secret identity, but this is some of the most technically advanced legwear you are liable to find anywhere. i am surprised not to have been asked to sign a non disclosure agreement prior to opening the package.
while the carbon layer-uppers in taiwan, responding to the beat of their finite element analysis are fixated on stiffness in every direction, the og pants stretch in trajectories you would not have considered possible. this is not to ascribe noodle qualities to your prospective sartorial elegance; walking to the office, the newsagent, the holy coo bistro to avail one's self of a takeaway soya cappuccino, their light, flexible approach to life imparts a relaxed gait to the off-duty cyclist. but tuck the right leg into an embrocation magazine sock, don rainjacket, gloves and helmet and the flavour of cycling huddles together underneath.
they are, to all intents and purposes, self-cleaning, coated with schoeller's nanosphere, a coating that is on constant standby to repel all boarders. though not waterproof, they are decidedly water-resistant (a tad more so than promised believe it or not) and when imbued with more precipitation than is truly necessary, they dry remarkably quickly with little outside assistance. though it was necessary to gird my nether regions with appropriately padded underwear, the cut of their jib is honed to that of the cyclist, and that stretchiness to which i earlier referred truly comes into its own when overtaking cars down uiskentuie strand.
there really is no point in the prevention of water ingress if an exothermic reaction is taking place underneath. while they are remarkably windproof (a major requirement on atlantic shores), the breathability is commendable; damp patches on the knees are so unseemly and a dead giveaway when sitting on the coffee shop sofa. unless i have been so obvious to leave the helmet on the table.
fastening is by means of a metal hook and loop with an inner button fastening that i found too much of a footer to employ. there are two deep front pockets, and two rear pockets with loop over button fastening. the 30" waist version reviewed were, to be honest, a smidgeon too long in the leg, needing to be turned up to work their magic. that cannot be unfairly levelled against them, since i find that to be a feature of almost every pair of trousers i own. i think it would be marginally more in keeping with their level of sartorial elegance if there were some other way of keeping the right leg from the eager grasp of spinning chainrings than tucking into a sock, but again, few others seem to take the trouble to do likewise.
i have a feeling these would not be first choice if attending a rush or motorhead concert, but then not too many of you would likely cycle to such events. however, if i am required to visit ardbeg distillery on may 28th this year, these will be washed, pressed and ready to subtly impress.
the ultimate compliment would be if nobody noticed.
outlier's four season og pants are available from tokyo fixed gear in black, slate grey (reviewed) and blue, waist sizes 30, 31, 32 and 34 for the outstandingly reasonable price of £135. for those across the pond, you can purchase direct from the outlier website for $188
posted wednesday 9th february 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................