We’re all relieved to tentatively begin the journey back to normality as lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted in the UK. For some, it means returning to beer gardens, for others, it means shopping trips and for most, it means finally heading to hairdressers to sort out that lockdown barnet.
For the cyclists among us, the relaxation of rules brings a welcome return to group rides and coffee stops. As spring approaches, we’re finally seeing the end of grey skies and lonely winter miles.
Bringing the London cycling community together is Rapha’s Soho Clubhouse. Lockdown has been a busy time for the crew at Rapha, with the Clubhouse undergoing a huge refurbishment. More space, an updated product range and a larger cafe area are likely to make it a destination for riders across the capital.
Cycling culture is at the heart of its operation, with the Clubhouse providing a space for cyclists, experienced or not, to share inspiration, get advice and head out on group rides. Whilst you’ll be able to stock up on your favourite items and have access to exclusive kit, the Clubhouse is also a central hub for like-minded riders who share a love for the sport.
Group rides of varying levels will head out from the Clubhouse on weekdays, so there’s something for those of us who have just discovered the joys of social rides, and something for the Zwift-warriors who are keen for a bit of healthy competition to test the legs. Monday night ‘Women’s Laps’ offer a female only session, no matter what your experience.
With Rapha’s house roast, ‘La Palma’ on offer at their cafe, the Clubhouse serves as the perfect spot for a well-earned coffee stop, pre or post ride. With an ever-changing roster of guest roasts from the best British independent roasters, the clubhouse will no doubt continue to be a destination for coffee snobs as much as lovers of Rapha kit. While only take away drinks are on offer at the moment, as restrictions are lifted the cafe will be able to offer snacks and small meals to accompany that caffeine hit.
The Clubhouse will also serve to educate and inspire riders who are keen to learn about optimising their performance. Free workshops about strength, power and fuelling will take place online over the next couple of weeks and in the Clubhouse once restrictions allow. The workshops include a 6-week course with Canyon-SRAM chef, Alan Murchison where he’ll explain how to fuel like the pros. Olympic champion Pete Kennaugh will also be teaching basics of preparing for big events in a workshop on hills and endurance training.
Annual events such as the Women’s 100 and Festive 500 will give us all some landmark challenges to look forward to, whilst rides like ‘La Doyenne’ later this month - a tribute to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Rapha’s toughest challenge - offers something for the most ambitious riders.
“Our hope is that Brewer Street will become a home from home for experienced riders as well as offering a warm welcome to people who are considering cycling for the first time. The most satisfying thing about our growing business for me is that Rapha often plays a part in creating wonderful memories and friendships for our cycling community,” Rapha’s CEO, Simon Mottram, explains.
At a time when we’re experiencing so much uncertainty and change, it seems fitting to look back at cycling through the ages and this is exactly what Rapha are doing with their latest exhibition “Stitches in Time”, taking place at the Clubhouse over the coming weeks.
Rapha is steeped in cycling’s rich history, from creating the first jersey for Team Sky, to producing the wacky Palace x EF kit for last year’s Tour de France. As experts in cycling fashion and creators of some of the most iconic cycling kits, the exhibition shows a curated collection of Rapha’s archive, telling a story of cycling apparel through the ages.
Caroline Crosswell, Rapha’s Chief Retail and Development Officer explains that investing in Rapha’s location in the heart of Soho was an easy decision to make. “We are so proud of our newly expanded Clubhouse which will connect our founding RCC members with the newer cyclists who have fallen in love with the sport during the pandemic. We can't wait to extend a warm welcome to all cyclists with a more inviting space than ever before," she says.