Creative: Channels I Love, Rapha Films

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I love cycling. In fact, if I wasn’t doing what I am doing now and hadn’t dedicated most of my adult life to photography I would be actively attempting to find a career in or around cycling. The term “cyclist,” these days comes with a political bend. Often when non-bike riders hear the term “cyclist,” there is a negative connotation, one associated with an overweight guy in spandex at the local coffee shop. I’ve even had a conversation with more than one person who blamed our traffic troubles entirely on the cycling community. I’ve ridden in cars with people who purposely drove too close to riders and in one case even tried to run a cyclist off the road. I’ve had men in trucks roll coal on me, throw bottles at me, and even take the time to roll down the window and yell a wide range of colorful things in my direction. (A lot of insecure dudes out there.)

Even though these things are real and represent realities that must be understood and defeated, the vast majority of the world revolves around a positive outlook when it comes to pushing the pedals. The vast majority of us remember what it was like when we first found our balance and aimed our bike at the unknown.(Riding to Stop n Go with my friend Kyle who would buy Coke and Ding Dongs then lay down in the parking lot holding his stomach.) This is the part of cycling I choose to focus on. The adventurous spirit, regardless of what level that adventure truly is. As you will see, people like Lael and Lachlan are doing things that most of us could never imagine but riding to your local grocery store is adventure enough and completely doable for many of us.

Rapha loves cycling too. I frankly don’t know much about this brand but I do spend a significant portion of my YouTube time on their channel. Sorry photog types, there isn’t much on YouTube for people like me. Rapha does a wide range of films but their #goneracing playlist is where I find my home. The films are well-directed, well-produced, and don’t have TOO much technique overriding the basic message and idea behind the film. Having muddled on YouTube for a while now, I know what it takes to produce films like this so my respect level starts with a brand willing to commit and willing to commit to a style of cycling that is still far from mainstream.

I know some of you are thinking these films and these trips are silly and beyond anyone’s expectation. That’s okay. Do I dream of doing a long tour on my bike? Yes. Do I think this is going to happen anytime soon? No. Do I think my health will allow it? Probably not. Just when I think I’m over Lyme Disease I have a day like I had this past Sunday. (not over it yet). But, I love the fact that people are out attempting these things. I also like the fact that hidden in these films are sizeable fundraising efforts and partnerships that are offering opportunities to people who might not ever have a chance at something.

Also know that Rapha is a brand and brands are about revenue, bottom line, and the almighty profit. I work in a marketing department for a brand and am well aware we all have a dark side. That is the nature of capitalism. But you can find a feel for specific brands and know whether or not you feel comfortable in playing along. I have a shortlist of brands I engage with and a long list I would never touch no matter the offer or enticement. But my favored brands might not be yours.

I’m a fifty-three-year-old, semi-healthy avid bike rider who feels like America has left her cards on the table when it comes to the strategic benefit of cycling. Rapha, through this channel, provides me with something I’m not getting anywhere else. As I pedal my ten-year-old titanium Salsa Fargo around the hills of Northern New Mexico, the crappy components creaking and jumping between gears, I find myself thinking “Lael would laugh at this ride,” or “Lachy would stop for a beer and a coke here.” That’s all this is. Moments of reflection, moments of connection.

Comments 4

  1. That was really good, Dan. Thank you. Many years ago I watched a television series (in the U.K.) called On the Road Again. It was presented by a man who, in his teenage years, had done the Hippy Trail to Kathmandu (pretty sure that was his destination) in the 60s. He had decided to do it again, but this time in a small 4 x 4. That series gave me serious wanderlust. He met many people on his journey, but I was most impressed by the people who were just cycling – in the middle of nowhere! At one point he was one the border with China and was doing the “If I take one more step I’ll be in China” take for the camera, when a cyclist appeared – coming from China. The guy had begun his trip in Australia, caught a boat to mainland China, and had cycled all the way to Nepal. He said that the only problem he’d had in China was that, cycling through villages, the kids would sometimes try and throw sticks into the spokes of his wheels. When asked “Where next?” he said he would probably go down through India.. and his plan kind of trailed off there: he didn’t know. Listening to some of the interviews of people on the road, you just knew: they were never going home.

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      Mike,
      Believe it or not, there are a TON of people out there on their bikes doing round-the-world efforts. There is a site called Crazy Guy On A Bike that details many of these tours. You also have the hipster/bikepacking culture now where more and more people are out there doing the same and they are ALL making films.

  2. Hi Dan, I have great fun watching your video’s on YouTube about cycling, photographing and printing. That is why I think you might like Gran Fondo Cycling Magazine (https://granfondo-cycling.com/). It’s all about cycle adventures around the globe. Lot’s en lot’s of stuff to dream about.

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      Kim,
      For sure. It’s beautiful. Some of the best publications I’ve seen over the past few years have been cycling-related. Gravel in particular is loaded with beautiful work.

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