Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Demons slain?

This morning was grey and drizzly and foggy and cold, a real Belgian morning. Or perhaps British. A real fixie morning. With mudguards. And the Flemmish-style hat under my helmet. I was also pretty stoked that I could finally try out my Specialized Marigolds (not their real name, more later).

It didn't look like a nice morning for a ride, and the way I've described it, it doesn't sound like the kind of morning you'd chuck your leg over the top-tube for. A funny thing happened though. Or maybe not so funny. It was early enough that I could see through kitchen windows and catch a glimpse of little vignettes of domesticity. Breakfasts being served in warm, bright kitchens while people bustle around getting ready for school and work. To my mind it brought back childhood memories of big bowls of Ready Brek, sausage sandwiches on white bread with ketchup, of chocolates from the Advent calendar while all the time it was kinda cold, kinda damp and getting damper. I realised however, that at that instant, the bike, not a nice warm kitchen, was the place that I wanted to be!

Like I said, I was pretty stoked to finally try out those Specialized gloves. They need a name. "Elbow high neoprene gloves" sounds vaguely kinky, "Rain-gloves" insufficiently descriptive, "those Specialized neoprene gloves" not inventive enough. They have a kind of Marigold vibe to them, so in tribute to the sine qua non of washing-up gloves, Marigolds they are.
They are very comfortable. Up to a point it's hard to tell you are wearing gloves at all, and in some ways isn't that the best kit review of all; "I spent a squillion bucks on these and you don't even know you've got 'em on"? I got an excellent feel for the bars, my hand-holds felt bombproof, they did not slip and slide all over the place. I obviously can't speak for changing gears but I can say that my fingers fitted comfortably under the brake-levers and if there had been a paddle there, then moving it wouldn't have been a problem.

I wouldn't say they are the warmest gloves on the market, but that is not what they are marketted for. It was about 0C this morning, and my fingers didn't feel any worse than anticipated (and I didn't even have to pee in them first). Of course if I'd been any kind of scientist at all I would have worn one Sugoi and one Marigold and then after 30 minutes, switched hands. I said, if I'd been any kind of scientist! On a scale, I'd say these gloves are good in the 0 to 10C range. Any warmer and you might as wear wear track-mitts as it doesn't matter if you're wet because you'll be warm (plus these puppies don't breathe at all). Any cooler and you need some insulation.

As mentioned it was a drizzly morning, the kind of day when the water comes at you from every which way. They performed flawlessly, totally waterproof. There's nothing else to say really! In the time I was out, it didn't even have time to soak through my sleeves and run down my arms into the gloves. And those high cuffs? Sealed my wrists/hands completely, with no little draft winkling its way through.

Job done 'd say.

If I had to fault them, it's a lack of a flannel strip for those of us with over-active noses. Not being a textiles type of person I don't know how hard it is to get anything to actually stick to neoprene and given than these aren't Specializeds first pair of cycling gloves I'd say this ommision is more due to the properties of the material rather than that Specialized's Chief Designer was off sick that day. Ditto the lack of any shiny, reflective bits. Having said that (and look away if easily disturbed and/or eating) snot does tend to just slide off the neoprene.

What with these and the neoprene socks (a new pair just came my way too, stay tuned for a review), have the twin demons that are cold n' wet hands and feet finally been slain ? I don't want to presume that they have, but if they have, it only took 24 yrs! Just imagine; a quarter of a century, that's all. A mere blink of the geological (or evolutionary) eye! Just imagine if I could go back to 1986 to see my 16 yo self as he took his first steps (well pedal-strokes really) on that black Peugeot Premiere and say "you know what, you'll finally get that cold-and-wet hands-and-feet problem sorted a couple of weeks before 2010". Would I have stayed? Would you?


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