Me and Rapha – Tragically Hip

I live in France, where it’s not what you do, but how good you look when you’re doing it. Following that philosophy, after I realized I needed a jersey for autumn riding, I went in search for something that wouldn’t attract looks of condescendence (like my triple chainring, for example) from my French comrades.

What I found was Rapha. Rapha (excuse the explanation, UK readers…some riders outside still don’t know) is a British maker of some seriously nice cycling clothes. They are part of the vanguard of the renaissance that cycling is experiencing in the UK, where riding a fixie, having a sincere love for cappuccinos, and being known to wear merino wool are all it takes to be taken seriously on the Boris-built bike lanes of London.

But what I like about Rapha is that you can wear their stuff without screaming their name to the world. Here’s my new jersey, as an example:

In a world where “Bianchi” is written 12 times on one bike (mine), it is going to be very satisfying to ride around this fall without looking like the usual rolling billboard. “Rapha” is there, mind you, embroidered in white, on the white stripe on the sleeve.

There’s no mistaking it, Rapha is cool. You only have to look at the ‘candid’, ‘real life’, drama-filled (nobody smiles because, as we all know, cycling is about suffering, or at least about being serious and deep) B&W photos on their site to know that these guys are tremendously hip; but happily they also make some really good stuff. The quality of the material (merino wool, what else?) and the workmanship is immediately evident. Check out the pouches.

Tiny zippered pocket for valuables, pump sleeve (now I have to buy a pump!) and apparently a hole somewhere to string your iPod cord through. All useful stuff and very well made.

And this quality coolness comes at a price, you can imagine. My jersey cost me 155 Euros, which means no beer allowance for November and my new wheel-set acquisition gets pushed farther back on the calendar. But still, I WILL look good, or at least I’ll think I do, which in the end is what it’s all about.

13 thoughts on “Me and Rapha – Tragically Hip

  1. I’m sure you’ll look awesome Gerry!
    We’re in dire need of new cycling kit. Just realised I’ve had my Raleigh emblazoned shorts since before my eldest son was born, he’ll be 20 in December! Chris’s longs share the same vintage. Cycling shoes are roughly 14 years old and even our cycling jackets which we consider ‘new’ must be heading for 9 or 10 years!
    Not sure we’ll be getting Rapha though … much as we’d like to look good!

  2. Your Rapha decision left out one key element, your occasional biking partners. Now how do you think the more fashionably-challenged among us will feel the next time we’re out with?

  3. I found your blog looking for cycling routes in the Languedoc for my husband. I will have to check out this gear – definitely not the typical & popular Euro Champ style we see so much where we live in Barcelona. Which leads to me how I found your blog. We were planning to go to the Languedoc the first week of January. I’d love a small, charming and historic village with some cafes, shops. To get him on board with the trip – I need a place with great cycling nearby. We also have to young children you need some fresh air to explore and ride. Do you have any recommendations? I am off to check your route blog.

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