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In the Drops: Oakley Plazmas, The Road Book, NVPA bib tights, Assos gloves and Paul Weller

Sneaking in a final In the Drops in before Christmas day. What a lovely gift

Joe Robinson
24 Dec 2021

We here at Cyclist have already closed the laptops and turned off the printers for Christmas but we thought we’d be kind and bank some content as juicy as a turkey’s crown to sprinkle out over the festive period, to keep you occupied when you need that all-important break from the in-laws. Today, an instalment of In the Drops from me, digital editor Joe Robinson.

Now, with any luck, by the time you’re reading this I have polished off my Christmas Eve Chinese takeaway (a Robinson household tradition) and am on my way to my local, the Stage Door. More on that below. It starts a long week of over indulgence that leaves me panicking come January 1st at how out of shape I’ve become.

Luckily, we’ve got some content within the archives specifically geared towards keeping you in decent nick as you drink more and more and more Baileys.

Firstly, a guide to six simple leg exercises you can do at home to make you a better cyclist. Next, the actual science explaining just how far you would need to ride in order to burn 1kg of fat caused by ERPC (excessive roast potato consumption). Finally, we have a complete guide to managing your riding over the Christmas period that I’ve personally found useful in years gone by.

Oakley Plazma sunglasses

Is it me or do these new Oakley Plazma sunglasses make me look like Bono in the video for The Sweetest Thing? I’ll be honest, not much of a U2 fan although I do quite like Angel of Harlem.

Anyway, Oakley sunglasses, cannae go wrong can you. Every since Greg LeMond slung a pair on all those years ago they’ve been 10 a penny in the pro peloton and weekend club rides alike.

The big dog is flexing its muscles with the new Plazma shape, taking cues from the existing Racing Jackets in shape, utilising a prizm polarised photochromic lens that mediates the amount of light transmission depending on the weather conditions.

Sunny day? Then you get a dark black Iridium lens. Humming it down with rain? Clear lens. Somewhere in between? Then a lens for that too. The frame colour is matt carbon which gives them a neat finish and they are so light my bathroom scales didn’t register them.

The Road Book 2021

For any cycling stats and trivia geeks like myself, The Road Book is 700 pages of unadulterated porn. Need to see who came 6th on Stage 4 of this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico? Want to recall the weather conditions at this year’s Milan-Sanremo?

It’s all there alongside excellent essays from contributors including Tadej Pogacar, Lizzie Deignan and Tom Pidcock, and it's edited by Ned Boulting of talking-over-cycling fame.

This is the sort of thing you need in the bookcase or on the coffee table, like the Guinness Book of Records or The Da Vinci Code.

NVPA bib tights

Nightly Virtual Pogo Analysis. Notoriously Vague Parental Advice. Nervous Voles Plague Australia. NVPA stands for none of those things. What it stands for is Neon Velo Performance Apparel.

It is a London-designed, Italian-manufactured cycling apparel brand that happens to make very good kit. I’ve been wearing these bib tights a lot this winter and genuinely have nothing bad to say about them.

The inner fleece fabric is comfortable and excellent at keeping you warm while the material is stretchy enough to allow unrestricted movement. The bib also goes high up the torso providing a de facto added layer for warmth.

A particular detail I do love is the ankle zips which makes dressing and crucially undressing much easier. And being blue, they match my helmet which is a bonus.

NVPA is retailing these bibtights for £155 which is expensive but likely worth it if you cycle outside throughout winter rather than reverting to the indoor trainer.

Assos Winter Gloves

I’ve got the hands of a farmer. Big, wide, never cold, could carry 12 eggs with ease. Always slightly damp with sweat because of how much heat they generate.

Because of this, I seldom wear gloves while out on the bike. Even in the depths of winter, I’ll often head out gloveless and not by way of impressing my counterparts but because after five minutes, I usually find myself discarding the mitts into the pocket.

This means if I do need a set of gloves for the real extreme conditions, I need them to be breathable, lack bulk so they can be stowed into my pockets neatly and fit my wide palms.

A set that is ticking all of those boxes at the moment is Assos’s plainly named ‘Winter Gloves’. The windBlock [sic] softshell material is very good at keeping wind chill at play while remaining thin enough to be neither bulky or restrictive, and the fit is stretchy allowing plenty of room for my odd-shaped palms.

They are £70, which feels right for an Assos product, but as these are the only set of gloves I need I’d say it was pretty reasonable.

What we’re into this week: Paul Weller goes orchestral and delicious Snakebites

Eternal Modfather Paul Weller has gone all orchestral with his latest album.

Working with Jules Buckley and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Weller has re-recorded 18 of his classic singles from his solo era and his time in the Style Council – the band The Jam could have been.

It’s absolutely wonderful. The sound is big, the tunes timeless and Weller’s still got his voice. As a gateway drug I’d recommend his duet with Boy George of You’re The Best Thing, originally from the perennial 1984 Café Bleu album.

It’s Christmas Eve which for me – since I’ve been legally allowed – has meant going to the pub with my best mates to celebrate the wee baby Jesus’ big day.

The pub in question is The Stage Door in Dartford and just so happens to be the greatest pub in the world. The occasional drinking hole of those performing at the nearby Orchard Theatre, it’s exactly what a boozer should be, from the paisley carpet to the Paul the landlord, never seen in anything but a Hawaiian shirt and Regatta fleece.

I love it more than life itself. It was the first pub I ever bought a drink in and I wouldn’t care if it was the only pub I visited for the rest of my days. They serve Snakebites, have good-quality chilli nuts, a fantastic jukebox, a quiz machine and, most importantly, they absolutely love a lock-in. So many of my favourite memories come from that place.

Last year's lockdown prevented me from my usual trip but I’m holding out for a return this year. Fingers crossed.

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