Love for Cycling Caps: Cabbage Leaves & Fan Support

It's no secret that I love the classic cycling cap.

The history is somewhat obscure.

Looking back on old monochrome images of the early days, there resembled some form of cycling cap used in competition. A less aesthetic use was wet cabbage leaves worn beneath a cap to keep riders cool. I thought it was an urban myth but I did find this image of Belgian riders including Roman Maes at the start of Stage 11, 1935 Tour de France. In fact, Maes would go on to win the stage, take the yellow jersey and wear it to Paris. Now, did he wear cabbage leafs all the way to Paris?

Cabbage leaf riders, 1935 Tour. Roman Maes (right) will
go on to win the Tour.

Cycling caps were used, in various styles, always to protect the rider from the sun, rain, wind and to rest bulky goggles on. There are many images of goggles happily perched on the cap. Firmin Lambot looked dapper after completing 5,500 kms to win the 1919 Tour. A kiss from his wife made the beret wearing Belgian looked ever more charming.

The beret style cap of Firmin Lambot.

1930 Tour
Photo: L'Equipe

Practical in every sense, lightweight and able to absorb moisture the cycling cap was widely used during the pre-war years. Keeping the dust off the heads of the riders was good reason enough to wear one. Back then most of the roads were unpaved. The forties was the time of Bartali and Coppi an Italian Renaissance and style emerged. I would bet the cap was improved with a better fit, practical brim shape, comfort and Italian fashion sense.

The dawn of Italian style.

The fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties, in my opinion, was the height of the cycling cap in the pro peloton.

Seventies glamour.

Hollywood helped too. The memorable Breaking Away was proof that the cycling cap was part of the mainstream. I have to admit my first cycling cap was due to this movie and it was a Campagnolo. The image of Dave (with Campy cycling cap and DeRosa) in a shape of a cross seems to me a hopeful prayer.

Cycling cap cross.

For a time the cycling cap dropped in popularity. It disappeared from the podium to be replaced by the team baseball cap in the late eighties and nineties. I don't want to chastised Greg LeMond, but he did wear one in 1989.

A sign of the economic times - made in Asia it was cheap to produce. Even the famous Tour publicity caravan got into it - supplying the cheap baseball cap souvenir to the roadside fans. 

Nevertheless, good things do come out of this, the cycling cap is still and will always be part of the essential team kit. Today, it's never been so popular. 

As you all know our project of trying to raise funding to offer embroidered custom cycling caps is the next step for our little company. I want to Thank Michael (CLR Effect) and Jason (Velorunner) for showing their love and support. Their cycling blogs are wonderful and hugely helps to create that momentum that is so important.

We are in the early stages and I want to ask everyone reading this post to contribute. How about a high-five? The cycling cap is coming back on top of the podium!

Thank you for your consideration in our campaign to offer the finest embroidered custom cycling caps! 

Our Project.