Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The perfect cycling raincoat

I am self-employed. This means that any excuse is good not to do any work.

I've had my own studio to work in for the past year, but have hardly used it. Getting a bike changed all that - suddenly, the 30 minute walk turned into a 10 minute exhilarating ride, and I found myself heading to the studio every day. My productivity has been high, and my chronic back and head aches have all but disappeared.

Now that October is rearing its ugly, wet little head, I look at the skies with a mixture of resentment and anticipation. Is it going to rain? Do I get an excuse to sit in bed all day, with my laptop warming my belly, ignoring the croaks and groans of my abused back muscles?

A cycling raincoat has been high on my list of must-have bicycle accessories. It had to be cute, bright, waterproof, and hooded. Oh, and cheap. Is that so much to ask? Look, Kate Hudson has one:

It's Burberry, apparently, so completely out of my price range. But look how happy she is, clutching that giant water bottle, ready to provide her own rain if necessary.

Raincoats seem to be one of those elusive things that only briefly appear in shops in February, when all you want to buy are summer dresses and open toed shoes.

Even the internets failed me. Googling raincoats is dangerous business. Do not search for "Shiny red raincoat", unless you are into erotic pictures of semi-naked ladies prancing about on the beach. Oi. You. Come back here. I am not finished.

I did find this:

Isn't it cute? A snip at £17 from La Redoute. I wonder if I could fit in their biggest size? I mean, 12 year olds are pretty bulky these days.

Pfff, fine. How about this:

From some obscure French brand specializing in all things Breton-striped and waxed. So obscure they haven't answered my enquiring emails.

I even considered this Boden "Urban Mac" for a while:

But then I read this review left on their site by "Fifi" (!!!):

"Such a great coat. When I tried it on for my husband he summed it up "It's great, it looks like you haven't just given up afer having children!" I will feel flash on the school run."

Oh Fifi. Fifi, Fifi, Fifi. Here. Have a giant water bottle.

In the end, dispirited and frizzy-haired, I settled on this from Uniqlo:

Less than £20, on sale, and it's given me the perfect excuse to sit in bed all day: I have to wait for the postman to deliver it. Bliss.

Monday, 28 September 2009

The commute

"I choose to cycle chic, and at every opportunity, I will choose Style over Speed" 

Doesn't my bicycle look lovely in Holyrood Park?
This picture was taken on a soft summer afternoon, near Arthur's Seat, an extinct volcano a stone's throw from Edinburgh's city centre. Cycling along the smooth, winding bicycle lane, you can glance at the swans as they alight gracefully on the mirror surface of the ponds. You stop, laughing gaily, for an impromptu picnic on the mostly deserted lawns. A soft breeze ruffles your hair, and you let the gentle sun warm your bare skin, your toes enjoying the fresh grass underfoot...

Unfortunately, on a windy day like today, this is what it looks like:

Great day to choose for my first commute to work. Just going downhill was a struggle. The gentle incline at the bottom of the hill almost killed me. I'm pretty sure a pair of walking grannies overtook me. I huffed and puffed, grimly noticing that even the lycra-clad hardcore commuters were struggling past me. Your soft-cushioned cycling shorts can not save you now, Mr. IT Manager.

I arrived at work red faced and sweaty. Sometimes there is neither style, nor speed.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Old bikes

Above: not a bicycle.

I have few memories of cycling.

Two bikes lay abandoned in the rooftop conservatory of our building in Hong Kong.
They were rusty, flat-tyred, and scraped angrily against my skin when I fell over. I was determined to learn. I went round and round the limited space, sweating in the heavy, hot air, deafened and awed, looking up at the belly of the planes that thundered, so close, down into nearby Kai Tak airport.

Indian summer in DC, wobbling along the Potomac canal. Control? Balance? Ha. I scraped through thorn bushes, cursing the road, the twigs, the bike, anything. Then later, feeling smug, the fresh flush of confidence spreading gaily across my cheeks, letting my attention slip, and falling straight into the canal. The bike was fished out, but the November air went right through my wet clothing. and my pride was bruised.

Angkor adventure. The monsoon rain was strong and refreshing. We laughed like the maniacal, demented harpies we were, elated from our death-defying ride through the thick Siem Reap traffic. Monkeys skipped along the road. We sped along the tracks between temples, waiting for the next glimpse of grey stone between the trees, feeling quiet, and alone, for the first time in weeks.

Now, finally, scarily, I have my very own first bicycle. I'm ready for more memories.
Related Posts with Thumbnails