Three more weeks and that feeling that I’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell when it comes to passing the bar is becoming more and more of an actual reality. And with this heat, “walking through Hell” isn’t so much of a simile anymore.
“Don’t lose your marbles,” Mike joked a few weeks back when I called him, sobbing and mostly hysterical.
“Marbles? I’ve only got one left,” I miserably told him.
I’ve been clutching onto that one last one; alternatively gripping onto it and misplacing it. And with the oppressive heat, it’s starting to feel less like a marble and more like the proverbial snowball, melting and dripping through my fingers. On a sauna-like, cramped bus headed back to Boston yesterday, I mentally cupped that snowball in my hands and wished it was back somewhere cooler and infinitely more comforting, where I could glue back the pieces of my sanity and iron out the wrinkles etching themselves between my brows.
Somewhere like the Rapha Cycle Club.
I know the last time I posted, it was about the same pop-up shop, and that double-dipping isn’t socially acceptable, even on the Internet [although, let’s face it, we all do it when no one’s looking]. But this time it was done and officially open on Saturday as the first stage of the Tour took off. And given that this past weekend was the last time I was permitted to laugh or otherwise crack a smile until after the bar, I took full advantage and headed down to NYC, Rapha, and a boyfriend.
And you know what? It was worth it. It really was. To be honest, I had my initial doubts and slight trepidations. Boyfriend managing the store aside, I’ve gotten shit for the Rapha-related things I’ve done; the smirks and comments on whether I really paid $70 for a silk scarf with cogs on it, the accusation that just liking expensive stuff meant that I didn't like to ride so much as look like I did, or that Rapha Scarf Friday prevented people from actually taking me seriously. The affiliation with Rapha suddenly became a lot more frustrating than I had ever expected, and came with baggage that, when I started this whole cycling thing, I never knew existed. Confused and embarrassed, in a way I blamed Rapha for leading me into this mess in the first place.
But haters are everywhere, and walking into the completed space, the Rapha Cycle Club is a lot more inviting than I expected, and completely devoid of the pretentiousness that people love to assume and hate in Rapha. There’s a long 30ft long wooden table flanked by jerseys and huge flat screen TVs on one side and a coffee bar run by Third Rail Coffee [serving Stumptown coffee in customized Rapha espresso cups and Blue Sky pasteries] on the other. Men’s jerseys and the women’s line flank the giant broom wagon sitting in the back of the space which doubles as a fitting room, but is also just fun to climb inside. A rotating gallery space is off to the left of the broom wagon and the limited edition t-shirts hang right next to the women’s jerseys and shorts.
Books, magazines, and newspapers are free to peruse and wi-fi means that laptops are in attendance. The floor to ceiling front windows provide ample opportunity to soak up your RDA of Vitamin D as well. A chalkboard up front has the Tour schedule as well as a race report written up by Mike of the previous stage [well worth the read and what will become, I’m sure, my primary source of info for what’s going on in this year’s Tour], and appropriately printed up on yellow paper. And because this is a shop for cyclists, there’s some awesome bike parking as well.
Surrounded by cool gear, and unable to resist, despite knowing full well I couldn't possibly afford it, I tried on the red Stowaway jacket in a size 10...and found that I somehow fit into a size 8 [the XXS]...!!! Other than fueling my vanity and making my weekend, it was awesome to know that even the smallest size allowed for slightly bigger hips. The jacket didn't clutch and cling to my hips like others do, silently implying that my butt is a lot bigger than it should be given my waist size. Admiring how it looked in the mirror, I mentally thanked Rapha for not judging.
But this is Rapha, a company from which we expect all the great little, meticulous details that other companies get points for. The space was going to look great; I knew that without even seeing the floor plan. I was hoping, though, perhaps selfishly given my own experience, that the Cycle Club wouldn’t be another reason why I should be that much more self-conscious about having done the things I have with a few scarves and a neck warmer [it was all G-rated, I swear]. And simply put, it was. For the first time since I started making friends who thrive on competition, I felt excited about being into bicycles, even if I still can’t do jack shit on one. I didn’t feel so out of place as I thought I would, and I even went back to hang out for longer than I really should have, every day I was in NYC.
I left there yesterday morning with a bidon, a bonk bag, one of the white limited edition scarves [thanks, Slate!], and even some new friends, sad to leave but the terror of the bar dragging my feet back to Boston.
“I’ll be back in August,” I promised.
“August?! Come back next week!” Cassidy said.
“I wish I could,” I said. And I really, really meant it.
[More pictures here...and make sure to follow them on twitter!]