Rapha: more than a brand

The year was 2004.

For the first time, online, I saw a jersey from a new brand that was set apart from anything I knew. Clean lines, basic colors and a set of design characteristics that broke the mold. It was made from merino wool. I’d never even heard of anything like it.
Besides beautiful, it was a multi-component technical jersey: it had adjustable waist, a bite grip for helping zip it, and came in a set with some lovely reflective armwarmers I still use 18 years on. I used this jersey for leisure rides, training and events until it practicaly tapped out. It still lasts, with one or other rip. As many of Rapha’s products I bought, whenever budget allowed.

I also offered (and got from) my Dad a great deal of Rapha apparel and accessories over the years. Particularly, some black leather gloves – criterium gloves, they were called – that I knew were for him the minute I laid eyes on them. I simply wasn’t a good enough rider to earn something like that. With a hole on the back of the hand and smaller ones in the kuckles, a ‘sniper’pad ‘for padding instead of sponge or gel. Robust african sheet leather. A classic.
Being from skin, they conformed really well to the shape of the hand. And they were used for years until they were worn out and opened some holes, kept as a significant souvenir.
 

Years later, in 2017, I found them in the saddest clearance one can make. Having decided to participate at L’Étape du Tour – that year summiting Izoard – one of those events we always promised we would do together, I felt I should take them there.

I wrote Rapha, told them the story albeit without great hope and, after sending some photos, I got an e-mail completely out of norm by todays’ standards: ‘I think they could possibly be repaired as they are very similar to the latter GT gloves and fabric swatches from that item could be matched. Send them in.’

I couldn’t really believe. Went straight to the post office to send them and, a few weeks later, to collect them back.

 
As I opened the envelope, I found them repaired, as good as possible – with some new skin panels placed and sew in place of the old ones, some of which were removed. But it wasn’t simply the (free) repair and the Rapha repair service canvas bag they returned in. 
 
They came with a note from the person whom repaired them. That has lived in Lisbon.
A personal note. Human to Human. 
 
A piece of equipment worn by hand and repaired by hand, that helped to create the most unforgettable moments. I did take them to Izoard.
 
'Your gloves, your helmet, our passion'

Of course my passion for bikes goes way beyond Rapha, but it has also became about Rapha.

The gloves, thay also came with me to L’Eroica Chianti a few years later. But that is for another time.

For now, I’d just like to express my gratitude.

Thank you Rapha, thank you Stan!

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