24hr TT

Rapha A/W Range 2010

Last night I had the pleasure to be invited to go to a preview of the new Rapha Autumn/Winter 2010 collection. Rapha head honcho Mr Mottram gave an introduction and highlighted some of the key items you can expect to see on riders this fall. Rapha have launched a total of 23 new products bringing their offerings to 80 items in total, so there truly is something for every rider and every budget. There are the categories now of Racing and Training, the new 'Deep Winter' riding range, perfect for those sub zero temps experienced on punishing Alpine climbs, or over the pond in the depths of a Portland winter, and the expanded 'City Riding' line, for those of us pootling around on shorter distance commutes where style is key! 

Rapha have again teamed up with classically British designer Paul Smith for some wonderfully striking items. A rich purple is the defining feature of these products, and I have to say.... seeing it in the flesh i absolutely LOVE this colourway. I am currently eyeing up the silk scarf as we speak! There is a special edition rain jacket pictured here, offered in both black and purple. Safety minded, the drop down rain tail and cuffs are crafted in electric pink, with a reflective logo of course.

Rapha have added a really nice pair of city riding jeans to their stable. Ideal for couriers or commuters who rather enjoy a pub stop on the way home, their tailored slim fit is not restrictive, and the denim is a blend of Nylon and Cordura, meaning less abrasion, resistant to stains and quick drying. They feature a pocket for a D-Lock at the rear and have a lovely high-vis reflective logo and pink piping on the interior, visible when rolled up. Truly a jean designed and made with cycling in mind.

Ladies will be offered the lovely logo t-shirt, which is great, because iv always really loved them for chilling around in, but thew men's XS is still too large for most ladies. It will be available in a new colourway, a very nice rich navy colour. Expect to see Bianchista sporting one of these at a cycle event near you!

The ever popular Merino neck warmers are back, and this time will be offered in a pink flavour, perfect for contrasting to a matching black jersey.

The silk scarves and city gloves are back this year, and very nice they look too. Legwarmers will be a popular addition, if the success if the classic knee warmers is a barometer.

The winter jersey has had a few tweaks and now has some very smart embroided logo business on the back. Official team issue is always nice when executed Rapha style! Pictured above on the right are the new ladies 3/4 bib tights, featuring the same excellent plush padding found on their half shorts, from padding guru's Cytech.

Pictured above are no doubt going to be the toast of the winter cyclo-x season. Rapha revamped the jersey and bibs offering them in the wicked candystripe colourway. Padded shoulder remains as do the kit bags for stashing muddy togs after those mental rides in the forest. The colours of the new cyclocross team Rapha are going to launch over the pond. More info on that here .

This winter Rapha will venture into the skinwear market, offering a soap with the scent of Vontoux, a winter embrocation (perfect to ride those torrid downpours in before returning home to a bottle of post-ride Rosso) and finally a chamois creme. The embrocation boasts Capsicum and wintergreen for warming, along with Arnica for soothing those aching muscles. The chamois creme has a base of Shea butter, allowing for luxury moisture of your precious undercarriage, whilst Rosemary extract acts as an anti-bacterial agent to help avoid those ever painful saddle sores.

The tweed softshell is back in a more refined guise this year. A lovely buttoned pocket on the back is perfect for keys, phones and maps, whilst the shoulder and arm detailing gives a nod to the classic hunting style.  Made in wool tweed, it boasts the Schoeller membrane seen on their other softshells, yielding protection from the winter showers that will be on their way soon.

DeFeet will be producing a really nice pair of Rapha oversocks this season, in both black and white. Designed for cold but dry days, the offer a perfect compliment the existing more robust overshoes. They will be offered in a bundle I believe. The bottom photo shows the new softshell winter glove. I tried these on, and they feel really insulted and windproof for those bitter morning club runs. A reflective logo and tab detailing on the glove will allow wearers to dazzle road users when signalling turns.
I didn't actually think Rapha could step up their game even more, but yet again they have pulled it out of the bag. Function is never compromised for style with Rapha's new gear,  yet somehow items manage to be wearable even in civilian life, and This years collection really does have something for every type of rider, and items for all budgets, perfect for small gifts to friends, to that shoftshell investment I guarantee you will still be wearing years from now. Launch dates for the new pieces are from early September to October, as usual all interest can be registered over at rapha.cc ensuring you're first in the queue when the clobber hits the shops.

