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In the Drops: S-Works gravel shoes, clever Pongo socks, racy Le Col and a marathon

Will Strickson
25 Feb 2022

This week’s round-up of good new stuff in cycling as well as some personal regrets and the best new music playlist yet

What a week to be on In the Drops duty. While the real world was a complete mess with Storms Dudley, Eunice, Franklin, and Vladimir, it’s been a busy one for cycling and for us at Cyclist.

For starters, issue 124 of The Magazine went on sale, which includes chats with Romain Bardet and Fiona Kolbinger, the hardest climb in Britain, lovely rides in the Dolomites and the Lake District and our favourite bits of kit for spring.

There was also a rather massive double launch from Wahoo, with the long-awaited release of its Powrlink Zero power meter pedals and Kickr Rollr smart rollers, and a rather excellent review of a rather nice gravel bike, the Condor Bivio, by deputy editor James Spender.

Editorial assistant Robyn Davidson has been churning out #content with the second instalment of her Extremely Online roundup of fun cycling things on the internet and a must-read interview with Dan Jones of Orica-GreenEdge’s famous Backstage Pass series and The Social Distance Podcast.

In the professional world, the action really kicks off this Saturday as the Spring Classics burst into life with Opening Weekend – Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels–Kuurne – so we put together everything you need to get ready.

For course previews, check out Henry Catchpole’s classic piece on the legendary Muur van Geraardsbergen and our guide to everything you need to know about Omloop 2022.

For rider previews, we've broken down both the men’s favourites and the women’s favourites. For TV coverage, hit up our Opening Weekend TV and streaming breakdown.

Amongst all that, we’ve got exciting new kit.

Specialized S-Works Recon Lace shoes

Dials. Wires. ‘Closure systems’. What’s all the fuss about? There’s a reason why all shoes for people older than eight have laces, it’s a proven system that categorically works. It also looks a lot nicer.

Specialized knows that and that’s why it recently brought out the really lovely looking S-Works 7 Lace shoes to much mouth (and wallet) watering.

It’s a good time then to remind everyone about the S-Works Recon Lace shoes that were released in July last year.

Yes they’re not strictly new, but to date they’ve not yet been covered in full by Cyclist.

The Recons are Spesh’s off-road shoes, with all the esteemed power-transfer qualities of its high-end road products alongside all the features needed to survive in the wild.

By that we mean a super-stiff carbon fibre sole, a Body Geometry fit, rubber heel and toe treads, two studs, an external toe cap, a rugged upper and a pair of laces that can, of course, be tucked in once tied.

If you’re not here for laces and think they’re not meant for cycling shoes, you’ll be paying £70 more for the Boa dial-equipped Recons. But don’t forget: Tadej Pogačar wears lace-ups.

Pongo London all-season socks

This is always a strange time of year for layering, and climate change has made it even harder to get clothing decisions right before a ride. When a sunny day can be 3° and a grey one 13°, how can you prepare?

Pongo London offers socks to see you through the coldest days right into summer via the inbetween days without any danger of cold toes. And that’ll go a long way to all-round comfort.

These three sock options show off the brand’s technical prowess with material choices and blends as well as selective thickness.

The XMerino (right), its deep winter socks, mix cashmere, mercerised merino and silk to make them warm and incredibly comfortable.

Classic Merino socks (centre) are made with a 200-needle machine and provide the optimal insulation with the pure merino that hugs your feet.

The star of the show here, though, is the Pongo’s latest development: its Cosi spring socks.

If you’ve managed to get your hands on a copy of Cyclist issue 124 you may have noticed I picked these as one of my spring favourites and there’s good reason, even though I’ve not had them long.

From the foot’s midpoint up, they’re summer socks. Thin, wicking, breathable, silky smooth. The front part of the foot, on the other hand, is a quilted terry cushion to keep your toes warm and comfortable when there’s still a chill in the air. Very clever.

Le Col Pro Jacket II

Finally, winter weather doesn’t have to mean slow riding. Heavier clothing, bulkier accessories and cold bodies all work to keep us pootling rather than pushing until the sun properly arrives.

Le Col’s second generation Pro Jacket aims to bring high-performance to all conditions and the brand says it has been developed alongside its network of pros to be sure it delivers.

The jacket’s Polartech Neoshell material is waterproof and windproof with a construction designed not to compromise on breathability or comfort.

It balances the right amount of thickness with a stretchy but close fit that minimises weight, eliminates flapping and optimises aerodynamics. Sounds like a recipe for speed, right?

Functionality isn’t sacrified either, with reflective detailing and several pocket spaces to ensure you don’t have to mess about trying to access a jersey underneath to reach essentials. One of these pockets is waterproof, too, so phones and so forth can be protected.

What we’re into this week: The marathon and ItD playlist #4

What better thing to do when you’re not exercising than more exercising? Although I may come to regret it, I have signed up to run the London Marathon for Asthma UK this October.

As an asthmatic myself, I’ve always been keen to prove that having asthma doesn’t mean you can’t be physically fit and capable.

The stereotype of asthmatics as bespectacled, fat, unfit nerds is – and has been – everywhere in popular culture, from Lord of the Flies to The Big Bang Theory.

It’s incredibly boring and tiresome, especially since while I’ve managed to keep my own asthma under control, others aren’t as fortunate.

A study has shown that children growing up in Tower Hamlets, London, have 5-10% smaller lungs than the national average due to the levels of pollution in the local area, so this issue is more pressing than ever.

I started running properly during the first lockdown in 2020 but have struggled to fully motivate myself back into it after I built up to a very casually done half marathon distance.

Now I’ve given myself no other choice but to do a lot of running this year alongside riding my bike enough to keep me sane. I would be incredibly grateful for any donations to my cause on my JustGiving page.

To top off this huge week, my new music playlist this month is The Best One Yet.

Having limited myself in the first three editions to 20 songs, somehow I’ve struggled to keep the fourth playlist under 50 songs and three hours.

It might be because I had two extra weeks to compile it, it might be due to listening to more, it might just be that there’s a boatload of excellent music being released right now.

In the Drops #4 has been blessed with new releases from the outstanding albums released by Alt-J, Big Thief, Metronomy, Yard Act and Black Country, New Road.

There are also singles from BENEE, Omar Apollo, Rex Orange County, SOAK and Bakar, and I've added the delights of CMAT, Yot Club and Yenkee to my list of favourites after listening to them for the first time this month.

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