Prescription Oakley Jawbones

Eyewear is important in cycling, regardless of the quality of your vision. You may have 20/20 sight, but when it is raining and spray stings your eyes, or worse a fly or wasp flies right into your face you’ll be far better off if you have something protecting your eyes.

Then there is the question of sunlight and shade. When cycling on a bright day you want sunglasses which will stop intense sunshine and glare from distracting you. However on a dull overcast day you don’t want to be wearing sunglasses which made everything too dark. Finally on some days you find both types of condition, so what do you do then?

I’ve worn glasses for most of my adult life to combat my astigmatism. I’m not long or short sighted at all, but due to the shape of my eyes vertically aligned objects are somewhat blurred. Since starting cycling I simply wore my regular glasses for this reason. However on sunny days I found it annoying not to be able to wear sunglasses, and additionally my regular glasses didn’t do a good job of protecting the whole of my eyes.

I’ve been a user of Oakley sunglasses for years and years but never justified to myself the expense of getting a prescription pair, until recently that is. Since really taking up cycling I could finally make the justification to myself and now I wonder why I took so long!

When researching I focussed on:

  • Frame type – with the decisions being around size, shape, protection and comfort more than style.
  • Lens type – as these would be primarily used for cycling I wanted versatility in a multitude of light conditions

There are two main types of Oakley frame that suit cycling.

The traditional wrap-around frame provides a lot of protection with minimal frame interference with your peripheral vision and good ventilation meaning they don’t fog up. The main frame in Oakleys wrap-around range is the Radar, which comes in various formats. However, I’ve never really liked this style.

The more traditional full-frame type is represented by the Jawbone and Split Jacket styles. There’s little difference between them, the Split Jacket is simply a smaller version of the Jawbone to suit a different type of face. The key features of both are their flexibility. Unlike most full-frame glasses they have interchangeable lenses thanks to the hinged “jaws”. You simply unclip the jaws at the nose piece and they hinge away from the lens, allowing it to slide out. Thus, a single set of frames can be used with multiple lenses for various conditions. Finally, the Jawbone and Split Jacket come in a wide variety of colours, and you can even create your own custom versions.

After a few visits to stores, including the Oakley Store in Covent Garden I settled on Jawbones. The bigger size fitted me more snugly and meant that there was less frame in my peripheral vision. As for colour, I opted simple Matt White to match my helmet.

The final decision was on which lenses to go for. There are at least 24 different options in the Oakley prescription range. One decision I had made was to go for Transistions adaptive lenses. These photo chromatic lenses adjust their tint according to light conditions. From a cycling point of view this means they are useful for more days of the year. This is important given that I really didn’t want to have to purchase more than one set of prescription lenses if I could avoid it.

As an aside, anybody who watched the 2010 Tour De France on Eurosport in the UK will likely remember the Tyler Farrar Transitions ad which seemed to be played during every single ad break during the coverage. Rumor has it that this was part of the deal that took Bradley Wiggins from Garmin to Team Sky.

There are a number of Transistions lenses in the Oakley range. The main consideration is the level of light transmission that each one gives which for Transistions lenses is of course measured as a range. In the end I opted for the Grey option which go from pretty much clear at 93% light transmission to a dark grey at 16% light transmission. I opted for vented lenses, which basically means they have holes at the top and bottom to allow some air to circulate behind the lenses to aid in the prevention of fogging.

With my decision made, ordering was done via rxsport.co.uk and involved entering my prescription details as well as measuring my pupil distance using the method described on their site. The service was excellent with the glasses arriving within about ten days from ordering (bearing in mind they are made to order of course.)

The glasses arrived in a sturdy Jawbone specific hard case along with a usual Oakley soft cloth and a spare pair of nose pieces of a different size to the ones fitted in case you need to swap.

Here they are just out of the packaging, inside the house:

You can see that the lenses are basically clear. In low light conditions on the bike, even at night, this allows them to be used and still to provide the protection they give.

When taking them outside, on a fairly sunny day, but with the sun behind cloud, they looked like this after about a minute:

That’s not as dark as they go, but is still a pretty dramatic change from before. It is worth noting that they tend to go darker quicker then they go lighter. In practice this means that on the bike they do not suddenly lighten if you go from bright light into a tree covered section for instance. However I’ve not found any problem here and I cycle through a lot of tree covered lanes! It is also worth noting that the transition happens in response to UV light. This means that they do not change indoors (or at least not much) and also means in some cars with special windscreens they may not change at all. However as I bought them as cycling glasses this is irrelevant to me.

So, how have I found them for cycling? In a word: awesome. They really are the best cycling equipment purchase I’ve made, bar bikes themselves. They are so much better than wearing my regular glasses and the optical quality is as good if not better. The quality of the lenses is excellent and after over 400 miles wearing them in conditions ranging from bright sunny days to driving rain I have no complaints. The only minor issue is that they do tend to fog up a bit when you’ve stopped after a hard effort, but on the move they stay clear thanks to the vented lenses. The protection is excellent and I have had flies hit them as a test! At first I did find that the frames were visible in my peripheral vision, but I soon got used to that.

Perhaps the only other negative is that they truly are cycling only sunglasses. Worn on their own they look just a little weird. This is a combination of the Jawbone design which let’s face it is rather “bug eyed” and my own choice of Matt White colour. When combined with a helmet this looks cool, but on their own is a little too much in contrast to my own colour! Since buying them however I’ve noticed both Brad Wiggins and Geraint Thomas regularly rocking white Oakleys so I’m in good company! Spot the difference (although I think G is wearing Split Jackets)…

Geraint Thomas in white Oakleys!