Bianchista @ Le Tour

This weekend I was privileged enough to be sent to work at the tour by my firm, Getty Images. I'm a photo editor based in London but this summer presented me with the opportunity to travel to both South Africa for the world cup (64 games, exhausting but amazing) and also to the Tour de France for the final stage. Guess which one I was most excited about?!

I was incredibly privileged to be out there editing for Bryn Lennon, a snapper who is superb when it comes to cycling. Bryn really knows his stuff when it comes to stories, rider politics and capturing a moment that conveys the main protagonists. Along with Bryn I was also there to edit for Spencer Platt. I wrote a previous blog post on Spencer here. His award winning work in war zones needs no introduction, and being a big rider himself, he took some amazing photos that really complemented Bryn's style, by offering things from a different perspective.

Arriving in Paris on Saturday, I milled around from my base in Saint Augustin, hiring a velib on the recommendation of Alex, and cycled up the Champs Elysee. Lord knows how those guys sustain the speed and control they do, what with the cobbled surface and super tight corner at the top!

On Sunday I was taken to go collect my accreditation from the press centre, seeing Frank Schleck as I was walking in! Dude was in good spirits. The moto driver for Getty was Koen Hardens, and he had a long old chat with Saxo mechanic Christophe Desimpelaere, whom i wanted a snap with cos he looks a gnarly dude indeed. I also bumped in Dave Brailsford and got a snap and said hello.

At the accreditation desk, the girl was giving some guy sh*t about him not being on the list or whatever... which was incredibly amusing..... as she was shunning none other than ex-world champion Paolo Bettini! He laughed with myself and Koen at the girl blatantly not having a clue who he was. The story had a happy ending and I can confirm Paolo got his passes.

Then it was time to head to the Champs, I basically sat in the top area in the middle of the course, right by the Skoda on the Champs. The peloton whizzed by abouit 12 inches from my face! Here I was passed CF cards from Bryn down on the finish the finish line via Koen and some handy driving and Spencer was stationed up with myself. Queue lots of tech issues concerning France's appalling 3g network (1kb per second really ain't going to cut it when iv got 100 images to send to clients on the wire Mr Sarkozy!)

I had around 3500 images to edit..... Crouching over my laptop screen with a coat over my head to avoid glare, I furiously selected the best of the bunch and got them fired out. When editing pictures its my job to select and sort out (photoshop, resize, send etc) the images that convey the main stories (actually the undercurrents too!) of the event but also give a feeling of the atmosphere. To be working under such intense pressure from the field solo is great when it goes well, id say the only downside was I was in such an incredible position yet I couldn't soak it up or appreciate it as any true cycling fan would... I was there to do a job, and not 'soak it up' as it were :-)
What was amazing was being chanted at by a massive group of American fans in the crowd, i think I went bright red! I gave them a wave and the crowd cheered. haha famous for a minute. I also loved being driven down the champs behind the peltoon with an open laptop filing images in one hand (that pesky connection!) and holding on for dear life with the other hand. Epic!

After the race ended and the winners dutifully presented themselves on the podium, I headed to a backstreet bar to fire in more images... I worked for around 2 hours there as Bryn and Spencer joined me when they had completed shooting the riders procession etc.

In the evening we hooked up with our company CFO who was out there for some riding and touring in France, enjoyed a few drinks before hooking up with Tim de Wale and a couple of drunk Swiss Radio girls. We then headed to the Oakley party, finally arriving at 4am after getting epically lost, however when I saw Thor Hushovd stumbling out I knew we had found the right place!

Hopefully next year I can wangle getting out for the full three weeks as I wont be obliged to be at a major football tournament :-) Below is a low-res selection of some of my favorite images, captured by some incredibly talented guys. Massive thanks to Bryn & Spencer for being the most ego-less and awesome efficient guys to work with. And a huge thanks to Getty for saying yes to me asking to head out! The whole Getty image gallery can be found HERE and of course purchased for press usage.

MASH X De La Paz Coffee

Rapha & Paul Smith

Subway NZ Team

Vintage Cav

Another Reason To Buy A Cross Bike...