Tag Archives: Rapha

MY 2013 #FESTIVE500 EFFORT: Covering New Ground and Going the Distance

[Draft Edition Published to Meet the Deadline – Editing still in Progress]

Covering ground instinctively implies progress quantified by distance.

Way back in the day, 1997 to be exact, the first CD I ever bought was Cake “Fashion Nugget”. Of course, Going the Distance is what the Festive 500 is all about. (Yes, I know about the Chuck Ragan song too ; ))

But to me, besides metaphors being fun, I’ve found that December really has become a pivotal time where I’ve found myself either at the starting line, staring down the challenge or already in the throes of covering new ground. These kilometers accumulated at year end symbolize momentum built up for a new beginning.

So in a number of ways, this annual cycling endeavor challenges me differently each year. Each time the terrain has been different. Like other challenges, I achieve it despite the obstacles. For the Festive 500 this has meant new friends in new circumstances in new cities each year.

In 2011, I was intentionally between jobs about to take a leap of faith to see if the shoe fit at Highgroove Studios, a year later, I was a month into being a Big Nerd and in 2013 I was three months into expat life working hard to help make Big Nerd Ranch big in Europe!.

Cool story bro, what about bikes?

Well, for my inaugural Festive 500 accomplishment: group rides, sunshine and no steep inclines. Then barren frozen solitude was theme in New Jersey, New York & Pennsylvania. Last year was hard: brutal frigid temps, nearly no wheels to suck for the entire 500km save one day of camaraderie. And the home stretch was mired in sketchy black ice patches, snow drifts and early AM hours in the dark. Whoa. Luckily, 2013 wasn’t as cold nor lonely by far and may have been my best yet!

Like 2012, the 2013 write-up will be ‘condensed‘ to a single entry. Enjoy!

Day 1 | 12/24/13 | 22.3km

A albeit less than epic but certainly scenic start to this year’s effort began with a simple and standard leg of my daily commute to Amsterdam Noord.

Some grocery shopping on the way home.

And one final schlep out to tally up a meager 22.3km

Day 2 | 12/25/13 | 47.3km

Christmas Day is hardly ideal for a bike ride and considering it was our first as a family in Europe. I knew I was pushing the limit. But, unsure of how much time I’d have throughout the week, I was keen to captures some kilometers.

I set a random target and headed south. At one point I was rolling under the tarmac at Schiphol.

Snuck in a fun ride picking up Chinese takeout!

Day 3 | 12/26/13 | 211km

Same strategy as the previous day. Start early and tally up some distance. I knew Marc had a ride planned but wasn’t sure how much of it I’d do.

By the time we met, I had knocked out 60km. And turns out I’d been for my first trip to Den Haag.

I even managed a quick write up that day and recently got some additional 35mm outtakes back from the lab:

Cheers to William of Unpaved.cc for the amazing route!

Day 4 | 12/27/13 | 26km

A ‘rest day’ of tooling around Amsterdam with the kids started with a #Bakfiets500 cameo on the on the Rapha Instagram. ; )

Day 5 | 12/28/13 | 12.8km

Very chill day comprised solely of our weekly grocery shopping adventure to the Nieuwmarkt organic market.

Day 6 | 12/29/13 | 271.1km

Longest day in the saddle yet! I’ll be spending time this weekend finishing this post by sharing this amazing ride’s story here but I haven’t been able to pen the post completely yet!

Day 7 | 12/30/13 | 32.5km

Spent the day exploring in and around Amsterdamse Bos with Otto and Mira!

Day 8 | 12/31/13 | 62.2km

Last Day! Another adventure but this time to the beach and back on the Bakfiets!

Conclusion and finished story will be up by the 19th! Grand total? 681km!

The #Festive500 Day 3 2013

After several drops in the #festive500 500km bucket, I rolled out just after 6am today determined to put a dent in this annual obsession/rewarding endeavor. A quick loop northward to #Purmerend then a 9am rendezvous with @randomitus, @unpaved_cc & Michiel (who I had randomly met once before right after my move when my @611bicycleco caught is eye). We embarked on a loop to #TheHague & @lolabikesandcof. But #Lolabikesandcoffee was closed! We made a straight shot back to Amsterdam and after I had stopped to pick up pastries, chocolate milk and a loaf of bread, I had knocked out 211km! Next big ride may be Sunday for a 270km slog with @frankthetank_ftyc & co. Thank you Marc, William and Michiel for an amazing day on the bike!

The ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/102008502

Image via Instagram

My 2012 #Festive500 Effort: barren frozen solitude.

What compels you to ride your bike? How about some one else’s bike? How about before sunrise & when it is below freezing? And for 500 kilometers?!

Unlike my inaugural Festive 500 accomplishment, which was facilitated by group rides, sunshine & no steep inclines, the 500 kilometers I logged in a combination of New Jersey, New York & Pennsylvania was characterized by frigid temps, nearly no wheels to suck & and its final rides were mired in sketchy black ice patches & snow drifts.

I had no time to pen posts per day as I did last year, so this 2012 edition will be condensed to a single entry. Enjoy.

Day 1 | 12/25/12 | 23 Miles to Grandparents in Martinsville

Daunted by the idea of accomplishing the challenge while visiting my family in New Jersey, I started small. A modest 23 miles with an extra loop on River Rd. south of my Aunt’s house en route to my Grandparents for dinner.

I’d like to emphasize that none of these rides would have been possible with out the generous & balleur DA equipped Litespeed loaner from my homie @ThisisClay. Clay is a New York City based freelance Hair Dresser. He has even created styles for the runway at New York Fashion Week. Hit him up for your hair in you’re in NYC: claycutshair.com!

My improvised route north to my Grandparents’ home included some serene rural farmlands only a stone’s throw from the suburban sprawl of Route 202. Beautiful views and many entirely new to me despite having regularly visited this area since my childhood.

I looped around through downtown Raritan & up towards Martinsville. Climbing Steele Gap & Mt. Horeb were feats I’d long been looking forward too. No photos of Steele Gap but since I was a kid we’ve referred to it as ‘roller coaster road’. It hurt.

With a small and scenic start to my Festive 500, I decided to set the alarm for an #earlytobedearlytoshred jaunt into PA for a locale around 40 miles away. Eh, how about Lake Nockamixon?

Day 2 | 12/26/12 | 72.4 Miles to Lake Nockamixon & back

Wheels down at 5am. I was layered in wool & relying on Gokivo for navigation & the #soviz combo of the Rapha Hardshell & Vulpine gilet. I could wax poetic on how key the Hardshell was for me on this trip, but no one can wax poetic like Brian at the washingmachinepost. ; )

So Gokivo did a splendid job of helping me deter busy roads & of course, getting lost. The cool thing about these kinds of GPS route finders is elevation is not considered. I consider that a perk. Views like that above are only accomplished with climbs and views like that at dawn are some of the most basic perks that cycling can offer and certainly one of the things that compels me to ride my bike.

Above was the reward right after I ventured across the river into PA from Frenchtown. I found Uhlerstown Hill Road: a narrow, 20% gradient hill that is closed off from motor vehicle traffic during the winter. I had to focus on not popping a wheelie. Whoa.

“It’s so steep and narrow that it’s really unsafe to climb when there are any cars on it with you. Last time there, I rode around two other people that fell over on their bikes in front of me, before tipping over into the uphill side of the road when I tried to go around the third.”

Hillier Than Hillier – NJ [Archive]-Bike Forums

The route beyond the Delaware River into Pennsylvania was a sublime collection of rolling hills on remote forested residential roads. Still reeling from Sandy, there was the lingering feeling of carnage that the storm had wreaked on this area, even this far inland. Above is my turnaround spot at Lake Nockamixon, the centerpiece of Nockamixon State Park.

Crikey! It was cold. I kept a winter collar from Starlight Apparel over my face & ears on each ride this trip. Above are the only shots I managed to snap from my journey to PA & back.

Day 4 | 12/27/12 | 24.3 Miles Another Sprint to my Grandparents

Another short jaunt to my Grandparents. Only because I was aided by the supernatural powers of the most festive viz in the biz, the Sfatto Clothing #TheBrightness kit, I earned a KOM.

Of course, hiviz is nothing new to cycling & I spotted my first fellow cyclist of my trip on this ride. He also was doing his best to stick out on these rural roads. Mid KOM effort, I waved & continued to ape it. ; )

The silky smooth streets & scenic views in Bridgewater were a preface to the grueling pavement devastation of downtown Plainfield and industrial wasteland of Newark, Jersey City & Hoboken.

