White men can’t jump (but they can ride)

Wesley, Woody, and Ragtime…

There are days, when I head out for a ride, when I need that extra oomph of inspiration.

I’ve flicked through my usual mental checklist of positive thinking and come up short. Frankly, I can’t be arsed. If I’m getting out for a ride this morning I’ll have to break out the big guns.

It’s time for the secret weapon.

It’s not EPO. It’s not Tramadol. And I don’t need a TUE for it.

I am talking Wesley Snipes circa “White Men Can’t Jump” and that mystical Colnago casquette. I pop the cap atop my bonce, channel that irresistible Snipes spirit, and attack the miles.

Works every time.

If I’m REALLY in need of some pep, luckily I have a cycling buddy with the slow and sluggish drawl of Woody Harrelson in his pomp. I invite him along too, just for context, and I’m unstoppable.

The casquette, of course, is a piece of kit that has become less practical as the years go by. It was always most effective when worn by a Belgian pro cyclist in the big ring and crushing a massive gear up a cobbled Belgian berg.

Attacking said berg, in the big ring, crushing the massive gear, resplendent in the latest offering from Kask or Giro, doesn’t cut the mustard.

But as we know, a wispy sliver of cheap cotton has been scientifically proven to offer less protection that a helmet, and so we have been robbed of the romance of that image.

The pros wear helmets, as do most of the rest of us, and you can’t really make a case to promote casquettes on the basis of style over safety (though I firmly believe in personal choice in the helmet debate).

So they are worn beneath helmets, or pre-ride, post-ride, and sometimes in the café. And whatever the location the casquette is no more than 40% function and 60% style.

Wesley Snipes knew this.

What he may not have known is that, back in the day (pre “White Men Can’t Jump”) the pro cyclists used to occasionally slip a cabbage leaf beneath their casquette to keep them cool whilst slogging up some Alpine col under baking sun.

They also, rumour has it, used to tuck a piece of prime steak into their shorts to protect the rear end during a long day in the saddle.

I hear that they would then have it slung into a hot pan and seared rare for dinner.

One thing is for sure: if “White Men Can’t Jump” had revolved around a fit and firing Wesley Snipes with a cabbage leaf beneath his cap and a steak resting against his undercarriage, that would have been a very different movie.

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