The old adage says “there’s nothing new under the sun.” Sometimes that’s false, sometimes it’s true. A very good case in point is Oakley’s recent issue of some new sunglasses that they claim pay homage to their early ventures in cycling sunglasses. They call them the “Sutros Origins Collection,” claiming kinship with their 35 year old Eyeshades model. Basically, they are Sutros with some holes drilled along the top edge and an old school logo on the legs. Now don’t get me wrong here. I own a pair of Sutros. Maybe it’s the size and shape of my face/head/nose but they are superbly comfortable on me and once in place, stay put. What difference holes will make, I have no idea. They’ll look ever cooler I guess.
But I digress. Holes in lenses. Nothing new. In 1979, the early leader of the Tour de France was the Dutch hard man Jan Raas. He wore glasses and they had holes in them. When I think of the big man, I think solid, hardcore rider who won Milan-San Remo in 1977, the World road race championship in 1979, Flanders in 1979 and 83, Paris-Roubaix in 82 and ten stages of the Tour. He won the Amstel Gold race five times. In all he rode Monuments twenty-three times, winning four and finishing third six times. He couldn’t climb very well in the mountains, but give him some hills that required power and he was always a threat. I also don’t think of Raas as being trendy or a follower of fashion, so I imagine drilling the holes was done for practical rather than pretentious reasons.
The late 70s was a time when riders wore glasses because they needed them to see: Raas, Gerrie Knetemann, Marc Gomez, Marcel Tinazzi. And they weren’t cool, cycling specific glasses – oh no, they were their street glasses. I guess some had issues with fogging up so in the case of Raas he did the sensible thing: drilled a bunch of holes of varying diameters in them.
Did they make him look cool? I don’t know. It’s hard to make someone wearing Ti-Raleigh colors and a proper cycling cap standing on the top of a podium look ever cooler than he already is.