Day 6 | 12/28/12 | 100.2 Miles

You go big or go home! That’s gonna be a helluva day

@RollingMike in response to my proposal to ride from my Aunt’s in central Jersey to the George Washington Bridge

Again aided by gokivo I navigated the dark streets of Dunellen, Plainfield, Union & as the sun rose the urban thoroughfares of Newark & Jersey City making my way to the sublime skyline of NYC. What a relief. No crazy traffic to speak of really as many people weren’t up at 5 or 6am and even by 7am in Newark. I assumed holiday vacations were what spared me from confronting congested roads. I arrived a few minutes after 8am, just in time to rollout. 3 hours & 50ish miles in, my training ride with the Rapha NYC team kicked off.

It felt good to draft. The sunlight felt good. The rolling terrain & views of 9W felt good. Keeping up hurt ; )

We reached a turning point. I didn’t have the time to continue onto Bear Mountain with Jayson & Mike, pictured above, so I turned around to head back towards the city with Matt (former Rapha Condor PRO) & the one and only James Nord.

James & Matt pulled me back South on 9W. This was tough. Both super strong guys, they nearly dropped me on some of 9W’s little hills. Luckily we took a slower route near the water for a section & had a chance to chat & for me to catch up. I did do my best to take some pulls but I was certainly feeling the burn.

I may have beaten James up only one hill, he says because he was gram’n ; ) AWESOME ride guys! Thank you!

Day 7 | 12/30/12 | 56.7 Miles of snow & ice

I was sore. I was tired. And now, due to the weather, I was disheartened. But this far in, I couldn’t give up.

It had snowed the night before, and not just a little bit. I was unsure if a ride would be possible at all.

Well, once again I woke up EARLY. I rolled out at 4am. Yeah, 4am. WAT. Initially it was fine but soon I found myself in a neighborhood that hadn’t been thoroughly plowed/salted. SOLID ICE. I dismounted. Decided to stroll down the frozen hill that was between me & Washington Valley Rd.

I reached the bottom only to find that my speedplay cleats had accumulated snow into a frozen block. Clipping in was not possible. WTF.

I had to stop at a desolate but lit gas station to take a window washing squeegee to beat my cleats, literally. Not the best tool for chiseling but I broke the ice out & continued on a now quiet & nicely plowed Rt. 202 North to Morristown.

The key to success was staying on major roads. This meant smooth sailing with no snow or ice & cars weren’t a concern as the weather & vacations kept motorists at home. I was home by 8am to play with my son Otto in the snow.

Day 8 | 12/31/12 | 24.6 Miles to Coffee with my Mom & Back

My last day started with a (comparatively) not so early start of 6am to head north to Bedminster to have coffee with my Mom. This was also our last day in New Jersey. This ride was a great way to say goodbye to my Mom and wrap up the Festive 500 as well! The route to her house was no joke. All false flats & crowned with Schley Mtn Rd. All roads I’d thought of riding for years and now got to give ’em a go.

The return ride was mostly down hill. I ape’d it as I still had packing to do. And I needed do do a careful cleaning of Clay’s bike before dropping it back off in Queens. I came in at 501km & felt relieved. It is this kind of challenge accomplishment that may compel me to ride the most. Sure riding is fun but whether it is the daily commute, a criterium or some bizarre Strava contest. Competitiveness keeps my cadence up!

Here are all the photos from this year & here are the ones from last year too.

For making this ridiculous accomplishment possible I offer a sincere thank you to Rapha for the idea & stellar apparel, Strava for logging it, Vulpine for keepin me visible, Starlight Apparel for keepin my face & neck cozy & Clay for the bike, Mike for organizing the Rapha ride & especially my wife Stacey for putting up with my obsession.

I’m already looking forward to The Festive 500 in 2013!

Rapha Festive 500 2011 | Day 1 | 98.3 Miles

I'm logging some #rapha500 miles early tomorrow. Gimme a shout of you wanna meet up!

Like most of my longer rides over the past year, i need to roll out early.

I posted looking for local riding buddies but too little too late. I expected a solo spin around St. Pete.

Easy step towards punctual departure. #rapha500

I prepared all of my supplies for the next day.  Maybe 50-60 miles planned.

