Seersucker summer.Urban Cycling
Phew! What a scorcher! As we watch the mercury crawling briskly from the ball upwards into the thermometer's tube at Boultbee Towers, the only thing keeping us from clocking off and fixing a massive pitcher of refreshing Hendrick's Southside Lemonade is this pesky Europe-wide longdrink garnish scare. It just doesn't taste the same when you use a zucchini.
So in the current absence of a cucumber we can bet our lives on, we've resolved instead over the next few days to take a whistle stop tour around the universe of smart, spandex-free, summer biking apparel.
Almost as vexing as the sartorial quandaries which attach to rain- or sub-zero riding, the discomfort which arises from the use of a bike in the city on a muggy July afternooon while wearing inappropriate fabrics can cause the temper to fray beyond the socially acceptable.
But even assuming you can stay "cool", our concern here is for those who wish to continue to use their bike in temperatures verging on the tropical, yet desire also to arrive at their destination without looking like they've just been caught up in some high jinx down at the local fire station.
First port-of-call, naturally, Rapha.
Our competition this month will ask entrants to imaginatively fill in what's covered by the two dark panels on either side. This may take the form of a drawing, short essay, or virtuoso display of one's abilities to Photoshop stuff.
The chopped-off gentleman above is (partly) shown modelling their 2011 short sleeved cycling shirt, though of course with so many non-cycling-shirt-related questions ingeniously raised by the shot, we almost (almost) forgot why we'd gone there in the first place.
This is very authentic, very real-life stuff. He's got a right arm like a bike mechanic's for starters; and unusually for a male model of urban cycling apparel, his bike seems to have gears. And brakes, possibly.
At first glance we would appear to have caught him doing something with his bike. Perhaps having just fixed a flat, he's replacing the back wheel. He certainly seems to be moving in the general direction of what looks like an upside-down, back-wheel-less road frame.
But wait. His handlebars seem to have gone South aswell. They're lying on the rug behind him. And anyway, his shirt is still a touch too pristine for a fellow who's been supposedly engaged in even minor bike maintenance.
And of course, why he's doing all this in somebody's living room isn't immediately clear. Doubtless smearing grease all over the floor, getting tire tracks on the wallpaper, anywhere but on his shirt, we can see his left hand pointing an apology and his mouth slowly forming an "I'm going to get that sorted out when I'm finished, I promise." to the rug's owner.I'll see your Tweed Run and raise you a Seersucker Social.
The more likely scenario is that what we have here is a guy who wants a Brompton, but doesn't know it yet. Maybe the room is his own tiny bedsit, and he likes to win a couple of extra square feet each night by taking his bike apart and stacking it frame-wheel-wheel-handlebars in the corner, before tucking into a can of camping-gas-heated beans on toast. Actually, that's not a likely scenario at all.
Clearly, were he living in such straitened circumstances, it's improbable that he'd be spending his money on short sleeved cycling shirts.
Got it. It's Christmas, and he's excitedly up at the crack of dawn to see what Santa Claus has brought him. In his letter he ambitiously requested a lot of stuff, never dreaming to get everything. But it's all there! New frame, new wheels, new bars, new short sleeved cycling shirt.
Most readers will be familiar with the impulse to try out all their presents straight away, which is why he already has the shirt on and is dazedly trying to assemble his bike.
Absolutely ecstatic, the only reason he's not smiling is it's six in the morning and he's queasy from having already eaten half a Selection Box.
If anyone can provide a better explanation, place it in our Comments Section.
The shirts, incidentally, are made from a cotton rich fabric, which, depending on who you believe, is either good or bad for cycling in hot weather, and come equipped with an inarguably stylish back pocket.
Designed to house a packet of Lucky Strikes, or a puncture repair kit. Your choice.
Of course, one thing which barely even qualifies as a matter of choice for summer cycling is the material from which one's saddle is fashioned. Seats of plastic, gel or foam will cause nether regions to rapidly overheat, regardless of whether the rider's pants are made of lycra, treated cotton, rubber, liquid cooling pouches or anything else.
In short... we don't need to spell it out, do we?