If like me, you happen to be a regular reader of thewashingmachinepost you know that Scotland is the perfect proving ground for foul weather gear and winter kit. Declaring a jacket wind or waterproof in the Hebrides carries a little more weight than saying it's warm and comfy on winter mornings in San Jose California. Our recent holiday on the Islands of Lewis and Harris provided plenty of precipitation – rain, sleet, hail and snow, often traveling horizontally when it was blowing a 'hoolie'.
Before we left for Scotland I ordered a Briko long-sleeve baselayer, Briko Katana jersey and Campagnolo winter gloves from Wiggle in the U.K. (great name) and had them shipped ahead to Glasgow. This lightened our outbound baggage, and gave me some new kit to test along the way. As it turned out all three pieces were great additions to the trip.
Cycling photography with the Enigma Echo was entirely opportunistic and that meant wearing kit at all times under an outer shell layer, top and bottom. The weather dictated a long sleeve thermal baselayer next to my skin. I knew what to expect from the Craft Pro Warm baselayer since it made my Kit Top 10. I'm happy to report that Briko's Wizard LS, sporting a very similar knit and feel, performed equally well and actually fits me better. Briko doesn't seem to be actively distributed in the U.S. at the moment though.
I normally boosted my core protection with an additional Craft Pro Zero sleeveless layer with arm warmers before choosing one of the three cycling jerseys I had available: Rapha's long sleeve; Rapha's winter jersey; and the Briko Katana short sleeve. It never got warm enough to wear the Rapha long sleeve and its close fit wouldn't have worked as a third layer – it stayed in my suitcase for a decent spring day in California. The roomier fitting Rapha winter jersey worked perfectly. It was THE outer layer on several of the sunny afternoons we enjoyed and my default choice for its casual good looks at the dinner table each night.
The rest of the time I had the Briko Katana jersey on. In black with white underarm vents, Rock Racing Green flat stitching, and bold reflective Briko wordmarks on both shoulders it's style is wet-suit inspired. It looked equally good paired with black or white armwarmers.
The stretch Lycra/Meryle fabric, anatomic cut and rubber-coated elastic at the bottom kept it in place when I was on the bike. I wouldn't recommend the Katana for longer rides where jersey storage space was important. The single, zippered back pocket would fit a few snacks and a phone, but not much else. In Scotland I always had on additional outer layers: Rapha's Gilet; Rapha's Classic Softshell Jacket or Campy's Raytech Jacket – all of which had generous pocket storage.
The one weather constant in the Hebrides was wind. It blew religiously and that put a premium on a good pair of gloves to keep hands warm. I was happy with the basic performance of the Campagnolo Thermo Textran Raytech Gloves (a mouthful) on and off the bike. Pre-curved fingers make the gloves comfortable. The good fit allowed me to operate the controls on my EOS DSLR. On the bike, the gel palm insert works well but the silicon gripper material applied to the palms is all starting to peel away. Not what you'd expect from a premium product that's seen only a few weeks wear.
The beautiful Spring weather Northern California has enjoyed since our return didn't stop me from coming down with the flu last week. I'm falling behind on my mileage plans for 2008. I'm hoping I'll get an extra boost when the Enigma arrives.