Rapha Gentlemen's Race

Rapha Gentlemen’s Race - Sept. 6th, 2008 from RAPHA on Vimeo.

Pictures and write-up at the Rapha site

I can’t afford a stitch of their (probably exquisitely comfortable) clothing, but I love what Rapha is doing in the culture. Neither hipster-fixie or ego- racing, they represent most of what made me fall in love with cycling in 1989. The team I rode on from junior high into college was a fairly hardscrabble set of honest central PA gentlemen and ladies. My three favorite memories from that time are:

  1. The Harrisburg-Gold Mine loop. Gold Mine was the most feared climb in the area. Short but ridiculously steep. The descent down the north side started like the first big hill on your favorite roller coaster (but with a sharp right, right at the beginning) that dropped you into about a two mile long dead-straight descent where speeds over 60 mph were common. The loop was about 80 miles total, if I remember correctly.

  2. After three hours of play races (6-9pm every Thursday) at Rossmoyne Park–scratch races, points races, miss-and-outs, you name it–sitting on the park bench outside of the Camp Hill 7-11 drinking Slurpees (best recovery drink ever) and talking into the night.

  3. After a few hours of winter training on the mountain bikes at Lambs Gap–back then there weren’t mountain bike trails, you just rode the motocross and hiking trails–defrosting in my coach’s Vanagon (which had the most kick-ass heater ever) as snow began to fall.

I get super nostalgic for those days. By the time I was most of the way through college, bicycle racing had started to be more the domain of the overcompensating and asinine. The non-sanctioned races common in the 80’s and early 90’s had been litigiously pushed out of existence, and even mountain bike racing was becoming the domain of the Very Serious Athlete instead of just an excuse to drink beer while riding a bike.