30 Days of Rapha – On the Trail of True Grit

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Easy Spin: 25 miles roundtrip
Weather: Rain, Wind Temp: 60 deg.
Rapha Kit: Base Layer, ¾ Bib Shorts, Long Sleeve Jersey, 07 Classic Softshell Jacket
Accessories:  Merino Socks, Winter Hat, Softshell Gloves

When I conceived the series I pictured an idyllic start, an Indian summer day and one more chance to solo in the Lightweight Jersey. Instead, as we rolled onto quiet San Jose streets, we were met by brooding clouds and a forecast for the first real rain in seven months.

No matter, wearing the ¾ Bib Shorts and a layer of Mad Alchemy Embrocation (medium heat) my knees were guaranteed happy. Up top I went with the black Long Sleeve Jersey over short-sleeve Merino Baselayer. The 07 Classic Softshell Jacket and cozy Winter Hat completed my kit. Brendan was sporting his Winter Jersey, Winter Gilet and Rapha Cap. I think we looked the part.

Juli followed with camera gear in the bug. We planned to get some shots on the broad boulevard of nearby University Avenue. By the time we arrived it was spitting rain. We circled Juli on a mini-crit loop to the amusement of passing joggers and a lone guy on a mountain bike. Then we rode a few blocks South to a retro-styled railway overpass for another photo op. Happy with the results we said our goodbyes and struck out towards the Guadalupe trail without the team car and media pressure.

The rain fell more heavily, soaking the road and caking us and the bikes in the gritty reality of San Jose's deficient street sweeping budget. I dropped the tail on the Softshell to minimize the spray under and around my saddle. It may look a little ungainly but it sure works. To compensate for my all-black attire I relied on my DiNotte tailights (red and amber). I actually had a motorist stop and tell me the lights were great one morning last week. Complements from motorists; now that doesn't happen very often.

The wet, windy conditions combined with an easy pace meant we had no problems with overheating. Water beaded and just blew off my Softshell Jacket and Brendan's Winter Gilet. With a peaceful detour through Oak Hill Cemetery and a brief chat at San Jose Trek we worked our way North and home.

The bike and kit both needed a good rinse to wash away the road grime, but they're ready to go again tomorrow for what is forecast to be a much nicer day. Perhaps I'll get that Light Weight solo in after all.

10 Responses to 30 Days of Rapha – On the Trail of True Grit

  1. PJT says:

    Just curious, I like Rapha too, but it is much easier to like when you get the discount of 20%. I rode with a Rapha Continental rider, and he gave me a card for 20% off with a generic code on it. Tell me you are really not paying full price for all that gear given you are given them so much free advertising? Seriously, you don’t think your site has gone from a great site talking about all things high end cycling to advertising for rapha. That said, I have placed 4 orders for rapha and have pretty much most of the line now.

  2. PJT says:

    By the way, you don’t have to publish this, but if you like the attention to detail in styling of Rapha, check out http://www.bonobos.com as it will make you want to reconsider the pants you are wearing to work everyday. Great styling, attention to detail, and interesting fabrics… The owners have done a great job marketing.

  3. PJT,

    Yes, I’ve been fortunate to get the 20% off discount quite a few times (usually for referrals). It sounds like you’ve been bitten by the Rapha brand too. Anyway, don’t fear I’m abandoning other cycling stories, they’ll be piling up waiting for the end of the month (and perhaps I’ll manage to inject one or two along the way).

    I wanted to do a major feature for the blog and try out a bunch of photographic ideas (even though I’m not pushing the button) and my Rapha kit provides the perfect vehicle. It’s a trial run for some of the things I hope to do with the blog down the road.

    I’ll definitely check out the pants. Though there are rumors afoot, we’ve not seen full-length trousers yet from Perren Street.

  4. PJT says:

    Thanks, I enjoy reading your blog and have to say your photography is outstanding. I just started riding in May of 2008, didn’t have any kit, so pretty much everything I own is Rapha. I learned of the company after getting dropped by a Rapha rider this summer in Memphis (he gave me his card — actually more great marketing), kind of hard for me to try anything else now (I apparently have more money to waste on cycling gear than brains), but your blog has made me try some other things like DZ Nuts (which is a necessity) and frog lights. My wife even thinks it is good looking stuff. Cannot wait to read about your ride for the next few days…

  5. Pingback: 30 Days of Rapha – No One Descends Tunitas Creek | VeloDramatic

  6. Richard says:

    I’ve been following this feature with interest – always good to see reviews by real people, testing in real environments.

    It goes without saying that the photo’s (in this feature and in fact everywhere else on this site) are straight out of the top drawer and do more than reasonable justice to the wares being reviewed. Rapha ought to be very happy – especially since there’s some negative comments here and there for balance.

    And if you get some free stuff out of Perren Street then more power to you sir (though I know that’s not your logic or intention for the feature).

    Having said that, if the chaps at Rapha are slow coming forth with some freebies, perhaps you ought to take a leaf out of this gentleman’s book? Scroll down to the movie entitled Human Billboard – it might just work…
    http://www.brand-aid.info/site/

  7. That human billboard bit was brilliant Richard. Can’t believe the last twit at the Adidas shop just didn’t get the humor at all, and the security guard’s over reaction to a camera is priceless. I see that more and more taking pictures on the street.

    As for me and “my brand” call me a romantic… I just love the stuff. Seriously, I can’t imagine doing 30 days of Pearl Izumi, can you? ;-)

  8. Richard says:

    Hahaha – perish the thought!

    Pearl do some half-decent stuff. But I’d certainly struggle to find 30 ways of reviewing the single Pearl item I own – one either wears bog standard knee warmers or one doesn’t.

    (you can delete this bit if you like, but I think I’ve read that at one stage you set up your own successful design studio – any chance you can PM me a link – be dead interested to see what your alter ego is up to – especially if the quality is up there with your photography)

  9. timcox says:

    Hey Michael – I went ahead and bought the rear DiNotte light after reading numerous good reviews of this item. Almost blinded me and the beagle when I switched it on! Clever mounting system, too. I’m thinking I’ll keep the battery pack in my saddle-bag-wotsit.

    Tim

  10. The DiNotte is incredibly bright and after almost two years of daily use, under some pretty awful conditions, battery and light work perfectly. Good acquisition.

    If you want a taillight that can be seen from space (almost) this it the one.

    Tim and I will have to watch that we’re not mistaken for a car when we ride side by side.