Pondering the Peak, the Perfect Spring Cycling Accessory.
Discovering cycling is fun. Discovering cycling caps is funner. Here I take a look at the history of the effortlessly cool casquette along with some nice ones on the market.
I am not gifted with coolness. One things for sure, when I eagerly look up my race photos, I know I won’t be parting with money. Unless it’s for my Ironman, in which case I parted with fifty quid for five shit photos.
Despite this there have been many moments on my journey from four-to-two-wheeled owner where I have felt really cool. Because riding a bike just is. It not only looks cool but it feels cool. It’s essentially cool on wheels. Cools.
And never have I felt cooler than on rides with my cycling cap. The moment I unwrapped a gift containing my first in 2015, I felt like I was part of the club. Since then, I have looked questionable in it, yet not really given a cap because it’s so much fun to wear. I have, however, spent many a moment pondering on the question of peak up or down, which was the original inspiration for this article.
The casquette – a brief history
Like all good bike stuff, it has a french name, which simply means ‘cap’, and it existed long before the cycling helmet graced our heads, with multiple functionality except for protecting ones skull which apparently was low on the agenda – when the UCI tried to introduce mandatory helmets to racing in 1991 riders went on strike…
The cap was originally worn to protect the sun from bonce (with the optional addition of a cabbage leaf) and to avert pesky rain drops. These days, a cycling helmet protects from sun, but some still wear an additional backward cap in the summer to shield the neck (not recommended) and it still comes in very handy when cycling in the rain. This, largely because helmets with peaks should apparently be reserved for the woods, leaving a road cyclist otherwise peak-less and therefore exposed to rain in one’s face. Being used therefore for mainly warmth and rain aversion, cycling caps are best seen with at the least arm warmers – the perfect accessory for spring weather.
What The Rules says about caps
As with all cycling kit, The much debated and dismissed yet secretly loved Rules has a rule for cycling caps. The most well-known of these is that it should not be worn when not cycling. Not even for cleaning one’s bike after cycling. Only when wielding a pump. Pump wielding only my friends. This rule is not a problem for me because my cycling cap looks really, really bad on me without my helmet. This is most unusual, I usually look good in hats. It’s really quite a mystery, but a mystery nonetheless that allows me to abide by Rule 22, whereby wearing of the cap outside of cycling activity ‘renders one a douche’. I would like to point out that if it did look good on me, then I would risk douche status. Especially if the cap in question was any from my favourite selection below.
Up or Down?
When it comes to answering this peak question, the general consensus is ‘both’ or ‘it’s really up to you’. Most people tend to wear them up, unless it’s raining heavily when it makes perfect sense to put it down.
This brings me to conclude with some of my favourite brands for cycling caps, ‘specially for us girls. Bear in mind that this is my personal taste and I am not basing this on actual street cred. Nor am I testing these caps for durability or water resistance. There’s a website for SealSkinz cycling caps and this ain’t it.
Five brands making nice caps
Based in Brighton, and started by two boys in 2009 with 500 quid and the motto ‘ride everything’ (with two wheels we assume), Morvelo caps are Italian made and come in lots of delicious summery colours, although I have mixed feelings about the watermelon one.
Cap – £15
2// DHB from Wiggle
Cap – £10
3// Queen of the Mountain
The founders Seb and Amy are very cheerful! And they make bright caps to match their enthusiasm.
An Australian company, Queen of the Mountain is the original QOM clothing brand. Their cycling caps are Australian design, durable, lightweight & machine washable.
Their email arrived on a Monday morning. It said ‘whether you lightly perspire or sweat buckets, there is a moisture wicking sweat band in each cap, that will wick & dry quickly. Our designs are fun and colourful.’
And then they said ‘ride bikes, be happy, happy riding!’ I love Seb and Amy, they cheered my Monday morning right up.
Cap – $35 AUD
Queen of the Mountain
4// Cycle Like a Girl
The clothing from this brand is an offshoot of a movement to get more girls cycling. Cycle like a girl’ aims to build women’s confidence on their bikes through sharing stories and inspiration. The selection is limited but really cute.
Cap – $30
Cycle Like a Girl
5// Local clubs
The fun way to find caps is to seek out local clubs / organisations making small orders of cool kit and get your hands on one. I love the kit that Das Rad Klub in Bristol make for example, as worn in the photo above by @agirlandabicycle. There are more and more small manufacturers making cycling kit these days, so it’s not impossible to form a little club and design your own. Just fun.