Yes, today I am feeling buff. When did that word enter the English lexicon? Hard to say, but the word does have multiple meanings as indicated by Urban Dictionary, as well as the more traditional Merriam-Webster. Most of the more contemporary meanings have to do with “looking good” in some manner, but there also is a reference in there to “a device having a soft absorbsent surface.” Keep both of those in mind.
Early this year, at a ride I put together for my birthday, I was lamenting the shortcomings of the various pieces of cycling head apparel that I owned. Not the helmets, but what I wear on my head under a helmet. My pal Bridget Fitzpatrick mentioned headgear called “Buff” to me and suggested that it might be a solution. At the time, I also was in the middle of selling a house and preparing to move to Templeton, so I promptly forgot about her suggestion.
Then mid-year, on a rideshare day, I rode my bike to the temporary bicycle station in Paso Robles being handled by Carol and Steve Fleury of Best Bike Zone. Of course, I was already retired from my job, so the rideshare aspect of the trip was moot, but still I was happy to accept a swag bag. Included in the swag bag was this “Original Buff Multifunctional Headwear” piece shown below.
“Oh yes” I thought, this is what Bridget was talking about. As you can see, the print job on the piece was specific to rideshare day, but the functional part of “multifunctional” was inarguable. As soon as I put it on I loved it. It does everything I want below-helmet cycling head apparel to do:
- A comfort layer between my thinly populated scalp and the helmet ribs.
- Sun barrier.
- Sweat wicking.
- Can be pulled down over the ears for cold weather riding.
- Does not leave a crease in my forehead.
Crease in the forehead? That is the downside to the several “Headsweat” apparel pieces I have in different colors. They all have an integrated terrycloth sweat band positioned to keep sweat out of your eyes, but the seam at the top of the terrycloth section always leaves a crease in my forehead that stays with me for several hours. If I end my ride and have to get a-movin’ to my next appointment, even a hot shower does not release the crease and it looks awfully goofy to whomever sees me next.
I also tried cotton bandannas from Boot Barn. Fold the square into a triangle, wrap around head and tie in back, but their biggest ones just are not big enough, so it’s not a viable solution.
The Buff product does the trick. It is a tube of soft microfiber material, with, count ’em, zero seams. I pull one end of the tube onto my head down to my eyebrows, the other end just flops down off the back of my head, and as a bonus, provides sun protection for my neck. You can also pull the whole tube over your head and down onto your neck so that it serves as a neck warmer. In this position you can then pull the top of it up over your nose for extra warming service. It’s nice and stretchy, goes where I want it to go without protest.
I like it so much that I finally got around to buying a couple more of them online from Buff USA, an early Xmas present for myself.
When they arrived in the mail, each piece came on a thin cardboard slat that also is printed with images showing different wearing methods, along with product and company information. I fully expected to see “Made in China” somewhere in the text, but surprise, the company is Spanish and they actually are made in Spain. How often do you buy something made in Spain, other than olive oil and red wine?
Already I feel like I want more of them in other colors (to match jerseys) and patterns. Also, for those very brisk days, to wear one around my neck and one on my head. Soft and absorbent, good-looking, very buff.