they're coming to get you


only the other day, i mentioned colnago's latest time-trial bike, the tt1, which had been developed using computational fluid dynamics along with several days of testing in the wind-tunnel. my point, at the time, had been the number of man hours and the amount of money spent, both by colnago and campagnolo to give their principal sponsored team, uae team emirates, a better than fighting chance in the giro. whether they can justify all of that over a mere 8.3km, is something only they can answer, but despite that considerable effort, team leader, joao almeida, wasn't even in the top ten finishers in saturday's time-trial. that said, we all know the real strategy is being directed towards tadej pogacar in the tour de france.

almeida's finishing position in the tme-trial, however, probably only serves to prove that it's far less about the bike than about the rider sitting in the saddle, but it now transpires that winner of that particular stage, simon yates, though obviously a worthy winner by three seconds, wore what is being said to be the most expensive item of cycling apparel featured in a professional race. reputedly, his custom vorteq skinsuit bore a price tag of £2750, making both assos and rapha seem almost cheap by comparison.

the lengths and expense to which the professional end of the cycling world will go to gain an advantage over their competitors was a subject of conversation in the sunday morning peloton yesterday, the bulk of which revolved around the reputed scientific claims or strategies employed by more than just a few. this was brought on, initially, by the wind appearing to be jaust a tad stronger than that advised by our preferred online weather forecast. with year-round experience of the best and worst that the hebrides has to offer, we tend to be very much aware of the headwind speed into which we are slogging.

headwinds are, of course, scarcely unique to scotland's western isles, having played their part not only in the spring classics, but often on key sages of the grand tours. it takes only a sturdy cross-headwind to affect an intrepid peloton, and immediately we have the echelons beloved of helicopter broadcast viewers, but far less popular with the riders. unless, of course, it plays to their advantage in dropping their closets competitors.

the principle behind echelon riding is relatively simple. if the wind blows from the left, for example, the peloton is strung out in a long line on the left side of the road, with each rider spending only a few seconds at the front, before dropping back on the sheltered (right) side of the road until reaching the end of the line, then once again, making way towards the front. it is, in essence, one of the more perfect demonstrations of rotational forces. for those who fail to latch on quickly enough, it takes mere seconds to be left behind and have to form another, following echelon. if the wind is strong enough, the gap will grow, and time will be lost.

however, this set our minimal peloton thinking as we intiailly encountered a very helpful tailwind on the first part of our regular parcours. the mathematician amongst us (not me, i hasten to add), conjectured that, if i were to be hastened along by a substantial tailwind, if he nipped in close behind me, he would presumably be the benificiary of that tailwind rather than i, in which case, it seemed scientifically possible that i would have to redouble my efforts to stay ahead. as his speed potentialy increased, mine would to the opposite, forcing me to drop back and gain the tailwind benefits once again. an echelon in reverse, in fact.

that had us wondering, therefore, how many bicycle manufacturers, such as colnago, test the computational fluid dynamics of their frames from the rear? how many actually turn the bikes around in the wind tunnel to check the drag co-efficient from the back of the bike? none of us could recall every having seen such numbers quoted in a press release, nor viewed images of wind tunnel testing that would support this theory. talking this all through and considering the many factors that we thought might appertain to our apparent discovery, left us with only one question still to ask.

what time does the patent office open in the morning?

monday 9 may 2022

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pain al fresco

gruinart flats pain cave

michael hutchinson, otherwise known as dr hutch, writing in the current issue of the comic, is disparaging of the regular feature in cycling weekly (though absent from this week's issue) entitled the pain cave. though, to be more accurate, his disparagement centres on the title, rather than the feature itself, which allows comic readers to send in photos of their (usually quite expensively sophisticated) indoor training spaces. and unsurprisingly, i am in complete agreement.

throughout the recent pandemic, due to restrictions on outdoor exercise, from which the principality was mercifully excused, many had to work from home, creating small office spaces in their homes. those who took their cycling seriously enough did likewise, constructing so-called pain caves in garages, bikesheds, cupboards or any other spare space about their abode, in order not to lose fitness, or perhaps improve, ready to ride or compete once again, when restrictions were relaxed or ultimately lifted as life began to return to some semblance of normal.

