What's Cool In Road Cycling

Cycling Gets Cool In Swinging London

Don’t you just love it when cultures ‘mix’ and actually get on for a change? That’s what’s happening all over London right now where the combination of club culture is rubbing shoulders with all things cycling and suddenly it’s cool to have a passion for the bike. The recent team Rapha Condor launch was a perfect example just the right mix…

Whilst those of us in the know have been aware of this for some time and our continental counterparts have never had to convince anyone of their style credibility, the current movement suggests that there is a huge respect from outside the sport for all things “Ciclismo”. The idea that you’ve sussed something before it goes mainstream appeals to us all and so it is at the moment, with everyone wanting a slice of the velo crowd.

Mixing it up – Club culture combines with cycle culture the results are all over the place.

One of the instigators of this movement is Rapha clothing who through their retro approach to cycle clothing have actually managed to cross the divide between functional sports wear and fashionable street wear – without resorting to some pseudo surf culture (as in Mountain Bikers, snowboarders et al.) the reference points are firmly fixed in road cycling and the style and charisma that it has always had in abundance. This has been picked up by several high street names and even the great Paul Smith has collaborated on a Jersey and Caps to celebrate Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France in London

Totally relaxed attitude – forget your standard team line up if you want to get with the young people. Lose the team strip and get yourself a Paul Smith designed tweed racing hat as modelled by Dean Downing (back from Belgium and with an eye on the Premier Calendar) and Italian Giancarlo Checci who having spent the last few seasons with Team Monex in the US has been enticed to London to add some continental glamour.

However clothes alone do not a scene make and the real ‘acid’ test is the number of people you now see either at race level or simply just getting out and enjoying the benefits of the bike – it’s no longer the domain of the lycra clad weirdo and there is real kudos to riding a bike – we’ve known all along that shaving your legs pulls the birds – well now it’s OK to admit it. And clubbers all over are picking up on it.

Entrance by credibility only!!! It’s official, cycling is happening in the UK right now – and if you want to get in on it you’ll have to join the queue for the red carpet.

This sudden acceptance of cycle culture was much in evidence recently when I attended the Rapha Condor team launch in London’s trendy Hoxton and as if to underline this dawning of a new movement it broke all the rules on launching an Elite Pro Cycling Team.

The music is rare, cheesey but oh so coool. Do you think the winner of this year’s San Remo will have time to appreciate the view from the top of the Poggio?

Firstly the venue was the Classic Car Club – a collection of stunning Alfas, Citroens, Porsches etc. that had no connection whatsoever with the reason for the bash. Second, the audience was a refreshing mix of cyclists and civilians, bike press and unusually ‘real drinkers’ . Add to this probably the hippest DJs in town playing a fusion of lounge, and euro novelty hits and you start to get a truly original atmosphere.

Mrs. Ben Price and some of her boys.

The final crowd pleaser (and floor filler) was that there was very little evidence of identical riders being paraded in front of the press for hours – yes there was a simple presentation and a declaration of intent for the coming season but basically everyone mingled without the hard sell and this relaxed approach reflects the whole attitude that says “I’m clued into cycling and it’s happening now” ….and pretty soon things are going to go massive – so roll on July and the London Grand depart.

The UCI registered Rapha Condor ladies team is looking good for 2007 and the team car is totally Austin Powers.

• Get more info at the Rapha.cc website.

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