Photography by: Nick kova and John Maniquis
It seems like only yesterday that the Rapha Cycle Club San Francisco was just a pop-up store. It had an air of electricity back then, and many who set foot inside were impressed by the space, the aesthetic and, of course, the excitement of seeing Rapha clothing up-close. The fact the store was only temporary seemed to add something unique; patrons knew how special their visit was and some locals expressed a wish that we could be a permanent shop. Our stay was slated for three months, just like the New York pop-up location that had preceded us. August 5th found us prepping for dismantling and departure but Rapha headquarters in London had other plans – we were to sign a proper lease and become the first permanent Rapha Cycle Club
The staff were elated by the news, as was the close cycling family we found within the Bay Area cycling community. We would also serve as the litmus test for Rapha’s other bricks-and-mortar ventures. In the next three years, we would hold countless events: early-morning live-race viewings; gallery openings; book signings; group rides; races; and a lot more besides. The list is a long one, and each holds a wonderful memory for those who attended.
To mark the Club’s third year in San Francisco, we decided to do something a bit different. Last weekend, our Saturday Club Ride (which mainly rides in Marin County) braved a new neighboring terrain – the East Bay. Not only is this area abundant with beautiful roads and scenery, it also boasts some wonderful elevation for tough climbs. Fittingly, the route included a popular segment called the 3 Bears Loop.
We took the group to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) Station, where we met with more riders. More awaited us still in Orinda, where we would start the 55-mile ride, a variety of abilities and ages among them. Our ride leader and staffer, Adam Garcia, took the reins, clearly explaining the route as the group paid close attention. A flurry of clicks and clacks followed as our troop engaged their pedals and rolled out.
A beautiful, crisp day got warmer as the ride progressed, through the cityscape and out into the farmland beyond. Introductions were made, wheels were drafted, food was shared. A bond was forming within the group, which tends to happen on a climb-riddled route. This loop would put up just shy of 6,000ft of elevation. The small packets of pink gummy bears handed out mid-ride were soon at our mercy before we, the riders, were at the mercy of the 3 Bears. What took our breath away was the beautiful scenery in the area and as we took to the train station and headed back to town, we left in different directions but wearing similar smiles.
The next evening, we prepared the Club for a private celebration. We had invited friends, neighbors, regulars, family, and cycling industry folk. As the sun slowly set, our guests began to arrive. A keg was tapped, provided by our friends at Fort Point Brewing. Our neighbors at Tacko provided wonderful eats. Familiar faces discussed the store’s evolution over the past three years. Fond memories of “that one Club ride”, “my favorite gallery installation”, or “the badge I earned from that Strava challenge”, were shared. There was no doubt we had built a strong community of people in the past 36 months, with whom we have shared our love for cycling.
Next came the raffle, with donations from local vendors, such as Chuey Hats, Four Barrel Coffee, and 3D BikeFit. The likes of Aether, Chrome, Cinelli, SPY, Equinox, and Monster Products also contributed prizes. What really got everyone’s attention were the auction prizes: a full SRAM Force groupset, including complimentary installation and Tour of California VIP passes for Mount Diablo on Stage 3 of the race. All the funds generated from the raffle and auction went to World Bicycle Relief. We raised more than $3,000 for the charity, and would like to extend our gratitude to all those involved.
As we wrapped up the party, it was easy to see how this location has created a sense of family and belonging. Like-minded people with kindred spirits and a shared road. Here’s to the next three years…