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Entries in kit (2)


A quest for a vest

Recently I've been searching to replace a couple of merino vests that I've run, cycled and just relaxed in for... oh... must be getting on 6 years now. They still fit just the way I like, but they are getting rather thin and there are some holes in one of them. It's time. I love merino base layers. I love the way they feel, and as I quite frequently cycle somewhere, then stand around for a bit, cycle somewhere else, and so on, having a top that copes with getting a little sweaty and not stinking or making me cold is quite important. I don't like those fancy sports fabrics so much. I can't stand the feel, and they always end up stinking. So the hunt for a new merino vest was on.

The originals were from Howies, but sadly they don't do their baselayers as vests at the moment. They do have one merino vest on offer, and I guess there was a warning on the catalogue page that it's a casual top and order down a size for a more sporty fit. I guess I should also have realised that in spite of the original tops fitting perfectly and the one long-sleeve base layer I've bought in the last year fitting pretty well, nothing else I've bought from Howies has fit me for years. For some reason, in spite of marketing to runners, cyclists and generally active people, they don't make clothes small enough for me. I appreciate that my size (160cm, 49kg) is a little on the small side, but I don't think I'm unusually tiny for an active person. 

Suffice to say, the vest had a fair amount of superfluous material, and a view down my (non-existant) cleavage that would have been pretty much indecent on a road bike. It was a good job it fit Clarkie pretty well, or it would have been straight back in the post. 

Next up is Finisterre. (I'd jump straight to Icebreaker, but I'm trying to support the slightly more local brands occasionally.) I know a Finisterre size 8 fits me pretty damn well, so that part is a winner. I got two Zephyr vests in the same colourway in the sale - Finisterre do some odd colour combinations that aren't to my taste, so I stuck with the simplest. The tops are really nice - smooth fabric, well made, fit well under the arm. There's just one tiny problem with them: 


It's kind of low-cut again. I'm flashing my bra above the line of the vest, and that bra there (an Icebreaker Sprite racerbacked bra) is one of my lower cut ones. The back is even worse:


(Thanks to Terry Webb at Didcot parkrun for the photos! I went a bit fast for my current fitness levels, I was hurting by the end.)

It's ok, women's sports vests mostly don't cover bras properly, so I'll keep the tops and wear them regardless. I like the way they fit generally, they are tight enough not to gape when I ride my road bike, and the colours remind me of my undergraduate college. I've fed back via the wonder of Twitter to both companies (complete with pictures), because if you don't say anything you just have to live with it. Kind of like voting. Fingers crossed, that'll do me for another 6 years before I have to go through this all over again!


Short trials

After my run at Windsor, I put in an order with Wiggle. Primarily I wanted a Camelbak, as I've been struggling with starting runs feeling thirsty after spending the hour before queuing for the loos. While I was ordering though I picked up a new cap (my old one has gone a bit rusty), and a pair of Ron Hill Aspiration Racer shorts. I love my Harlot Houlihan shorts, but they are meant for cycling really, and I had a ring around my middle where they'd rubbed me raw.

(I may still wear them for the marathon if it's cold enough for long johns though.)

So the order arrived. The shorts looked a lot shorter when they arrived than I expected if I'm honest, but I figured I could work with that if they were comfy. So I took them on an hour-long run. What I discovered fairly quickly was that they ride up, which took them from fairly short to really very short. This meant that on quite a warm day when I was sweating pretty heavily, my thighs were rubbing together. After an hour this was massively uncomfortable. I didn't want to walk any further by the time I stopped. 

Me being me, I tweeted my displeasure. 

Ron Hill Aspiration shorts are apparently aimed at women whose thighs do not rub when they run. Not me then! #kitfail

I was thoroughly surprised to be tweeted back at by someone at Ron Hill, asking me to email further details of what hadn't worked out with the shorts. I was even more surprised when having done so, they offered to send me a pair of the Aspiration Flex shorts. Now, I want to like Ron Hill stuff, so I figured I'd give it a go. Plus, free shorts. No bad thing. The shorts duly arrived, and I took them out on a one hour run today. 

First up, the material these shorts are made from is nice and stretchy. Perhaps a little clingy for a pair of nominally baggy shorts, but soft. I also like the construction of the crotch. They run a single piece of fabric up the inside of the left leg, up and over and down the inside of the right leg - no seams to rub and a construction that mimics my Houlihan shorts. What I do not understand - and maybe someone from Ron Hill's design team can explain - is why they've put pockets in. The fabric stretches, you couldn't put anything in them and you wouldn't want to. More on those in a mo though. 

So I wore them on my run today, and Clarkie came too on the bike. She took this photo, about 40-45 minutes in. 

195-On the run

This shot shows the two problems I had with this pair of shorts while I was running. Just like the Aspiration Racer shorts, these ride up. The number of times I had to hoik them back down was irritating. The other thing - that thing sticking out to the right - is the pocket. I had to try and put them back in several times on the run. They just kept turning themselves inside out!

Fortunately this run was only an hour, and fortunately the Flex shorts were long enough that I won't be having to wear cycling shorts under my trousers tomorrow like I did with the Racers. Now, it may be that I have a strange gait. I'm fully prepared to admit I've got broader hips than the rest of my build would suggest. It may be that my thighs are bigger than they ought to be. But I do have other pairs of shorts that do not ride up on the run, and those pockets are totally beyond my comprehension.

Will I wear this pair again? Maybe. I'll need to sew up and probably cut out the pockets first. Will I wear the Racers again? Maybe, over the top of a pair of skin tight ones after I've cut out the inbuilt pants. So neither pair will be worn as the person who designed them expected. I should definitely say that I cannot fault their customer service, who really surpassed my expectations over all this.

In happier news, the Camelbak is working out really nicely and the hat is fine. I have some long, long runs coming up, and fingers crossed I do have the kit to handle that. It's just a shame it won't be Ron Hill kit.