that's perfectly understandable, in a makeshift sort of way, but as with every corner of velocipedinal life, there are those who did so with unconcealed glee and enthusiasm, many of whom are now intent on impressing others, by having their closet space featured in the comic. however, dr. hutch's objection was to the designation of such exercise spaces as pain caves, which he feels, creates yet another level of eccentricity applicable to the cycling cognoscenti.

it will surprise nobody that it's a practice in which i did not participate. i possess not a turbo trainer of any flavour, smart or otherwise, and i certainly do not possess the mentality that would encourage me to spend my ride time in a small room in the croft. had we not adopted the mindset that exercise locally simply meant, not off the island, i don't mind admitting that i've no idea what i'd have done.

however, in the uk at least, there are no longer any restrictions on exercise in any part of the country, yet still those pain caves would appear to exist, possibly even proliferating. and it strikes me that so doing risks separating the individual from that which they purport to adore. i seriously doubt that there are any youngsters, even today, who lust after a smart turbo trainer and a zwift subscription, rather than a bike of any sort which will allow them the freedom for which the bicycle is famous. other than the distinctly odd practice of e-racing, taking place either in a single location in front of an audience, or wholly online, competed from within those featured pain caves, competitive cycle racing takes place outdoors.

as scots cycling author, kenny pryde once wrote, "Bikes have improved, technology has changed enormously, but your cardiovascular system is the same as it's been for millions of years.' fausto coppi, il campionissimo, is famous for having advised "ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike" a practice adopted by the majority of bike clubs as getting the miles in. in the mighty dave t's younger days, taking a water bottle on any training ride under 100km, was seen as aberrant and unnecessary behaviour, tantamount to a display of weakness. modern training methods have no time for thoughts of weakness, advising frequent and regular intake of fluids and carbohydrate.

but note that nothing in the foregoing specifically countenances that these practices ought best be undertaken indoors. when time comes for the spring classics in the professional milieu, experience of riding in cold, wet and windy conditions often seems as important as stressing the cardiovascular system and acquiring straight-line speed. for these reasons as well as cultivating the skill of riding in close proximity to others while at speed, carrying out any sort of exclusively indoor training programme would seem to be slightly counter productive.

however, what began as a means to an end often seems, in certain cases, to have become an end in itself, avoiding the great outdoors at all costs. while indoor training might be singularly appropriate for the professional classes, what of those who have no pretensions towards competition? are there, midst the display of pain caves, bike riders whose sole contribution to the velocipedinal panoply, is the taking of the village sign sprint on a sunday morning? sadly, the answer to that question is yes.

at the time of writing, i have just returned from a glorious saturday ride, in temperatures comfortable enough to allow a short-sleeve jersey with armwarmers and un-accessorised bibshorts. 65km, to be precise at around 22kph on a cross bike with road tyres. the same ride last saturday took place in strong winds and perpetual heavy rain, but i wore a rapha goretex for that one. in fact, rapha's website features no less than ten waterproof jackets, as does scotland's endura, and assos list three or four. none of these, or many other garments from several cycling apparel purveyors are of much use sat on a bicycle in a cupboard under the stairs, so i can only assume that there are still sufficient numbers of 'real' cyclists amongst us, making it still worthwhile to produce outdoor clothing to fend off the worst of the elements. for that, i feel we ought to be eternally grateful.

there was a time when, including yours truly, each episode of rapha's north american 'continental' was awaited with expectant glee, stalwarts of the steel bicycle who would ride in pretty much any conditions you care to mention. it's a philosophy to which i, and several of my colleagues are keen to adhere. our pain caves are a darned sight bigger than those seen in the comic, and subject to wild fluctuation in temperature, wind and rain, which if correctly adjudged, never actually hurt anyone. though cycling is, first and foremost, a means of ecologically sound transportation, it's also the ideal way to experience the ever-changing world around us, either at speed, if that's what floats your boat, or at a more sedate, leisurely pace.

there really ought not to be any pain involved, unless riding in a hailshower. and just in case anyone from cycling weekly happens to be reading, i've included an image of my own pain cave at the top of this article.

sunday 8 may 2022

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what are we doing?

