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Pedal power

OT  editor John White on why good cycling eyewear just makes sense

28 Jun 2017 by John White

One of my favourite aspects of summer is the sequence of annual events in the calendar. It is like the pick ‘n’ mix aisle at Woolworths: so many sweet treats to choose from (Barratts Shrimps every time for me).

Having overdosed on the BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury, my love affair with Radiohead has truly been rekindled, while my flame for Katy Perry did not require any additional fanning.

The spectacle of the grass court season, the Fed, Murray and co now beckons, but in recent years this prospect has been eclipsed by a new fad: the Tour de France.

So let’s just get it out the way now: My name is John White and I wear Lycra.

The affair started when a triathlete friend of mine persuaded me to join him on a jaunt to Lake Annecy, in the foothills of the French Alps, in 2009. Think blue skies, crystalline lake waters, and hordes of fellow cyclists bombing along the time trial route that Tour de France riders, including Brad Wiggins, were set to cycle the following day.

I was hooked. Since then I have stood in the scorching heat on the bleak slopes of Mount Ventoux to cheer on the peloton. And, in my favourite challenge yet, I have struggled my way up the beast that is Mount Tourmalet (all 17km of climbing at an average gradient of 7.4%) in order to stand at the top, sweaty and grubby, hot dog and full fat coke in hand, to see the race leader zip past like a mountain goat.

I take some comfort in the knowledge that I am not alone in my Tour crush. Having joined the throng at the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in Yorkshire in 2014, the sport seduces Britons in large numbers.

So, for three weeks from the beginning of July, my Virgin Digibox grinds into action, recording more minutes of men on eye-wateringly expensive carbon bikes than I care to admit.

This year, sadly, I am not going to be a cheering bystander in the French mountains, so must make do with my weekend bike rides, typically in the West Dorset hills. As I attend to my routine before setting off in the morning ('Spare inner tube: check. Map: check. Flapjack: check.') one piece of kit that has become an essential is my Oakley Radar, wrap-around sunglasses.

'OK', you might say, 'the editor of Optometry Today  would say that'. And fair cop: but when I set off on my trusty Condor bike I am smug in the knowledge that I can cope with nearly all light conditions, that the glasses truly fit and will not fall off at an inopportune moment, and with the detachable lenses I can give them a good clean when I get home. And who wants a fly going into their eye at 40km an hour? Trust me, it’s not pleasant.

One bloke who is minded to agree with me is Mark Cavendish. I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the sprint cycling supremo, and 2016 Olympic medal winner, a few years ago for OT, and his passion for specs is the clearest of reminders that, along with a sturdy helmet, riding with quality glasses is an essential. Be it for the pros, the amateur enthusiast, or infrequent bike-riding commuter, good cycling eyewear just makes sense.

For more information on eye health and eye conditions, explore the AOP’s For patients section.

John WhiteJohn White is Editor of Optometry Today, and Deputy Director of Communications for the Association of Optometrists.