While some outdoor and adventure company boss’s are tucked safely away behind their big, fancy desks, I/O Merino’s is out there running trails, skiing slopes, and riding his bike – doing exactly the kinds of things the rest of our customers are. Or want to! And David Michell’s latest trip is no exception – having just completed an 11 day, 750km ride along America’s ‘Jagged Edge’ coastline from San Francisco to Los Angeles to coincide with the Tour of California.
I/O Merino may not make a dedicated cycling kit (yet!), but what a lot of cyclists don’t realise is most of the layers in the range already work in perfectly with regular cycling gear. Sneak a Vital long sleeve top underneath your jersey, for example, and you’ll still be able to wear your favourite team colors, but you’ll have the added benefit of not freezing to death for the sake of it. Something David’s riding friends found out all too well after a few days on the road.
But let’s start at the beginning. David’s adventure started as many of them have… without very much idea of what he was getting himself into. A somewhat novice rider with less than two years experience under his belt, David was enthusiastic when his friends asked if he’d like to go riding in America. He thought they were suggesting a leisurely few days in the saddle, and in his own words “strangely I envisaged something ‘flattish’ and scenic”. He got scenic. But not so much flattish. The first day alone took in 1400 vertical meters. “I survived” he laughs, “And did it again the next day, and survived that as well”.
Before embarking on this tour he’d never even cracked the 100km mark in a single ride. “I did 99.8km once. I wasn’t checking my GPS data while I was riding so didn’t know how close I came to cracking 100 until afterwards, otherwise I would have ridden around the block” he said.
But the distance itself didn’t worry him. “Physically it was a great test and that’s what i’m into – testing myself. The distance didn’t worry me so much and the only expectation I put on myself was to finish.” And 750km and 12,000 vertical meters later, finish he did!
“I wasn’t the fastest in the world, but I did it” David said.
So what did David wear during the tour? Well, no surprises to hear he used I/O Merino layers, and he wasn’t the only one. “I had a specially made I/O cycling jersey made for the trip” he explains. “It was made from one of our flagship MicroMerino® fabrics, but it had never been field tested on a trip like this so I thought this would be a great way to see how it performed.”
He also had a few extras made for his cycling buddies, but they didn’t embrace it straight away. “The first few days, they wore their usual kit. And I think they only put it on eventually just to be polite. But after that, they wore it every single day they liked it so much. Breathable, temperature regulating, moisture wicking, odor-resistant – it’s difficult to understand why more riders aren’t wearing it.”
As for those who stuck to their much loved lycra? “They were cold” David says with just a little glint of satisfaction in his eye. “They’d have 3 or 4 layers of lycra on and still be cold. While I’d have two layers of my I/O Merino and be nice and snug.”
As temperatures dropped on one particularly cold day, David even went up to four layers to stay warm, and even with an extreme level of activity didn’t overheat – another advantage of wearing some of the world’s best Merino.
David’s one confession? He did in fact resort to wearing dreaded synthetics. “One day I really needed the rain protection so I wore a waterproof layer. But then I got hot and clammy and horrible so I took it off as soon as possible.” The rest of the time it was I/O Merino all the way.
So, the big question is, would he do it all again? “I loved it. The camaraderie was exceptional and is part of what made the whole trip. Bikestyle tours did a fantastic job of organising it all. And yes, the boys are already trying to convince me to do it all again next year in Europe.”
Stay tuned. We’re pretty sure this sounds like a challenge he won’t be able to resist. Who knows, he may even be willing to share this secret cycling jersey with the rest of us by then.
Here’s what David wore on his trip:
- Altitude Tank for core warmth
- Vital long sleeve as his main layer
- Park City Vest for streamlined warmth on the really cold days
- Multi Sport Socks (Back in stock soon! Email I/O Customer Service if you’d like to be notified when they’re back in stock.)
- Cycling Jersey (Maybe one day if enough people are interested. Let us know if you’d like to try one for yourself at I/O Customer Service! If enough people are interested maybe it can be fast tracked.)