January 27th, 2011

Rapha gone crazy with deals

No, I have no financial connection with Rapha (at least until they sue me). I simply must share with my readers, this opportunity to pick up some items I'm sure you all have been coveting, though teetering before confirming your purchase. Get this though: "Paul Smith" Grand Tour Gloves slashed from $245 to $180. It's crazy sale time at Rapha!

                                                                                                                                Gentlemen, why use your own hand?

It's a little known fact that I went to school with Paul Smith. Most likely you did as well. To think, that one of our Paul Smiths is now a maker of fine leather gloves. If it's my Paul Smith, he is surely making them out of a sheltered workshop for the self-made brain dead. Nice work though Smithy. Keep them gloves coming, one pair per year. No quicker, or else Rapha might have to flog them on special.

Mockery aside, I do love Rapha gear. As early as the 1930s, cycling was rendered undignified by modes of transport to keep the well dressed white collar worker out of the weather: cars, trams, buses. Cycling persisted in blue collar areas, but even there white collar ways were eventually being aped as affluence flowed after the wars, and any man could afford his own car. By the 1970s, women too had joined the ranks of the drivers. And by the 1980s, only bums cycled. We wear $245 gloves to reverse preconceptions. Make that $180 gloves. I think I might get some.

The parable of the cyclist who fixed things for everyone.

A public health advocate, an environmentalist, a transit planner, and a keen cyclist, are walking along when they come across a discarded sleigh with three empty harnesses (one might call that a troika).
From left: a public health advocate, an environmentalist, a transit planner, and a keen cyclist. (Thanks to Australia's Opposition Leader for modeling). On right, a troika.

The public health advocate promptly jumps into the sleigh, and says, "You guys pull and I'll steer." A week later they're all worn out from delivering cheesy posters about riding tandems and flying kites, and notice no one is riding tandems or kite flying these days. It seems no one wants to look like the geeks in the posters. And of the handful still riding tandems, the stokers are defiantly smoking.

The environmentalist pushes his way on board the sleigh. "No more cutting down trees for your posters! Let me do the steering." A week later they have walked around seeking, and finding, a carbon neutral fuel for the cars. This fuel is so cheap and plentiful, the roads now have ten times the traffic. Their nation is stuck at the wheel, eating fast food.

"Get out hippie, I'm driving," the urban transit specialist says. So they all drag him around for a week, as he borrows heavily to spend money on trains. Only when their country is broke and full of overweight people on trains, do they look to the cyclist and remark that he has next to no pulling power anyway, so may as well steer for a while.

Within a week the cyclist has relegated the cars to a handful of roads. The other streets are filled with fit cyclists with money to spare, and all the car parks have been turned into farms. The public health advocate, transit planner and environmentalist wish that right from day one, they had lent their pulling power to whatever best suited the cyclist.

(Thanks to everyone who has shared this link via Twitter etc.. Beneath the flippancy of the parable form, is a real message to stakeholders in cycling. Rather than seeing cycling as a handmaiden to your primary agenda, help cycling flourish, as cycling is, on cycling's terms. In the end, you'll reap greater dividends.)