Winter is Coming ×

Have we forgotten how good we have it? Winter is approaching, no doubt a missed Game of Thrones reference, but we’re between seasons, and to be honest, who can tell - it’s mid-autumn and I’m still in short sleeves and boat shoes? Climate change is real people and apparently, it’s lovely in April now.

Things will change, they always do and as Melbourne begins its transition from Dorne to Winterfell (ahh, there it is) will come the need for warmer kit.

So, let’s digress.

In 1938 The Alpine Journal described the ascent of the North Face of the Eiger as “an obsession for the mentally deranged” and “the most imbecile variant since mountaineering first began.” In July of that year Heinrich Harrer, along with 3 compatriots scaled the treacherous route in three days.

Using what can loosely be described as the technology of the day, but really, just warm clothing; linen jackets, hobnail shoes, woollen sweaters and hats and with the aid of hemp ropes, 12 point crampons and pickaxes they climbed the 1800 metres of craggy rock and ice to the almost 4000 metre peak. It would’ve been miserable and cold, heavy and slow, made worse by not one but two nights on the face, not to mention bivouacking where friends and colleagues had died in horrific circumstances, their tragic deaths still fresh in the minds of these intrepid explorers, further cementing the gravity of the situation.

With absorbent, wet ropes and woollen gloves the only thing keeping them on the mountain and heavy canvas and fur backpacks stuffed with the bare minimum needed to survive the ascent they probably didn’t prove The Alpine Journal wrong, but they did catapult themselves into fame and German stardom. With the success of the Eiger ascent came much attention and when the gushing Fuhrer received them he no doubt saw the supermen of the expedition team as a shining example of the New Order he was creating.*

Quick Heinrich Harrer history lesson.

In 1939, working for the Germans, he and a team of explorers were tasked with finding an easier route of the Nangar Prapat, the ninth highest peak in the world, at the western most end of the Himalayas. Concluding the ascent was possible and waiting in Karachi, the team grew impatient and embarked on an overland trip for home through Persia. Picked up by the British as the war broke out, they were placed in a detention camp. For 5 years they attempted all kinds of escapes, finally succeeding and finding their way to Tibet in 1944. Only two men from the initial expedition managed to make the perilous journey and in ’46 were granted entry into the Place of the Gods, Lhasa.

Harrer (and Aufschnaiter) famously lived in Lhasa, even becoming the teacher of the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama. His story is the extraordinary Seven Years in Tibet and worth the trouble reading. If books aren’t for you, Brad Pitt’s earnest effort is tolerable for the stunning vistas and Harrer’s amazing tale.

Back to Winter Cycling.

Of course, you can go riding in Harrer-era gear, fashion has made an industry out of looking like a turn of the century bootlegger or blacksmith, why not go for a ride looking like Fausto Coppi? Grab your steel frame and go play dress ups. While you’re at it, start making your own cheese, get a water-wheel and grind your own flour. All fine things, but we’re not Luddites or living in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. For Christ sakes, we’re putting 12 gears on bikes now!

In the last decade, cycling kit has come a very long way, surpassing still commonplace offerings, rendering them obsolete and archaic. Knitting mills and manufacturing techniques have allowed for superlative clothing for all conditions, but nowhere is this more keenly felt or more present than in trans-seasonal and cold weather gear. Take a look at Q36.5s staggering applications of silver thread, carbon fibre and three-dimensional weaving, which have pushed materials-tech further than ever before. But it doesn’t stop there, it’s one thing to have the material, it’s another knowing what to do with it; where it’s most beneficial, most effective or even not necessary. With computer data and analysis, we can now put fibres where they’re most efficient and of service. Wind and water-resistant components can fit snug and tight while remaining breathable and comfortable. Patterns are designed for optimum fit with pre-shaped and pre-bent limbs. The real beauty of all these advancements is that it can all be done in extremely light weight applications.

The Q36.5 Solution

I’m not going to sit and tell you that winter isn’t hard, it is. But it’s coming and a failure to prepare is to prepare to fail. So, while there are options, we believe the only question you should be asking yourself is which pieces of Q36.5 you’ll be wearing this season. We can honestly say that the winter offering from the Italian brand is hands down the best you can buy right now.

I could go on about the Long Salopette L1 knicks and the long sleeve Base Layer 3. They really do make getting up in the morning as easy as possible. And the BeLove and Hybrid Que gloves are as much a necessity as their long sleeve jacket brethren are, but it’s in pieces like the Termica Jacket where the reach of the most modern of technologies finds its most reassuring home. With a hermetic collar, laminated and windproof front body panels and breathable sides and rear, the Termica is a “winter shell” designed to keep you operating comfortably (at 36.5 degrees) in temperatures down to 0 degrees. It also weighs 400g. Jon Snow’s jacket this is not.

So yeah, we may have drunk the Kool-aid, but when it tastes this good, why wouldn’t you?

Not all technology is great. The jury is out on A.I. and Twitter can save it, but let’s wrap this up by putting this into perspective. On November 17, 2015, Ueli Steck climbed the Heckmair Route of the North Face of the Eiger - the same route Harrer and team did in 1938. We’ve come a long way and while trends come and go, genuine technology makes what we do easier and more enjoyable. Steck did it in 2 hours 22 minutes.

Here’s our rundown to stay warm during the impending snowpocolypse.

R-Shell Rain Jacket 140g $450

Termica Jacket 400g $475

R-Insulation 320g $450

Base Layer 3 108g $135

Long Salopette 255g $450

Vest L1 Essential 137g $250

Leg Warmers 107g $130

Arm warmer 60g $75

Be Love Gloves 69g $160

Any wool blend sock from Q36.5 30-46g from $40 (Hands down, the best socks in cycling.)

Overshoes 90g $155

Fleece Headband 18.5g $45

Sottacasco – Fleece Beanie 27g $70

*Harrer was later cleared of any wrongdoing. His involvement with the Nazi party cleared as more ceremonial than of any actual service. But still, Nazis!