OK.. I’ve been sitting on this one for a while. One of the core questions of this blog is what is the history of the cycling cap? I was having a conversation with a fellow cyclist at a cycling related event and the conversation turned to caps, we’ll call her Gemma (for want of a better name). I explained my fascination with cycling caps and a growing interest in the mythology of cycling from reading books like 21 Nights In July (shameless plug in for local writer’s book cheap here for only $15) and more recently One More KM and We’re In The Showers by Tim Hillton.
It was Gemma who sent me the information in The cycling cap: investigation report #1 – how to wear a cycling cap. This is what ingeniously I’ll call part 2 is the rest of that conversation.
Our conversation went:
Me: I’m interested in the background to cycling caps..
Gemma: .. well you know that if you find one by the side of the road (in Europe) you shouldn’t pick it up.
Me: no why?
Gemma: ..because it’s well known that cyclists out riding who need to use the toilet the only thing on you to wipe your bum on is your cap.
Me: .. no!
..and so it went on but not for too much longer.
So is she right? Is this true cycling mythology? Would a wheelman (or woman) really use a perfectly good piece of cotton, perhaps vintage, maybe an old favourite.. to wipe?
That story about the cap is actually about Tom Simpson: one of his domestiques when he was riding for the Peugeot team was surprised when Simpson demanded he hand over his brand new cycling cap. “You’ve got your own cap!” he told Simpson. Simpson replied: “I know, but I’ve got to take a $#!^ and I need something to wipe my ass.” (Embarrassed for knowing — and sharing — that one.)
Cotton caps are multifunctional. As well as keeping the sun and rain off your bonce they are invaluable if you get caught short and have to stop for a sh!t. Soft enough to give a comfy wipe and with a stiff peak to scrape any clinkers away. They clean up like new in the wash too.
So with Google throwing up two hits I wouldn’t say it’s definitive evidence of the truth in the story.