Some time back in the distant past – or rather August – I was tempted by the Vulpine sale and ordered a nice merino polo top (one can never have too many merino tops) and, more daringly, a their “Epic” cotton rain trousers, reduced from how much!?! to just how much?! in the sales. Close inspection of the fine print suggests that they were merely rain-resistant rather than rain proof, but the cheery person who mans (or possibly womans) their twitter feed seemed convinced they would be ideal for the local conditions
Fast forward a few days and the trousers arrived and, magically, fit, despite the fact that I have – contrary to the trouser design ordinance of 1998 – hips, thighs, and a waist. They also looked very smart, at least adjusted for being a piece of clothing I own, and come in a colour other than grouse-shooting green. More importantly for the first six weeks I owned them they worked in exactly the way you want rain gear to work: it was never actually raining when I had to go out on the bike (there was one close call, but by the time I’d put the trousers on, it had stopped).
Unfortunately, possibly due to an unwary tweet to a Portlander who was also wondering where her rain had gone, the Weather Gods came back from their extended early autumn break and unleased a goodly portion of September’s rain on us today. Which was the day I had to cycle into Bigtown, spend a morning sitting in a meeting with the coonsil (and then going out and looking at various places where they might put some signs up to let cyclists know that – no pressure – but instead of pedalling down a horrible trunk road with HGVs roaring past you at two minute intervals, you could instead turn off onto a nice almost traffic-free route which has up to now been more or less the secret of a few locals, something which it has only taken the powers that be about 5 years to try and organise). The sort of day for which a pair of smart but rain-resistant trousers might have been invented.
So how did they do? Well, on the way in, they proved pretty good. Obviously I had used the intervening weeks of dry weather beforehand to not get round to re-proofing my jacket or re-waxing my boots so my feet and arms were a bit soggy, but the rain beaded up nicely on the trousers and then quickly dried and they were also not at all sweaty. The sitting in meetings part they performed with aplomb, looking at least as smart as anything anyone else was wearing and not being too rattly when I walked. Add in all the nice details (tab to keep the cuff out of the chain, magnetic button on the back pocket, hell, just having pockets which is not a given on women’s trousers) and I was pretty pleased.
On the way home, the rain was not so much heavier but – in the mysterious way that rain does around here – managed to be significantly wetter. Let’s just say that there are days when you get in and take your jacket and shoes off when you get in and put them in the hallway. And there are days when you take your jacket and shoes and gloves off and put them by the Rayburn to dry. And there are days when you get in and have to strip right down to your smalls in the bathroom and hang everything up in the bath to avoid flooding the kitchen floor – while silently blessing the fact that your towel is still hanging up on the Rayburn rail keeping warm – and today was one of those days. I can report that, as advertised, Vulpine Epic rain trousers are *not* waterproof in Scotland under those conditions BUT that my legs were the second dryest part of me after the ride. And the dryest? The top of my head, protected by my magical tweed cap – which has so far proved itself resistant to everything Scotland can throw at it. I’m guessing they know a thing or two about rain in Harris…
Vulpine are currently running a customer survey which is probably worth doing for the giggles if nothing else (no other cycling company that I know of acknowledges that ‘anything as long as there is cake’ is as much a type of cycling as the usual boring categories of road, mountain biking etc.). I’ve already filled it in, which is a shame because otherwise I’d be back on there now suggesting that if they really want to achieve ‘waterproof in Scotland’ status, they need to be looking into tweed.