the traditional method of reaching the centre of scotland, a town we like to call glasgow, is to leave islay by means of the regular calmac ferry service to kennacraig, wait around half an hour in the glorious sunshine (a little hebridean humour there) and clamber aboard the citylink bus to buchanan bus station. the latter can be as cheap as ten pounds return if you book online reasonably well in advance which, for a round trip of about 250 miles, is pretty cheap. however, working on the principle that not everyone will have had time or the memory to book the bus, a short distance into the ferry trip, calmac announce that all those intending forward travel by bus to glasgow should call at the purser's office to intimate same.
it's a feature not a bug, so those of us who do this with any regularity wander halfway into the hallway between cafeteria and lounge, catch the eye of the purser and as politely as possible, raise the appropriate number of fingers to indicate intending passengers. on my last trip on friday morning, slightly more steps were required because an erstwhile visitor to the isle had engaged the hapless chap in conversation. this revolved round the fact that the woman and her family had already booked their bus places and was now somewhat concerned that she was being asked to confirm this fact.
as the gentleman at the time was endeavouring to explain, it was possible that there would be more passenegers for the service than anticipated by citylink, so it may be necessary to apportion a second coach to take up the slack. while standing patiently waiting to advise the purser of the fact that my son and i would be occupying two seats on the bus, i was aware of two cyclists rather aimlessly wandering around the open space. how did i know they were cyclists? well, they were dressed in the archetypal uniform seemingly beloved of touring cyclists everywhere, the fluorescent yellow waterproof jacket, one of which rather strangely had the oily imprint of two chainrings on the back, while the other was simply existing in the indescribable shade of yellow that fluorescence seems to turn after several years of fending off the elements.
as bowmore's resident cycling style guru (more of that hebridean humour), i have to ask the rhetorical question as to why anyone would wish to be seen in one of these jackets? though the brand was easily recognisable on the front of each, i will spare corporate blushes by keeping that information to myself. i leave myself wide-open to criticism in view of the following, because i do not have any need to ride in a busy urban setting, therefore visibility is not my primary concern. i have the extreme good luck to pedal in some of the most glorious landscape this side of easter island, through relatively sparse traffic. though there is little to be faulted in the way of being as visible as possible, nor is there any great disadvantage in being the man in black.
however, with improvements in the realms of rider visibility in the past decade or so, i see no compelling reason to look like a walls ice lolly on a dawes galaxy. it's a uniform, i'd tender, that has seen its day, allowing even the most uncaring of cycle tourists to appear more sartorially aware, even to the extent of not sticking out like several sore thumbs in the cottage restaurant. there would surely be little more enticing than leaving the phalanx of bicycles leaning against most of the wall-space in bowmore's main street, yet have the locals guessing where's wally on entering the premises.
though my words will probably fall on deaf ears, preach to the converted, or simply not make the cut at all, i think i may have the most elegantly pragmatic of solutions for those wishing or willing to transition between hideousness(ness) in the saddle and a position of poise and grace in sight of the civilian population. perhaps the best part of my solution is the continuation of an appropriate level of observability. the flashing red rear light has rather given credence to the fact that cyclists can be noticed via minimal levels of brightness. the occasional flash or sparkle could just as easily alert the soporific motorist as to your proximity, and this has arrived in the shape of a frighteningly bright pair of wool gloves manufactured by defeet for prendas ciclismo.
these particular examples really ought to come with a volume control.
even better is the practicality of my tentative suggestion. these are long fingered, bright yellow gloves with a grippy palm print of the prendas logo, meaning no hand slips even when wet, breathability that goretex would die for, and the cosiness that only long fingers can engender. aside from that, as confirmed roadies and thus owners of bendy bars, our constant movement between tops, hoods and drops provides a never ending, yet unforced series of ever-shifting hints of bright colour. that, in the words of jerry garcia, is where it's at dude.
woolly gloves are not waterproof, but then we never expected them to be in any case. what they did achieve that was somewhat unexpected, was a comfortable grip at any of the above mentioned points, as well as being ideal when it came to pressing tiny buttons on a lumix camera. the mix of coolmax, cordura and lycra makes them stunningly hard-wearing, and if i have a sinlge criticism it was a minor degree of chafing on the heel of my right hand. i should also point out, however, that this pretty much ameliorated after the first wash.
of course, i only tender the fluoro yellow as a specific solution to a particular problem; if you are less enamoured of the almost luminous colour, they can also be had in black, red or white. however, even if left to my own devices, i'd still have plumped for the yellow, even if it would blatantly identify me in the cottage restaurant or on a calmac ferry.
the prendas defeet wooly gloves retail from the prendas website for a mere £14.95 a pair (cheap enough for two pairs at a time), in all the previously stated colours in sizes from small to xl.
posted monday 16 april 2012...........................................................................................................................................................................................................