i'm not sure if brian smith does quite as much bike riding these days as was once the case. looking after a squad that next year will comprise not only roger hammond in a team car, but mark cavendish on a cervelo (didn't think that would ever come to pass) probably doesn't allow for too many miles of solo riding. and with no disrespect intended to smiffy, popping out on a training run with the rest of the guys is likely only ever going to end in tears.
however, as a lad from paisley, he has the enviable hard man reputation of scotsmen to uphold at every juncture. if that's a statement that needs an underline, just think of the late ian steel, winner of arguably the hardest amateur race on the calendar; the peace race. and robert millar was no slouch either, come to that. brian's most obvious statement of intent was/is always to ride without gloves, whether the weather was bright and shiny or dark and gloomy. i have manfully attempted to follow in his tyre tracks in this respect, but i must lamentably declare my wimpishness; i like wearing gloves.
the mighty dave t is also of similar ilk. having spent an entire career that often demanded working outdoors in less than salubrious conditions, he'll still be wearing short finger track mitts while the rest of the velo club peloton is clad in duvets with fingers. despite his advancing years, we can still be put in our place.
though both gents offer much to which we might aspire, i am very much in favour of having just the right type of glove to hand (pardon the pun) for the sunday morning ride. and considering the lackadaisical manner in which my selection of gloves is stored, it behoves me well to look out a matching pair on the previous evening. keeping your team-mates waiting because you "couldn't find two gloves the same" does not go down well on a cold sunday morning in november. this is a choice or hunt made a smidgeon harder by the wide choice currently available to the pelotonese, a choice very recently joined by vulpine's new softshell gloves.
unfortunately, the generic word softshell has come to mean different things to different folks, but i'd say that vulpine's lstest offering pretty much encapsulates the genre in inimitable style. the all black gloves display most of the features that you'd hope for in a winter glove.
the suede palm offers excellent grip on the bars and brake hoods, yet is pliable enough not to offer the sensation of crushing cornflakes when reaching for the drops. the back of the thumb and forefinger are covered in a nice, soft fleecy material to prevent facial lacerations when necessarily wiping a runny nose, and there's a wide, dark grey panel across the knuckles that is highly reflective when seen with car headlights. there are a couple of smaller strips on forefinger and middle finger.
thus, in the dead of night and following the cyclists' code of clearly signalling in which direction you are about to turn, there will be no recourse to the oft repeated motorists' mantra sorry mate, i didn't see you.
with so many teenagers of all ages unable to ride more than a few metres without reaching for that smartphone, just to check stocks and shares as well as their facebook status, the pads on the fingers are able to easily manipulate any touchscreen you care to mention. personally this is a feature i have no specific need for, but it's nice to see the old folks catering for the young (yes, nick, i mean you).
the gloves offer a decent length of cuff that can snuggle inside that of a jacket sleeve, keeping draughts and gales at bay. and though the gloves are not lined, they are perfectly comfortable to wear even if your hands tend to frequent different portions of the handlebar. it may be worth your while trying a pair before you purchase; i generally reckon to be a size large in gloves from the majority of manufacturers, but the vulpine review samples are just a tad on the loose side. this did play to my advantage on one particularly cold ride, as i was able to easily wear a pair of thin merino gloves as a warm but removable liner.
but the main reason we'd wear gloves of this ilk come winter, is to shield our chilled hands from the elements. vulpine declare these to be water resistant but not entirely waterproof. to that i can attest, having returned home with wet (but not cold) hands after a few hours in steady rain. windproof they most certainly are and though breathable, i'm really not sure that anything will satisfactorily cope with the persirational proclivities of an active cyclist. that said, even when a touch damp inside, they failed to reach even the rough edges of discomfort.
if, like me, your winter bike rides tend to be cold, wet and windy, it's possible you may have to look further up the tree for aspirationally waterproof gloves. but if you're more of a fair weather cyclist, or it never rains in southern california, then these might be the ideal choice.
but brian smith won't like them.
vulpine's softshell gloves are available in black only and retail at £49 per pair. they are available in sizes ranging from xs to xl. however, i'd advise to check sizing before purchase.
monday 23 november 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................