maybe it's only happening here, or maybe it's global warming, but there seems to be no consistency to either the weather or temperature over the past month or so. there's a definite difference in the ambient climate between this rock on the atlantic edge, and the streets around earls court, measured on the baselayer and cycle jersey scale. can i just put it in perspective: you need more than a baselayer by the time you reach glasgow. or, then again, not.
this weekend past, the temperature was in cycle jersey range, comfortably topped with a softshell. we were verging on the need for roubaix lined tights, but in the interests of being brian smith, such were eschewed in favour of bib threequarters. lets face it, there's not much in the way of cold affected material around the lower shins.
but there's no real shame in just a modicum of insurance by having the socks rise up to meet the lower elastic gloop of the threequarters, and even less in making those of the thermal variety. in this case the comfy foot covers are one of the latest offerings from prendas, cast lovingly from thermolite, but with reinforcements. with no word of a lie, the thermolite fibres are based on polar bear fur; they're hollow. by providing us with all this nothingness, the fibres are lighter while still keeping those tootsies warm, all the way up and beyond the ankle. though not quite in the lance armstrong class of long, these are longer than the whippet versions we'd wear in the summer, thus minimising that area of bare shin and steel-like calf muscle.
the light grey panel on the top strengthens the area where the tongue of the shoe would generally abrade, and both toes and heel are visually stronger than the rest of the sock. although it sounds like a bit of a joke, the socks are marked right and left, possibly very handy after a podium lubricated with some of those belgian beers, but adhered to nonetheless. strangely i have never felt brave enough to road test a pair of marked socks on the wrong feet. maybe one of these days.
thermolite has an imposing degree of cushioning, doubtless provided by those hollow fibres, a welcome affectation on a lengthy(ish) bike ride in the cold. despite the rain and excess of surface water, i left the overshoes at home; those would have skewed the degree of warmth provided by the socks alone. if socks are offered as a barrier against chilly feet, it seems only prudent that this be checked in isolation. the prendas thermolites made a more than noticeable difference to my bike ride; it's not uncommon for top and tail to be comfortably temperate, while the feet are left out of the equation. not anymore.
of course, as alluded to in the opening of this chapter of washingmachinepost life, just as quickly as the lower temperatures arrived, they moved on to somewhere else, to be replaced by more mercury in the thermometer. it's a real dilemma, planning a uniform for the morrow based on the cast-off suit of today, a knack i have yet to nail properly. if you're warm within the first 6km, then you are likely overdressed, a situation i have found myself in all too often of late. however, having noticed that today was of a milder disposition, entirely unsuited to left and right thermolite socks, it was a simple wardrobe choice to opt for prendas thermo cool/coolmax socks; less polar bear, more koala i suppose. with the ventilation applied to modern day cycle shoes, it's a great help to have a second line of defence that isn't trying to microwave ten toes. these are not quite as long as the thermolites, but still as black with the prendas logo on both sides of the ankle ribbing. and even though prendas advise that these are ideal for those who race in the winter, it is perhaps better to adhere to sartorial guidelines: black socks only when training - i'll be watching.
if we not unnaturally assume that the springing back and forward of temperatures is likely to continue as the arctic ice recedes, and the north east passage becomes a navigable waterway, no longer will the choice of one pair of winter socks be the only option. at a cost of only £7.95 a pair, several pairs of each ought to be well within the reach of even a pro continental rider.
posted thursday 15 october 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................