Archive for category investigation
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.
I’ve asked about, I’ve googled the interwebs and been the the old school library shelves but no real answers until now. When you start coming out of the cycling fashion (and history) closet and admit you’ve got a thing for cycling caps (and classic jerseys but that is out of the scope for this blog) you find out who else shares your passion. One comment to a post gave me my first real leads.
Gemma is an Adelaide Cyclist who opposed by flippant comment that the model wearing the Ride Magazine cap looked uncomfortable. Gemma said of all the images in this blog she was actually the only one wearing it properly (in true Euro style). She sent me these direction:
How to Wear a Cycling Cap & some Rules of the Euro Cyclist:
When riding, sans helmet (with short hair), a team issue cycling cap (white in colour), shall be worn. The bill shall remain in the downward position at all times. The cycling cap may be worn forwards or backwards to coincide with the specifics of one’s current hairstyle. During spring training, cycling toques Previewshall be worn at all times in place of caps.
As noted above, there are only two acceptable placements of a cotton cycling cap (exception when hat is worn under helmet during inclement weather, which must include sustained rain showers):
- Brim facing forward, with cap worn high on head.
- Brim facing rearward, with cap still worn high on head.
Under no circumstances should cap be pulled down onto head such that the hat band comes within 2cm of the top of your ear! It should be perched precariously on top at all times, in danger of being blown away like a wispy climber on Mt. Ventoux…
Just like this, Miguel Indurain was the king or euro cap wearing:
Thanks Gemma. She also imparted some other information that at this point I need a second verification on. It is a shocking concept no cycling cap lover will appreciate.
While you wait for that here is some more classic cap wearing moments from Miguel Indurain and the end of the cap wearing (ie no helmet required) era of the Grand Tours.