the taxi arrived early; almost ten minutes early, to be precise. in my experience, that's most unusual, but a state of affairs not only to be welcomed but encouraged. our transfer to the station was therefore completed in timeous fashion, allowing peaceful negotiation of the stairs leading to and from the underpass reaching platform two. this was important, for with daughter and grandson in tow, travel was no longer open to last-minute rush.
the illuminated notice midway down the platform attested to our being correctly positioned: 12:30 glasgow central, calling solely at carlisle, and then a plethora of alphabet letters pertaining to the eleven coaches and their relative placement along the station platform. brief perusal confirmed that we were sitting at the correct point. however, as i moved our bags into a strategic situation for boarding, i noticed another set of numbers to the right of the sign: 13:18, headed by the word ÕexpectedÕ.
it turned out that despite the train running 51 minutes late, an announcement detailing this was not made until 13:00. service with a smile. i transferred the bags back to the platform seat, and my daughter entered the waiting room to feed my grandson.
the virgin pendolino did indeed announce its presence at 13:20, but only after two further broadcast statements when the automated female announcer intimated just how extremely sorry she was that our train had been subject to such a serious delay. once on board, having found our reserved seats and transferred all the associated paraphernalia that travels with a four month-old baby boy, it would be something of an understatement to say we were disappointed to hear that our once glasgow-bound train was now going to terminate at carlisle. due to arrive at platform three we would need to disembark with all our accoutrements and make our way to platform one to await another train heading for glasgow central station.
this too was also running almost twenty minutes late. (i should point out that neither virgin trains, nor network rail were in any way to blame for the foregoing. the delays were the result of a fatal incident at milton keynes earlier in the day)
when rapha designed their transfer jacket and allied transfer gilet, i seriously doubt they had the iniquities of network rail and virgin trains in mind. or maybe they did, for the jacket in particular is one of the very best cycling-related, yet not entirely velocipedinal i have had the good fortune to come across. with an outer shell made from apparently very unfashionable nylon, its sole purpose in life is to be light, practical and comfortingly warm, doing so by sandwiching a primaloft one filling between the nylon outer and polyester inner. while various stages in my eventful journey home (subsequent bus and ferry journies) brought me into contact with several individuals clad in the equivalent of sleeved sleeping bags or duvets, the transfer jacket, with its thermoroubaix side-panels embodies comfort and a delightful lightness of being.
common lore would have it that a cup of tea offers the versatility to keep us warm in winter and cool in summer. i cannot testify to the veracity of that one, but this bright orange brainchild of perren street certainly comes close to emulating that feature. during a week of temperatures that hovered around the zero mark, that primaloft filling did everything it promised, yet even when sitting indoors for a brief moment in time, there was no overweening need to remove the jacket. it is the veritable shizznitz. and to bring in the transfer gilet for just a glorious moment, while witnessing an early evening firework display in sub-zero temperatures, wearing a blue gilet under an orange jacket (complementary colours no less) is the very physical definition of the word toastie.
it also amply demonstrated that the jacket is more than accommodating of a gilet without turning the wearer into a verisimilitude of the michelin man or in any way restricting regular movement. you could cycle dressed like that.
yet while the jacket shouts its colour, it keeps almost clandestine its cycling heritage. the collar is lined with soft fuzzy tricot, as are both front pockets and the adjustable dropped hem. the wide rear pocket, which apparently doubles as a storage pouch has a flap over the zip in order to pretend itÕs not really there. thereÕs also a zipped inner pocket behind the water-resistant full-length front zip, but hereÕs where i find the only real glitch in raphaÕs attention to detail. the zips on both front pockets feature ÔoÕ rings to ease opening and closing even with gloved hands. same goes for the front zip and even that on the inner pocket. yet the hardest zip to manage, on that wide rear pocket, is bereft of this feature.
this also applies to the (closer-fitting) gilet, though it has no inner pocket. in fact, on cool but less than freezing days, the gilet was perfectly adequate for mere perambulation, a factor probably multiplied when cycling. iÕm enough of a cycling obsessive to realise that the transfer epithet alludes to those annoying kilometres between stage finishes and the team hotel, particularly when competing in the spring classics where atmospheric warmth may be in short supply. however, while we may all see this as a part of our birthright, right up there with sir brailsford having our numbers on speed-dial, in truth, few of us will ever find ourselves in anything close to these circumstances. in fact, the majority of us donÕt even race, so one has to query just who rapha were looking at when they added the transfer jacket and gilet to the online shop.
all of us.
itÕs all well and good to be clad head to toe in rapha for the duration of our cycling escapades, and nothing at all unseemly to wish to continue that sartorial experience when the ride ends. the same attention to detail and design acumen is every bit at home in the day to day as it is in the saddle. and if itÕs going to be the long, cold, lonely winter that the press have presaged, i see nothing wrong with keeping warm in style, one that easily transfers to the bicycle if and when necessary.
if you, as do i, live on the outer edge, iÕd advise choosing the orange jacket. if you have to ditch in the sea, the helicopters will find us first.
rapha's transfer jacket retails at £190 in both orange and black. sizes range from xs to xxl. the transfer gilet costs £150 and can be had in bright blue and black in the same sizes as the jacket.
friday 29 november 2013