“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark... and we’re wearing sunglasses,” said Elwood in the Blues Brothers.
Bar the cigarettes, presumably, it’s a sentiment that is echoed throughout the land every weekend morning in winter as cyclists set off into the pre-dawn gloom with a pair of shades on that are designed to filter out bright sunlight.
While this might not entirely equate to riding out blindfolded, it’s pretty obvious that your vision is going to be seriously impaired. It is, after all, why they banned tinted glass in windscreens.
But on the other hand, some sort of eye protection is necessary, even more so in the winter months when the filth that gets kicked up from the road reaches epic proportions. This is where clear or slightly tinted lenses come in, on those grey days where you’re not sure if the day ever got past dawn. And the most effective shade of lens? Pink, of course.
“Pink lenses are a really effective lens choice as it neutralises parts of the green colour spectrum,” says Jonas Soderqvist marketing director of Poc Sports. “This in turn allows your eyes to enhance the other colours, such as reds and browns and will allow you to have a better overall balance of colour and vision.”
So seeing the world through rose-tinted goggles actually can make it a better place. Pink helps the eye to pick out nuances of terrain in an otherwise visually flat landscape. They will help the potholes stick out, the obstacles come into view that little bit quicker while at the same time offering a filter when or if the sun does eventually come out.
None of which is a bad thing, and that’s before we touch on the subject of protection, which is why we really need sunglasses in winter in the first place. The “season of the little stones” will kick up all sorts of little nasties into your face. Covered eyes are therefore protected eyes.
When Rapha released its range of sunglasses, a low-light version was essential, says Miles Gibbons, hard goods designer at the brand. “We realised the importance of giving riders a lightly-tinted lens option alongside the more usual brown and grey. Pink proved the ideal solution due to the way it allows the eye to pick up more detail in low visibility conditions.”
You’re not going to suddenly develop night vision capabilities but pink makes the bright brighter and the dark darker, so it is great in flat light as well as low light.
It’s not all about the pink, however. For some eyes yellow can be as effective - it depends on the individual. If you’re unsure, consult an optician. Otherwise look forward to seeing the world through rose-tinted goggles. And in case you’re wondering, a good pair of sunglasses will offer 100 per cent UV protection, regardless of the level of tint, and that includes pink.
Rapha Classic Sunglasses: £195.
Handmade in Italy with an acetate frame that is stylish enough to be worn on an off the bike, Rapha have overlooked nothing in the pursuit of cycle eyewear excellence. The lightly-tinted pink lense is the product of some lengthy R&D by Zeiss.
Poc Do Flow Uranium: €170
The Swedish brand that puts safety and cutting edge design on an equal footing offers a pink-lens variation of its Do Flow, or if you already have a pair, a relacement lens. Frames are manufactured from tough grilamid (plastic) and as Poc says, they “look just as good for the after-ride hang out.”