You have finally died.
You came into my life almost ten years ago and the first thing you did was save it. Within reach of the summit of Mont Ventoux on the infamous 2000 Etape, and the day had just flipped from melting sunshine to pelting hail in an instant and I scrabbled you from my rear pocket and pulled you on for the first time in anger, completely unsure whether you would work or not. You had cost me fartoomuchmoney for a rain-cape just a few weeks before with the complete assurance of the well-respected bike-shop-nerd that you were very much worth it. I very much doubted it at the time but now I know that you, an Assos Rain Cape, or The Condom Jacket as you became affectionately known, were worth your weight in gold, which probably wasn't too far from the truth.
You were thin, and you were flimsy, but you completed your first day at work in nightmare conditions with honours. You performed a glorious encore the following year when once again I had to finish the Etape in horrendous weather, descending the Tourmalet in heavy drizzle to climb Luz Ardiden in stair-rod rain, and once again you were called upon - but with total faith this time. Since those heady early days you have been rolled and stuffed in my middle rear pocket most every road ride I've been on; you followed me across the spine of the Pyrenees from coast to coast, you were with me in the Alps, raced me round Germany, and you've been a partner on legion training rides at home, always there, gently pressing against my spine like a comfort blanket.
As time passed you got old and a bit baggy and slowly turned an unsightly "Colostomy Yellow", and at some point a replacement was acquired, the same jacket, just a newer version, but still you stayed proud in the cycling cupboard and in my affections and were dragged out when conditions promised to turn real bad, just for old-times sake. Partners.
And it was on such a day that were you pressed into service for what was to unwittingly be the last time; a four hour race in the cold wind and blustery rain. Despite a surfeit of Goretex jackets to chose from you were the picked out and once more you did your job perfectly, you kept me dry and you didn't boil me in the bag, just like I knew you would, always had. I never saw your tired layers delaminating, or the strips of material sloughing off in flaps of wrinkled skin as you struggled silently on, and when I stripped you off at the finish and held you in my hands before putting you back in the kit-bag to fight another I realised that you had died. The final sacrifice in the call of duty.
Goodbye my friend, it's been horrible.