Rene Herse Merino Wool JerseysJan Heine
Our Merino Wool Jerseys have landed! I’ve been wearing the prototype for the past year, and I’m glad we can finally offer them to our customers. Some may ask: Why Merino wool? It’s all about performance. Synthetic fabrics have improved a lot in recent years, but wool has a few million years of a head start in the R&D of how to create the best all-weather performance. (Sheep live outdoors year round, so they are excellent product testers.) And Merino wool is so soft that it doesn’t scratch or itch, even when worn directly on the skin.
Let me explain what I mean by performance: On a ride like the Oregon Outback, I don’t want to stop to add or remove layers. Wool adjusts to a wide range of temperatures – during the 26-hour ride, I took off the long-sleeve jersey mid-morning and then put it back on after sunset. In the middle of the night, I put on a rainshell for a particularly long and cold descent. That’s already the extent of dressing and undressing for the entire 585 km ride. In the photo above, at the finish, I’m still wearing the wool jersey, even though the temperature has gone from barely above freezing to somewhere in the 60s (Fahrenheit, or about 15°C).
Wool also continues to insulate when it’s wet. That is essential in light and moderate rain – I rarely wear a shell during spirited rides, because I tend to overheat in them. The Oregon Outback was dry, but there were many climbs during the night. I pushed the pace on the uphills, knowing that I could rest on the descents. That means I crested the tops quite sweaty, and most other clothing would have seen me chilled on the downhills in the frigid night. Not needing to stop to add layers on every hilltop, and take them off again on the next uphill, saved valuable time. (Stopping means getting even colder, which can turn into a vicious circle.)
Wool also doesn’t retain odors, which is useful on really long rides. My old teammate Mark Ahrens, who surprised me by showing up at the end of the Outback (and who gave me a ride to Portland), probably appreciated that!
My layering system is very simple: Bib shorts and our Rene Herse x Velocio Ultralight Jersey are my base layer. If it’s too cold for short sleeves, I add our Merino wool jersey. If it gets really cold or really wet, I put on a lightweight, breathable rainshell. Add wool tights and wool gloves, and that’s all I need until temperatures drop much below freezing (when I add a wool sweater and sometimes a second set of wool tights). This means I rarely have to change layers, yet I’m always comfortable.
Our Rene Herse Merino wool jerseys have finally arrived, but quantities are extremely limited. There’s a wool shortage right now, and our friends at Woolistic were able to make only a small portion of our order. Not sure if and when we’ll get more… but for now, all sizes are in stock.
Photo credits: Mark Ahrens (Photo 2); Rugile Kaladyte (Photo 3)