Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Exploding apparel and the reasons thereof

In the winter, cycling tends to get reduced to tedious commuting between A and B, with equipment and clothing deteriorating in the cruel conditions. Therefore, I say, it's time to stop, sniff the flowers hastily and then rush off to do some online shopping for some new gear. And, after FedEx has delivered the goods to your door, it is time to stop and smell the newness. I love the smell of new stuff. I also love the smell of expensive stuff. Unfortunately, my cycling budget is still limited. Yes, in the recent years I've gone from 'shoestring' to 'upper lower middle class', but that still leaves me seriously under-equipped and -clothed in the road cycling world.

For instance, I've been looking to get some new cycling sunglasses, because the old, brandless ones from Biltema (or equivalent) are getting rather ragged around the edges:

Naturally, my inner Fred requires me to get Oakleys. The Jawbone looks very cool and incredibly Fred-tastic, but, man, at 300 € (or whatever they cost), it just doesn't seem sensible. 300 € is, mildly put, a shitload of money for a friggin' pair of sunglasses, that inevitably will get sat upon, or be torn apart by the kids, anyway. So, therefore I ordered a pair of Endura Stingray glasses from CRC for a reasonable 39.70 €. I do find it somewhat dubious to purchase sunglasses in an online store, without trying them on first, but what are you gonna do. I suspect that there isn't a local store that has all the hundreds brands and models the online stores ha
ve in stock, and even if there is, I'm just too friggin' lazy to go there.

The same goes for cycling apparel. If the local stores don't bother to invest in decent web pages that contain an exact listing of all the pieces of clothing they have in stock, in real time, I'm not going to bother myself by going to the store to find out. Even though in principle, it would be nice to try, say, shorts on before buying. Instead, I'll just spend a considerable portion of the working day surfing the sites of online retailers, comparing brands, ranges, prices, sizing charts, colours and mat
erials. Then, I'll type in some numbers found on a piece of plastic found in my wallet, press 'Order' and not too long after, the courier rings my doorbell and hands me the merchandise.

This is exactly what I did last week, when I noticed that the seat of my commuting pants (Halti) had exploded. I suspect that this is due to chafing by the saddle, but I'm not ruling out an acute bout of flatulence of epic proportions:

I've only used the pants for two winters now, so I'm not very pleased with the durability of the fabric. On the other hand, it's a blessing that things fall apart every now and then. If they didn't, there would not be (nearly as good) excuses to buy new stuff. That would be a miserable situation for the bicycling gear fetishist.

So, I decided to upgrade my ranking on the Fred scale from 'wears flappy winter commuting pants' to 'wears winter roubaix bib tights', which is, I believe, several notches up. I ordered Nalini Base Birmania 1 Winterlycra 3Layer mantoTEX Mititech UV Protected DuPont Teflon bib tights from Bobshop.de and did I mention the Teflon already. I believe the Teflon coating is there to repel ridicule by ignorant onlookers, who might not be on to the fact th
at it is actually more manly to wear tights instead of pants of the flappy kind while bicycling. Anyway, the courier handed me the merchandise only three days after I pressed 'Order' on the web page, which I found impressive. The smell of newness emanating from the '25 Nalini' chamois is intoxicating. Well, the smell emanating from my old pants is intoxicating as well, but in a far less pleasant manner.

There's a slight drawback in having better gear though. Now the other "cat 6" commuter racers can tell from afar that I am, or at least attempt to be, fast. When I rode in flappy, smelly, ragged, rustling pants I was a sleeper. Now, the element of surprise is somewhat diminished.

In other news, here's a picture of a delicious meal I just ate:

I just snapped it, on an impulse, while taking the other photographic evidence for this blog post, but perhaps it isn't totally unrelated to the subject matter at hand. There might be a rational explanation for the violent flatulence evident in the picture.

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