We gather here today to pay our respects to one of the icons of our great sport, the cycling cap. The perfect union of form and function and an excellent example of why the former follows the latter, and why together they are beautiful. The brim is just long enough to shield the eyes from the elements, but is short enough to allow the rider to gaze up the road with head tilted in determination as steady drips of water fall from the apex of the brim and and tap out the rhythm of the stroke. The cloth construction is comfortable under a helmet or hairnet, and allows it to be easily stuffed into a jersey pocket when not needed.
It’s appearance is clumsy; the short, stubby brim can be flipped upward or downward and, generally made of cotton, cap’s shape is soft and floppy. Yet, it has been worn by the Greatest Greats of our sport with a transcendent sense of cool. Over time, it became a badge of honor for those of us living La Vie Velominatus; wearing a cycling cap in public amongst the uninitiated felt almost like bragging that you were in on a secret – the cycling cap was what we used to recognize one of our own in a crowd of nonbelievers.
Then something started to change. Frist this guy, and these guys, and then this fucking guy started wearing our sacred headpiece, and rather than being mistaken for Giants of the Road, we were mistaken for douchebags. The unpalatable and tragic truth is that almost overnight, the history and culture that the cycling cap represented was mistaken for little more than a social prop used by hipsters who suck even more than cyclists at picking up dates at the local cafe.
Slowly but surely, the status of the cycling cap has diminished to where we are today, with the brim of our noble cap barely visible beneath our compulsory helmets only on days where the weather merits its use and Rule 22 forbidding it’s use off the bike. We’ve arrived at a place where the men who climb upon the podiums of our storied races wear something more akin to a baseball cap than to the cap that brings back memories of the hardmen of our sport.
I leave you, my fellow Velominati, with some of the great images that show our fallen icon at the height of it’s status as a Symbol of Cycling.
Thanks to @Geoffrey Grosenbach for inspiring this humble eulogy.