colnago tt1 time-trial bike

on the day in which i'm scribbling these words, the bank of england raised the interest rate to 1% while predicting that the inflation level that they'd hoped to maintain at 2% is on target to reach 10%. were it any other institution, there would have been accusations of serious negligence, though i'm insufficiently well informed to know whether inflation comes under the bank's jurisdiction, or the westminster government. either way, the economic future for those of us living in what is occasionally still ironically referred to as great britain, looks a tad less than promising at the moment.

colnago tt1 time-trial bike

however, i often wonder whether the world of economics and the world that the rest of us live in look in different directions. though i'm aware that the above mentioned interest and inflation rates refer specifically to the uk, with war in ukraine and a reluctance of european governments to import more than the bare minimum of gas and oil from russia, the financial outlook for several major european countries looks little better, if not worse, than our own. yet, as i returned from a brief sortie to debbie's earlier this week, the sight of two, 22 plate bentley suvs parked outside bridgend hotel, was a stark reminder that while all humankind is reputedly born equal, some are considerably more equal than others.

colnago tt1 time-trial bike

and negative external economic conditions seem to have been suspended in certain parts of the cycle industry. according to statistics, the growth areas within the bicycle industry, are e-bikes and high-end carbon road bikes, where you and i might expect them to be at the low end, fueled by individuals purchasing cheap(ish) bicycles to help with transportational needs. the fact that such is not the case, if nothing else, underlines the contention that straightened financial conditions tend to affect the lower paid far more than those at the other end of the spectrum.

rouleur titici bike

earlier this week, i received an e-mail missive from the fine folks at rouleur magazine, advising those on the mailing list, that we could now avail ourselves of a bona-fide, rouleur bicycle, beautifully constructed by titici, a well respected italian builder of hand-made carbon bicycles. the rouleur edition features campagnolo's flagship super-record groupset and bora wto wheelset, all of which could be yours for an eye-watering £13,000. this comes but two weeks after colnago announced the c68 which, in one specification that featured an identical groupset and wheelset to that of the rouleur bike, would lighten your bank balance to the tune of £15,500.

colnago tt1 time-trial bike

as i pointed out to the ceo of colnago's uk distributor, windwave, in 2003, i purchased a colnago c40hp, with campagnolo chorus groupset for around £2,000, the result of studious saving over several years. there's not a chance in christendom that i could ever afford to spend £13,000 or £15,500 on a bicycle. mrs washingmachinepost would have me hung, drawn and quartered were i ever to suggest such a purchase. i tend to think the same circumstances would apply to the majority of us.

colnago tt1 time-trial bike

and following on from the c68 announcement, colnago recently introduced their latest time-trial bike, the tt1, one they hope will play well for the riders of uae team emirates, a colnago and campagnolo sponsored team. dave arthur mentioned on twitter recently, that he thought the days of having to equip an italian bicycle with italian compnentry had passed. though i think he's wrong, it seems that team emirates concur with yours truly. and judging by the look and spec of colnago's first disc-equipped time-trial bike, they have not spared the lire on this particular model.

colnago tt1 time-trial bike

yet, as the majority are aware, time-trial bicycles, particularly at this end of the technological (and cost) spectrum, are used perhaps only twice in a grand tour. tt bikes are never used during the one-day spring classics, and over the course of the season's three grand tours, usage might top out at a maximum of six rides, at least two of which might take the form of short prologues. yet not only have colnago resorted to, and i quote "The use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in creating the first 3D models and the findings obtained in the wind tunnel at the Politecnico di Milano University (which have) made it possible to obtain unprecedented results in terms of performance at high speeds", but spent a lot of pennies in the process.

colnago tt1 time-trial bike

if you don't mind me saying so, that's a heck of a lot of italian money spent on a bicycle which will receive limited use and quite likely, limited sales (the tt1 will be available commercially later this year). but it stops not there. to return to the italian componentry aboard an italian bicycle frame, campagnolo have been entirely complicit. an announcement this week drew attention to the fitting of uae team emirates colnago time-trial bikes with an 80mm front bora ultra wto wheel and very intriguing looking brake/gear levers fitted to the bicycle's aero time-trial handlebars. so once again, eminent and expensive research has been undertaken simply to assist uae riders towards the hot seat in this year's giro, with likely a developed version for tadej pogacar at this year's tour de france.

