30 Days of Rapha – No One Descends Tunitas Creek

Coastal Climb: 43 miles, 4231 feet
Weather: Partly Cloudy, Misty on Skyline Temp: 58 deg.
Rapha Kit:  Base Layer, ¾ Bib Shorts, Black Light Weight Jersey, 08 Stowaway Jacket
Accessories:  Merino Socks, Winter Hat, Softshell Gloves

Rapha is not infallible. Take the 06 Stowaway Jacket – a beautifully styled piece in gray with dramatic pink accent striping. It turned out to be as breathable as a Level 5 biohazard glove box. Exert yourself and soon the sleeves would fill with ice cold sweat, pooling from wrist to elbow.

Fast forward to this afternoon and both Tim and I were wearing Rapha's 08 Stowaway Jacket. What a difference a fabric substitution makes. Lighter, softer, quieter and transmissively superior in every way. On a day when the sun and clouds were deadlocked the new Stowaway was the perfect companion. Note to Rapha: You're forgiven. I still wear the 06, I just make sure I'm wearing a Long Sleeve Jersey underneath.

On today's loop we climbed King's Mountain to Skyline where we ran into Eric and his Rivendell Bleriot topping Tunitas Creek from the West. I spotted the beaten Rapha Cap and Fixed Shorts immediately. You don't get many riders in that neck of the woods in Chuck Taylors with a Bike to Work Day 2005 Musette slung jauntily over one shoulder. Chatting we soon made the connection he'd been on the Rapha Gentlemens' Ride out of Palo Alto. I distinctly recall watching those rat traps drop me.

Conventional wisdom says you don't descend Tunitas Creek, but Eric convinced us to give it a shot. If steep, pock-marked pavement carpeted in wet pine litter interest you then Tunitas is your creek. If we were surprised there was plenty of traction and no flats, the handful of ascending riders we passed were no less surprised at the two of us rappelling in Rapha.

The rest of the retrograde loop down Stage to 84 and 84 climbing back to Skyline was punctuated by two events. One predictable the other ridiculous. Tim flatted. This keeps his record of flatting when riding with me a perfect 100%.

Some time later a white pickup traveling in the opposite direction lobbed a full beer can or water bottle across the road at us. It missed Tim's head by a couple of feet and struck the embankment to our right. Fucking morons. First time either of us have encountered that brand of stupidity.

Perhaps Rapha should consider designing a shoulder holster.

15 Responses to 30 Days of Rapha – No One Descends Tunitas Creek

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  2. Scott H. says:

    Thanks for the Stowaway review. I have been meaning to pull the trigger and buy one of these for a while. Problem living in the Southern hemisphere is if I buy it now, I can’t wear it until next June… Unless I put it on while fetching ice tea and pineapple juice from the fridge…


  3. Hi Scott,

    You might want to lay one up for the winter when sizes and colours are plentiful. The seasonal offset probably doesn’t help you much unless you’re an extra small or an XXL. Those guys might come out ahead when regular “out-of-season” sales happen.

    I think the Stowaway is Rapha’s best looking jacket on the bike (on me anyway).

  4. BR says:

    That ride is a huge effort in heavy weather so fair play to you both…I am approximately 35% sorry that I missed it ;-) I trust that the gravel on Tunitas has been packed? You both carried a spare tire and spare tubes – right?

  5. Patrick says:

    OK, dig the photos. I ride and I photograph, but I don’t photograph as well as you. Good stuff. Hey, what is the theme you use on wordpress, that’s good, too? That jacket looks great.

  6. Patrick,

    Thanks for the stopping by and writing.

    WordPress theme is a K2 variant called Black Minimalism, but I’ve customized it a fair bit (there’s no more black). I actually wouldn’t recommend either though, the underlying code is quite sloppy and contains a fair bit of cruft. Come January I plan to replace the theme, at least architecturally, with something much leaner and cleaner code wise.

    Check out Vladimir Prelovac’s stuff… standard’s compliant, valid XHTML & CSS and he can write plugins.

  7. slate says:

    Shoulder holster- noted.
    Be safe out there.

  8. timcox says:

    Hey Michael – it was a super ride – thanks. I’ll send you 1 or 2 photos that I took on Tunitas. I doubt they’re up to your standards but maybe they’ll look great once cropped, filtered, upsampled, downsampled, unsharpened, and converted to B&W.

    Oh – guess what – that rear tire we changed on the ride back is already flat again. Methinks it’s time for (another) rear tire. (This seems to be the outcome of any coast ride with you.)

    Brendan – this time I brought a pump, at least. We took it out, looked at it, and then used a CO2 gas canister, thereby contributing to global warming.


  9. Brendan,

    For the record, Tim was extremely diligent during the tire change and eventually uncovered a sliver of metal buried deep in the tire. He almost managed to repeat your stunt… pulling the valve stem out removing the C02 but it survived. We may need to hire a support vehicle and security for those rides.

  10. Scott H. says:

    Thanks Michael. Have decided it will be a great end of semester gift to myself. Any excuse really…

    What makes you reach for the heavier jackets over the stowaway? Does it depend on how wet the rides going to be or is it a temperature thing?

    Cheers for any insight,


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  12. Erik says:


    It was a pleasure making your and Tim’s acquaintance at the top of Tunitas Creek and King’s Mountain. I hope the descent of Tunitas wasn’t too treacherous. I’m sorry to hear that the two of you were subject to an assault on Highway 84.

    Your photographic essays are excellent and do capture the atmosphere of the moment.

    Although its name and appearance suggest otherwise, my bicycle (the Bleriot) is neither vintage nor French. In actuality, the Bleriot is a product of Rivendell Bicycle Works in Walnut Creek, a maker that specializes in traditional lugged steel bicycles.

    So if you had to choose between the Softshell and the Stowaway, which would it be?

  13. Hi Erik,

    Of course, now I recall you mentioning Rivendell to Tim while I was moving around trying to get pictures. Corrections on the way.

    At the time the pickup heaved the container our way we really weren’t fazed by it. We didn’t have time to react. It missed we kept riding. Wish someone heading the other way had seen it though and got a license plate.

    You posed a tough question there. I suppose if it came down to it, I’d go for the Classic Softshell. It performs so well and looks good on or off the bike.

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