After a rain-soaked false start, it looks like Spring has finally arrived in Sydney. Thanks to longer days and milder weather it’s a perfect time to get out and ride. Or perhaps take up riding for the first time! Continue reading
Years ago, during my ‘London phase’ I covered the opening of a cycling-themed pop-up store that I thought was a lot of fun, but would never last. And it didn’t since it was a pop-up, but that original Rapha Club was so successful that they’ve become permanent, and even made it to Sydney.
Wednesday night, I dropped in to Sydney’s Rapha Club to check out what CMO Slate Olson had to say about the Rapha Travel offering. You won’t be surprised to hear that it’s a) expensive and b) luxurious. If you’ve ever wanted to ride the great climbs of Europe, see the places where cycling history was made, and be treated like a pro complete with support vehicles and post-ride massage from a pro-peloton soigneur, then Rapha can sort that for you. The images that Slate showed and the experiences he spoke about on the rides made even this penny-pinching, hairy-legged non-racer want to sign up. Options range from ‘Retreats’ based out of a single location where non-cycling partners can relax at the resort while you ride each day, up to the ‘Cent Cols Challenge’ if you really want that glory through suffering experience. Most of the tours are in Europe, but according to Olsen there are plans to broaden the offerings, including rides with Team Sky personnel, and talk of giving it a go in Australia around the Tour Down Under 2015.
Sipping my complimentary beer and listening to the presentation, I couldn’t help but marvel at their success. Clearly, the cycling market is on the up (bikes outselling cars, more cyclists each year etc.), but Rapha seems to be particularly adept at picking new and disparate ventures while maintaining a cohesive brand. From CEO Simon Mottram starting out wanting to make a better jersey and sell it online only, Rapha now has their own bricks-and-mortar stores on 4 continents selling their wares, print a hefty mag on actual paper (take that, print-is-dead brigade!), jumped into pro-cycling as the top levels of the sport reeled in the wake of Armstrong, and can now even organise your holiday for you… Clearly Mottram’s idea of a cycling emporium has hit a mark, and the luxury branding has been well maintained in everything they do… but what’s next? Rapha real estate selling time-shares in cycling destinations? Raphunerals to scatter your ashes atop Tourmalet? (If either of those come to pass, I want credit!) The 99u.com article linked to above mentions Mottram’s 5 year forecasts for the company, and how he predicted everything back in 2005 – I wonder how close they are to the 2015 vision… and what he’s planning for 2020?
The other big announcement of the evening was confirmation that Supercross will be back again in Sydney Park in November, bigger, better, and hopefully less puncture-y than last time.
On the morning of Sunday 16th March you may have spotted some small groups of cyclists on Sydney’s roads, perhaps looking more haggard than the usual bunch rides that got up at dawn. That’s because they had been riding for nearly 24 hours as part of the annual Fleche Opperman 24 hour trial and were rushing to the 9am finish at Parramatta Park.
Rapha brought their fun take on cyclocross to the inner-city, with their Supercross event held at Sydney Park on Saturday. With the help of the spokespeople, a 1km course was set up on the side of a hill next to the Sydney Park Cycling Centre, complete with a bar where spectators could enjoy a drink and watch the riders making their way around the off-camber turns, over the obstacles, and through the foam cannon. Continue reading
Spring is sprung, which means a lot of Sydneysiders have come out of hibernation and the City of Sydney is doing its best to convince them to get on a bike. (even though the city’s bike lanes are still an un-connected mess of green paint thanks to the NSW government’s “Stop the Bikes” policy).
As well as the usual Ride2Work day (woo hoo! Free coffee and tune up!) and Spring Cycle (a rare opportunity to ride across the bridge on the tarmac) , the festival program includes bike dating, a series of bike-mechanic workshops, and even a hill race competition, to give all the MAMILs a chance to show off their shiny bikes and hairless calves.