Experts Only: The Winter Cycling Cap
We just finished a thorough examination of the Cyclist’s marquee accoutrement, the Cycling Cap. Today’s lesson is about the Cycling Cap’s red-headed step brother, the Winter Cycling Cap.
This is a toque born of necessity; the thin cotton cap is nowhere near warm enough for the demands of the Flemish winter training season. Form should follow function, but when form is ignored altogether, we wind up with these sorts of creations, which is why I like to make sure form always gets a seat at the table during the design process. The cap’s main body is generally constructed of 6 or 8 wooly panels, the front section of which is often covered in a slightly windproof material. Added to this is the typical stubby visor found on a traditional Cycling Cap. Also covered in wool. Finally – and this is the real clincher, a third flap is added to the cap, which is intended to cover the ears but can also be flipped up if conditions do not warrant ear covering.
The Winter Cycling Cap is the most difficult article of cold-weather gear to pull off. The construction of the main cap presents the first challenge as the wool panels lack the finesse of its cotton sibling and tends to collect in a peak that resembles a reservoir tip. Which is very bad. The ear flaps present the second challenge in that their deployment is an automatic violation of the Three-Point System. Flipped up and stowed away for takeoff and landing, it is possible to adhere to the 3PS, but in that case the cap generally takes on the appearance of a derby crossed with a condom. I don’t have to tell you that’s also bad. The cap flies under the radar when worn under a helmet, although you’ll be thankful for a helmet locking system that makes it easy to adjust for a cap that adds two centimeters to your skull’s girth.
I found an orange one of these little monsters and it is a very welcome addition to my winter wardrobe, keeping all the heat that escapes out of my big brain from leaving the body. But it is far and away the most challenging bit of kit to pull off. You will have to spend some quality time in front of the mirror experimenting with what works for your goofy head if you want to have any chance of wearing it with dignity sans helmet. Skinny-faced people will have a better time of it than grapefruit-shaped head people like me. Popping your shades over the top helps to give it some shape, but be prepared to throw all the cap-wearing principles out the window in pursuit of finding a way to Look Fantastic wearing it.
I recommend you buy one and put it in your jersey pocket. Wear your cotton cap until the very last moment prior to hitting the road and only at that point deploy the little monster. If convenient, put it on in the dark where no one can see you. Under no circumstances attempt what Raul is managing here with expert help from Shelley Verses, unless you also have a Shelley Verses handy.