After torrential rain at the beginning of the week, we’ve enjoyed perfect riding weather for the past few days and I have been eager to profit. On account of the trip to the web designers on Wednesday, I only had time for a quick run (that’s quick in terms of time, not my speed) along the sea front where I could survey the damage wrought by the storms.
Yesterday and today were entirely different matters. I had two wonderful long rides, again along the coast, where I enjoyed the sunshine, the fresh air and could witness autumn’s stamp on the foliage. This is one of my favourite times of year. Assuming the weather co-operates, I like to set off on my ride between 10:30 and 11:00am, to avoid both the early morning chill and traffic. As far as possible I ride along the coast road, now bereft of tourist traffic but thronged with cyclists. The route is undulating and affords me plenty of opportunities for overtaking. I try not to keep count, but …..
I’ve been putting one of my recent purchases through it’s paces. Until recently, I was faithful to Assos. I loved the quality of their bib shorts, particularly the material but chafed (not literally) at the cut and design. This season, on account of acquiring them at mates rates, I have started wearing Santini bib shorts. The Lycra isn’t such good quality but the pad is more comfortable, as is the fit. However, Santini do not do women specific bib tights or 3/4 bib tights. Enter Rapha who, after years of my entreaties, have started a women’s line. I was however bitterly disappointed as they only did shorts, not bib shorts, for the summer range. Now, hurrah, they’ve introduced 3/4 bib shorts for the autumn/winter range.
The shorts use the same female-specific Cytech pad as the Women’s Shorts for total comfort. The shorts have a high-rise front chest panel for additional support that uses a softer fabric than the leg panels. The front zip has a soft Lycra guard for the lockdown puller.
The ¾ bibs have flatlock stitching throughout to prevent chafing and are finished with cream binding and soft gripper around the legs. Reflective tabs behind the knees provide added visibility.
A recent invention, ‘three quarters’ were the brainchild of Edwig Van Hooydonk and played a key role in the Belgian hardman’s successful bid to win the Tour of Flanders in 1989. Riding in cold, nasty conditions, he found that conventional shorts aggravated a recurring knee problem. His solution was a pair of cycling shorts that stretched below the knee and offered an elegant alternative to the wrapped bandages used at the time. The new look gained further international exposure when Van Hooydonk returned to Flanders to win again in 1991.”
So, how have they fared on my recent sorties? While I haven’t, like Mr Van Hooydonk, been riding in them over cobbles I’ve found them to be an extremely comfortable fit. The sizing is similar to that of the Italian manufacturers, so I took a large rather than my usual medium. They provide support in all the right places giving me a slim silhouette. The pad is well contoured and well-sized. The fleecy fabric has kept me as warm as toast. So warm I may not need to venture into full length tights, providing this winter is more clement than last. I know they’re not cheap but I would rather have one well-fitting, comfortable pair than lots of cheap pairs. Rapha tend to reduce the price of their stock at the end of each season, so I’ll hopefully pick up a pair for next season at a discount.
Of course, I didn’t restrict my spending spree to just the 3/4 bib shorts. I also treated myself to a couple of silk scarves which I like to wear around my neck for additional warmth and, of course, it goes without saying, a touch of style. If I can’t be fast, I can at least be chic!