Winter time is upon us again and for some of you this means being incarcerated in your garages tricking out your steeds for next season and camping out in the barca-lounger watching bike vids until you fall catatonic with sandpaper eyes and the telltale line of drool hanging off your chin. For the rest of us, this is the beginning of the long awaited season of pleasurable riding conditions! Don't be jealous.

As many of you know, gearing up for the winter season requires a little more thought than the rest of the year. The usual board shorts or spandex gives way to ¾ riding pants or full leg stretchies. The well-worn t-shirt (or in my case, no shirt at all) gets ditched for long sleeves, sweaters and windbreakers. Like with any cold weather activity, cycling during the winter time often demands stacking up a bunch of layers and then spending the better part of the day swapping these layers to get the combination right (and then stuffing the unused articles in a pack so as to experience the joy of carrying them around the rest of the day).

It is this constant messing around that has driven me, for the last few years, to simply toughen up and deal with the cold. Starting out wearing a regular cotton tee, I'm usually freezing my butt off when the cold-weather ride begins but after a few minutes of riding I'm of course sweating like a pig. The downside to this practice is that by the time I stop for my mid-ride break, I'm shivering worse than I started out! Even though this is Florida and the temps rarely drop below 40, something clearly had to be done. In this day of modern technology, virtual reality, probes to Jupiter's moons and cloned sheep, surely there has to be a way to keep a nice even body temp through the ride without messing around with a laundry basket full of crap? Right?!

When I got an email from our friendly PR folks at Verde asking if I'd like to try out some gear from Ibex, I felt like my prayers had been answered but at the same time I was a bit skeptical. I don't know about you but I usually associate wool in the same class as horse blankets and jacket liners… You know, something you wouldn't want to put against your skin.

Our rep asked me which type of garment I'd like to try but considering I knew absolutely nothing about the product line, I simply told her that I'm in Central Florida and the winter temps are usually in the 40's -90's- pick something out and surprise me! I received my surprise about a week later in the form of a package from Ibex containing the Indie Long Sleeve Jersey. Wool construction and sleeves, perhaps they had missed the part about it reaching 90s here.

Fresh out of the box, the Indie Jersey didn't feel like any wool I had ever encountered before. Get itchy and heavy right out of your mind; it had a weight similar to a cotton tee but also a type of smoothness you usually would expect in a heavy silk.

The Indie sports flat stitching on the outside to prevent chafing as well as a trio of pouches on the back to carry energy bars (or that kind of thing). Visibility enhancement is taken care of by a reflective logo on the back pocket and the back edge of the jersey is held in place by line of rubbery stuff on the bottom edge to prevent you from pulling a plumber while you are pedaling through the trails. Riders behind you rejoice!

Suiting up for the first time was easy enough thanks to the 12" zipper down the front, which also helps maintain temperature whilst traversing the trails. The moment I slid the Indie on I knew that I had entered a new realm of cycling clothing. Now before I continue, allow me to explain that I am not the kind of guy to go gaga over some riding clothes. I usually sport a pair of beat up Fox or Oakley board shorts and a T-shirt- if I wear any shirt at all. I'm in this sport for the ride, not the fashion….

Anyway, it's Thanksgiving morning, temps are in the 40's, tires are pumped, chain is lubed and I'm ready to ride. Zip up the collar, ditch the stocking cap, strap on the helmet and I'm outta here. Riding out of the parking lot, I felt a bit chilled and was beginning to have some doubts about this wool stuff but figured that I was in it for the long haul. No turning back for a jacket! About 5 minutes into the ride I started to warm up to about tee in March temps and, unlike a real t-shirt, was surprised to find that my body temp stayed that way for the duration of the ride. Toward the end of my ride, the ambient temps had risen into the 50's but the temps inside the Indie remained quite comfortable. Up above 60, I probably would have stuffed it into the pack but because the material is so breathable, maybe not.

One of the other concerns that I have with pricey riding gear is odor control. Most synthetics and even cotton have a tendency to break bad with the funk as soon as you start sweating; in some cases sending the local wildlife for the hills in terror. I didn't dig too deep into the scientific properties of the Merino wool but apparently the non-absorbent nature of the fibers wicks moisture away from your skin keeping you dry and the jersey mostly odor free.

After this test ride I definitely have no trouble giving my seal of approval to the Ibex products line. Smooth Merino wool, rock solid flat stitching, a strong zipper that stays where you put it, durable material, moisture wicking, the ability to keep you warm without overheating, odor blocking and cool colors… What's not to like?

TECH:
New Zealand Merino Wool; 180g/m 2
Form fit
12'' center front zipper with locking pull
Raglan sleeves
Gripper back hem; Three back pockets
Self-fabric collar and cuffs
Reflective logo on back pockets
Machine washable
Made in the USA

Garment Weight: 10.4 oz

More information can be found at the following URL:
shop.ibex.com/Apparel/Mens-Ride/Indie-Long-Sleeve-Jersey

And in an unprecedented move, Sully has embraced the multimedia power of the Internet by recording a video supplement to complement his critique:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLUIGQwhzLI