As you may have noticed in my rides and if you follow me on Twitter and Instagram I have been particularly well dressed as of late thanks to the amazing support I have been given by Assos. Signing me up to their ambassador program and sending me a whole box of winter clothes has been nothing short of a dream come true, and I mean that.
Back in the early ‘90’s, looking through copies of Cycling Weekly there was one logo on permanent display at the front of races, the bold, graphic A of Assos. Most club kit back then was limited to a jersey and that’s it, you either provided your own shorts or I guess if you were good enough you had them bought for you and the best always wore Assos. From Paul Curran to Pete Longbottom, from Steve Farrell to Joey McLoughlin they all had that magic A on their shorts and naturally I wanted a pair.
Assos shorts however were not cheap, they would need to be saved for so saved I did. I’d go into Castle Cycles in Newark each lunch time to just feel the quality of the lycra which had a shine the other manufactures couldn’t get close to, oh and to admire the beautiful leather pad. Back in 1990, yes I am quite old, the pad was still made of leather, chamois leather. Chamois leather is porous you see, and soft, traditionally the skin of a mountain goat it is still used to wash cars but has long since vanished from the inside of cycling shorts.
So money saved the day came, I was going to buy them and it was an occasion as momentous as the day I bought my first Oakleys and my Dura-ace rear mech (they are different stories). I couldn’t afford the bibs so would have to settle for the standard drawstring shorts but all I was interested in was that white A on the left leg. Now at the weekend when I raced I looked the part, and yes these were ONLY for racing, never for training. To borrow Assos’s moto I had ‘sponsored myself’, I had turned my legs pro and from now on people would see I meant business, despite my lack of natural talent.
My next item of Assos came by way of an unfortunate happening which then turned in my favour. One night coming back from College in Nottingham I arrived at Newark station to find my bike, my first fixed wheel ‘hack bike’ a crumpled wreck. Whether it had been smashed by vandals or crushed by a reversing car I don’t know but it was a write off. Thankfully though it was covered under my parents house insurance and after taking it to Castle Cycles to have its replacement value estimated the insurance company sent a cheque for ‘said value’ to the bike shop as a tab for me to replace it.
Now of course I didn’t replace it at Castle’s, I replaced it from parts found in my mates garages for next to nothing, which left me with an expense account at the best shop in town, so what did I spend it on first? Assos, of course, and this time a Roubaix winter jacket. Not as warm as their full winter jacket but the absolute peak of style in 1991 and at £90 astronomically expensive. With it’s iconic single coloured lapel this was THE jacket to be seen in and I rode it week in week out until, well, 2006 when it was finally retired.
You see quality lasts, and boy was it quality. Once I was working and could just about afford Assos, I still bought what I could, especially essentials such as the winter jacket. I was often berated for not getting a ‘club’ winter jacket, but they were cheap and thin, and I had an Assos 851, the best winter jacket ever made. And it was and I was gutted when they stopped making them because I just couldn’t bare to wear anything else. Between 2005 and 2018 I had two of them and they were and still are just awesome. Technology has improved though and materials are more advanced and the Mille GT I now wear as a replacement is simply fantastic so I can still venture out equipped for the worst nature can through at me safe in the knowledge that I am well protected.
I will without doubt be heaping much praise on my new wardrobe through the season, especially my favourite item, the imperious ‘Schlosshund’.
NO Assos isn’t cheap, but YES it is the best.