Upmarket cycle clothing brand Rapha is seeking to build on the success of the Rapha Cycle Club pop-up format first unveiled in London and New York City last year, announcing that the concept will be rolled out to three new locations around the world this year, as well as a mobile unit that will tour events around Europe, including the UCI World Road Championships in Denmark in September.
Now, that may conjure up images of a large map of the world dotted with black and pink flags on the wall of Rapha’s North London HQ, contemplated by chief executive and founder Simon Mottram as he strokes a white Persian cat.
However, if you visited the clubs last year on London’s Clerkenwell Road or New York City’s Bowery, you’ll know they’re great places to watch races, view bike cycling related exhibitions, shop the Rapha range or simply hang out with like-minded people who are into all things bike-related.
There’s no return to Manhattan in 2011 – the mobile unit will, however, be visiting events in the UK – and the location of the first club to be opened this year is Puerto Pollenca on Mallorca, host to pre-season training camps for many top pro outfits such as Team Sky.
The star names may have departed, but Spring sees thousands of amateur riders descend on the island from all over Europe, and Britain and Germany in particular, whether they are getting ready for sportives – Etape training camps, for example – or simply looking to shake winter out of their legs and enjoy some top riding on quiet roads in the Mediterranean sunshine.
Opening at the Hotel Sis Pins at Puerto Pollença next Sunday 13th March for seven weeks until 1 May, the club will show the Spring Classics and organise regular group rides with free massage afterwards, a weekly hill-climb competition, screenings of films in the evening outdoors next to the Med and special VIP guests. The hotel will also offer 10% discounts to all bookings made quoting the Rapha name.
In April, the Rapha Cycle Club Tokyo – Japan being an important market for the brand, opens with a night-time ride to coincide with the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Rapha says that during the four months it is open, the club “will host a packed calendar of events including photography exhibitions, a bespoke tailoring event with Timothy Everest, live commentary from all the major races, and an urban hill climb.”
The Rapha Cycle Club San Francisco will open its doors in May and carry on through to July, and will provide TV coverage of the Giro d’Italia’s mountain stages, as well as weekly rides over local hills as well as the Golden Gate Bridge.
From April to October, the concept will take to the road through the Rapha Mobile Cycle Club, which will tour major sportives, including both editions of the Etape du Tour and the Paris-Roubaix Challenge, and other races in the UK and Europe, including the World Championships in Copenhagen.
The company says that “an extensive range of Rapha products will be available to buy at the Cycle Clubs including limited edition Rapha products created especially for the Cycle Clubs.
“A full calendar of events including film and music evenings, screenings of races, regular group rides and Rapha customer and club evenings will enable visitors to immerse themselves in road cycling throughout the summer.
“All the Clubs will be holding a fastest mechanic competition and as before, all Cycle Clubs will have a well-stocked range of cycling magazines from around the world to browse through whilst enjoying a coffee.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.