When you ask some Tenspeed Heroes how their trip to California was you will get nothing but stories: some may be of sunshine, some could be of mountains or palm trees or palm trees on mountains, some could be about enchiladas mole or quinoa pomegranate salad, and still other stories could be of sunshine or even mountains and palm trees. Any Hero could tell you any of these stories but odds are most will be about the Rapha Gentleman’s Race. So if we are to tell a story about Gentleman’s race it only seems appropriate to talk about the gentlemen that raced it…and we met so many. And there were ladies too. And each of these ladies and gentlemen belonged to their very own team, and we had our own team too. Possibly due to a few ups and downs, our team was fortunate enough to shuffle through the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race plucking stories and forging bonds with a majority of twenty-four teams who participated. This is how some of us remember some of them:
Tenspeed Hero had some contact with Bike Effect in the days leading up to this ride. We even had some insider info they had done the appropriate recon on the course earlier in the week and had made the decision to strictly ride cross bikes at the RGR. We were seated just behind this Bike Effect at the line, and, after a proper sizing up, it was confirmed: full-on cross, not even file treads that we could see. This of course prompted us to wonder whether it was them or us that knew, thusly leaving one of us truth seekers to be the team that did not know. Turns out they knew and we had the displeasure of being the other half of that equation. Bike Effect moseyed on up those climbs, stomped the unmentionable section between the gates and went on to finish this race first (missed the win for unknown reasons) but was by far the most impressive and knowingist team at the RGR. They also had some wicked purple wallpaper jerseys with the title BIKE EFFECT simply rendered in fine white type. All class. All knowing. Bike Effect.
*Bike Effect was also the extremely gracious shop sponsor for the RGR, planning, hosting, and quite literally saving lives with a feed station after the gates. Their shop also sports some exceptionally sick goods if you happen to be in Santa Monica.
Funny because we got this great shot of you guys at the start looking all happy and sly like you were up to something, but you are not listed as any of the participating teams? Hmmm. Funny.
Tenspeed Hero’s remembrance of team Oakley can be summed up with an apology and a Cadillac. Without going too deep here, lets just say we blew through a red light Team Oakley was stopped at, and our fearless if not blind leader did not see a beautiful candy red mid-1960’s Cadillac Coupe Deville rightfully barreling through the intersection. This prompted the iconic beauty to slam on its brakes and Oakley to NEVER give us sunglasses. Oakley later passed us (of course) and we did get in a quick apology. But this is the public one: SUPER SORRY. Sorry to the dude in the Caddy too –this was not a sterling moment.
Dudes: we were riding with you guys at base of that Tujunga road, then you turned off. Did you take a shortcut and skip the climb?
There was little contact with Strava, but we could only assume they knew where they were going.
Insane Cross Posse
We had some good times while cyber stalking this NY-based team before the race mostly because we identify with a team of pretty decent roadies who ironically start a cross squad because they suck at cross. Instagram buzz said they had it locked up. We were surprised to catch them early but (guess what) they soon passed us. We leapfrogged with a couple ICP dudes between the gates but did not solidify our relationship until the end of the evening over beer, where we believe we may have met a partner in crime willing to plot revenge against all that wronged us that day.
Started in the back, made it to the front. Generally looked to be crushing as their reputation suggested they would. There was a dude from Chicago on this team: WUT?
Some teams do this ride as a social event, some do the RGR for its vast media reach and marketing exposure, some teams race the RGR for the glory of winning and other teams take on the RGR as a nearly insurmountable feat, contesting their earthly vessels, pressing the edges of what is humanly possible. Wooly Mammoth strips off their jerseys, takes their bib straps down, and lathers up with coconut oil for a daily bronzing and only incidentally stomps the RGR with style and ease.
Looking all Ritte-like, colorful, and awesome the locals from Ritte Racing won the RGR. As they blew past us one Hero simply nodded and proclaimed “looking good boys.” It was rumored that they had most impressive collection of quads at the RGR and that Ritte cheated by having tires full of talc -one or both of these rumors proved true and decisive.
Golden Saddle Cyclery
Being local, generally familiar with the terrain, and some fine bike riders, our interaction with the boys from Golden Saddle was again limited to a passing by, so not much here team wise other than some of these dudes let us their bike tools the day before (a sacred pact). We can however say that The Golden Saddle Cyclery featuring the legendary Kyle Kelley (back holding down the fort this day) is the best bike shop in all of America and possibly the world – no doubt in our minds. Stop by and buy and some of their great shit if you’re in LA.
