i get the reflective thing. festoon a regular jacket or jersey with patches of reflective material and should the owner find it necessary to ride out after dark, car headlights will pretty much do the rest. but, if you are of the same mindset as yours truly, you may more than occasionally be left wondering whether the individual responsible for designing the darts, squiggles, blobs or lines of reflective material might also double as the building janitor. for rarely, in my experience, does there seem to be rhyme nor reason applied to either style or positioning.
granted, there probably is some logic behind where the scotchlite detailing is placed; there really would be little point in placing too many, if any at all, on the front of a jersey or jacket. that would simply be a tad superfluous. and it would be a remissive purveyor of after dark clothing indeed who didn't make at least a few checks on whether the reflective detailing was visible when caught in car headlights.
but that still leaves the uncomfortable fact that, despite the hours of research and development put into the styling of the garments themselves, the reflective bits resemble little more than an afterthought. before you accuse me of unbridled superficiality, i must hold my hand up and admit to being guilty as charged. however, that doesn't minimise the irritation factor of riding behind lord carlos staring at an inexplicable series of dots applied to the hem of his waterproof jacket.
thankfully, this is not a universal travesty and i live in hope that now that the chain has been broken (so to speak), others will follow suit with ever more imaginative graphics. for the inestimable folks at portland's showers pass have brought to market their atlas jacket, deftly screen-printed with reflective street maps of eleven international cities (yes, in true spinal tap fashion, it goes up to eleven) renowned for their cycling culture. and though the pattern continues onto the jacket front, in this case, there's a very good reason for that; continuity.
this is not a jacket geared towards pelotonic activity, far more pointed in the direction of the intrepid commuter who might have need of wearing it over more than a merino baselayer and a polyester jersey. as well as wearing it on my recent frequent trips to ardbeg distillery, i have taken to wearing it to work each day, where its decorative appliqué has elicited a greater than usual admiration from my non-cycling colleagues.
however, no matter the coolness factor engendered by the atlas jacket, all would be of little consequence were it not to confer at least one or two practical benefits upon the wearer. in true showers pass style, as you would expect, the waterproofing is darned near second to none. i cannot claim to have been caught in a thunderstorm of biblical proportions, but at least one return journey from the ancestral home was inflected with the sort of heavy showers that a fellow has need of being prepared for. with a tall collar, velcro adjustable cuffs and a detachable hood (which is big enough to fit over a cycle helmet), there is litte opportunity for precipitation to make its way past the hardshell outer.
as cyclists, we are all more than well aware that the downside to impeccable waterproofing is often a propensity to become a boil-in-the-bag velocipedinist through less than adequate breathability. the showers pass boffins have not forgotten us in this respect. aside from being constructed from a three-layer breathable fabric, there are two almost full length taped zips, one each side of the main zip, that augment the jacket's inherent breathability. the adjustable cuffs can also aid the breathability should your exertions prove to be over and above the norm.
pocket space has also been carefully considered. there's a vertically zipped chest pocket and two zipped front hand pockets as well as a mesh internal pocket where i've decided to keep my permanently empty wallet. i cannot deny that at least one rear pocket would have been welcome (if only to carry a mini-pump), but that may have been seen as heading slightly too far towards the racing milieu.
as can be seen from the accompanying images, the reflective street maps would be hard to avoid in evening traffic, but even in broad daylight, their apparently abstract design is most pleasing to the eye as well as rather a fine conversation piece. unfortunately, i am insufficiently well acquainted with the topography of those eleven cities to distinguish one from the other. still, those riding behind me after dark will have plenty to keep themselves occupied.
the showers pass atlas jacket is available in grey with reflective appliqué in sizes small, medium, large and extra-large at a price of £210.
monday 13 march 2017..........................................................................................................................................................................................................