The colder months of a road rider’s year can be somewhat perilous; with ice, fog, rain, sleet and snow all to contend with. But it’s the rider’s mindset that can often prove the greatest obstacle of all. When a warm house offers shelter from the short days and cold wind whistling apocalyptic hymns outside, it takes a strong mind and good preparation to forge ahead into the new year. To ride in bad weather shows self sufficiency and bravery, so let Rapha help you prepare for your endeavours with the right clothing to ride in this season.
Versatility and comfort all day long
Performance fabrics and components for riding further
Protection and insulation where it's needed most
Rapha offers a free repair service on all products that have been damaged through wear and tear or accidents. Stitching, patches and replacement panels restore garments to their original level of quality and performance.
A rider named Eugène Christophe was used as a symbol for the Rapha Repair Service – aligning the dependability and continued determination to give you absolute value and quality in the products you ride in.Learn more »
This season, when you stop the alarm clock and turn over instead of stepping out onto the the cold landing, consider the story of Eugène Christophe, a rider whose self sufficiency and defiance of the odds engraved his name in the history of cycle racing.
Eugène Christophe (1885 – 1970) was famed for his hardy attitude, and never-say-die spirit. The first man to officially wear the maillot jaune (in 1919), Christophe never managed to hold on to it all the way to Paris even though he rode the race 11 times. Christophe also performed the longest successful solo breakaway in the race’s arduous and storied history, fleeing alone for 315km to win a stage. This remarkable feat, however, is overshadowed by other occurrences of fate. ‘Cri-Cri’ (as some may have called him) is most noted in Tour folklore for having the misfortune to snap his forks not once, but twice during his attempts to arrive victorious in Paris.Continue Reading »
The most notorious mechanical took place in the 1913 Tour on the world-famous Col du Tourmalet. At that time the Tourmalet’s road was essentially a donkey track and, having dropped the rest of the field on the way up, the descending Eugène Christophe encountered a car, which swerved but failed to avoid contact. Down Christophe tumbled, snapping the crown of his steel fork during the process. But, as author Graeme Fife points out in his essential book Tour de France: the history, the legend, the riders, this was not an occasion for ‘tears and tantrums’. No, Christophe shouldered his bike, à la cyclocross, and hiked to the nearest town, Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, some two hours away.
This was 1913, the early days of the sport at a time where Henri Desgrange deemed every rider to be completely self sufficient, with absolutely no support from sponsor, trainer, team manager or even member of the public. So Christophe, without the unthinkable luxury of a spare bike, let alone a support car, had to think for himself and toddled off to find somewhere to fix his blasted bike. Imagine the scenario today, in the contemporary WorldTour. Could you see Peter Sagan, as gifted an athlete as he is, being knocked off by a wayward motorist and, instead of throwing fist and leg towards officialdom after cracking his frame, serenely making his way by bus to a local bike shop and offering up his well endowed credit card for a replacement machine? Of course not.
But Monsieur Christophe did the equivalent, without the convenience of telecommunicated bank transfers. He found a blacksmith’s in Sainte-Marie-de-Campan and begged to be given some metal and the use of the workshop to forge a new steerer and weld it to the lower part of his fork. But Christophe – who had been a locksmith before turning professional bike racer – had more than just the company of the blacksmith and his young assistant. So the story goes, standing watch was a host of Tour race officials including Desgrange himself.
It took Christophe well over four hours to complete the technical task… but unfortunately, our hero made the fatal mistake of asking said Blacksmith’s assistant to pump the bellows of the forge as he operated on his machine. What else was he to do? Most men only have two arms and two legs. Poor Cri-Cri was handed a ten minute penalty for purloining help during his ordeal. As if racing a two speed over mountains covered in goat excrement wasn’t hard enough. Whatever the time deficit, Christophe completed his repair and rode on, arriving in Paris in seventh place. He finished nearly 15 hours behind the winner, Philippe Thys (who was apparently the first man to chop off his moustache to make himself more aero), which shows you just how extreme the sport was at that time.
According to Fife, Christophe was a ‘meticulous man’, careful with his preparation of gearing and foodstuffs (ham sandwiches, rice cakes and chocolate) – something that is of course required when honing oneself in the colder days of the season. There now stands a statue dedicated to Christophe in St-Marie-de-Campan, and a plaque on the wall of the old forge where his legend was tempered, eulogising his efforts: “Eugène Christophe did not abandon the race which he might have won. An example of wonderful determination.”
The will to continue, the unwavering commitment of human endeavour, that’s what it’s all about for cold weather cyclists. So the next time you skip a training ride, or decide it’s too wet outside, think about Eugène Christophe. You have the luxury of derailleurs, a whole selection of gearing, carbon fibre, GPS, and, of course, if you so choose, the finest cycling clothing money can buy…
The latest Rapha Road collection was shot on location in the Pyrenees, close to where Christophe forged his name into the history of the sport.