Rapha’s annual look up the road to the products, rides and stories in the coming year, written by CEO and founder, Simon Mottram.
1. To the Sun
The promise of spring, from Willunga Hill to Paris-Nice, is what every road rider looks towards. This coming season, Rapha will host a series of blog interviews with some individuals who are exceptional in their field, with the aim of inspiring you into a more positive outlook through the darker months when riding isn’t easy.
2014 marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Marco Pantani. The first Italian since Fausto Coppi to win the Giro-Tour double, he is the tragic hero, panache personified. His dramatic attacks in the mountains left everyone breathless, though his flawed genius saw him fall the way of so many of his generation; Pantani’s downfall ended fatally when he died of acute cocaine poisoning in a hotel room on Valentine’s Day 2004. But he was one of the greatest climbers the sport has ever witnessed and a personal hero of mine in the 1990s. His story is a parable of recent times and sums up the extreme highs and lows of road racing. In 2014, we commemorate Pantani with a special edition jersey, memorial ride and more. Stay tuned.
3. Rapha HQ: Imperial Works 2.0
After 10 glorious years at Imperial Works in Perren St. Rapha has finally outgrown its original London HQ. To make room for our growing team and ambitious plans, next spring we’re moving to a new location a little way up the road in Kings Cross. Our new office will also be called Imperial Works. As sad as we will be to say goodbye to Kentish Town, exciting times lie ahead. In addition to our London expansion, this year we are also opening new offices in Munich and Southeast Asia.
4. Team Sky
Having now spent a full season working with the world’s top GC team, we have more pro rider-led innovations launching in 2014. Alongside robust performance products and accessories for both the team themselves and amateur racers, there are also some new Team Sky-inspired products for more casual riding, supporter wear and off-the-bike pieces. 2014 will see both the Giro and Tour get underway on British and Irish soil. I will be incredibly excited to be supporting the team in my native Yorkshire this summer.
5. New Rapha Cycle Clubs
Rapha’s global network of meeting places for riders and fans for the sport is expanding in 2014, with new Rapha Cycle Clubs arriving in more key cycling cities around the world. The perfect hub for rides, events, exhibitions and, of course, the latest Rapha products; look out for new Cycle Clubs in Manchester, Amsterdam, Tokyo and Los Angeles later this year.
6. Rapha Tempest
The world’s greatest race departs from Yorkshire in July. To mark the occasion, Rapha is launching the Rapha Tempest, a four-day festival of cycling based at Broughton Hall. Currently host to a Rapha Super Cross race, Broughton Hall has been the Tempest family seat since the time of William the Conqueror. The modern-day Tempests are lending both their name and home to what is set to become an annual fixture on the cycling calendar. Camping is available within the grounds, from basic to luxury, along with giant screens to watch the Grand Depart, and a packed programme that includes guided rides, workshops, live music and mini super cross.
7. Kings of Pain
Rapha marked its launch in 2004 with an exhibition titled Kings of Pain. Held during that year’s Tour, it was a celebration of some of the sport’s most heroic and iconic riders; Jacques Anquetil, Tom Simpson and Fausto Coppi to name but a few. ‘Glory Through Suffering’ remains the mantra which defines the Rapha road racing ethos and on our 10th anniversary we will launch dedicated Kings of Pain products, including apparel, accessories and books.
8. Rapha Travel
Rapha Travel will be bigger and better than ever in 2014 and with 31 trips and counting, packages have been created for all riding abilities. The gloriously gruelling Cent Cols Challenge features a new Corsica edition, while new Team Sky Race Access Tours allow you to experience the pro peloton up close. Our existing European Rapha Randonnees will be joined by new routes in the US and Japan or, for those in search of a little pampering, a Rapha Retreat is the perfect way to ride and recharge.
9. The Women’s 100
The Women’s 100 returns next summer. The inaugural event in 2013 challenged women around the world to come together and ride more than 100km in support of women’s cycling. The response was overwhelming, with 5,000 riders registering for the challenge on Strava and Facebook. In all, women riders from 38 countries took part, helping to create a global phenomenon. Roll on 2014…
10. Rapha Climber’s Shoes
One of the products I’m most excited about in 2014 is a new addition to our footwear range. The Rapha Climber’s Shoes are lightweight summer shoes perfect for long days in the mountains and gliding along hot roads in the summer. They’re our second collaboration with California-based Giro. They are lighter and more breathable than the GT Shoes (the Climber’s Shoes weigh less than 220g) and I have enjoyed wearing prototypes for the last 12 months.
11. Phinney and Carpenter
Later this year, we will be celebrating the achievements of two American cycling icons – the wonder couple Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter-Phinney – with two very special jerseys. Following success at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, the two were equally dominant forces at home and abroad. It will be the first time Rapha has made a women’s special edition jersey, and a contribution for every jersey sold will go to the Davis Phinney Foundation. In 1999, Davis was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and in 2004 set up the charity that bears his name to help Parkinson’s sufferers and their families. Davis’ and Connie’s son, Taylor Phinney, is currently enjoying success in the pro peloton with BMC.
Image: Graham Watson
12. David Millar Retires
Our good friend and stalwart of the pro peloton (and a stylish one at that) bows out this season. Not without his own demons and distractions during his career, Millar for me has always raced his bike the way I think it should be done. A man who understands the aesthetics of the sport, and the history too, he’s always been a friend of Rapha and we share the respect on and off the bike.
13. Rapha City
Rapha was one of the first brands to design cycling apparel for city cycling, launching our first products back in 2006. Next year will see a bold new direction for the Rapha City range, starting with our Autumn Winter 2014 collection. With the bicycle now seamlessly integrated into the urban lifestyle, the Rapha City collection will expand for both men and women.
Image: JXP Photography
14. The Final Season
As you may know, 2014 is the final season we’ll be sponsoring Rapha-Condor-JLT. It’s been eight brilliant years since the first Rapha Condor team was established between Rapha and London’s finest bike shop and builder. Co-owning a top team has been an amazing experience. But road racing and riding in the UK have been transformed since we started our partnership in 2006, with numerous brilliant victories and riders all steered in style by John Herety and his team. We have now decided to explore other ways in which Rapha can usefully invest in UK racing. The 2014 season will see a host of celebrations to mark the end of a truly exceptional era.