When I was out riding my mountain bike on Sunday morning a calamitous thing happened. I was coming through a narrow section of trail where tree branches stuck out. One of them caught the right shoulder of my brand new Proviz 360 reflective jacket. The shoulder snagged on a sharp piece of the limb and the exterior fabric tore. Bummer.
I stopped the bike and stared at the sight of the fluorescent cloth from my Nike underlayer showing through. “No way,” I muttered. It was depressing. In fact it was such a downer that after 45 minutes of riding I pedaled home rather than keep going for the 90 minutes I had planned to ride.
Back home I showed the torn shoulder material to Sue. We were both amazed how clean the tear had been. “The material seemed so tough,” I told her.
On Monday I wrote the Proviz company through their Returns department and also contacted them through their social media page. The representative on their social page asked for a photo of the torn jacket and within a day they notified me that a new jacket would be sent.
They also wryly noted:
“Please be aware that our jackets are not designed for mountain biking.”
I’m grateful to Proviz for the fast response and the replacement of my torn jacket. As you can see from the photo at the top of this blog, the material is highly reflective. Even the merest bit of light turns it into a bright shape that cars cannot help but see. I like that. I’ve been a cyclist for more than fifteen years, logging thousands of miles in all kinds of conditions, even the dark. So I know what it means when cars slow down and swing wide to go around me. The Proviz works.
The reflectivity is actually a bit freaky, to the point of being almost extreme. The outer fabric is so reflective that when I accidentally spit on my arm during Sunday’s ride, white spots appeared where the refraction of light was magnified. Talk about lighting up your life!
I’ve worn the Proviz jacket six times now during both rides and runs. It keeps the wind out in all the right places and all the right ways. The wrist stays are made of black rubbery plastic and are easy to pull open when needed. The neck stays snug and the material is soft and non-abrasive.
The jacket is warm yet also breathable. I’m not getting paid to say this. I bought my Proviz 360 by clicking on a social ad for the company. I’ve been looking for a reflective jacket for a while now. A few years back, I was tempted to buy a Nike running jacket with similar reflectivity, but the thing cost $500. I love Nike products, but that price was a bit steep.
The running game
The Proviz jacket is a bit crinkly sounding to run in. But after all, it is not really designed for running any more than it was designed for mountain biking. It’s my fault that I expect my gear to perform so many functions.
I guess I got spoiled by a Pearl Izumi jacket that I purchased back in 2007. It was quilted on the front and arms to keep out the wind. Thus it was warm yet breathable. I could run in the thing and not overheat. After 10 years it got a little threadworn, but I still loved it. I think the zipper finally wore out too. I should have given it a fitting burial of some sort, or thrown it off a cliff into the sea, but I live in the Midwest. So it went into a dumpster during the big move out of my house a year ago. May the Pearl Izumi Rest In Peace.
Last night I actually put wrapping tape over the tear in my Proviz jacket so I could ride my mountain bike ten miles. Threw on a set of clear protective goggles that work just fine for nighttime riding. And with lights on my helmet and the bike, I could see well enough ahead while giving cars fair warning from behind. The added assurance of a reflective jacket really seemed to make a difference in terms of visibility and safety.
I’ll just have to learn to stay away from trees in the new one.