it's a lesson often learned the hard way, or at least it was for me, and the even harder part was that it took me far more years than strictly necessary or prudent to learn. any drummers amongst my audience will either offer murmurs of corroboration, or sniggers of derision, depending on how long the same situation evaded them. some may still be drumming in blissful ignorance. no doubt the same conundrum is a part of other strains of civilisation, but not being that civilised, one can only wonder.
the situation is this: when drum sets are photographed for the purposes of catalogues or websites, there's a strong likelihood, borne out by experience, that neither the photographer nor his/her assistant have any real affinity with drumming, other than being able to tell you that ringo starr occupied that chair in the beatles, and perhaps owning a copy of cozy powell's dance with the devil. thus. when setting up those delectable pieces of wood and metal into an array that will undoubtedly sell the whole package, the notion of ergonomics is unlikely to have been taken into account. the prospective purchases of said kit would likely need to be ambidextrous to an unhealthy degree, as well as in possession of asymmetric skeletal features.
of course, it will do my street credibility no good at all to admit that on receiving my first drum set many, many years ago, i was unaware that there was a pedal with which to play that big drum in the middle, nor that it should have been clamped to same. this readily explained why the pedal kept falling over. but it was the catalogue photographs that were the only hint and assistance the newbie buddy rich had to aid the setup of the percussive agglomeration, often resulting in a cymbal that required hailing a taxi to reach, and a hi-hat pedal that was most certainly not anywhere near the foot required to play it.
nowadays, the advent of both the interweb and a plethora of dvds are available to point the apprentice percussionist on the right track, thus saving their musclature from major creaking as they enter their forties. to a certain extent, those of us in the cycling fraternity suffer from a similar ailment: that of the publicity or review photograph. i can place this in a realistic timeline for you to illustrate that of which i speak. having received a long-sleeve, merino wool swobo jersey for review, the onus is placed upon the reviewer (me) to put the jersey through its paces in the raw, so to speak. certainly for photographic purposes, you would be less than impressed to see yours truly strike an aggressive pose with cappuccino in hand, dressed to the nines with waterproof jacket, woolly hat and neckwarmer, with only the assurance that underneath this outer shell was the swobo jersey. because i might be telling fibs.
but yet, were you to have purchased your very own swobo merino wool jersey, and been subjected to the rather unexpected heavy snowshower that met me on the way to debbie's this morning, you too would have been dressed in similarly protective manner. and rightly so. the upshot of this is, of course, the realisation that reviewing and testing an item of apparel often necessitates circumstances other than those proudly displayed in the adverts. because, in similar manner to those photographing drum sets, there's a strong possibility that neither the model nor the photographer would know a derailleur from a headset. surely no-one believes that the rather attractive girl in the assos advertisements really cycles around with her hands over her boobs when wearing bibtights? or that her male companion has an upper body matched by any cyclist we're likely to meet in the real world?
under the present weather conditions (it is still winter, after all), this particular swobo jersey has received the gamut of sartorial conditioning to which it may have to become accustomed. the initial ride was carried out as a deed of bravery, since the ambient temperature had yet to reach zero, and my reviewer's mind was still clouded by the thought of those catalogue pictures. how could i conscientiously review any jersey while it was buried under a couple of other layers? how would i know whether this played to its strengths or not? forty-five kilometres is, i feel, a reasonable distance to pedal in the cold with merely a gilet as a safety net in case the merino did not live up to its promise.
i cannot tell a lie; the jersey was a lot warmer than the thickness of its merino promised. this particular strain of wool has rapidly become a mainstay of the cycling world where 70kph sprints do not feature heavily. it is highly comforting to be sat on the comfy couch at our local java hostelry, looking like a cyclist and not like an advertising hoarding. the sort of garment that could cheerfully be retained at point of arrival without taking on the appearance of a sore thumb. the swobo jersey almost manages to slip into naomi klein mode (no logo), but for the embroidered appearance of the familiar trademark on the left upper arm. and nicely drop-shadowed it is too. the cranberry red colour finds great favour with its wearer, and exudes a degree of quality that its manufacture is happy to live up to.
cuffs and collar are ribbed, the latter being of appropriate height for this time of year and weather, while the front bears a half-length zip, should exertion ever get the better of the incumbent cyclist. body length is good and the fit even better; the jersey is nicely tailored to flatter the apprentice athlete and the seams flatlocked for comfort. always the first thing i look for in a jersey of any ilk, the sleeves are generous in length, contributing to a lack of cold draughts at the wrist junction. disappointingly, the uci mandatory zipped pocket is conspicuous by its absence, but the three rear pockets feature elasticated tops, something you don't see on many jerseys these days. two loaves of bread, a roundel of brie and a container load of inner tubes would be comfortably ensconced within.
wool as a jersey fabric was once considered retro in appearance, and may still be thought thus in some circles, but its growing ubiquity amongst the non-racing fraternity means that it straddles the divide between the latter and modernity with aplomb. the merino of the swobo, while being warmer in appreciation than anticipated, is of a relatively thin knit, meaning that there is no untoward bulk when worn other than as the publicists would have it. a ride in shivering sub-zero temperatures acquitted it well as part of a layered approach to warmth on the bicycle, and it is here that the jersey displays its considerable strengths and versatility.
few of us acquire separate items of cycling apparel to cater for each invasion of fortitude that may get in our way. a jersey that can hold its own, when combined with other wardrobe inhabitants, is worth its weight in coffee beans, and we laugh in the face of contrived publicity photos and inorganically arranged drum kits.
as steve jobs used to say think different (even though such a statement is grammatically incorrect).
the swobo long-sleeve merino jersey is available from urban hunter at the very reasonable cost of £89.95, and is also available in black.
posted saturday 20 february 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................