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Trail Rider, Hats

March 2005 Issue; Inside Motorcycles Magazine

Senior Editor Larry Tate’s first column in this magazine was about T-shirts.  A novel idea, well written as usual and one that had me wondering why I hadn’t thought of it.  Well I will try to emulate Mr Tate here and write about hats.  If wearing ball caps might give erudition, I am therefore an authority on the subject.  I can honestly say that I wear caps or hats, all the time.  Now at home Lorna does sometimes draw a line.  That line isn’t in the kitchen though where I have a “Cooking” hat, but at the bedroom.   I don’t wear a hat to bed, though having said that there are photos somewhere of me in bed, asleep with a hat on.  (It was at a motorcycle event and Lorna wasn’t present!) 


I think I get the habit honestly as my father also wore hats, not just any hat though, my father wore only “Engineer Caps.”  I don’t know if this style cap is still produced but the canvas material was blue and white striped, which of course matched with the standard farmers uniform of the day, engineer-striped bib overalls.  Barefoot and shirtless my father would automatically don his hat as he passed the coat hook on the way to the outside facilities.  Another interesting item I remember about my father is that I could tell his mood by the way he wore his hat.  The better his mood, the more jaunty the angle while if the hat was pulled tight and anchored with the brim low, he was angry and someone was in for a piece of his mind.  If the hat was slightly skewed sideways, it meant he had been partaking somewhat.  I don’t know if this trait is true of me, though someone else may wade in here with an opinion.  


Do you know there is a science surrounding hats?  I don’t know the science but I understand it exists.  Mike Malthaner from MPM Array makes hats commercially and once explained to me there was twenty or more choices of hat brim material.  This is only the brim core or stiffener part and not the material covering the brim, of which there would be thousands.   This stiffener material ranged from, “Don’t Wash Ever” to, “Wash Occasionally” to, “Fully Washable.”   I’ll bet there are people reading this who have had a “Good Hat” ruined by a dutiful wife who thought the “filthy thing” needed some sanitizing. Through experience, Lorna always checks with me first.


 Some hats are “Valuable” enough that washing should not be even considered and the hat should just remain dirty.  Hats qualifying as “Valuable” often have nothing to do with the purchase price, which today can approach $ 35.00.  I have paid more, but it was a special “Winter” hat of rabbit skin with humongous ear and brow flaps which gets regular usage when the conditions dictate.  It does draw some stares when I inadvertently wear it downtown though.


At any given time I have a selection of hats which play roles in my life including the “Work” hat: I might have a number of these depending on the type of work being done.  In a dirty environment such as under a car I have an “Under the Car” hat.  I really don’t call it that, but that would be the closest explanation I could give.  The present one is actually a “Cliffshore Vegas” hat and is relegated to the dirty job primarily because I don’t particularly like the design but feel obligated to wear it. 


Someone reading this column might think I am organized and that all of my hats are on a designated shelf awaiting my daily selection.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Most are stowed somewhere throughout the house and involve first a search and then a plea; “Lorna, do you know where my (current desire) hat is?”  Three or four “Regularly Used” hats reside on the shelf by the back door and usually consist of a  “Go to Town” hat, a couple of more-used ones (more soiled?)  caps including the “Working Outside” cap which will be one of the more comfortable in my selection.  This hat will probably have progressed through the ranks from the “Motorcycle-Event” hat, such as my “Dakar” hat and usually gets shuffled when a “MORE IMPORTANT” hat comes into my possession such as the “RED BULL” hat.


Ah, the “Red Bull” hat. Very few readers will even see much less own one.  My Red Bull hat was presented to me at the Red Bull/KTM Dakar Rider selection in Nevada last summer.  The hat came with a set of rules which were very specific in that the hat could be not sold, traded, given away or even worn by anyone other that the person who “qualified” to own it.  Wow!  How did I qualify?  I worked for and was a part of the support staff at the event.  Even the 17 member film crew from OLN didn’t get the hat.


Many years ago while a member of Ontario’s OCMC motorcycle club, the executive made an unprecedented decision to raise the entry fee for the annual CMA enduro by about 25%.  The five-dollar increase was to pay for yellow and black “Great Pine Enduro” ball caps for every rider.  To my knowledge this was an original idea.  Now twenty-five years later I occasionally see someone wearing one of those hats, usually at a bike show.  I guess that would be their “Bike Show” hat.


Another hat I encounter at motorcycle shows is a hat given away at BSC Trail Tours and Dirt Bike School circa 1995-1996.  These “Bin There, Done It” hats evolved through a tremendous amount of discussion/arguing and negotiating.  Whew, I remember still the kitchen table meeting of the BSC principals, Blair & Toni Sharpless and myself, concerning the final hat design of the giveaway hat.  Blair, not totally out of character I might venture, had firmly decided on a design which he thought more modern and hip while I leaned to a more traditional style.  In exasperation Blair at one point exclaimed, “Listen to Jamie, Jamie (Piker) knows hats, he wears hats,” but while looking around the table only one person was actually wearing a hat!  That person may have had the hat pulled low and tight and firmly anchored, I can’t remember, but the style chosen that evening was one of a more traditional style.  The “Bin There, Done It” hat, have you seen one lately?


Last but not least, is my “Inside Motorcycle” hat, which appears each month in the above header.


Warren Thaxter, Roseneath ON

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