apparently a change is as good as a rest: when the sunday ride is over, having divested oneself of the neoprene overshoes, gloves, helmet, and possibly a gentleman's cap or merino hat (this is entirely season dependent, so we're working on the delete as applicable routine here), it's an often weary climb up the stairs for a welcome hot shower. of course, prior to this, unless it was a really tiring ride, all the other stuff has to come off too, and will be lying in an unkempt pile on the bathroom floor. then it's back to civvies.
either by choice or by design, that change of clothing will likely not be into items produced by the same manufacturer of the stuff you just cycled in. this is certainly an area showing a lot of change, since many more folks are using the bicycle as a regular form of transport, and as such, are far less likely to follow the lead of the weekend warrior and change at every turn. tell me the motorist who arrives at work, or leaves for same, and carries a change of clothing (well, ok, perhaps jenson button, but we're on a different level at this point)? it may be pertinent to change from relatively tight fitting garments into something less clingy and wind resistant, unless you spend much time with the office window open. but assuming you like the cut of the supplier's jib, perhaps the option to slip into something just as comfortable, and with the same logo embroidered about your person is one not to be passed up.
perren street is slap bang in the urban atmosphere that is kentish town in london, and judging by the number of bicycles racked on the top floor, a substantial proportion of the workforce move to and from imperial works on bicycles, thus experiencing the very same notions, desires and needs as those of us out in the sticks. granted sitting in front of an imac in threequarter bibshorts and a red long-sleeve jersey is considerably less likely to be frowned upon by the management, but it's nice to leave something for those more competitive or training moments.
enter the rapha bomber jacket
cut shorter about the body than its companions in the jacket range and without so much as the hint of a rear pocket, the bomber jacket is just as at home on two wheels as a red softshell, but cut more elegantly for day to day use, should it be necessary to spend some time on foot or coffee shop couch during the working day. and entirely unlike any other rapha top, this one has two zipped front pockets, the right one a smidgeon smaller than the left due to the offsetting of the full length zip. rapha mentioned a large inner pocket that could all but swallow an ordnance survey map (or a large version of the london underground directions), but so well concealed was this, that i almost had to call in a private detective.
the access zip for this pocket of pockets is concealed alongside the left of the jacket zip, and still accessible even when the jacket is fully sealed against the elements. inside, it has a neatly embroidered slot from which an ipod headphone cable might head in the direction of your ears, aided by carefully positioned loops to stop it wandering all over the inside of the jacket. there's thoughfully placed orange windproof lining contrasting with the almost ardbeg green of the cordura jacket. the shoulders are of toughened fabric to withstand any musettes, backpacks that might carry a laptop or such. the main body takes a marker from the fixed shorts, featuring schoeller 3xdry. it's comfortable, breathable and highly weatherproof. the hem and collar have ribbed panels for fit and style, and the shoulders have been articulated for reach should your choice of bike equal that of the company colnago.
the sleeves are of commendable length: as i tirelessly repeat, i've got long arms, so even stretching to the ergo levers at the full stretch of a 130mm carbon stem, the ribbed cuffs still overlapped the bottom of a pair of track mitts. clever thinking pervades the heady atmosphere of imperial works: at the cuff end of the right sleeve is yet another concealed, zipped pocket, but this time enclosing a short lanyard capable of hanging tightly onto a set of keys. mrs washingmachinepost has a habit of locking the front door of washingmachinepost towers even if simply popping round to the post office, and hunting for keys is not my favourite pastime. sorted. concomitantly, if your abode or workplace is in a less secure environment than this island idyll, it's easily one of the most practical locations to secrete the key for a u-lock.
so it's a stylish garment, a description that is highly resistant to wayward criticism, but aside from wandering down to shore street for saturday's guardian, where it blended in to my less than urban habitat, does it cut the mustard (strange expression don't you think?) on the brooks saddle? well, yes it does, and it does it very well. i managed a cycle of over 20km on a cold but sunny day, replete with filled backpack and wearing a pair of rapha's recently released trousers; no discomfort, no real swot and hettyness, and most importantly of all, no feeling of restrictive practices.
in short, rapha have managed to maintain outstanding design, quality and cycling relevance as their range continues a divergance of styles demanded by the increased use of the bicycle, and not just for the tour of flanders sportive or the rapha gentlemen's race. it would likely have shown itself well at yesterday's chris king gourmet ride though.
bradley wiggins would likely approve
the rapha bomber jacket is available in green only, in sizes from xs to xxl at a cost of £210 ($290). it should last for years, and wear in nicely.
posted sunday 17 october 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................