Monday, May 16, 2011

New cycling jacket

Last week I did my standard 5.0 mile loop around the country club near my home. It's a quick ride that I can fit into a 20-min time slot. It is convenient, and it is still challenging because it features several hills. I have been averaging around 14.4 mph on this route for the last month, and I told myself I would buy a cycling jacket as a reward whenever I reached 15.0 mph. I thought this was a reasonable short-term goal. I figured it might take 3-4 weeks to acheive this goal. However, I averaged 15.1 mph on my very next ride. Oh dear! I guess I need more experience in setting goals, because that was clearly too easy. But I reached the goal, so I must buy the jacket, right?

Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Jacket
Right. So I am now the happy owner of a Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Jacket. Size: Large. Color: screaming yellow. Semi-form fit. The label reads: "Fabric provides superior wind protection and water resistance. Direct-vent panel provides superior ventilation. Reflective elements for low-light visibility. One back Velcro pocket."

I wore this jacket today as I rode the country club loop. I averaged 14.9 mph (see what happens when there is no reward incentive?) with maximum speed of 32.0mph. I rode 5.07 miles in 20:27. The air temperature was 59 degrees F with high humidity and a calm wind. I wore the jacket over top of a compression short-sleeved shirt, and below the waist I wore compression underwear and cycling tights. I was plenty warm. I might have done without the tights and just gone with shorts. Anyway, I am very pleased with the jacket performance. It fits perfectly, with just the right amount of room inside for movement of shoulders and arms. The jacket is made for a person like me with a flat abdomen, so there is no spare fabric there to flap around in the wind. The sleeves are remarkably long compared to most jackets and fit my long arms perfectly. The sleeves have elastic cuffs that keep the sleeves positioned well at the wrists. The rear of the jacket is cut long so that when one is leaning over on the bicycle to race down a hill, there is adequate coverage. The fabric is soft and light. I can tell it has some kind of coating to repel rain, but it is not objectionable in any way. It reminds me of fabric that camping tents are made from. I think this jacket is awesome.

However, I am trained as a scientist and inevitably I will find a few things to improve upon (FYI, that's how science works). So my two criticisms are:
  • The zipper is too small. So far, so good. But my experience with zippers like this one is that it will catch in the fabric. I don't know, though. I just tried playing around with it to see if I could get it to catch, but it won't. Not so far.....
  • The upper arms are too wide in diameter. At a speed of exactly 15 mph, the fabric around my upper arms begins to flap in the wind. It was kind of cool that it would stop flapping below 15mph and start flapping as I exceeded 15 mph, but at the faster speeds I was bothered by the thup-thup-thup sound the fabric made. Obviously, this would increase wind resistance, too. So how much fabric is there? I have the jacket on right now and I can grab a 2-inch flap of material around the upper arm. I'm actually surprised now how little space there is in the arms. Given how much wind-flapping I noticed, I would have thought there was more extra material there then there actually is.
By the way, my upper arms are 12 inches in circumference, so if you've got more meat on your biceps and triceps than I do, you're probably going to avoid the wind-flapping issue. I'm trying to bulk up my arms, shoulders, and chest, so maybe one day the wind-flapping will go away. After I first started weight-lifting in 2008, it took about 16 months for me to grow my biceps from 11 inches to 12 inches, so further growth is possible. I just have to be patient and purposeful about it. If I want to. Some days I couldn't care less about my muscle mass. Other days, I do care. Just yesterday someone was talking to me about their son, "who used to be thin--like you--until he started a weight-lifting program." I was not offended by the comment, but alas, I dislike being the representative case for how "thin people" look. I think this is because "thin" in my mind connotes "weak." Whether or not the "weak"label is true, I don't want to be called that. 

Coincidentally, it is now time for me to do some bench presses. Until next time, workout hard and have fun!


  1. Love the new cycling jacket. That's still something I don't own. I have a couple of jerseys, plenty of riding shorts, but no jackets. I have yet to venture out in the cold. I tend to stay on the trainer when it's cold outside.

    Great job reaching your short term goal so quickly!

  2. Nice jacket, the biggest perk of that jacket is that its loud and can easy been seen by drivers and the reflective strips make you visiable if you are riding at dusk.