the weather, as presently constituted, rather precludes the wearing of short-fingered cycling mitts. what the cognoscenti would rather erroneously refer to as track mitts. (mistakenly, because few of us ever ride track). the outer edges of hurricane gonzalo blew through a couple of days ago, cancelling all our ferries for the day and reputedly blustering across the cairngorms at 108 mph. since cycling wasn't even on the menu as far as the hebrides was concerned, i can't see that there would have been much pedalling in the cairngorms.
the lack of track mitts, only a few weeks after any strength of sun that might provide a bertie the accountant grand tour tan has gone for this year at least, removes the last subtle bastion of our secret society. many of us spend the summer months casually leaving the backs of our hands in view, eager that any other surreptitious lurking velocipedinists may recognise us as one of their own. such observable subtleties are not, however, confined to our own society.
recently (name dropping alert), when accompanying prince albert of monaco on a short ride between three of islay's distilleries, one of the staff at ardbeg asked the special branch officer in our company as to the significance of a small enamel pin badge on his lapel. apparently, when working in co-operation with other officers on a protection case, such as the one under discussion, these pin badges allow them to distinguish colleagues midst a throng of potential bad guys.
had she not asked, the rest of us would have been blissfully unaware of this alternative secret society. but now, i have taken to checking the lapels of any jacketed individual who looks as if he might be a secret agent. so i now wonder if there are members of the civilian population casting furtive glances at the back of my hands, just in order to check if i'm a cyclist or not.
i seriously doubt it.
however, for those not given to secretive sporting endeavour, particularly related to the cycling milieu, it may be more prudent to advertise such a state with a touch more flair and panache. a prendas ciclismo polo shirt, for instance. not only is the surname bartali writ large in blue embroidered script across the front. do not be mistaken, it is luxurious embroidery that looks quite fabulous in the flesh as opposed to the website photo. the blue colour is repeated in the collar and button section, while each sleeve features italian flavoured stripes.
according to mick and andy at dorset's finest, the polo shirt is inspired by the jersey as worn by the bartali cycling team of the early 1950s and the great gino bartali himself. granted, wearing one of these down to pretty much any pub in the country is more likey to elicit a "which team does he play for?" enquiry, but that only opens the door to a lengthy, yet highly interesting conversation in which you now have centre stage.
since everyone in great britain is now clearly aware of the tour de france, and most of northern ireland (and islay) educated on just what is meant by the giro d'italia, mentioning that gino won the former twice and the latter three times, as well as the italian national road race championship four times, ought to ingratiate you into the surrounding company of an evening. and all this from a single polo shirt.
should your largesse towards your fellow man know no bounds, there is also a green and red edition available bearing the embroidered legend legnano.
fashioned from heavyweight cotton, these would generally not be my first suggestion as active cycle clothing. cotton is rarely the ideal fabric to wear on the bike, but just to prove myself correct, i rode from bowmore to debbie's for a friday afternoon coffee, dressed thus and with a thermal jacket over the top. despite a continuing indian summer that offered a milder ambience than is normal for this time of year, not only was the bartali polo shirt comfort personified, but a lot less swot and hetty than i had convinced myself (and maybe you too) it would be.
mick and andy have just reduced the price of both the above mentioned polo shirts to a most satisfying £29.95, so nab one while they're still around. if not for you then as a christmas present for a favoured member of the pelotonese.
the prendas embroidered leisure polo shirts are available direct from the prendas website, in sizes ranging from xs to 4xl. it's worth dropping to a size lower than your regular cycling jersey size. i might also point out the superbness of prendas delvery service, one that has been praised not only by yours truly. this particular item was despatched from dorset on thursday morning and arrived on islay by friday lunchtime, tracked every inch of the way.
there are few who can provide that sort of service nowadays.
thursday 23 october 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................