This phrase was first uttered by Snakehawk and Gnome of Superissimo in response to baseball caps being worn atop the podium;
Later, Bicycling Magazine’s resident editor Bill Strickland took the ball and ran with it.
Say what you will about Cavendish, but at least he gets it;
For a group of people who profess such a care for tradition, anytime a fellow bikecyclist makes excuses for someone wearing a baseball cap on a podium I want to slap them back onto their heels until my hands are wet with their tears.
Sponsors aren’t holding a gun to their head, and these supreme athletes (both men, and women, natch) have all the power in the world to wear a cycling cap emblazoned with their employer’s imprint any time they find themselves upon the top three steps.
As a matter of fact, during an exhaustive 45 second search, I couldn’t find anything but photos of women’s podiums covered in the shame of which we speak;
As I was thinking about caps and not hats the other evening, I dumped a box of my own out and documented it on the Instagrams;
Picking through the pile, I took note of the array that was, as well as the memories associated with a few.
Waking up at the ass crack of Sunday, I felt inspired to document a selection, with the assistance of Chlöie the dead eyed hat model, who generally sits, keeping an eye on me in my studio.
So in no particular order, here are a small selection of some of my favorites.
Right out of the gate I have to start with a story though, because that’s what I do. Several, and a few additional years ago, a whole crew of us piled into a tiki bar in San Francisco the night before a World Cup mountain bike race in Napa. I think it was 1996, but at this point, everything I say should be considered suspect. A fellow who was in our midst was a cat named Dave Ostrand (who I’ve written about here), who was on this night, as it was regularly observed, wearing every single one of the fashion dos and don’ts at once. Dark green Swobo knickers, Fluevogs, burgundy sport coat, Yellow tie, and so on. However the cherry on his ensemble that night was a black and white winter cycling cap that a friend had made him that was real tall and pointy.
I remember it looking almost like a Pope hat, and printed across the front panel over and over was the word ‘hot dog’, except down on the left hand corner, it said ‘DaveO’.
Despite the fact that the evening concluded with him barfing on my shoes, I was enamored, and from that point forward, had a profound adoration for winter caps. So I guess with that preface handled, we’ll start with that style.
One of the founders of Independent Fabrications was a fellow named Steve Elmes, (pictured here). At one point, he happened through the East Bay with two of the people on his cyclocross team. One named Johs;
And one named Jen;
I don’t remember what they were in town for. The 1999 cross Nationals maybe? I Dunno. But Jen had a winter IF cap she’d made, that I liked a real lot. Upon recognizing my appreciation for the chapeau, she said she’d trade me something for it. In response, and noting the only thing I had access to of any value, I pointed to the ‘BIKER’ ring on my finger and sheepishly said ‘I’ll trade you one of these‘. She looked down, said ‘I’m not a biker, I’m a cyclist‘, and then handed me the hat, presumably out of pity;
In the years following this exchange, my collection of winter caps grew in size, and I amassed a selection of favorites;
I even went so far as to get a couple made myself;
That second cap there is a super good one. All black, and all wool. It was even favored by cyclocrosscycling’s own super honch, Mo Bruno;
Of course I’m going to like my caps, but when someone like that does as well, I know I’m not just being biased (as much).
The regular cycling caps I like very much as well, and have worn one under my helmet for so many years I can’t remember when it started. My best guess with be 1994 or thereabouts, and now I feel naked without one.
In no particular order, here are a few of my go-tos.
The bill has disintegrated, and now when I wear it, the sweat funnels down in a perfect single stream, and the bill itself just acts as a soggy seal across my eyes. The only way I can wear it any longer is backwards. A few years ago, frame builder Rick Hunter gave me an extra one he had, but at this point, it’s as tattered as the first.
The same day I picked up the Scrigno Gaern cap, I got this one as well. It’s too tight, which bums me out, but remains one of my favorites because Andre Tchmil;
I got this one in my goodie bag at the first proper mountain bike race I ever entered. I don’t like the cut, and I don’t like the gigantic elastic band in it, and I don’t like the cartoonish ‘Ernest Goes To Camp’ bill, but I keep it because I’m nostalgic;
Definitely a newer and therefore less destroyed sample is my Ritte cap, which I love because I love Ritte;
Maybe five years ago or so, a fella approached me at the annual Interbike bicycles and bicycle stuff trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada, and said he read this here site. We chatted for a bit and he told me that he’d come across a bolt of Budweiser fabric, with which he was making caps. We swapped information, and he sent me two different versions, this one being my favorite;
Another handmade number, (though admittedly, I have no idea when it came to be in my possession), is this cap with the Jak’s logo screen printed on the bill;
It came from David at Atomic Cycle Werks, whose handmade wares are a very close second in my heart to those of Chuey’s.
Finally, and the cap that inspired this entire post to begin with, is this Bianchi Piaggio cap that I bought for myself when I was in the fifth grade;
I liked the bicycles, and the ten speed racing, but truth be told, when wearing this cap, I was a bit of a poser. I didn’t know anything about the Piaggio squad, had never shaved my legs, and hardly gesticulated with my hands at all.
In the years since I launched this here website, I’ve made a slew of my own caps, the first being one made by Pace;
But every one since being made by Chuey;
And now, the newest to the collection, the KVLT cap;
My love of cycling caps, and really, hats in general runs ridiculously deep. Since I was a young child with my little SF Giants hat always nearby, I can almost liken them to a security blanket you can wear on your head.