Words: Guest Author | Date:
The Tour of California is as close as we get in this country to a Grand Tour like the Giro, the Tour de France or the Vuelta. What it lacks is the history, the legend and lore. It’s not because California is inadequate in any way, or the route is without drama and difficulty. From the Capitol in Sacramento to the Golden Gate, down the Pacific coastline and through ancient forests and wind turbine farms into the Central Valley. Then south, over the San Gabriel Mountains to the top of Palomar, the Tour of California is as epic a ride as it is a race.
One of the reasons the Rapha Continental came into being was to blend that effort more commonly associated with elite competition with the everyman’s experience of an epic ride, to suffer and test ourselves against our own limits, our friends and the topography. To witness, first-hand, a ride’s intrinsic virtues, it’s surfaces, people and places. To ride exposed to weather, distance and fatigue and then to chronicle and share the experience, so that the reader might become the rider.
That’s why we chose to ride the Tour of California, to chronicle, stage by stage, its climbs, descents and the characters along the way, to exalt both the contest and the 750 miles of roads on which it will be held. To pay homage to the professionals’ everyday heroics, to their machine-like resilience and staggering physical prowess. In return for the inspiration we draw from their efforts we offer, through our own, our humility and respect.
From the start, we committed to riding our tour as true to our ethos of being as self reliant as possible. Along the way, many things caused our collective resolve to waiver: distance; elevation gains; sheer logistics, diminishing daylight and constant attrition. That’s what this story is partly about, reconciling our expectations with the limitations imposed upon us and continuing to persevere. Those expectations are based partly on what we believe the pros will do on these same roads and partly on the epic days we ourselves have ridden in the past. The riding we encountered on the Tour route was without a doubt extraordinary – we knew it would be. The physical effort, however, although not unexpected was monumental, especially this early in the season. Yes, we suffered. But we also worked as a team and it was, in the end, something beautiful.
Every day, before each stage begins, Rapha will share its account of how six better than average, but by no means pro riders fared on the route of this professional stage race. Through photography, video and regular reports, the Rapha Continental will bring you the Tour of California from a unique perspective.