Since I started cycling seriously, I've been on something of a quest for the right kit. An enormous basket full of mistakes, hidden at the bottom of the wardrobe, is testimony to how often I've been unsuccessful.
Leggings are the worst. Seriously, have any of these manufacturers ever even MET a woman? How hard can it really be, to design a pair of leggings that stay up, front and back?
I've bought and cast aside leggings that expose inches of skin at the back, making me look like a teenager in a thong. I've tutted at leggings that don't pull up high enough at the front because someone, somewhere, got the idea that women can't ride with waistbands. Instead, they think we'd prefer something hovering at hip-level, creating a muffin top out of nothing.
I've had chamois pads that are too wide, too narrow or that melt away to nothing on anything over 50 miles.
I've tried waterproofs with similar results, ringing out the tissues in my sleeves and taking a towel to protect the car seat at the end of a ride: "Take two towels this morning, it's pouring. on second thoughts, take three and a couple of bin liners."
But now, it seems, those days are over.
I have discovered Stolen Goat and found the perfect kit.
I experimented with a pair of leggings and a jacket from the Orkaan weatherproof range.
First, to the waistband. OK, it could be improved by being cut a tad higher in the front but it is comfortable. And it stays put. The leggings have stirrups and are thicker, warmer than others I've tried. Paired with a great pair of socks and overshoes, I'm toasty and pretty much waterproof.
NB: learn from my mistakes, the fabric at the top of the leggings pulls really easily. I now remove my rings before wearing them as the first time I tried them on, I pulled a thread. I've also pulled threads on the sleeve of the jacket, where I wear my mirror.
The Orkaan jacket is sleek, brightly visible and in the same weatherproof fabric. It's well cut, especially on the sleeves where longer than average cuffs fit low on your gloves. The zip feels strangely high at the neck and I was sure it would dig in on a ride but I only ever notice it off the bike. The rear pockets take everything I want to carry including the all-essential banana sandwiches that keep me pedalling.
Everyone who sees me in the kit - and I mean EVERYONE tells me I've lost weight. I have - quite a lot. But this is the first time anyone has really noticed. Flushed with success, I went on to buy a second pair of leggings and another jacket - this time from the Climb & Conquer range.
This is really heavy duty, for the coldest, wettest rides. Paired with a full face balaclava I'm ready for a ninja ride below zero. The Climb & Conquer jacket has the same great cut as the Orkaan one but in a thicker, coated fabric off which rainwater simply rolls away. It is more hardwearing than the Orkaan material but definitely only for the coldest days.
You can check out the kit for yourself here: HERE