colnago tt1 time-trial bike

and again, the commercial return is likely to be well below the research and development costs.

so why does this happen? admittedly, many of the above projects were probably well underway before putin decided kyiv was ripe for the picking, or nameless analysts though it prudent to force a substantial increase in energy costs on what often look like spurious grounds. but is it really necessary to spend such vast sums just to go a few seconds faster on a bicycle? has the quest for speed now outweighed all other considerations? after all, there seems also to be latent pressure to have the maximum allowable speed of e-bikes increased from the 25kph in force across much of europe, to that of the 48kph available on s-pedelecs.

colnago tt1 time-trial bike

as an ageing bunch of velocipedinists in the velo club, reflecting, i believe, similar sets of circumstances across the board, are we all in favour of the price of admission going through the roof? i read in this week's comic a brief review of speedplay power meter pedals retailing at not a lot of change less than £900. i will cheerfully admit that were i to have regular access to my wattage readings, i'd have little to no idea as to how to interpret them, or how to improve upon them, and i'm wiling to bet i'm not the only one in that position. i understand the value of such tools in the hands (or feet) of professional riders, but they are very much in the minority. i'm not sure the projected benefits would be of great use on the sunday ride.

rouleur titici

if the perception amongst any willing apprentices is that decent jersey and bibshorts are likely to cost close to or more than £300, that a set of power meter pedals or cranks is a necessary purchase for their £13,000 bike, or that a cheaper frame has to have electronic gearchanging, then the once true contention that it was easily possible to ride the same equipment as our heroes, has long gone the way of the dodo. i appreciate that i'm examining extremes, but when you can purchase a relatively decent set of golf clubs for less than £800 or a proper pair of trainers for less than £200, is cycling in danger of pricing itself out of the realm of possibilities? or achievable speeds by 'normal' human beings?

i'm more than well aware that the entry-level cost of road cycling can be far less than the price tags highlighted by colnago and campagnolo, but i haven't received a single press release lately introducing a decent bike that might cost less than £1,000. and though i know they exist, to paraphrase a head and shoulders tv advert, 'you never get a second chance to make a first impression.' do we really know what we're doing?

photos courtesy of colnago and rouleur

saturday 7 may 2022

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vulpine men's merino v-lux neck sweatshirt

vulpne lux v-neck merino sweatshirt

many eastern philosophies contend that reality is not what we think it to be. the human habit of apportioning names and categories to objects, animals or people is sort of where we're going wrong. after all, though we probably all know what a tree is (in whichever language you speak), the tree doesn't actually know that. it has, in philosophical parlance, no inherent 'tree-ness' of its own; we have only named them so, to differentiate them from grass or water, for instance. similarly, rabbits are blissfully unaware of the fact that they're known as rabbits. of course, heading off down that particular rabbit hole, if you'll 'scuse the parlance, brings with it a lifetime of philosophical thought.

vulpne lux v-neck merino sweatshirt

once we've opened that particular door, there are many other aspects of day to day life that have left themselves wide open to questioning. for instance, just to be annoyingly parochial, what we might term a road bike will seem very much at odds with the impression gained by the great unwashed; after all, isn't every bike a road bike? and when many a contemporary gravel bike seems to distinguish itself from the road-going variety solely by way of its tyre width, is that sufficient difference to require notably different nomenclature?

vulpne lux v-neck merino sweatshirt

and then, as matters have a habit of proceeding, we cannot pass on by without discussing apparel, particularly that designated as suitable for the intrepid cyclist. for instance, with reference to the humble cycle jersey, those intended for offroad use tend to have built-in flappage at the sleeve cuffs, while the road-going version offers a closer fit. and mtb jerseys are often bereft of any rear pockets. yet to the innocent bystander, there's no appreciable difference; surely they're just cycle jerseys?

vulpne lux v-neck merino sweatshirt

and when you finally get to something as luxurious as vulpine's merino sweatshirt (even if i continually refer to it as a jumper, as scots of a certain age are wont to do), then, as they say, all bets are off. merino wool has found itself the subject of discussion in these pixels on more than a few occasions. it is the miracle fabric for those of an athletic disposition, not only for its odour-beating properties, but one that is, to all intent and purpose, endlessly renewable.

