Spent a very pleasant few hours this evening at the HQ of Rapha (www.rapha.cc), manufacturer of some of the best designed kit around, in my opinion. I already own a few bits by them, a particular favourite of mine being the long-sleeved merino base layer which I’ve been wearing almost constantly this winter. So when Simon, the boss, said they had their Tour of Britain tops going at 40 GBP for those purchasing there and then, I duly produced my card and acquired the top I will probably wear on the Etape ( I also bought a t-shirt to make it a round 50 spent). Here’s a picture of the devilishly handsome item itself:
They were showing off some of the new range and had the chaps from Cyclefit (www.cyclefit.co.uk) down to tell the 20 or so riders, who had been swift in replying to the invite, about their service and some of the issues for getting the right bike. I probably should have badgered them a bit more afterwards to find out what I can do about my nagging lower back problem which I need to get looked at.
Instead I spent most of my time discussing their new designs with the designer fella, whose name I have forgotten (rather embarassing how bad I am with names these days). We even had his pantone block out to check colours. We also discussed the Massif Central with me extolling what a great place it would be for a photoshoot. Their upcoming tricolore range looks very cool, especially the France one, and there are some really strong choices of colours that will look as good off the bike as on.
I still can’t wait for their bib shorts to become available (probably March) as that’s the one item I am still missing in my wardrobe. By the sounds of things they will fit perfectly with my aesthetic, having black-on-black logos rather than the annoying white-on-black that so many companies insist on. I just think that it ruins the line visually to have a blur of logo jumping up and down on the leg. On the jersey, fine.
I also spent some time discussing the Etape with a lady called Jo who reckons it’s going to be a hot time on the ride this year, given how far south the course is and the time of year. I think she could well be right, but knowing my luck it’ll be cloudy and grey. She’s ridden it before and fired up my enthusiasm again – so I went flat out all the way home in the icy high winds which are rather torrid today.
Yesterday I spent a couple of hours in the gym owing to the cold. I tried various things, including what it’s like to output the 300 watts or so needed for an event like the Etape. I lasted about 5 minutes at most, struggling at a low cadence and sweating like a leaky showerhead. After much dithering and avoidance I put in a few sessions that can’t amount to more than 20 or so miles but at a high work rate and heart rate. I feel alright today which is unusual.
Maybe my fitness is improving after all.