i'd prefer not to enter the helmet debate if i can possibly avoid it. there are far too many areas of day to day life in which ever-encroaching health and safety initiatives seem determined to save us from ourselves. therefore, if members of the pelotonese are happy to brave the big world out there devoid of head protection, they are well within their rights so to do. more power to their collective elbows.
i, on the other hand, am more than happy to select an appropriate helmet for the day's pedalling activity if for no other reason than i have convinced myself that i look faster with helmet than without. obviously this may be something of a subjective notion, but as increasing age leads to a diminishing turn of actual speed, i figure i need all the help i can get, even if it's only polystyrene deep.
on an island where rush hour may indeed consist of a tractor or two and very little more, i'm sure i could comfortably ride the length and breadth with dishevelled hair blowing freely in the wind. however, the prospect of collision with a motor vehicle is not the reason that i wear a helmet in the first place. aside from the carefully nurtured image of unadulterated speed, due to a perceived lack of need to keep livestock off the road, there is a greater than evens chance that i will have to swerve ditchward at sometime in my career to avoid a suicidal sheep, lamb or just a lumbering cow with no real sense of direction.
to be quite honest, collision with a car is the least of my worries.
but if we might put the protective element of that dod of polystyrene to one side just for a moment, perhaps we could take a look at one or two disadvantages of helmet wearing now that the weather has taken several turns for the worse. if i'm allowed to exclude the recent crop of helmets designed to emulate pudding basins (think giro air-attack), the majority acquire their sleekness by means of sweeping aerodynamics and carefully sculpted slots designed to keep us cool under pressure. given that those slots generally carry out their duties with exemplary fortitude, when the ambient temperature cools, so does your head.
throughout even the warmest of months, i am to be found wearing a casquette under my helmet, and always with the peak down, as is customary amongst the flandrian hebridean clans. when the mercury drops, and the windspeed increases, those aerodynamics beloved of the marketing departments tend to channel that cold air towards the tips of the ears. thus, to protect those appendages in the airstream, i have taken to wearing those excellent belgian winter caps (it is part of my hebridean heritage) with a modest degree of insulation on top and a thermal flap that cossetts my ears.
aside from the fact that i believe sitting at deb's supping soya froth of a sunday morning is immeasurably enhanced by the wearing of just such a hat (it shows one's badass aspirations), they serve their purpose well. to take this enhancement a stage further, it is of great credit to the wearer that said hat has the words look mum no hands! embroidered on top of the peak. yet another reason to wear the peak down.
retailing at a surprisingly modest £20 and available direct from the lmnh website or premises, the all black winter cap contrasts magnificently with its successor on stepping away from the saddle. if i could maybe re-iterate my contention that we ought to be advertising our obsession to the civilian population, lmnh's blue and white woolly bobble hat is not only seasonally decorated and seasonally warm, but the cafe's initialism is prominently displayed front and centre. i have taken to keeping the bobble hat either in a rear pocket while out and about (just in case), or hanging it inside the door of the bike shed, ready and waiting to be worn the minute cleats have been unclipped on my return.
the woolly bobble hat, of course, has no real velocipedinal heritage, making it the perfect shoo-in for wearing not only to the office monday to friday, but the perfect accompaniment to one's lugs (scots word for 'ears') when popping out for a couple of rolls and a copy of the guardian. costing only five pounds more than the winter cap, this is the ideal stocking filler for the jolly cyclist in your life, or even for the pelotonically challenged.
hey baby it's cold outside.
friday 6 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................