i'd like to think that i ride with at least a modicum of style. that's the way it appears from behind the rudy projects, through the rain and while blasted by those perennial winds. any views of the professionals during the early season spring classics will plainly depict that so doing is probably a hard act to pull off. though there's not a chance i can sit up insouciantly in the saddle while divesting myself of unnecessary waterproofs, allowing the bicycle to steer itself. that, i must admit, strikes me as a pragmatic demonstration of panache, at least compared to my unco-ordinated scrabblings at the roadside, trying vainly to roll up a jacket and pop it in a rear pocket.
i figure my own personal shortcomings revolve around the mistaken apprehension that all these things come naturally to anyone who swings a leg over a top tube. you may recall my incompetency at mounting and dismounting my 'cross bike, something else i thought was a mere bagatelle to be accomplished with ease.
summer, or at least the prospect of it, brings a certain lessening of the onerous requirement to dress in so many layers. in an ideal world, or an ideal part of it, sunday mornings would be greeted with pavement splitting sunshine and a total lack of any cloud cover. thus, the intrepid cyclist would have few requirements other than bibshorts and jersey, topped off with an appropriate casquette and perchance, a helmet. even as i write such words, unexpected waves of nostalgia flood over my person, for it seems so long ago that any of the foregoing had any basis in fact.
to ride just hard enough to allow one's compatriots a modicum of shelter down the length of uiskentuie strand. to speed gracefully up the hill at storakaig, then wait patiently at the top for others to catch up. to lead out a trio of speeding cyclists as we approach the new welcome to bruichladdich sign, peeling off as the 30mph signs heave into view. those, in a domestic sense at least, constitute the elements of panache. admittedly, viewed from the roadside it may look less panachey, but i think, in tandem with beauty, it is an element of cycling that lies in the eye of the beholder.
the achievement of this facet of velocipedinal activity is not one to be accepted lightly. it is an aspect that deserves celebration. but in keeping with its spirit, this ought surely to be hailed in a clandestine or subtle manner. a jersey proclaiming a superior level of inherent panache would be, to put it mildly, overkill, but a casquette, especially if partially concealed under a helmet would seem the ideal means of proclamation.
so it's probably a decent coincidence that the fine folks at this is cambridge have seen fit to apply their own interpretations to one of their superior creations. according to tic's daphne kaufhold "Historically a panache was a plume of feathers placed on a head-dress. During Mediaeval 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 mon panache blanc!" (follow my white plume!)
aside from the blatant stupidity of exclaiming the latter phrase in either french or english to a following peloton, in an islay headwind, nobody would hear me anyway. so it remains a simple case of wearing this excellent cap with its pink feather on one side and the word confortare (latin for courage) while supping froth or admiring the crema. though i opted for the pink version in tribute to the recently completed giro, it's also available in three other colours (blue, green and orange) to suit your taste in panache.
it is the way of the humble domestique.
this is cambridge panache caps are available in four sizes at a cost of £24.50
tuesday 09 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................