Here’s my first blog entry for 2016. Back in October 2015, the Missus and I had a 4 week European Holiday that included a few days in London. I spent more than a few hours visiting a list of bike shops and scooping up bargains were I could find them. One of the best shops was a café that I used to frequent when I lived in London. In fact, I can remember when it opened in 2010. Tired of really crappy coffee offered by Starbucks, Costa and Café Nero, I was becoming quite desperate for a decent Australian style latte or flat white.
Fortunately, ‘Look Ma No Hands’ opened up and offered much better coffee crafted by staff that had a much better understanding of their expresso machine. The shop had free wifi, a sunny aspect and a fledgling bicycle workshop. Also, it showed old 70’s & 80’s TV coverage of the grand tours and monuments. It was mainly frequented by students and bicycle couriers with the occasional suited trespasser like me.
So when I dragged my footsore wife from Old Street Tube Station to the there in late October 2015, it was with fond memories and quiet hope that it hadn’t changed much over. I checked out the Café’s website and it seemed very promising. Happily, reality for once matched the glamour and gloss of website. The café was full of people viewing a crowd sourcing pitch for short film about how cycling was helping a young man get the better of his clinical depression.
The coffee was much better than I remembered it and we spent a lazy 45 minutes soaking up the vibe and trying on shop branded merchandise. I purchased a short sleeve jersey and cap. Both have been given a few test rides and have passed the ‘marv’ test with flying colours. Its kind of cool to own a jersey that no one in Melbourne has or at least I haven’t seen on the back of another rouleur around my locale.
So to quote ‘Molly’ Meldrum and that irritating TV ad that’s on high rotation at the moment, when you are next in London ‘Do your self a favour’ and visit one of the great cycling cafes in the UK, Look Ma No Hands.
Whether you ride on the road, on the trails, or on your way to work, a cycling cap is a great addition to your wardrobe of cycling clothing. Given the variety of weather conditions you are riding in, you’ll probably collect a few different caps to suit your rides.
Most cycling caps follow a similar formula. They have a short, 2–3 inch brim and a low profile top that fits nicely under a helmet. The brim is just long enough to keep the sun and rain out of your eyes, without blocking your vision. One major difference: earflaps or no earflaps. When the temperature drops, nothing beats some extra material to fold down over your frozen earlobes. Many cycling caps come in a couple of sizes, so find the one that fits comfortably under your helmet without being ice-cream-headache tight.
Cycling caps are made with a range of materials to suit the weather and your personal sense of style. If nothing you find is quite your speed, many companies offer custom cycling caps with infinite options for materials, colors, patterns and embroidery. No matter what cap you choose, you always have the choice of how to wear it. Backwards? Forwards? Bill up or bill down? It’s up to you.
The time-tested option, worn since the earliest days of the Tour de France. If it was good enough for legendary riders, it will work for you. Bonus points if it bears the logo of a classic European road racing team or cycling company. Having bought a few of these caps, I can attest to the durability and quality of the Rapha cap. You can find it here – http://www.rapha.cc/au/en_AU/shop/rapha-cap/product/RCP03
The best option for winter riding and staying warm when wet. Many wool caps have earflaps. This is also a great choice for commuting and off the bike beer drinking while proclaiming your allegiance to the two-wheeled tribe. I can recommend the – http://shop.ibex.com/Apparel/Coppi-Merino-Cycling-Cap_5 – on windy days I tend to wear another woollen skull cap underneath it.
When the sun beats down, a synthetic blend cap is the way to go. These will wick away sweat and keep it out of your eyes. There are even some waterproof and breathable synthetic caps that are great in the rain. Pro tip: a cycling cap is better than fogged up sunglasses when the rain is really beating down. The one I recommend for those warm late spring or summer day rides is the Pearl Izumi Cap as shown here – http://www.ivanhoecycles.com.au/clothing/warmers/pearl-izumi-transfer-cycling-cap/prod_3203.php