at the risk of falling foul of the post astana licence brouhaha, the letters 'epo' have always been local shorthand for extra porage oats. however, availability of the very necessary large oats has been something of a wild goose chase ever since the upgrading of our local averagemarket. for many a long year, my daily ration of epo (with peach slices on top) has been met by a regular supply of scotts old fashioned prage oats a variety that is somewhat larger than their standard fare. while the local store was in the process of becoming bright and shiny, many products were removed from the shelves in order that the shopfitters might have room to manoeuvre.
unfortunately, several previously desirable items, such as litre bottles of san pellegrino, failed to return, another of which was the aforesaid porage oats. strangely, though both varieties of scotts oats were conspicuous by their absence, the diversity of instant porage products grew like wildfire, leaving only the store's own brand of regular oats available. unfortunately, when transformed into a hot breakfast cereal, the latter tastes like mush (with peach slices on top). so it was time to look elsewhere.
it is, therefore, not only fortunate, but highly convenient that debbie's stocks 3 kilogram bags of green city jumbo oats, a product that satisfactorily filled the empty space left by the lack of the scotts old-fashioned variety. of course (and you could probably see this coming), the vagaries of stock control in the averagemarket dictates that often, and without prior warning, products suddenly reappear on the shelves. which is precisely what happened with the old-fashioned porage oats. sadly, that has yet to happen with the san pellegrino.
now, however, after surviving on green city's offering for a month or so, i find that i'm less than impressed with those scotts oats.
so, while the availability of those 3kg bags at debbie's is highly fortuitous, they are also a tad further adrift than those in the store a few hundred metres down bowmore main street. this means that the only real means of transportation is by way of a cotton musette slung over one shoulder, in the process adding 3kg (almost half a stone) to my climbing weight. and legend would have it that the average grimpeur is marginally obsessed with losing rather than gaining weight.
with seriously perforated uppers, such is the mindset behind rapha's new climbers' cycle shoes, the size 42.5 weighing a scant 215 grams which really isn't very much at all. in fact, it's almost 100 grams less than the rapha gt shoes, and i can't say those feel too heavy on the feet. the worst part is an unhappy coincidence, for a pair of cycle shoes splattered with a myriad of tiny holes are not the footwear you want to be wearing in sub zero rain and hail. however, though it's december, it's not winter everywhere; rapha are quite well entrenched in the antipodes where this end of the year is an endless feast of sun, sea and sand. and come january, those three will be appended to by the tour down under.
i managed a few rides where i was able to show off their sky blue and white to the inhabitants of the isle who could truthfully care less. but more recent escapades have seen them covered by a pair of rapha winter overshoes. the perforated uppers are formed from a mesh-backed synthetic leather, joined to a giro engineered carbon sole, all of which eschews any excess weight. thus, even when climbing laden with an extra 3kg of jumbo porage oats, spinning those carefully honed leg muscles is accomplished with ease. the lack of foot weight is particularly noticeable, even by a lanterne rouge such as myself.
similar to both the gt shoes and rapha's recently reviewed cyclocross shoes, the climbers' shoes arrive with two sets of inserts allowing a fine tuning of the excellent fitted footbeds. and in common with the cyclocross and gt shoes, they're available in half sizes, meaning i could save a few extra grams by dropping from my more usual size 44 to a 43.5. and doing so also means i can comfortably live without either set of inserts. and for the chap on twitter who queried the validity of offering only velcro straps as a closure method rather than at least one alloy ratchet (as on their other two footwear offerings), the velcro is more than equal to the job of keeping the shoes firmly in place while climbing enthusiastically as well as transporting porage oats.
thankfully, rapha have not spent all their spare time removing unnecessary grams at the expense of comfort. in fact, despite their perforated svelteness, these shoes are easily amongst the most comfortable i've ridden, even without playing about with the inserts. the padding round the ankle offers not only an ideal level of support, but a padded support. so those explosive efforts on a 14% incline won't result in more pain than than engendered by the ascent in the first place.
my only query surrounds the perforated envelope incuded in the magnetically closed box. this contains a compact and bijou care and instruction manual and a white card emblazoned with several carefully considered logos. however, quite what i'm expected to do with this remains a complete mystery.
in the meantime, i've sat my bag of jumbo oats on it.
rapha climbers' shoes are available in blue/white (as reviewed), black/pink and white/grey in full and half sizes ranging from 39 to 46.5 and also in 47 and 48. cost is £280.
sunday 14 december 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................