Our story of Team Giant starts just beyond the gates and includes only two Heroes whose teammates had ridden too far ahead leaving them with supplies for less than a fortnight. Sadly due to a what-should-have-been-forseen mechanical, the two Heroes burnt their fortnight of supplies in a span of about 2km. Of all the teams that passed them, wondered why only two Heroes were left to lay waste on the trailside, offering help and supplies, Team Giant was the colossal they had to bow a knee to and submit, humbly accepting help: “actually, yes, we really could use another Co2 -this handpump fucking sucks.” With this, they swiftly reached into to their seatbags and produced one magical Co2 cartridge with nothing less than the logo of Giant Bicycles carefully printed on the thin foam wrapper that provides so much relief to the frosty bite of a freshly released cartridge. The day would have been done without Team Giant’s small gesture of kindness. We are asking for their address as we would like to return the favor with an equal cartridge simply Sharpied with the word HERO.
A great man once told us there are those who tell legends and there are those of whom legends are told. And then there is the Rapha Continental. We are not sure if it was their intimate knowledge of the course, their fine bibs, or even finer socks, but The Rapha Continental somehow got a six pack to top of one of the toughest climbs of the day and were simply having a few, taking in the landscape (TRUE STORY). However, If you did not think these men were of earthly flesh and bone we can say you would have known it when they rolled in, last to finish the complete 101 mile, 14000 foot course, and Jeremy Dunn looked you in the eye only to say “ouch.”
Without too much contact with these ladies during the ride, we are obliged to report their RGR via quotes on instagram: Led by Julie Krazniak yet comprised of at least one member that had “never ridden off road” they “looked fabulous” were “always smiley” and “crushed it.” By all accounts this is completely true and we would expect nothing less.
We can say we were there when the Rapha Women beat the men of Rapha Continental to the line –it seemed like a highly gratifying moment (six pack boys?)
Another crew plagued by the terrain and depleted from the day’s handouts, Celo Pacific had one lone leader, more prepared than any at the RGR. Among several rations and bits of useful information distributed to the remaining teams, it was with this man Tenspeed Hero enacted one of the finest moments in the history of commodities negotiation, trading up a 150-calorie gel for a 240-calorie Cliff Bar. As a two-course meal for three Heroes, we believe we got the better end of the bargain.
It is almost too painful to tell the story of Biergarten at the RGR because to tell the story of Biergarten at the RGR is to tell the story of Tenspeed Hero at the RGR. As the day wore on, and the sun blazed, and the elevation continued rise, and our tires continued to flat, Team Biergarten was there with us seemingly blow for blow, trading spots to puncture and stories of faulty rim strips. A shining moment towards our peak of absurdity was a member of their squad suggesting he felt good enough to ride ahead and procure tubes, food, and (precise quote) “possibly even clothing” to bring back to his team members. This was a completely serious and legitimate conversation to be having. Thankfully they were able to ride on to the end (their end, our end) without this act of Heroism, but we will forever remember Biergarten as our brothers in a great struggle.
Last but certainly not least we have VeloCity. If VeloCity had six team members we would not have known it. What we can report is contact with only two VeloCity riders between the gates, one of which gave us witness to the most curious of bike riding, gravel climbing, gear mashing behavior. Aside from our designated tire changing breaks every 2 or 3km, Tenspeed Hero generally had a slow grind approach to the gravel climb, as we assume most other teams did: stay light, spin up, try to avoid pinch flats. For this reason it was of the utmost puzzlement to see a VeloCity rider rumble by us up the climb only to stop and wait every two or three klicks for no particular reason other than us believing him to be tired from giant gear he appeared to be mashing. We leapfrogged like this several times: Tenspeed Hero would stop for a flat, then slowly climb, Mr. VeloCity would crush by us, stop, wait, then we would slowly roll by him, he would in turn mash by us, wait, and so on, until we all made it to the summit of the climb. We left this VeloCity strongman at the summit shortly before sealing our fate and sadly piling in our minivan at least five hours behind schedule, broken and unable to finish the RGR.
THEN we went back to Golden Road Brewing where the race had started, drank a bunch of beer, laughed off our troubles, and traded war stories. After finishing several rounds, the sun long-set, the moon high in the air, The Heroes decided it was time to head back to camp. As we walked away from the Golden Road at the very spot we had started our long day, a lone rider approached us, still on a bike, and still in a kit…..a VeloCity kit. As we noticed him, he turned to us with a huge smile and said, “I just finished!” “HOLY SHIT Dude!,” we proclaimed, “You were the guy on the climbs!” “Yeah,” he said, “I just didn’t have the right cassette” (11-23 WUT?) “And I was waiting for my teammate.” “I descended highway 2 in the dark and I only had this shitty taillight.”
After gear mashing 9000 feet of climbing (the majority in loose gravel) and dutifully standing by his teammate, this VeloCity strongman continued past the cutoff time, past the feed station where we finished, climbed another few thousand feet and descended thirty miles of canyon roads in the dark to finish the Rapha Gentelmen’s Race ON HIS OWN by our account 11 to 12 hours after the start. There is one word to describe this man.
Huge thanks to Rapha North America and to everyone else at the RGR for this experience. It was truly a pleasure to meet and ride with so many fine people that day.
Apologies if we missed you -it’s quite possible you were too fast for us but there is a pretty good chance you offered us help along the way.