While it's a brand synonymous with creating some of the finest cycling apparel, Rapha has long hoped to extend its impact in the world beyond the sales of kit. As well as being heavily involved in grassroots sports, the brand, founded by Simon Mottram, has funded more than 20 organisations through the Rapha Foundation. Each year, Rapha grants $1.5 million to its recipients, and today has announced an additional five worthy causes which it will be supporting in 2022.
In the UK, one of the organisations receiving support from the Rapha Foundation will be Ride for Charlie. Founded in memory of Charlie Craig, a keen racer who enjoyed all types of off-road disciplines, the organisation facilitates opportunities for young cyclists who want to try their hand at off-road races or activities. In years previous, Ride for Charlie has encouraged young athletes to go and race abroad in countries like Belgium, participating in events that would otherwise be beyond their reach.
While racing forms a part of what Ride for Charlie does, the organisation also gives riders the opportunity to compete in training days and experience being part of a team environment for the first time. Above all, it hopes to ensure that young riders are able to enjoy cycling with passion, encouraging them to try new things and not be afraid of adventure.
Charlie Craig (Image: Ride for Charlie)
“Charlie was 15 when he died," explains Sarah Craig of Ride for Charlie. "He raced and played with all off-road disciplines. Charlie loved to race, but he also loved to play out on his bike. He was full of adventure. There were different types of fun but the most important thing was that Charlie loved what he did and enjoyed every moment spent on his bike.”
“Charlie is the essence of the foundation; every decision is made with his passion for cycling in mind. The foundation strives to facilitate opportunities for young athletes to grow and experience something that Charlie would love."
Another key UK-based organisation supported by the Rapha Foundation in 2022 is the Kadeena Cox Academy. Founded by Kadeena Cox OBE, a four-time paralympic gold medallist who competes in both para athletics and para track cycling, the Academy hopes to address some of the inequalities within Olympic and Paralympic sports. Cox herself has been vocal about the lack of diversity in cycling, explaining to Rouleur in an interview: “I am trying to challenge perceptions, trying to get more people from a black and ethnic minority background in cycling.” Today, she remains the only black cyclist to ever win a gold medal in the Olympic or Paralympic Games.
Kadeena Cox (Image: Rapha/KC Academy)
The KC Academy, in collaboration with SportsAid, helps to identify young talent from diverse ethnic communities who want to develop in high-performance track cycling. To do this, the KC Academy is holding two talent-identification days at Lee Valley and Derby velodrome to give athletes between the ages of 16 and 30 from an ethnically diverse background an opportunity to showcase their skills on the bike. Those successful will join the Academy, which will offer them world-class support services such as coaching and tangible financial assistance, largely thanks to the support of the Rapha Foundation.
Image: World Bicycle Relief/Rapha
Other grantees for 2022 include World Bicycle Relief, Internationale kids-tour Berlin and The National Cycling Institute Milton. Rapha has been supporting World Bicycle Relief for many years, including raising over £120,000 for the charity via the Black Friday Ride in 2020, and they are committed to providing $150,000 per year for the following three years to support the Mobilised Communities programme in Kasungu, Malawi.
The National Cycling Institute Milton aims to advance cycling across Canada, providing indoor cycling opportunities to a range of people. Be it someone who is brand new to cycling or a world-class athlete, the velodrome in Milton offers training sessions and races to help anyone who wants to advance on the bike. The Internationale kids-tour Berlin is a race in Germany which aims to give young riders the experience of competing in a real multi-day cycling event.
Regardless of the grantees, the aim of the Rapha Foundation stays the same globally, summed up by Rapha founder Simon Mottram: “Riding a bike has transformed my life and I believe that cycling can make the world a much better place for all of us. The Rapha Foundation is a powerful vehicle to help make this a reality by increasing cycling participation and creating pathways into the sport for people who have often been excluded.”
Cover image: Rapha/KC Academy