A couple of days ago I wrote a blog post in response to an article in The Guardian.
In my post I used the phrase ‘mid ride mind void’, to describe those points in a ride where you mind just empties and ideas appear out of nowhere.
Today I was riding along, almost home from my commute (55km from Glossop to Salford and back) and I entered the void. This junk about my love for cycling caps is the product of that void.
I love hats anyways. It’s probably a direct response to having crap hair. Mine’s ginger, curly, and receding. I mean give me a chance for god’s sake.
I also love cycling, so if a cycling specific hat didn't already exist, a marketer would have just invented one in order to get money off people like me.
But they do exist and I’ve got a bunch of them.
I think ideally I’d like to be like Frank from 30 Rock, always wearing a cap but never seen in the same one twice.
Cycling caps connect us to cycling’s past when that’s all our heroes would wear on top of their heads. Not much use in the advent of a crash but they looked amazing.
Nowadays we just wear them underneath our helmets, like a shirt worn underneath a sweater. The poor guy waits all week for you to wear him and you only show the collar. That’s a remix of a Jerry Seinfeld joke. Credit where it’s due.
Cycling caps are the most playful of the cycling accessories. They’re the affordable souvenir you pick up at a race; the branded paraphernalia thrown out by the caravan at the head of the Tour De France. So cheap and disposable they’re in danger of becoming the cycling version of the comedy slogan t-shirt. I’ll do my best to prevent that happening.
In terms of fashion the cycling cap is a strange item. Few people have ever actually looked good in one. I can only really think of that guy who you occasionally see in Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’. Me, at best I’m close to achieving a Tyres from Spaced look. At worst I’m closer to Norman Wisdom.
But the cap doesn’t have to look great because it’s more than a fashion item, and I don’t mean because Greg Lemond once used one to take a shit in. As I said it’s a link to cycling’s past, but it also marks us out as part of a tribe. You might be wearing one that just advertises Rapha, and I might be wearing one that features a cat with laser eyes, that I bought off a vegan on etsy. But we’ll still nod to each other if we’re in the same café.
The cycling cap faces many threats to it’s survival. We’ve all seen the stage winner being interviewed post race. The team staffer coming over to drop a branded baseball cap on his head before his interview is beamed live to the world. If we continue down this road we’re only a short step away from having a monster energy branded cycling team, and races that feature the letter X too prominently.
I’m ok with shades replacing goggles. Steam Punk has no place in cycling so just lower your blunderbuss. However, the cycling cap must survive.