vulpne lux v-neck merino sweatshirt

if we pay close attention to the designation applied by the nice folks at vulpine, a sweatshirt does not engender thoughts of finish-line sprints or summitting with the best. in point of fact, neither of those are affectations with which vulpine are intent on associating themselves. the overarching resolve behind vulpine's wide range of cycle clothing is unashamedly geared towards the commuting or leisure cyclist. and i don't need to tell you that those are the very folks for whom a merino sweatshirt is pragmatic nirvana. and i frequently count myself a fully paid up member.

vulpne lux v-neck merino sweatshirt

aside from riding the range clad in the sartorial melange that is vulpine jeans, a ritchey t-shirt, merino jumper and the vulpine lightweight thermal gilet reviewed recently, many of those garments are equally at home in less eccentric surroundings, such as a day at work, or, perchance, a former byre in the middle of nowhere sat behind a drumset, practising for future gigs. with not an ounce of heating anywhere near that byre, the gilet/jumper combination was one i'd find hard to beat. and i do believe it's the first cycling garment in which i've been commended for its informal smartness.

vulpne lux v-neck merino sweatshirt

the v-neck is joyous in its subtlety, edging ever so slightly towards rounded, but gloriously, not quite. the sleeve length is immaculate; i do love long sleeves, but every now and again, they're simply not quite long enough. these are. and, just like its thermal gilet partner, the jumper is remarkably cosy and weighs very little indeed.

the merino jumper, to return to my opening gambit, has no idea it has been carefully constructed to appeal to the velocipedinist at large. in fact, the very difference between my applied nomenclature and that of vulpine's, only serves to underline my point. and for no explicable reason, the knowledge that i am to be found clad in cycling apparel cunningly disguised as every day wear, continues to reinforce that under this calm exterior lives an often breathless, slow, grovelling cyclist. but there's still that unbearable smugness that comes as an added extra with a merino sweatshirt aimed directly at the cycling fraternity. hidden in plain sight, so to speak.

and if that isn't a deal-breaker, the thin, dark grey contrast stripe along the rear hem simply has to be the clincher. it really doesn't get better than this.

vulpine's merino lux v-neck sweatshirt is available in sizes ranging from small to xxl in grey heather (as reviewed), dark forest and navy. price is a luxurious £120. | vulpine merino lux v-neck sweatshirt

friday 6 may 2022

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lift and separate


an elderly lady, now sadly passed, who lived fairly near the croft was, in velocipedinal terms, an early adopter, owning an electric trike almost twenty years ago, allowing her almost unfettered access to nearby singletrack roads, and access to the great outdoors. by contemporary standards, these trikes (the original was replaced with an almost identical second trike) were positively archaic. unlike even the least svelte of modern e-bike batteries, both trikes made use of a car battery, situated in a large plastic bin sited between the two rear wheels. unfortunately, the size and heft of the battery allowed for no other items within the bin. the motor that drove a sturmey archer three-speed hub gear via an inordinately complex arrangement of chains, was effectively a car starter motor. it will surprise you not that the trike was ludicrously heavy.

referring to the chain-drive arrangement, a standard size chain ran from the chainring to one of two sprockets attached to the sturmey-archer. a second, much shorter chain on the second sprocket, spanned the short distance from there to a sprocket on the rear axle. after a year or so, the main chain ran slightly loose, necessitating a rearward shift of the hub gear which was clamped into what i can only refer to as dumb dropouts.

of course, eagle-eyed readers will have already realised that so doing made the shorter chain far looser, and i couldn't for the life of me, figure out how to subsequently tension it. in desperation, i contacted the manufacturer for further information, only to learn that the axle was held in place on the frame, via two u-bolts tensioned by nuts on the underside, where they had been repeatedly exposed to rain, grit and salt, subsequently corroding them in place. by the time i had acquired this information, even a kwik-fit fitter would have been hard-pressed to unscrew them.

for mere amateurs such as myself, access to the underside of the trike's frame could only be practically achieved by raising the rear wheels through brute force and ignorance, and sitting them on two piles of bricks. and this had to be achieved outdoors, since the trike wouldn't fit in the bike shed, and i doubt i had the strength to lift any of it in the first place.

