Many years ago, cycling in the UK was very much a minority sport. The bikes were heavy, the kit was woollen, and the facial hair was encouraged to grow wild.
But times have changed.
We may well have come full circle beard-wise, but style-wise the variety of cycling kit on offer is a world apart from those dark and grim-faced days.
This is a good thing.
I’m all in favour of looking stylish whilst out on the bike, but navigating the world of online cycling retail is not always easy.
Too much information? Too many choices?
The kit that catches my eye whilst out riding here in the north of England is the stuff that isn’t necessarily ten-a-penny. I like to spot a jersey, a jacket, or a snazzy pair of socks, and think ‘ooooh, that’s nice, what is it?’
Which is exactly the affect these rather lovely hand-made cycling caps from This Is Cambridge (tic) had on me recently.
I was out for an early spring ride in Cumbria – land of Gore-Tex and fleece, where anything resembling sartorial style leaps out like an errant sheep into a country lane – and at the mid-ride café stop I spotted a fellow cyclist sporting the tic ‘Grimpeur.’
I sidled over for a chat, and he seemed pretty pleased to have been picked out of the crowd as an arbiter of good taste, and was certainly very happy with the ‘casquette’ perched atop his bonce.
Many of the cycling caps out there tend to be cheap and of dubious quality – fine if you want a throwaway item to serve a simple purpose – but tic have set the bar a bit higher than that. They are not the cheapest pieces of headgear out there (weighing in at upwards of £20), but they are designed and produced by people who clearly care, they are genuinely hand-made, and they’re built to last.
This is quality kit, and for my money, looks great too. I had a chat with the people at tic recently, and they sound busy!
They’ve just launched two new designs for 2015, and gave me a few details:
Panache plume (£24.50)
In cycling terms if someone rides with panache they demonstrate the courage to attack, usually against the odds of success. Historically a panache was a plume of feathers placed on a headdress. During Medieval times knights would wear a plume in their helmets to enable recognition during battle. King Henry IV of France was famed for wearing a white plume in his helmet and for his war cry: “Ralliez-vous ā mon panache blanc!” (follow my white plume).
This cap has a specially designed tic plume graphic on the side and under peak. ‘Confortare’ (Latin for: courage/ be strong) is printed on the upper peak. The cap is available in four highlight fabrics. As you would expect all materials used are of the highest quality and the cap is handmade and designed by us in Cambridge. This cap is designed to fit under a helmet.
2015 Blood, sweat & gears range (£23)
The new range has had a minor tweak to the shape to make the already comfortable cap fit even better. The new revised design comes in a range of new colour combinations and of course we have kept the true favourites that have been so popular since the original launch. It is fair to say that already the Blood, sweat and gears cycling cap is establishing itself as a future classic.
Tic are also branching out into performance cycling socks (to be launched around the end of May), describing them as “designed with a 15cm cuff, making them an essential piece of kit for those wanting a performance sock with peloton style.”
(All Images: with permission of This Is Cambridge)
A brand to watch, perhaps?
Treat yourself to one of these hand-made caps, or at the very least drop some heavy hints in the run-up to your next birthday, and keep an eye on further developments at www.this-is-cambridge.com.