I remember I once printed off a picture of what I considered a "vintage cyclist" and brought that photo in to my local bike shop. Wool jersey, black shoes, wool shorts, no helmet. Black and white photo, of course. I asked them if they knew of any gear that could help me achieve this look. You see, I had this plan to enter in to a race but instead of donning the blazingly tight tights and Lycra, I wanted to play a character. I wasn't going to win this race, but I surely would not have been forgotten. My local bike shop (this was back in Canada), only knew of Oregon Cyclewear; relatively-local makers of fine wool jerserys for cycling. They had that retro look that I was after. So I planted that seed in my mind and through wonderful opportunity, ended up moving down to New Zealand. I never did enter that race (it was actually cancelled) nor did I buy an Oregon Jersey (international moves will do that to you). Moving to a land where I could cycle year round, the planted seed made me look for something that was locally made here in NZ and from wool. After all, NZ is well known for its sheep content. Surely, there must be someone who did it. Google searches for NZ Wool, Merino Wool, Merino Cycling found me Icebreaker, Tinshed and various other Merino Manufacturers. As I would be riding year round, I wanted wool for my tops and shorts for riding. I had a few boxes to tick. I had a few merino tops that have lasted years that I brought with me, so they work well. I've always worn wool as a baselayer. In the cold, it wicks and keeps you dry and warm (Canadian Approved). In the heat, is breathes and protects you from the potent UV rays (Kiwi Approved). And best of all; IT DOES NOT SMELL LIKE DEATH WHEN YOU SWEAT (cough cough polyester cough). This last one is important because nothing says "I'm home" to your family quicker than the foul smell of a sweaty ride on the bike. They could usually smell you before they saw you... Anyway, I came upon Soigneur Jerseys in the aforementioned Google search and was blown away by the selection and choices. I mean, how cool was this??? There were so may cool styles, greatly satisfying my desire to complete my retro look. Since I was riding daily, I needed at least 2-3 jerseys through my rotation. I already had two, and I knew that when I saw these jerseys I really wanted one. Best of all, they were made right here in New Zealand. Boxes ticked! The ordering process was really easy. A size guide was provided for quick reference. I wanted long sleeves, and being a rather torso-ey tall person, large sizes quickly turn to baggy sizes when you're on the leaner side of large. This means I had two choices. Get a XL and suffer shorter sleeves at the wrist, or get an XXL size a force my body to grow horizontally with croissant and cake to fit the currently baggy jersey. Well lucky me, because custom sizing was offered. I measured myself up and ordered away. I chose the red BSA because I had always driven a red car. Well now no longer having a car, and finding the choice in red bikes rather abysmal, I may as well garnish myself with red to continue on the tradition. Plus, the BSA symbol is guaranteed to make you 6.8% faster (*disclaimer) whilst riding. Sold! The jersey arrived and, well you can read up on stuff and imagine what its like, but seeing it in person is just next-level. I was so excited! The quality is outstanding. The fit was perfect. Tight around the torso and long in the sleeves. Long sleeves to prevent being cooked by UV, and they extend right down to my gloves. Thank you, custom sizing (and a no extra cost!). Nice, thick, soft and luxurious merino wool that is perfect for colder days and breathable on warmer days. I don't use the back pockets (yet), but perhaps I could stuff them with croissants and cake... I've got 3 merino jerseys in my rotation now. Two regular merino wool baselayers, and this jersey from Soigneur. I look forward to the days I can use it. Sure, people at work make fun of me for the way I dress on my bike (they don't understand the joys...), but I'm old enough to not care what others think. Plus, it's my own personal brand of cool. And now, I've actually completed my retro-cyclist moustachio'd (I don't have a moustache, I just enjoy writing it, but I was suggested to grow one by a colleague [who is from FRANCE!!!] after he saw my new cycling outfit). I would buy another one in a heartbeat, and I likely will. And I know they would both last me a lifetime, in cold and in heat, UV and snow. I do believe that I stand out from the daily Auckland commuters. Not that I need to. I'm there for me, doing what I believe to be best each day. Finally, if you're worried about the cost; just don't. Yeah, you could get a jersey for $40 online, but this Soigneur jersey is just so much more. It's quality, it's style, it's comfort, it's protection; it's "je ne sais quoi?". This jersey is only the cost of less than two tanks of gas (petrol, still learning terms here, ok?), and it pays for itself in comfort and happy points. If you can't put this jersey on daily and not smile, why even get on your bike? Thank you Soigneur Jerseys, you've made me a happy(ier) rider. Now to just find some ludicrously-themed race and like-minded cyclists...
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