Archive for September, 2010
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.
… more and more and more. Breaking Belgium is a cotton purist, but which brand to advertise? Is it really advertising or just acknowledgement of your tribe?
I am not really a fan of any one team. I don’t have a current team cap. (If I was to get one I’d look at Saxo Bank or HTC). I like the old. I like my Bic cap. but I also like the everyday plain. My new Routier from Galstudio is excellent because it is everyday wear. I feel a bit uncomfortable wearing a ‘non-mainstream’ cap but the Routier in dark green and single black stripe is not too out of the ordinary.
but when heading out for a ride… yes, it is cap selection crisis time.
Take a read of Breaking Belgium’s conundrum.
Yes, it seems stupid to collect such a harmless product. There are worse things to compulsively collect until you’re wake up one morning and you need to get ready for a ride in the rain and need a cap. Which one do you choose?
Which hat defines me as a person?
I have only just read in Tim Hilton’s book ‘1 More KM and We’re In The Showers’ about this great rivalry. There is so much to it and Guy’s article here in his blog Le Grimpeur inserts some more little reported detail into the mythology.
Despite Bartali being only five years older than Coppi, much was made of Bartali’s role as the elder statesman and Coppi as the young upstart. Bartali was the traditional; Coppi the modern. (For more on the fascinating contrasts between the two men, William Fotheringham’s book Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi is an absolute must read.) There was much truth to this contrast. Coppi investigated all manner of dietary and training innovations, such as increased carbohydrates and lighter, more frequent meals instead of large and meat-based servings, as well as interval and motor-paced training. He stressed hydration, rest and recovery, and also explored the latest pharmacological aids (primarily amphetamines).
(and of course there are some great photos with cycling caps like this one of Bartali (on left) and Coppi.)
Thanks Rocket Fuel Style for the heads up on the post.