Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Sea, The Sea!

We may be hardened cynics here at Trois V, but sometimes the hardened fa├žade cracks just a little bit, and the soft gooey core leaks out.  Today's ride applied just such a toffee hammer to my shell at least, and brought out some of the joy of cycling.  It also brought to mind the thin line between horror and happiness - more of that later.

It was the Rapha Gentleman's Team Time Trial, and I was fortunate enough to be a member of the Tweed Run team.  Decked out in some Dromarti leather cycling shoes (review to follow), Rapha 3/4 shorts, merino 'tweed' socks, a crisp white shirt, bow tie and topped with a tweed cap (and all-important helmet), with fiver fellow tweed runners, we set off to Brighton and back from the Rapha Coffee Club at 9 am, meaning to stop at three checkpoints en route.  We were one team of twelve (including a noble team from our friends at Look Mum No Hands); such was the lack of faith in our vitesse, we were earmarked as the first team to head off.

A wise move, on Simon Mottram's part, as we couldn't even manage to get to the photoshoot on the start in time  (one member was completing his photo release; the other was voiding his bowels).  No matter, we headed off.

Given the tweed ethos, we thought it appropriate, and even apposite, to avoid major roads, and seek out minor routes that were the way things used to be.  Sadly, an irritable GPS and lack of faith in a paper map led to a bit of a delay around Mitcham, until we got our groove on, and found a delightful route across the north downs.

Alas, a near-tragedy took place, thanks to West Sussex's inability to fill in potholes, and an ambulance had to be called.  At the very least, the poor victim was wearing a helmet, after some discussion last night, the conclusion of which was that it would be a good idea.  It was.

Now for the science bit: stress and shock causes the body to do various things, including eating up all the sugar it could find.  From this point on, we were at the risk of bonking.  We did out best, and I managed to get up Ditchling Beacon with some dignity, the Rapha cameraman pointing his videocam in my face the whole way up.  I tried to evoke Lance Armstrong's blankness, crossed with the elan of Eroll Flynn.  Needless to say, I didn't manage it.

Brighton was a sunny treat, helped by Hannah's cheer and the Rapha coffee van.  The Bike Show's Jack took a dip in the sea, and I paddled.  Fish and chips were eaten.  We decided to celebrate the spirit of things, and to turn the day into a jaunt.

This was accomplished by an ascent of Devil's Dyke (one of our number goes by the online moniker of General Lucifer), and a fine selection of minor roads, tracks and byways.  The icing on the cake was the golden sunshine and a pub in Ansty, which was staffed by two friendly barmaids, who appreciated our tweedy attire.  Due to the aforementioned delays, and the need to meet various partners, parties and trips back to Leeds, we were forced to take a train for the final tedious forty miles.  No matter, we still took on the worst of the hills, cut a good dash for the cameras, and managed a good average speed  over a decent distance when things weren't going horribly badly.  And in warm tweed.

Back to Rapha Cafe, for a special award of Prosecco, and a very decent party.

Take that, Portland.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Rapha Rain Jacket review

Again, this has had a month or so's service.   And I've been trying to find a fault.

At worst, on a warmer day, you might prefer the Stowaway, or some sort of Montane windproof (a pal says good things about Pearl Izumi, too), because you will find your arms getting a little warm.  An hour in the sun at 16-18 degrees at the weekend was tolerable, though.  And then I just took it off.

In the rain, there's nothing to fault.  And this I've tested.

The fit is great - a little stretchier than the Stowaway, I think, and so I could get a size down, meaning a nice fit around the neck.  The cream makes sense, in terms of being seen.  There's the odd oil mark on it, but to me that's only the sign of happy use.

The rear pocket, which some people have wondered about, is fine.  The zips are okay, too; perfectly possible to use while riding.  And it pulls up easily to get at stuff in your jersey back pockets.

My only thoughts rest on how resilient it is to washing - some detail about the membrane and type of washing powder (e.g., pure soap like Goretex, or standard liquid a la eVent) and routine would be reassuring.  I'm going for my usual soap or delicate liquid, extra rinse - and no softener.   Rain Jacket 2 could perhaps furl up even tighter, and err on more Stowaway fabric in the arms.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Rapha Fixed Backpack

This has now had almost a month's service, including a 50-odd mile ride down to the coast and lugging the requisites to the Tour of Wessex, as well as a daily commute and trotting around town.

You probably already know that this is a great piece of kit, so I've been trying to think of niggles.

I've struggled, but I've found them.  Not something that would be immediately apparent, but the inside is very dark.  If you've ever used a Kata camera pack, you'll appreciate the yellow interior, so much easier to find stuff. On the other hand, I'm kind of glad the inside isn't canary coloured.

Sweat pads.  These aren't perfect.  The Deuter airstream system works better, for example.  But then you get weight and depth away from your back.  They do the job enough only to worry about sweat on plus 20 degree days - and even then not terrible.

Laptop strap: this kind of gets in the way if you're not using a laptop.

There isn't the usual 'Rapha story label' inside.

As you can see, I'm struggling.

Perhaps a white Rapha stripe on the front or the back would be good on dreary mornings.

Did I mention it looks really, really good, too?  In fact, non-cyclist friends have enquired where I got it from.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Bromdinium is back

Thanks to some thieving blighters (who shifted their loot on Gumtree), I've had to say goodbye to the Fratello, and dust of the Brompton, which had only been seeing occasional, and usually train-based, service.

In some ways, it's been a bit of a silver lining, not least because the Brompton encourages you to not bother with a bunch of cycling gear, and just integrate it into your life.  The warmer weather helped, at least until this cold snap arrived.

Meanwhile, I have tried out some new kit, mostly Rapha: the rain jacket, the lightweight softshell and the fixed backpack.  Expect some reviews to follow (first off, the fixed backpack is likely to come out as a near perfect thing)

Sunday, 27 April 2008


Originally uploaded by movingtargetzine
I feel their pain