Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Techie Tuesday: Dressing For Zen

It was getting darker as the clouds were slowing crowding out the sun, conspiring to rain in ever deepening blues and grays, and yet the ride beckoned. Finally, the urge was just overwhelming, so I aired up the tires, pulled on some PI tights, a PI fleece jersey, and took a risk with this Performance Bike Shop Century vest under a PI convertible jacket. (the vest replaced an identical orange one whose zipper failed and left me seriously hypothermic 2 winters ago, so not a reliable outer layer as the zipper is still cheap junk)

The zipper on this is horrible, and not to be trusted, but as a 2nd layer it's terrific.
By the time I went out the door there wasn't a ray of sun to be found, and the air had a definite bite to it, but the fleece in the vest's collar and the 2mm TurtleFur balaclava overlapped to create a perfect neck seal, and long-sleeve gloves kept my fingers nice and warm. In short, I hit it dead, solid, perfect.

My ride was slow, because of detours on the ARPT due to the bottom of the draw at the bottom of the 'big' hill between Sunrise and Hazel being flooded, and because I had another flat (I'm looking at Conti Ultra Gatorskins again to get more flat protection in winter). Somehow it didn't matter a bit. I was just THRILLED be out riding again after days of rain. (and still more days of rain to come)


I've had good luck wearing a vest under a windbreaker before. The vest, especially one with a full mesh back like this one (black because it's intended for mtb riding, not road riding), acts as a diffuser, and allows you to open the jacket's collar without freezing your neck and shoulders, while armpits and core temps are kept under control.

The front zippers on the jacket, vest, and jersey offer tons of venting options to keep you warm, without soaking you in a sweat bath. Weirdly, it often works best to unzip the vest most of the way, and then use the jacket zipper to control overall air flow. This lets some air to the front of your chest without getting your shoulders cold.

The convertible jacket gives me lots of ways to stay cool - and dry if the skies decide to open up. It has tons of pockets, in addition to the 4 on my jersey, so the single folding phone pocket sewn into the side seam on the vest isn't an issue. For long rides it would make a nice place to store keys.

My jersey was pretty much wet when I got home, but no more so than riding with it alone on a humid, mid-70s temp day. With an orange LS jersey, and all the reflective tape on the vest, in a pinch I could do without the jacket - if she was REALLY gorgeous and needing to borrow some protection! ;D

I like the vest's tight elastic on the arm holes. It keeps the yoke well protected, keeping my neck and shoulders warm when I zip the jacket down for more ventilation. While I did get misted on, today wasn't a great test of the jacket's ability to handle rain, although, the yoke's design has a loosely Velcro-ed flap over a shoulder-to-shoulder patch of mesh, so it should shed water and still breathe well.

Pending an outing in real rain, I am very happy with this combo. Even the rather subdued red color of the jacket brightens up a lot under overcast skies, although, if I didn't already have a screaming yellow colored vest, I would have gotten that color in the jacket. For serious hill climbing I'd take the sleeves off and ride with just one vest.

I'm happy to have dialed in a great combo comprising the new jacket, as it has been a challenge with all the crazy weather we've had the last month.


Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Have you seen the jackets with magnets where the zipper would be on the shoulders? Super easy to pull off while you have the jacket on and then place them back on if you wanted. SO NICE!!!

Grey Beard said...

I have. I tried one on at REI. It's a nice system. I think the cut was too tight and restricted my breathing IIRC, but I liked the system.

The jacket & vest approach isn't obvious, or intuitive, but works very well.

I do wish PI sold the vest part of the convertible jacket separately, because there are times I'd like to ride with just the vest, but don't want to risk damaging half of a system.

My one wish for an improvement on the PI jacket would be for a VERY breathable membrane comprising the back from the yoke down. Fortunately, I can ride down to the low 40s without a shell over my arms, but when it starts to rain, breathability would become an issue.

Lily on the Road said...

Interesting, thanks for always enlightening me to products and whether they would serve the purpose or not.

Happy New Year!