rapha rides seattle
this past saturday, one of my favorite brands -- rapha -- was in town to host a gentlemen’s ride. if you've visited this blog before, you know how i feel about rapha. i don't need to recount that in this post, but what i will offer up new is affirmation my affinity with the brand is well placed.
it's one thing to interact with a product from a brand and be completely satisfied with how it functions (its rational utility) and the happiness using the product provides (its emotional utility). but these are typically one way engagements. a person's experience with a brand can be altered considerably (and violently) when the experience becomes a two way engagement, such as when a customer has to call customer service, or when a representative comes on site to upgrade/replace/fix a product, etc. and the anticipated outcome does not match what is actually delivered.
being an ardent rapha fan, i've not only just bought their products, but i've watched the films, read the stories, followed the blog posts, etc. you might call me a fanboy, and i'd be okay with that because it's not everyday you really identify with a brand on multiple levels. however, having a high level of affinity can come crashing down when expectations do not meet reality (as i described above). I had high expectations for saturday but rapha + cascade bicycle studio delivered.
Seattle graciously opened her arms and offered up stereotypical weather for the ride – rain and mist, fog, and overcast skies. I wouldn’t have expected anything less, and i chuckled to myself that the weather was seemingly perfect for a rapha ride.
the planned route departed from Cascade Bicycle Studio in fremont and passed through some of my favorite areas to ride in seattle. the route typically offers perfect panoramas of the city skyline and surrounding areas (elliott bay, mt rainier, the islands, etc.), but most of these were hidden away by the fog. the route wasn't about all oohs and ahhs though. some great terrain was covered, particularly in west seattle. west seattle is one of my favorite places to ride because it's easy to pack in 2,000-3,000+ feet of climbing in ~30 miles as you can link together a plethora of hills right off (and around alki). the kicker on saturday's ride was a hill locally known as goat hill (shorewood drive) in the south part of west seattle. there is a section that pitches up north of 20% (nice leg buster). i ride this route fairly regularly throughout the year, however it's not everyday you get to ride with like minded cyclists AND rapha riders (including a couple of rapha continental riders).
post ride, i couldn't stop smiling. i also have an even greater appreciation for rapha than i had before (yes, it is possible). rapha is a brand where its values are evidenced in its product and its people. and that is inspiring and exciting to me. i hope they come back so we can do it again sometime! many thanks to Rapha (esp. Gerben and Jeremy) and Zac at Cascade Bicycle Studio.