Dave de Graaf

Despite not being born and bred in Amsterdam, Dave is not afraid to consider himself an Amsterdammer. “I don’t like being outside of Amsterdam. I honestly believe this is the most beautiful city in the world.” Born in Nieuwveen, he finally landed in the nation’s capital after his parents moved their family to other locations in Europe. Dave is very much an emotionally driven person, that always chooses to follow his heart. After a few years of studying journalism, he followed the direction of his family's ties in the restaurant business where he dabbled while still in school. At twenty-one he decided to step up his game, and started under the wings of some very good chefs to develop on his way to being a star chef. When his children were born Dave swapped the kitchen - and its eighty hour work weeks - for the Rapha Clubhouse Amsterdam.

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Dave de Graaf's Ride

The classic route for roadies from Amsterdam. I must have ridden it at least a couple of hundred times, and it still doesn’t bore me at all. There’s always some time to squeeze it into your schedule, I can probably bust it out - including change clothes and grabbing my bike - in about an hour and a half. The first stretch along the Amstel river (that you will be riding on your way back into town again) is a lovely part of Amsterdam. The large loop at the end of the route can be ridden either clockwise or counterclockwise. I usually have a look at the prevailing wind, and my mood to take on a headwind or not.

Distance: 38 km
Elevation: 20 m
Estimated time: 1-2 hrs

Download the GPX route

“You know what the funny thing is about riding bikes? Whatever hardship you encounter: you will get through it.”

I haven’t even been cycling for that long, only since five or six years. My dad loved cycling dearly – he watched every single Tour de France – But I never really joined him in watching. He would only watch, he didn’t ride bikes himself. After he passed away I was looking for a way to feel a connection with him. My brother in law put me on a bike while on a family holiday in France. I had always been a runner and the only thing I could think was: this is going to be so much easier on my knees. I was instantly hooked.

When I started cycling, I was working as a chef, at quite a serious level, culinary stars and everything. With some of the guys in the kitchen we got into cycling. Now obviously chefs don’t live the most healthy lifestyles, spending time in the kitchen deep into the night. So we decided to start doing serious rides, like the hundred kilometers of the Gerrie Knetemann Classic. My colleagues, brother in law, and I. We could hardly manage those hundred kilometers, would arrive at the finish completely cramped up. I started riding in a group every wednesday morning. Riding in a social setting like that is something that I hadn’t done, although there are some very strong riders in that group. But they can teach you more, you end up buying better equipment, and you grow. And that’s when it started to get really fun! And it combined very well with working in the kitchen. It’s was good fun to notice how quickly you progress, even when you haven’t set any big goals for yourself. You ride, but you don’t specifically train for something. That’s how it went on for a while. When I heard that I was going to be a dad myself, I decided that I didn’t want to carry on with those late nights in the kitchen.

So I started looking around for other work, and had obviously noticed Rapha and bought a shirt or two. The style was an incentive for me, the fact that it was more of a lifestyle. And when I like something as much as I liked cycling, I want it to spill over into my normal life. Not necessarily riding competitions, but really love and embrace the sport. I don’t have to be the fastest rider in the field, but definitely want to be the best version of myself. Rapha presented that in a way that seemed like everyone could be part of that.

There had been a rumour going around that they were creating a Rapha Clubhouse in Amsterdam and that they were looking for a chef, so I applied for the job. The next day I received an email: the plan was to be changed, the building wasn’t suited for a large café and they didn’t want a chef anymore. But they were so enthusiastic about the interview, that they asked me if I would want to work in the store. So obviously I just love the work that I do now, and have literally not had a single bad day at work. What I like, and that seems to be a bit contradictory how people experience road cycling in the Netherlands, is that you run into all sorts of people. Traditionally road riding seemed to lean heavily on racing and training. The community housed at the Amsterdam Rapha Clubhouse will go out and ride in the heart of winter for instance. To look a little broader at riding your road bike is what I would like to show other people.

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“I have become a better person thanks to the things I have achieved on my bike.”

If our community grows, and the Rapha Cycling Club with it, cycling will be more fun for everyone involved. It’s what I’ve learned from cycling, every time you expand your limits that little bit further. Last year I’ve ridden Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the first time, and as it was the first time you worry a bit about those 265 kilometers. You know what the funny thing is about riding bikes? Whatever hardship you encounter: you will get through it. And that makes you grow as a person, not only as a cyclist. After that every next challenge will be a bit easier.

For myself I have a rather specific goal: next year I want to take on one of Rapha’s Cent Cols Challenges. This requires a lot of yourself and it’s not a cheap trip. But me and my closest cycling buddy Nils have started training and saving up money. When you think about it, it’s such a bizarre goal, and to carry on like that for ten days is a bit overwhelming. But working towards it, creating the discipline for yourself, being more focused, are the things I look forward to. When you have everything lined up, you see that reflected in your day to day life. I would go so far as to say that I have become a better person thanks to the things I have achieved on my bike.