Tag Archives: style

What is an ‘Oppy Cap’?

Ever since I read an interview with Jimmy Rae by Ed Hood on Veloveritas I have wondered what the phrase ‘oppy cap’ meant. I took this to mean a cycling cap, buy why ‘oppy’?

Isle of Man International Cycling Week, 1961.

As Jimmy explained to Ed, in 1953 a new type of cycling was on the rise. The Scottish Cyclists Union was formed and the struggle between the BCU (who banned road racing and wanted to focus on time trialling) and the BLRC (who wanted to emulate the continental style of road racing) was over.

‘It was variable gears and oppy caps for us – we wanted to be like the continental roadmen of the day’.

During my research into Scottish clubs in the 50s, I asked former Belleisle RC and VC Stella rider Joe Linden about the Oppy Cap.

Hubert ‘Oppy’ Opperman was the first Australian pro to move to Europe in the 1920s and had a stellar career.

He rode the Tour de France in 1928 and 1931, finishing 18th and 12th. He won the 1928 Bol d’Or, a 24 hour track race, the 1931 Paris-Brest-Paris, and broke numerous place-to-place records.

His white cap was distinctive, as was his out-of-the saddle climbing style, Joe told me. ‘Oppying up the hill’ was a term that pervaded into the 50s, as was the slang for white ‘Oppy’ caps.

457px-Hubert_Opperman

Official rules of the Scottish Cyclist: components

18. As the most widely available and best value, Shimano components are preferred. Under no circumstances should the Scottish Cyclist use Campagnolo simply to show to his peers how stylish and wealthy he is. Stylish, expensive kit is no substitute for dogged training at ungodly hours of the day in horrible conditions with a heavy bike.

Official rules: full list

Official Rules of the Scottish Cyclist: facial hair

17. Facial hair is certainly not prohibited, in fact it may be extremely useful to insulate the face. This is especially practical for long-distance tours.

Full facial hair: approved

Full facial hair: approved

However in freezing conditions this may become uncomfortable.

nanobikerdotcoms frozen facial insulation, via flickr

nanobikerdotcom's frozen facial insulation, via flickr

Style, of course, is of no consequence to The Scottish Cyclist. See the full list of The Official Rules of The Scottish Cyclist.

Further reading: the Daily Record’s report of how Mark Beaumont’s beard helped his round the world record cycle.

Official Rules of the Scottish Cyclist: Helmets

15. The Scottish Cyclist should never ride without a helmet. This is due to the unreliable road quality, often treacherous weather conditions and the proliferation of bampot drivers. During winter, traditional cycling caps, wooly hats or handkerchiefs are worn for insulation (any colour or style).

Helmets may be any colour or style, but white is not preferable, being the preferred colour of the show-off and prone to getting dirty. Helmets can be worn when venturing indoors. The Scottish Cyclist doesn’t care what people think of him/her.

Official rules – full list

stirling bike club winter training ride- the saturday 9am long/fast bunch

This cyclist is actually an Englishman but while riding with his local club in Scotland he shows some of the spirit of The Scottish Cyclist by always riding with a helmet. He wears a cycling cap sponsored by a Scottish pasta manufacturer and wears practical yellow eyewear.

Alternative packing tape aero helmet innovation:
Packing tape aero helmet @funrunrobbie

Official rules: hair

14. Hair should be kept neatly short, as this is most practical and easiest to manage. Investing in a set of clippers and cutting one’s own hair is cheapest in the long run. However, the particulars of style are of little importance, so the Scottish Cyclist can sport a ponytail or comb-over if he can be bothered with the extra hassle, it doesn’t really matter. Following fashion with regard to hairstyles is forbidden however. No highlights, self-consciously messy cuts, ironic style mullets or peaks.

Official rules: full list

Official rules: ridiculously stylish eyewear

13. It should go without saying that ridiculously stylish eyewear should not be worn at any time. Eyewear should be cheap clear glasses to avoid rain and road-dirt, except when the sky is cloudless (generally only in July and September). Glasses may be worn under helmet straps and headband or cycle cap, to avoid losing them.

