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.
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.