i did tentatively suggest to the manufacturer that the whole process could have been drastically simplified, had they elected to fit an eccentric bottom bracket as seen on tandems. that particular suggestion did not meet with cries of joy.

those who have had to work on kids' 'full-suspension' mountain bikes, may have found it necessary to pay frequent visits to a chiropractor to ease their perennial back pain, a factor that quite likely inflicts itself as a result of having to work upon even the latest of e-bikes, several of which are of a construction that could probably withstand being hit by a bus. surely it must be at least a two-person job to wrestle one onto a workshop workstand. it's even possible that certain workstand designs preclude a suitable level of stability when holding fast to a heavy e-bike. and heck knows what happens when finding it necessary to fettle an e-cargo bike.

thankfully, for the more financially well-endowed bike shops, ezlift have designed and produced an electric workshop stand, with a 90kg lift capacity that offers the capability of raising any cargo bike to head height either for maintenance or assembly. you would, however, pretty much need to guarantee that plenty of work would accrue following purchase of the £2,000 device.

though i have yet to spy any e-cargo bikes on the island, i doubt that will remain the case forever, as rising fuel prices and other costs will make it considerably less economic to carry out certain deliveries by diesel-powered vans. though there are no 'bona-fide' bike shops on the island, it might be that some of the car workshops opt to follow the lead of kwik-fit in the netherlands and offer maintenance of e-bikes alongside the electric-vehicles that are becoming more common around the principality.

as the future hits hard, maintenance devices such as the ezlift will probably become necessities rather than a desirable option.

ez lift

thursday 5 may 2022

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is this obsessive?

campagnolo 12 speed cassette

i'm sincerely hoping that the answer to this is 'yes', otherwise i'm going to have to look for other friends. is it common practice, when lifting the bicycle du jour from the bikeshed, to gently bounce it on the ground to check for any untoward vibrations? at this point, i hope i'm hearing a resounding yes.

it's something i've done for many a long year, probably commencing when i used to fix bikes for a living. after replacing bits and pieces and bolting everything back together, i placed all my confidence in the bounce. this was summarily based on my conclusion that an absence of unexpected vibration would confirm that i had completed my job correctly. maladjusted hub cones, headsets or bottom brackets, or possibly even wheel nuts, on the cheaper varieties of bicycle, will rattle (and occasionally hum), alerting the intrepid mechanic that there is work that remains to be done.

it's a sound enough approach (if you'll pardon the pun), but is in danger of becoming an obsession if there is indeed a vibration to be felt when it relates to one of my own velocipedes. after all, heaven forfend the embarrassment and humiliation should a famous member of the cycling media be seen or heard riding a less than immaculately fettled bicycle. i will admit up front, that the rear wheel affixed to the ritchey exhibits a millimetre or two of lateral play at the hub. i believe this to be a modicum of wear in the cartridge bearings, but since the likelihood exists that the wheels are soon to be replaced, it's an iniquity i can live with for the time being.

however, there's no denying that there's also a vibration emanating from the front wheel that is completely absent when the wheel is removed from the fork. through experimentation, i have learned that the vibration is definitely coming from the wheel, or perhaps more specifically, the front hub. i had suspected the valve stem to be rattling in the rim, or even the front brake caliper loose in the fork mount, but no; 'tis neither of those. there is no lateral play in the front wheel, therefore unlikely to be bearing wear, and the q/r skewer is as sound as a bitcoin. so i dismantled the hub, checked the bearings and axle fittings before reassembling to find no change whatsoever. in the light that it appears not to affect the ride or handling qualities of the bike, based once again on the likelihood of replacement, i'll live with it.

but on removing the rear wheel from the frame to see if i could effect even a temporary repair to the hub, i noticed that the cassette had lost much of its lustre, as indeed, cassettes tend to do. and this is where i fear i might have become more obsessive than having always to ride with a clean, shiny chain; i removed the cassette, separated it into its component parts, and proceeded to clean and polish each sprocket, before reassembling all twelve onto the freehub. now tell me honestly, is that being unnecessarily obsessive?

i should probably point out that the only answer i'll accept to that query is a definitive 'no!

