Spinning Thoughts – Memories While Pedaling in Italian Finery

a flash of tre-color goes a long way

Last week, between the showers, the puddles and the gritty streets two great memories bridged whatever gap separates us and rode along side for a while. They were unexpected but welcome company.

The first of them appeared as a curtain of rain drew back to reveal the first sunshine of the week. Looking ahead to navigate a minefield of sweetgum balls brought down by the wind the light caught a shower of droplets thrown upwards by the front wheel. As they arced forward, I was taken back to a summer long past when a sprinkler tick... tick... ticked its way through endless circles. Then my wheel picked up a little stone and as it pinged from spoke to spoke in search of freedom, I remembered us riding our bikes through that sprinkler in our bathing suits, by the swimming pool where we lived from June to September.

Back and forth we rode through the pulsing spray timing our runs, hitting our coaster brakes so hard the bikes slid out from under us on the wet lawn. If we stopped it doesn't register now. Perhaps someone yelled at us or we just grew tired and threw our bikes in a pile as we often did in the rush back to the water. Walk don't run around the pool!

It was the sweet smell of wood smoke that brought back the second memory. Slowing as I passed through a narrow laneway that connects two back-to-back neighborhoods, I found myself climbing the stairs to the cottage on Bark Lake. I must have been twelve when my friend Frank, now a pilot for KLM, and I spent a cool fall weekend in the Laurentians driving a boat, shooting a 22, chopping wood. One night in the pitch dark of that Northern forest we ran outside to watch a maelstrom of glowing red sparks stream from the chimney to settle as sooty mites on our jackets and faces. The smell never quite left that jacket.

I exited the lane, turned right into the wind and it was gone. Coincidentally the next day I got an email from Frank who lives in Holland. Among the details he just got a new Trek Equinox 9.0. Separated yes, different no.

I wish I spoke Italian

I don't know if my grandfather ever rode a bike. His name was Carlo Salteri. He owned a grocery on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, he loved opera, football pools and Violet, my grandmother. Always a smartly dressed man, I think he would have enjoyed Rapha's new Italian kit. I wore the jersey and leg warmers for an abbreviated neighborhood loop Saturday with Juli shadowing me in the car for a few pictures.

a flash of tre-color goes a long way

The short sleeve jersey is solid black with beautifully inset tre-colore striping, a retro-styled short zipper and Rapha's customary attention to detail. A 69% polyester/31% merino blend provides the performance and comfort we've come to expect from Mottram and company. The matching* knee warmers stayed put under the Rapha Bib shorts with appropriate compression.

I wonder what Carlo would have made of all this cycling. It would have been great to watch the Giro with him.

*The knee warmers cool blue-black matches the bib shorts perfectly. The jersey black is a little more carbon. It's a small difference that in no way detracts from the overall impression. That said I do have a bigger problem with the theme. Where are the matching arm warmers, cap and socks Luke, Graeme?

20 Responses to Spinning Thoughts – Memories While Pedaling in Italian Finery

  1. chr15 says:

    Oh yes! Caps in the country jersey’s theme would really be something, eh?

    • Chris,

      I’d like to see a country cap with a little three color rectangular patch above the bill instead of the length-ways striping, just for a change.

  2. Sophrosune says:

    With the addition of this new apparel, I get the sense you have abandoned the updating of your “Tab” list.

    BTW: To give you an update, I am pleased with the Red lightweight soft shell. It reminds me of the red wind breaker James Dean wears in Rebel Without a Cause.

    • Dexter,
      I’m sure Rapha would like that film reference… there is a definite resemblance. Fear not, I’ve not abandoned the “Tab”. The paperwork has been piling up during the redesign and hardware upgrades I’ve been making. More soon.

  3. Josh says:

    Are you going to the new larger Rapha fixed backpack? I’d love to see a comparison between the new larger one and the old smaller one :)

    • Josh,

      Definitely will do a comparison when I can get hold of the larger backpack. I ride with the current one everyday and sometimes it’s just too small for what I have to carry. The large one should have about 50% more capacity.


  4. Josh says:

    Can’t wait for your review. Please include some side to side shots!

  5. Herohirst says:

    Yes, the Rapha is lovely (I suppose they had to go big on the Italian theme this year with the centenary of what we all know to be the finest of the Grand Tours) but what are the glorious looking wheels on the Enigma? Very nice. Understated; no obvious markings (I like that) but obviously a serious pair of hoops.

    • The wheels are hand-builts by Troy Watson at Ligero Wheelworks Edge Composites 38mm carbon clincher rims, Sapim CX-Ray spokes and Ligero’s SLW hubs. Troy had run out of decals when he built them and though I’ve since got decals from Edge, I think the stealth look really works with the understated branding on the Enigma. I’ve only put a couple of hundred miles on them because I love the tied & soldered Pave’s (a custom build from Competitive Cyclist… record hubs, DT comp spokes and DT Swiss RR 1.1 rims) I’ve been using so much.

      Still not sure if I truly like the carbon experience. I’m certainly not fast enough to really squeeze the true performance out of them, and even with the recommended yellow Swiss Stop Race pads braking is not the same as an aluminum wheel. I always smile when I read wheel reviews about them spinning up and accelerating as if the cyclist was just a passenger and they were doing all the work. It may be all psychological but I do feel faster when these are on the bike.

      Thanks for the comment.


  6. Josh says:

    I have the same exact wheels as you, built by the same man too :) Troy is the man.

  7. that’s cool Josh.

    How are you liking them?

  8. Josh says:

    I love them. I use them as my everyday wheels now, even in the rain. I’ve run over plenty of curbs and even bunny hopped a couple rocks. Haven’t had a single issue with them. I hated swapping them out for my heavy PT wheelset so much that I let someone borrow my PT.

  9. Eric says:

    I’m an avid reader and love your site. Is there any difference in the cut/patter/details etc… of the Italian job compared to the last seasons country jerseys? Thanks and keep up the great shots & verbiage.

    • Hi Eric. The Italian Job (loved the original film with Michael Caine) is identical to last season’s country jerseys in every respect as far as I can tell.

  10. chr15 says:

    I too like the look of the carbon rims. Stealth and understatement look great on you enigma. But I LOVE the tied and soldered Pave’s!

    Great suggestion on the cap design. Personally I’d love to see a British Jersey in the Rapha catalogue, to celebrate British cycling especially in light of the past year or so. I’m sure it’s something they’ve given plenty of thought too!



    • the Union Jacks look pretty smart, I’m sure Luke and the designers have something on the drawing board but it might be twmp’s good natured nudging has them working on a robert millar jersey first.

  11. Oscar van den Bosch says:

    I must admit, very nice taste in clothes and bikes. I also ride RR1.1′s tied & soldered, but with Dura-Ace 7700 hubs and Revolution spokes.

    I’ve bookmarked your blog, finally something worth reading.


    • thanks Oscar… were your wheels the Shimano variation from Competitive Cyclist? I have to say with a name like yours how could you be anything but a cyclist ;-) Straight out of a spring classic tale.

  12. Dan H says:

    A Robert Millar jersey by Rapha?! This is the one that has the okay from Robert?

    Awesome news, I remember reading about a commemorative jersey on the washing machine post and thought it would be like the Santini Peugeot jersey I already have, but, this is something I MUST own.

  13. Hey Dan,

    Well it’s clear that you’re already standing in line for the RM jersey but I really don’t know if Rapha is working on one… I was just offering a little positive encouragement for twmp’s lobbying.