Surprising. Beautiful. Astonishing... Just a few ways to describe the Isle of Wight. Brutal, could be another.
The undulating terrain can be tough, and if the weather turns against you? Well, it becomes a place that really tests body and equipment.
This was my recent ride on the diamond isle - testing out the dhb Rain Defence range.
My dhb kit list
- dhb Aeron Rain Defence Long Sleeve Jersey
- dhb Aeron Rain Defence Bib Tight
- dhb Rain Defence Gloves
- dhb Aeron Merino Sock 9cm
- dhb Merino Long Sleeve Base Layer (M_200)
- dhb Aeron Road Helmet
- dhb Windslam Cycling Skull Cap
- dhb Neoprene Nylon Overshoe
It's an early start and just getting light, as I head out the door to meet Tim - fellow 'Wiggler', infamous rider, and general Island guru.
It is obvious from the first pedal rotation that this is going to be one of those cliché British winter days: chilly, and wet.
We leave Cowes seafront, and head for the lanes. The persistent drizzle is intensifying, and although it's not exactly raining, the water content in the air is noticeable.
It's the kind of weather when your kit will get properly damp. Normally for riding kit that means it will rapidly lose any insulating properties… luckily, today I'm wearing the new dhb Rain Defence range.
The dhb Aeron Rain Defence Long Sleeve Jersey
The excels in these conditions. Its form fitting cut (even if you're skinny like me), and the long body and arms, provide a snug and protective piece of apparel.
My snacks and phone are stashed safely in the two large rear pockets, and the storm flap on the zipper is keeping out the chilling northerly wind.
The importance of gloves and overshoes
Normally in these kind of conditions, I'd be struggling to change gear; due to frigid icicle fingers.
Thankfully I'm wearing the today, with their protective and insulating properties.
I'm equally grateful that my toes are protected by the - purple extremities are about as distracting and uncomfortable as a rubbing brake block. On this ride, I'm left to focus on the miles ahead.
Arrival of the crosswinds...
From our Scottish style drizzle, we're suddenly bombarded by Belgium'esque wind.
Flandrian. Grey, murky, and gusty. We turn left, and the road kicks up - further adding to the atmosphere.
I knuckle down on the drops, half expecting to see Geraint Thomas in nearby ditch...
The drizzle momentarily pauses, and the temperature begins to rise.
While the 'E3 Harlebeke' (a.k.a. Wellow, Isle of Wight) headwind has abated for a while, I'm now putting in some significant efforts to keep on Tim's wheel.
The are impressing me however; despite my rising core temperature, they are breathing well - keeping my comfortable and dry, inside and out.
All ride comfort
3 hours in, and I'm still going strong, and the finish is in view.
My Eastway Emitter R0 might look like it's been ridden in a cyclocross race. I have definitely got panda eyes, from the constant muddy rear wheel spray. Despite this, I'm comfortable: everything from the quality CyTech pad in the dhb Rain Defence Tights, to the all-weather warmth of the dhb Merino products; they've kept me riding and focussed throughout.
Now... where's the cafe, coffee, and cake!?
dhb have made it their primary objective to provide kit for every rider, and for every riding condition. The dhb Rain Defence range is a fantastic example of the successful execution of this aim.
Whether it is my local Portsmouth commutes, or this Isle of Wight Winter Epic - the Rain Defence range excels. I'm sure it will be incredibly useful come spring-time road racing, too.