star wars day 2022

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vulpine ultralight quilted gilet


i know that i mentioned this a number of years ago, but it still fascinates me that, despite several recent warnings from space scientists about the ever-increasing number of satellites orbiting the earth, both functional and defunct, that there still exists a flat earth society. this association, first mooted by samuel shenton as the flat earth research society, in 1956, succeeded the even more bizarrely named universal zetetic society. despite the launch of russia's sputnik satellite into earth orbit in october 1957, he countered by asking whether sailing round the isle of wight would prove that it too, was spherical?


of course, not everyone who claims to follow the philosophies of the flat earthers does so without tongue firmly planted in cheek, but there's no denying that there is still a substantial number of individuals who believe not the description of planet earth as an 'oblate spheroid'. and to a certain extent, we experience the same situation with those who deny that we are currently experiencing climate change. oddly enough, i am acquainted with a number of folks who claim that such changes in the earth's climate have been experienced several times in the planet's history, ironically unaware that, even if true, the current evidence on climate change would suggest we're in for a rough time in the near future.


it may well be that the so-called industrial revolution has increased pollution levels and increased global warming beyond the levels that would have been experienced naturally; perhaps this is the earth's perfect storm, where naturally occurring climate change has met with pollution generated by the planet's principal occupants. but apportioning blame while rome burns is possibly a tad counter-intuitive. it's hard , however, not to acknowledge that climatic conditions across the world seem to have recently changed from their more expected tendencies, causing mayhem across several continents.


it may seem a tad trite, therefore, to minimise what might be an impending ecological disaster to the level of just what to wear when doing our bit for the planet, and choosing to cycle rather than drive the car. but, bearing in mind the epithet, 'even a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step', making such individual choices, possibly multiplied many thousands of times, surely couldn't do any harm? and unlike the oft castigated lycra louts, the majority who could effect a change in transportational habits, are those who ride their bicycles as commuters or for leisure, the apparel needs of which are catered for by companies such as vulpine clothing.


they too are cognizant not only of the change that can be effected by cycling to and from work or school, but of an inherent need to create their own best practice. this is demonstrated, in part, by the relaunch of their best selling, thermal gilet, a garment that now possesses not only a recycled outer shell, but also that of the insulation, offering every bit the same performance as its predecessor. that outer fabric is constructed from recycled nylon, given a durable water repellency coating to fend off drizzle and road spray. the garment's insulation is formed from recyled plastic bottles, creating a highly pragmatic garment that offers a minimal, if not altogether non-existent carbon footprint.

and its efficacy is pretty much beyond reproach. as we begin to ease ourselves from spring into early summer, in the northern hemisphere at least, not only are the days stretching in length, but proffering amenable temperatures even as dusk begins to fall. in many cases, a full jacket may be regarded as overkill, even over here on the outer edge, and particularly if riding energetically home from work, or simply taking a gravel ride out to gartbreck point to watch the sunset. i cannot deny that i'm rarely up early enough to watch its counterpart at the break of day, but the impression is that the vulpine gilet would be every bit as effective as the dawn chorus commences.


and its superpowers do not end with those impressive thermal properties. with many commuters needing a backpack of one sort or another, the reinforced shoulders will come as something of a welcome boon. and it is not short of pocketage, offering two zipped, front hand-warmer' pockets, a zipped internal chest pocket and a rear 'drop-in' pocket that comfortably swallowed a not quite compact, compact digital camera, along with my house keys. it is a comfortable fit, allowing gracious space in case you need to wear a thicker than usual jumper 'neath its thermality, and despite keeping torso and neck as cosy as you'd hope, it weighs next to nothing.


i appreciate that there are many who have yet to be convinced of the usefulness of a gilet as an alternative to a full-blown jacket (vulpine do offer a similar garment, but with sleeves), but it might surprise you just how often you'd reach for this, when a jacket just seems too much. aside from wearing it on bike rides, it was handy in the evenings when a touch of necessary bike fettling was required and when attending early-evening events which included outdoor activities. alone, it won't solve climate change, but it's as well to remember that first step.

vulpine's ultralight thermal gilet is available in petrol colour (as reviewed), in sizes ranging from xs to xxl and is priced at a tidy £100. | vulpine ultralight gilet

tuesday 3 may 2022

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................