Official rules of the Scottish Cyclist: full list
Official rules of the Euro Cyclist

Not sure this comes under ‘stylish’ or not
Festina retro cycling glasses and glove

The Rapha Debate

After the £4000 Rapha Suit was released, John G from the Velocast said ‘they’re dead to me’. The Two Johns seem a reticent- they are suspicious of the marketing ethos on the Rapha site. As proponents of style, I’d have thought they’d be more pro-Rapha.

The Rapha products are very nice. For most people it’s hard to justify £240 for a jacket, or £150 for a gilet though, and they can’t even see beyond the price tag. I tried on that Classic Softshell jacket in the summer and pretty much desired it immediately. The cut was excellent- it just felt right, and I could see myself enjoying a wet, windy winter ride all the more for having it on my back. The design and quality made it worth the money, in my opinion, but the problem was I couldn’t afford it.

Hats off to them though for having an open blog and engaging in debate with customers/posters about pricing, design and quality. There’s a very lively one (a debate) here about Rapha’s Classic Softshell Jacket.

Couldn’t afford the Rapha, or didn’t want to? I have been known to spend £180 on a meal for two- so I am not averse to splashing out once in a while, but neither am I a millionaire. I’m sure that you’d start to see the value on Rapha a few years down the line when the product is still wearing well, but for me there is so many things to spend money on in cycling, I am continually looking for deals.

And as any follower of the Official Rules of the Scottish Cyclist will know, style should never be prioritised over functionality! I ride my bike for excercise, training, racing, and functionality comes first, cost second, and aesthetics comes after. Incidentally I have bought a Gore Bike Wear Oxygen SO jacket priced at £120. Which isn’t as nice but does the job just fine – the £120 difference will be going towards a new set of wheels for next season.

Rapha even states: The 2007 version had two protective shoulder pads (reminiscent of a donkey jacket), taking into consideration that riders use both shoulders to carry their bag of choice. We soon realised this was over-egging functionality and jeopardising form and that the one shoulder pad was how it should remain, an iconic and practical detail.

The designs are nice, but there is also something about them that is trying a little bit too hard perhaps. Any Rapha fans wearing more than a couple of items tend to look like (or want to) a walking catalogue model. Out riding last weekend, Auchendinny Chris said, albeit while wearing a Rapha rain jacket, (and I partly paraphrase):

I like the products… they’re well made… I respect the company for doing something different, investing in design… but ultimately it’s about cycling, not about looking good in black and white photographs. Couldn’t have put it better myself!

Scottish greats didn’t care about style

In my Official Rules of the Scottish Cyclist, point 1 eschews practicality over functionality. I cited the example of two of Scotland’s greatest ever cyclists who eschewed style over functionality.

Graeme Obree’s ‘washing machine’ bike was designed around an unusual frame and a pretty wacky, and let’s face it, ugly aero position. However, style was of absolutely no interest to Obree and he won the world pursuit title (1995) and broke the hour record on it (1993).

Robert Millar took this a stage further- his ponytail/mullet haircuts seemed to have been chosen specifically because they were unstylish. This was partly because he relished being an outsider and partly to ‘keep him out of nightclubs‘. Despite these dubious looks, he rode to podium places in all three grand tours, and is Scotland’s greatest cyclist of all time.

The point is, they didn’t care what people thought of how they looked. All they cared about was winning.

Official Rules: kit

Official rules of the Scottish Cyclist.

#5. Team kit is generally frowned upon, especially if matching shorts and jersey are worn. Matching cap, gloves, socks, etc all at once is strictly oot ay order! If the Scottish Cyclist, is in a team or club, then wearing the kit is OK, but lots of matching items should not be worn at once, and the kit certainly shouldn’t be white, for obvious reasons. In some circumstances retro team kit may be accepted, e.g. Robert Millar’s Peugeot jersey, but it should never be worn as a matching set.

Official rules: full list.