Cycling here in the UK is a hardy sport during the winter. The kit has to perform well in the hills, or you may as well stay indoors. Cycology fan and North Yorkshire based cyclist, Ian Nuttney, writes for the pedalnorth website and gave us his thoughts on a winter ride.
"Yesterday I got so cold, it made me want to cry" sang The Cure's Robert Smith on "In Between Days", and whilst he probably (definitely) wasn't writing about cycling in the dog-days of autumn, the title of the song and the line therein apply perfectly...
It's that tricky time of year - not *quite* cold enough for the full luxury of winter layers that will have you sweating after 10 minutes; but certainly chilly enough to make layering-up A Good Idea.
So, with that in mind, on a dry afternoon, with the mercury revving up to 8, I asked The Editor to hand me Cycology's long-sleeved jersey and lightweight gilet to test. First off, you notice the design - you can't miss it with Cycology; eye-catching graphics and colours - born in Australia, yet they look and feel just the part in Wensleydale. As well as being great to look at, the bright orange sleeves really make you stand out to drivers on a dull day.
Pulling on the jersey, the light soft-shell nature of the outer, and the brushed fabric of the liner made me confident of a comfortable ride, and I was very confident that my arm-warmers would do nothing else other than sit in the spacious pockets. (Side note about pockets - it's great to see the thought that leads to the zipped pocket being covered to prevent water sneaking in through the mechanism).
The collar zips high, but doesn't grip your throat, which is a real boon - nothing worse than having to make a choice between stopping a draft or feeling as though you're being slightly strangled. I'd normally use a Buff-style scarf to stop cold currents to dispel this conundrum; but today the scarf rode with the warmers. Gilet then donned to keep my core happy, and we were off. At this time of year, even on a still day your own effort and speed produces a personal wind-chill; but whilst Mr Editor was freezing bits off thanks to his decision to wear short-fingered gloves and short-legged shorts, I was feeling just right, even when he upped his pace to try and warm up (and thereby increasing his wind-chill).
It was around about this point that I realised that I wasn't noticing the kit; which is exactly what you want, really. You're not too hot, not too cold; you're not wishing that you had another layer, you're not thinking about whether or not to stop to put something on or take something off. You're just enjoying the comfort of your ride with a head undistracted by worries of what you're wearing. This only happens with good kit - you forget it's there no matter how much effort you're putting in, which is entirely the point.
The next test came as we pulled up to Johnny Baghdad's Cafe in Masham. Whilst clothing can perform well when you're riding (and let's face it; that's what it's designed to do); cafe stops present a challenge. The body is still pumping out heat and moisture; and entering a cosy coffee-shop only serves to make the sweating worse. Happily, the layers here had already helped - the jersey wicks very effectively, and the side-vents of the gilet had meant that the wicked moisture had been removed very effectively. The indoors result being that by the time coffees had been consumed, I wasn't sitting in a clammy top. There's nothing worse than heading back out with a damp jersey, ready to cool you to the bone as soon as you get going again. So another win for Cycology.
I've tried long and hard to think about something that I didn't like about the stuff I wore; but I really can't fault it - it passed every test asked of it on the day. To return to Mr Smith - Boys Don't Cry - especially if they layer up with Cycology. I bet girls won't either.