Rapha Cycle Club OPENS WITH A BANG !!!!
Last night I got invited to the grand opening of Rapha’s new cycle club in one of London’s original Italian communities of Clerkenwell. Now on this blog I have said some critical things of Rapha so I must admit that I was a little surprised to get an invite to such a prestigious event. So it was with a tiny amount of trepidation I turned up at 146-148 Clerkenwell Rd. However I couldn’t have got it more wrong. I was greated by the amazing Laura who immediately made me feel very welcome and at home. She is such an amazing woman and a great way to meet the people at Rapha. She showed me straight to the drinks which for the first time ever at a party were actually ‘good’ Italian red wine and Prosecco and really introduced herself and informed me and my friend Cleo what was happening. The shop itself is absolutely amazing to be honest and I can see myself spending a lot of time in here over the next 3 months (not sure why it is only open for 3 months, we need something like this permanently). It’s naturally stock with the entire Rapha range of goods including the new women’s range and all the extra bits like books etc.
I could go on doing a normal sort of review like most people but to be honest I got really drunk on wine, life and my friends Gem, Cleo PP and Rich being there and completely forgot to properly have a good look around. I’ve had to steal photos from my best mate and La Gazzetta mountain EURO Pigeon Bianchista who was there with me to illustrate this piece because again I was too happy to remember to take any. So I can’t really go into too many details of the ins and outs but what I can tell you about is the character of the place and the emotion and spirit that has obviously gone into it.
The second Rapha person I met was Simon himself who was nothing like I imagined him to be and was a genuinely friendly, approachable and interesting guy to talk to. He introduced himself to me and we spoke at length about the idea behind the shop, my blog, Italian cycling in general and basically just chewed the fat. It was amazing to meet him and get to talk to the guy and a really pleasant surprise and experience.
By the time we got finished talking the place was full and to be honest there was a fair amount of ‘FAFHAS’ as I like to call some fans of the company but also there was a massive mix of people of all ages and both sexes which I think really did show the broad appeal RAPHA has amongst a lot of people. More importantly after all the clothes and accessories and arguments that surround RAPHA what we have for those of us who live in London is an amazing resource on our hands. The place is amazing!! With a fully working cafe at the back, some shit off big flat screen tellies showing such things as Ben Ingram’s new film on DARIO and also all the live action from this years GIRO. I usually watch the GIRO in Bar Italia if I’m stuck in town but I am definitely planning along with Bianchista to go along to the RAPHA shop and watch some of the stages there.
They have great bike parking inside the shop so there no more worry of theft and although the store was obviously laid out for the party theres a mass of space to hang out, meet people, chat cycling and all that sort of stuff that I love. I would be interested to know if it is going to be open late at night but that is something I can ask. It naturally has a lot of room to show photographic work and since that was one of the reasons I got into RAPHA all those years ago I was very happy to see it take centre stage in the new shop.
I got to meet Camille McMillan who was there and started talking to us just as I was trying to nick a copy of his new book Le Metier and ended up just gushing to him about how amazing he is which he took with the grace and dignity of a great photographer which he naturally is. Finally I met Joe who runs the Rapha blog and he was just as honest straight-up and friendly as everyone else I met and again it was a genuinely good experience to meet him. We too spoke at length on Rapha’s philosophy in general and he answered a lot of my akward questions and he addressed RAPHA’S aims with the shop and I’m very glad to have made that contact. So in the end a great night was had by all. I personally think whatever your feelings are on RAPHA you must check out this place because you are just being a dick if you don’t. It is amazing and in a city where cycling is treated like the shit on your shoe to have something like this is needed and important to show that cycling is still great and an important part of the city. I actually don’t have a bad word to say about it which is rare for me but maybe my attitude is changing too and I’m big enough to admit when I am wrong about certain things.
For more details on the Rapha Cycle Club click here
Many thanks to Gem Atkinson of Bianchista who has let me use her great photos for this review. Here is a picture of us two from last night. I’m naked from the waist down by the way….