The aroma of freshly pulled espresso shots is out of place along an otherwise lonely strip of pavement, but still, each summer, coffee and high spirits arrive unexpectedly in places where cyclists come together. The Rapha Mobile Cycle Club’s goals are simple: we’re here because you’re here, to celebrate a shared passion for cycling.
The Rapha Mobile Cycle Clubs (MCCs) exist to bring the Rapha experience to far flung spots, too special to miss. Each rolling clubhouse presents an opportunity for cyclists to connect over superb coffee while sharing stories from the road. As a nod to the heritage of the sport, each Mobile Cycle Club is named after a visionary of the sport, such as Franco Bitossi, Frans Pauwels, and Tillie “The Terrible Swede” Anderson.
Since 2014, MCC Tillie has traversed the American cycling scene and kindled new friendships from Portland to Boston, connecting with riders and communities from the alpine passes of Colorado to the parcourse of the Tour of California.
Of course cycling in America is too robust and widely spread for Tillie to cover alone, so Rapha is proud to introduce a new Mobile Cycle Club and its pilot, Jeffrey Stern. In Rapha’s tradition of naming vehicles after cycling pioneers, Tillie’s counterpart goes by the name of “Frans,” and will spend most of the season east of the Mississippi.
Frans Pauwels emigrated to the US from Holland after a decade of racing professionally in Europe in the 1930s and 40s. He raced in the Tour of Switzerland, the Vuelta de España, and the Tour de France, but his greatest contribution to the sport was kick starting Portland’s growth as the cultural hub of cycling that it is today.
Pauwels worked as a mechanic at Kissler’s Bike Shop for a few years before purchasing the business in 1959, and tirelessly promoted bicycle riding and racing in the area. In the 1960’s he was a champion for the Olympic-style Alpenrose Velodrome and the rest, as they say, is history. His silhouette was a domineering six feet tall, and he was known throughout the European pro peloton for his devastating kick at the end of long races. It seemed reasonable then, that the Rapha Mobile Cycle Club Frans should be a Sprinter van.
At the helm of MCC Frans is Jeffery Stern, who grew up riding Mt. Tamalapais in Marin and has spent the last 5 years riding in the Los Padres Mountains. More recently he’s taken to daylong ordeals aboard a road bike. Jeffrey honed his skills at Rapha Travel, is a Skratch Labs ambassador, and is a contributing editor at ROAD Magazine.
Jeffrey and Frans will be at the New York Gran Fondo, the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, Jam Fundo in Southampton, Massachusetts in July, and the Cyclocross National Championships in Hartford, Connecticut. You may also find these two pumping tunes and pulling Stumptown Coffee shots across the New England cyclocross calendar this fall, and searching for hidden gem events along the eastern seaboard.
MCC Tillie is getting a facelift and will continue her tour of the American west. Tillie’s distinctive trailer has a fresh coat of polish, but has traded up for a BMW X5 wagon – in formal black, of course. Behind the wheel for this season is Marshall Opel.
Marshall is no stranger to hard days in the saddle. As a junior he punched well above his weight racing with adults on the farm roads of his native western Montana. Before long he traded lonely gravel roads for the slippery cobbles of the Belgian kermesses as a member of the US National Team.
Marshall’s love for cycling has taken him from racing, to European bicycle travel, and most recently to Rapha as the North American Mobile Cycle Club program manager. Marshall thinks of this as his finest post yet, and is eager to spend the season celebrating riding and racing with new friends across the west. You’ll find Tillie and Marshall at Sea Otter in April and supporting Team Sky, WIGGINS, and CANYON//SRAM at the Amgen Tour of California. Tillie’s glimmer will also turn up at grassroots events from California to Colorado all summer, so keep your eyes peeled and don’t be shy.
Both Frans and Tillie will be making appearances at Rapha Pop-Up stores across the US, and if you see the Rapha Mobile Cycle Clubs on the road please do say hello. You can keep an eye on Frans MCC at @rapha_frans on Instagram and @rapha_frans_ on Twitter. You can keep an eye on Tillie MCC at @rapha_tillie on Instagram and Twitter. Their whereabouts will be posted at rapha.cc/frans and rapha.cc/tillie.