POC recently brought a select group of journalists from around the country to Solvang, California to experience the new Fondo clothing line in its intended habitat: among friends and during adventure.
POC Sports, a Swedish brand renowned for an acute focus on safety, sprinted onto the road cycling apparel scene in 2013 with its research-driven AVIP line. Following quickly with their svelte Raceday Collection in 2014, the decade-old company has this year focused on the rider who is driven more by passion and love than results: the “Fondo” cyclist.
I arrived at our bucolic accommodations for the enviable task of
riding bikes through wine country grueling product testing during early autumn, with little idea of who would fulfill the “friends” half of the equation. Luckily, it wasn’t long before I realized the other attendees would pilot wheels I could trust.
This was helped by a selection of beers crafted by Figueroa Mountain Brewing, a local brewery whose namesake we would conquer the next day. We had been brought there to explore the tenet of passion— clad in and aided by the Fondo line, to be sure, but not at the cost of adventure.
“I don’t climb.”
In line with the loosely defined itinerary, an exciting journey would soon follow. Setting out the next morning at 9:37 AM precisely, our assigned guide deftly navigated a brightly clad group past windmills and through wineries of the region — and promptly disappeared when the pavé began to ascend. (“I don’t climb,” he’d said. It turned out that he was being literal.) With little idea of where we were headed other than up, soon came the jokes and hopes about whether every rise was the top.
Dodging tarantulas sunning themselves and entertaining thoughts of getting intentionally lost on the fire roads of Los Padres National Forest, the ten-mile mixed-terrain climb finally relented after an hour and a half. Cresting what was ultimately determined to be the actual top at the height of the afternoon, we began our fast descent back toward the valley with little fanfare other than a cry of “WATER!” from a rider who had, like the rest of us, run dry miles beforehand.
An exciting half-hour of jarring twists and turns followed — the front brake of my rental bike howling each time I pushed toward its limit — until we happened upon our guide taking a siesta from the midday sun beneath a majestic oak tree. He had relied on an intimate knowledge of the area to circumvent the previous hours’ challenges and, with little concern over our thirst, informed the group that there was another 10 miles before we could be quenched.
The nonchalance was perhaps justified as we stopped for a moment before charging forth into the wind coming from town; we’d learned that the tree stood at the entrance of a property formerly known as Neverland Ranch, the notorious home of late entertainer Michael Jackson. Succumbing to star power (as many German tourists are purportedly wont to do), the lycra lineup posed quickly for a one-gloved salute before continuing on to the convenience store oasis which awaited.
A short time later we guzzled the Cokes we’d wished were 4,000 feet above while bantering with locals about the industrial implications of 3D printing — from teeth to automatic weapons to crazy things like bicycles. Replenished and riding high in a way that can be had only through a solid day of adventuring, we mounted our iron horses and pointed them back toward the ranch, tired and happy.
And the clothing? As anyone who is familiar with POC’s previous offerings may have surmised, it too hit the required marks with high precision: from clean, consistent design to quality materials and thoughtful construction, the Fondo Collection supported the ride throughout.
Ultimately, my adventure led to one question: do you Fondo, bro?
Look for an upcoming review of the 2016 Fondo Collection as well as a look at POC’s latest mountain bike gear, the Resistance line.