despite the recent tack taken regarding the ability of apparel providers to keep cyclists dry, most of us will have one or two waterproof jackets in the wardrobe that we'd really rather wear as infrequently as as possible. these can range from the stowaway type of garment than can be stuffed in a rear pocket in case of inclement weather en-route, to the fully fledged, breathable waterproof jacket. in the case of the uk, there is probably call for both examples throughout the year, but at present, the latter probably sees more use than the former.
the single most remarked upon problem with both types of jacket, relates to an apparent diminution of their purported waterproofing qualities. to simplify, there are really only two distinct types of weatherproof jacket, if we accept as a given that all will be windproof throughout their working lives: water resistant and waterproof. unless a jacket or jersey features taped seams both inside and out, legally it cannot be advertised as waterproof, no matter the impermeability of its fabric. the iniquity of this situation is quite often realised in similar retail prices attached to both, despite the avowed superiority of one over the other.
however, no matter the original sales tag, it's a fact of life that any form of waterproofing seems destined to lessen and ultimately fail over the course of a few years or, in some cases, even months. to remedy this situation there are a number of products on sale that offer to restore the weatherproofing of any suitable garment. supermarket chain tesco are one such to do so, stocking their own-brand outdoor clothing wash and spray proofing. these are both sold in 500ml containers with one aiming to complement the other.
the clothing wash consists of a soap based detergent which cleans the garment(s) without damaging any waterproof layer, maintaining any existing waterproofing and breathability. tesco recommend cleaning out the detergent tray of your washing machine before pouring in a few capfuls of wash and running the recommended wash cycle. once the garments have been cleaned (a maximum of three at a time apparently), it's time to apply the spray.
this proved the more challenging of the two processes. having washed an original rapha softshell (i'd like to make it clear that this was not the recently released pro team softshell) which admittedly was only ever advertised by imperial works as being water resistant, i placed it on a coat-hanger and popped it on the washing line outdoors to commence spraying. it would appear this is almost a necessitous move since tesco recommend doing so in a well-ventilated area (the great outdoors suited the situation very well). it will surprise you very little to learn that this process was a bit more challenging than the directions perhaps envisaged due to the prevalent islay wind.
according to tesco, there is sufficient liquid to coat three garments, but i confess it was a really close call to manage that, before the spray ran out. it is apparently necessary to coat every square inch of the jacket(s) with the less than aromatic white liquid to achieve maximum effect before carrying it dripping into the kitchen for several minutes in a cool tumble-dry to activate the process. this latter stage obviously makes certain cycle garments unsuitable for the described process, as many instruction labels positively prohibit bring the clothing anywhere near a tumble dryer.
i popped the softshell jacket in for a cool tumble for about five minutes or so until relatively dry, before hanging over a clothes drier in the spare bedroom.
until yesterday, unbelievably, the inner hebrides has been bereft of any serious rain with which to test the veracity of the treatment. which is pretty much where extreme suffering for my art comes into play. sunday past opened with galeforce winds and freezing sleet driven into every crevice of whichever jacket i chose to wear. i cannot underestimate the inclemency of such conditions; by the time i returned home after only about 35km, i couldn't feel either my hands or feet, and was having difficulty talking with any hope of comprehension.
the tesco outdoor clothing spray purported to envelope my rapha softshell jacket in a durable waterproof layer that, rather tautologically, is said to repel water. unfortunately that turned out to be rather far from the truth. by the time i'd reached bridgend village, only 5km from home, the fabric of both sleeves was all but saturated, and by the time i met up with lord carlos at debbie's, i could feel that the sleety/rain had already permeated the long-sleeve jersey below.
due to the incessant wind and sleet, i opted to return home directly because i was now becoming very wet and very cold. by the time i entered the back door of the croft to mrs washingmachinepost's greeting of "so, you're just a fairweather cyclist now?", the softshell jacket was simply a heavy and thoroughly soaked garment. from having had high hopes of creating a formidable spray-on shield against the elements, i have had to reluctantly accept that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
i've tried to make logical excuses for such a wholesale failure; was it pointless to use a jacket that was never fully waterproof when new? did i fail to cover every square centimetre with the spray? did i not leave it in the tumble dryer for long enough? but surely even if i'd failed any of the above, there ought to have been some improvement in the waterpoofing?
ah well, you can't win 'em all.
monday 23 february 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................