(Image from this Guardian article)

In summary, if like me you cycle and you’ve never been able to fully justify the purchase of prescription glasses then my message is simply, stop lusting over a new set of wheels or more weight saving equipment and invest in your eyes. After all, you only have one pair of them!

Ride Around London

The big one.

This was my main cycling goal for 2011. Whilst I’d done a couple of smaller organized rides earlier in the year and have certainly stepped up my cycling activity recently, this was the motivation. Whilst a single day, relatively flat, 115 mile ride is not much in the grand scheme of things it would be the longest ride I’d ever done. I also wanted to do it in a reasonable time, not simply suffer around slowly and on my own.

Lana dropped my off at Herne Hill Velodrome at about 6:30am and I made my way to registration whilst she turned around and headed home back to bed! Not knowing anybody else on the event I attached myself to a small group waiting at the start and after a short briefing we were off. The sky was just starting to lighten as we headed up through Dulwich towards Crystal Palace. The temperature was cool but not chilly. Arm warmers sufficed. The group I was in consisted of two guys from the army, three other guys who knew each other, myself and one other solo rider. After a first ten miles through built up South London we hit some nicer roads and the first bit of meaningful gradient. At this stage I got the nice surprise to find that I made it up the hill faster than all but one of the group I was in. This continued through the day (almost) as I found I was moving past plenty of riders and not getting overtaken too much. At the top of the first hill at Chipstead I found myself with a couple of guys as we headed down the descent towards the base of Box Hill.

We were now encased in morning mists as we looped around towards the base of the climb. Box Hill itself was a comfortable slog. I didn’t push hard knowing that there were still the best part of 80 miles still to come. After a quick break at the food stop positioned at the top of the hill I headed off for the nice descent and fairly fast 35 miles towards Windsor and the half-way point. I made it to the stop with about four hours elapsed and took the opportunity for a 20 minute break to refuel and stretch a bit for the forthcoming Chilterns segment.

We hit some crosswinds through Eton Dorney and at one point it looked like the weather might turn, but soon the sun broke through for the arrival of the leafy Chiltern country lanes and some short sharp climbs towards the next food stop at Chipperfield. This proved to be the most welcome stop with coffee and ham rolls supplied! At this stage my legs were a little tired and my neck complaining but nothing that I was worried about. This also marked the start of the final leg which for me was firmly on home turf. I’d pretty much cycled the route from this point on various rides out. Despite some dragging climbs I made good progress and got past St. Albans as I hit the 100 mile mark. The ten miles after that proved to be the most difficult of the ride as the terrain along The Ridgeway, Cuffley and Goffs Oak saw some climbs with very tired legs! However from there it was a fast final few miles to the finish at Lee Valley Country Park and some welcome pasta, soon followed by a burger and chips!

My final moving time was 7 hours 35 minutes for the 115 miles, giving me a moving average speed of 15.2mph. This was faster than the first century I completed a couple of weeks before which was pleasing. Looking at the official timing it turns out I finished 132nd out of the 401 registered riders for the 115 mile course which again I was very happy with. I also felt good the next day with no real aches or pains!

Finally, what’s most important is the reason for this event in the first place. The whole thing was put on by Access Sport, a great charity that aims to help disadvantaged kids get involved in sport. In particular they do a lot with various cycling schemes in and around London. The event was first class (although one piece of feedback would be that the signage could be better – the directional arrows had very small heads!) and I was happy to be able to raise over £350 which my employer will also generously double.

I’m looking forward to the 2012 event already!

First Century Ride

This happened a little while ago now, but is significant enough to warrant a post.

As part of my build up to the Ride Around London sportive, I decided to use some built up holiday time to take a week of work with the intention of spending most of it cycling. A friend, Paul, decided to take a Monday off and join me for a ride. The plan was to do 80 miles or so.

The chosen day was Monday 12th September, otherwise most notable for the weather in effect. The tail end of a hurricane was hitting Britain and the Tour of Britain stage from Kendal to Blackpool that day was cancelled. I’d been out on a 50 mile club run the day before and suffered into some pretty strong headwinds.

So it was that I met Paul in Shenley at about 10am and we set off to follow a rough route that would take us East into the 40mph gusting wind for about 25 miles into the Chilterns before turning back towards St. Albans, onwards to Hertford and down to Potters Bar.

Thankfully whilst the wind was certainly a challenge it did stay dry and we made good progress. After heading around various parts of the Chilterns including Tom’s Hill, Ivinghoe Beacon and Dagnall we stopped for a bite to eat at a pub in Gaddesdon Row after about 50 miles. At this stage I was feeling fine and looking forward to a tailwind. We then headed back towards St. Albans and turned North to loop around the top of Welwyn Garden City before heading towards Hertford. Along this part of the ride Paul suffered a puncture and I was certainly thankful of the rest. By this stage, after a couple of diversions from the planned route, I knew we were headed for more distance than anticipated so we headed due South through Essendon towards Potters Bar. Unfortunately this included Essendon Hill which I’d only ever done down, not up and with weary legs it turned into a slog. At Potters Bar and 91 miles in we parted company as Paul headed back to North London and I turned East towards home. Less than a mile from which I had to stop to mark the significance of the occasion 🙂

With a total moving time of 7 hours and ten minutes at an average of 14.1mph I was very happy with the ride, especially as it included around 1500m of ascent and some strong headwinds. I felt pretty good afterwards, especially considering I’d ridden 150 miles in two days, although my legs were a little stiff for a couple of days.

To some extent, I actually felt a little disappointed about the fact that I’d broken the 100 mile mark before the Ride Around London. Whilst I now knew I could do the distance (to the effect that I actually didn’t head out on the bike for the rest of my week off!) the challenge of the sportive had lessened. Still, it is another cycling achievement ticked off.