Rapha Gentlemen’s Race

An encounter with the origin of the sublime and beautiful

Words and Images by Michael Jividen

No hero knew what to expect from the west coast RGR but I certainly didn’t expect to question so much. What tires is everyone on? Is that whole team on cross bikes? How much food is in that guy’s pocket? Should I have eaten all of my dinner last night?

On the first climb of the day the S word started to creep into the mind. Gazing down on the barren desert, barely recovered from the last national news-making fire, I thought of the sublime. Not sublime in the picturesque rolling landscape sense, but sublime in the Edmund Burke sense. I had never climbed a climb like this or been in a landscape like this. Thomas Kincade would never dream to paint this. It was as Edmund Burke described it, “The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature . . . is Astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other.” The riders I climbed with had a similar take on things. But they always came back with the line, “this must be a lot different than riding in Chicago.” But it really wasn’t.

Most cyclists ride familiar routes with familiar people. It is a reality of the modern city and its infrastructure. Riding a new route with familiar people is rare bird. I didn’t learn anything new about my good friends during the RGR but I did realize how much I knew about them. The full range of emotions were understood but never said. Despite having eleven flats and knowing the sun was setting soon, we all knew what had to be done. When we came upon another team they knew and gave support as they could. We bartered for food and shared information on who and what we saw on the trail. It was a mutual understanding of the entirety of the task at hand and breakdown of the individual. I still don’t know what to think of the ride but I know who I rode with.