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.