Rapha’s new women's Nomad collection

A celebration of the spirit of adventure, the British brand have gone for a 1970s inspired look in homage to a golden-era of cycling

Rapha has launched its new Nomad collection, a women’s special edition range made for discovery and influenced by the 1976 “Bikecentennial” event.

Pledging a longterm commitment to continue its support of women’s cycling, Rapha are focussing on telling the story of adventure through a female lens with its newest campaign. The Nomad collection draws inspiration from a group of women who honoured America’s 200-year-anniversary in 1976 with a 4250 mile bike ride across the country, an event which became known as the “Bikecentennial”.

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The route crossed ten states, two national parks, 22 national forests and 112 counties. Riders were mostly self-contained, carrying camping gear and food in panniers: pioneers of bike-packing before it became trendy. The event brought together women from various backgrounds for what most remember as the journey of a lifetime. Bikecentennial was an empowering ride which encouraged unity, but also it became a celebration of the endurance of female athletes especially.

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As statistics from well-used apps like Strava and Zwift are showing, more women are cycling than ever before, and Rapha is hoping to encourage further growth in this trend by placing focus on its community of female cyclists. The brand’s introduction of women’s only events such as the Women’s 100 aims to unite cyclists, both experienced and new, to build relationships around a shared passion for the sport. 

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Rapha have also increased their sponsorship of female athletes, including ultra-endurance cyclist Lael Wilcox. Wilcox is perhaps best known for winning the 4,300 mile Trans Am Bike Race in 2016 and setting the record for the 2,750 mile Tour Divide in 2015. She is the epitome of adventure riding and is passionate about getting more women on bikes. In addition to her personal racing, she organises a teenage girl’s bicycle adventure programme in her hometown.

Wilcox can be seen sporting the Nomad Wind Jacket, a key garment in the collection. Designed with adventure at the forefront, the jacket’s features make it ideal should the conditions take a turn. A hood and adjustable hem offers protection from the elements, while the reflective logo on the armband and rear provide visibility for those long rides continuing into the evening’s fading light. The large pockets are a practical addition to the garment, offering space for the tools and sustenance that often prove necessary on a true cycling adventure. 

A psychedelic print adorns the jacket, with the pattern differing slightly on each one. Rapha explains that this reduces waste from fabric off-cuts, a further attempt to reduce the brand’s impact on the environment, and adds individuality to each piece. As with most of Rapha’s products, the jacket features a hidden story in the label which connects the owner with the original inspiration for the item.

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As well as the Wind Jacket, the collection includes a Technical T-shirt and Cotton T-shirt, both featuring designs which pay homage to the places that were passed on the Bikecentennial. Cargo bib shorts, a bar bag, socks and a cap in the new colourway round out the collection, offering a full outfit for a day exploring.

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The Nomad collection is a fun celebration of female adventure, and reminds us of America’s 1970s love-affair with the bike, an era in which cycling broke through into the mainstream. The prints are eye-catching and funky, but the earthy, muted tones make the collection fully in keeping with nature and the American scenery through which the Bikecentennial event passed years ago.

The collection is available on the Rapha website here

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