Ran into St. Pete's Sat morning 8:30 ride. Fast stuff! #rapha500

I slowly decided to change my plans as the pace picked up.  I ran into a few fellow cyclists.

They were heading towards St. Pete’s Sat. AM group ride at 8:30.

Apparently they had some steam to blow off and were already ape’n it.

One woman recognized me from 2009’s FM24.

Elizabeth Morse Hill had the fastest women’s lap that year.

Took a short break. Might crack a century.

This photo caught the CAT6 comments on instagram that it deserved.

As soon as that bridge dropped… Sprint!

More shots from my #rapha500 efforts this AM

I rolled with various pelotons downtown, down to Ft. Desoto and back north before I headed home.

Sure, recumbents are funny. Until you get dropped by one. #rapha500

Not before this guy road me off his wheel.

Sweet bike sightings. #rapha500

I snapped a few photos of some of the ride that caught my eye.  The Moots is a always a looker.

Plus I’m a sucker for integrated stem and bars!

My only 'hill' #rapha500

My only hill.  The Bellaire Causeway back to Largo.


The route & stats.

Strava // Rapha500 // 12-24

Follow me on Strava!

My ride ended with a short jaunt with my nephew adding 2.4 miles and an outdoor shower!

Not bad for a first day.  I am still on the fence about tomorrow and its 2am now…

Keep up with all the competitors here and Rapha’s highlights here.

Just took a shower. OUTSIDE! #rapha500

Rapha Rides the Blackforest Video

Rapha just uploaded a short video featuring the recent Black Forest Ride in Freiburg for which European Touches author Philipp, seen below repping MASH, developed the route.

I’ll be spending 2 months in Freiburg this summer and though I knew the riding will be amazing, this feature certainly offers a wonderful preview of the beauty that awaits and it’s obvious this ride managed to highlight some of the very best riding that the Black Forrest has to offer.

Great job Philipp!

We’ll be logging miles on our Kazanes on these roads and more. I’m so stoked!

Check out the scenery and coverage of the ride below and read Kieran of Rapha’s write up here.

European Touches ~ Vol. 7 ~ Freiburg Collective Bike Expo & Rapha Ride

The weekend of May 7th and 8th saw the premiere of a new bicycle festival in „the bicycle capital of

Germany“ : the Freiburg Collective Bike Expo.


A wide range of bicycle related activities and events were offered, such as guided MTB rides in the

surrounding mountains, an entertaining dirt park short track race on sunday as part of the

„CremaCross Short Track Series“ and of course the long anticipated „Rapha Ride“ through the

Black Forest. Along with a small but no less respectable expo of a number of celebrated national

and international bicycle brands and some custom frame builders.


Fixie Inc and Subtil Bikes were there to exhibit their complete bikes and parts for the urban

cyclist. You might have watched some of the videos showcasing all the Fixie Inc models as these

have been praised on prollyisnotprobably.com – I originally planned to visit the guys in their office

this past December, but it didn‘t work out in the end – even better to meet Recep, one of the owners,

in person now and to have a look at their decent bikes. The „Chip Race“ Titanium-roadbike and

the „Pureblood“ Cyclocross-Beast were definite eyecatchers (check out the bottlecap on the stem).

Too bad there is no proper distribution in the US yet.


After that I went straight to see the bikes built by local frame builder Kai Bendixen, who had also

developed some of the Fixie Inc prototypes in the past – a small world, indeed!

The bikes on display included a pink singlespeed crosstype mountainbike and a beautiful

bottlegreen Randonneur-Touringbike. I am planning to meet Kai at his shop later this year

to show you more of his work.


Another great framebuilder I got to meet was Thomas Veidt, who specialized in building bikes for

short people – but of course he is up for anything if you plan to get a custom frame. He brought

a workbench with him and was carving lugs when I got to his booth. One of the bikes he was

showcasing was the first bike he built after he started his own framebuilding business years ago:

A stunning lugged steel roadframe equipped with a vintage Campagnolo nuovo record gruppo from

the late 70s – this bike has been used alot and was far from a perfect untouched condition, but had

soul and style for sure. After miles and miles of riding this bike is now sitting in his living room

he said, just to look at it.

We also talked a little bit about how he would like to show some of his work at the „Oregon Handmade

Bicycle Show“ – an expo way more down to earth than the over-hyped NAHBS he said.

It was great talking to you Thomas!


I didn‘t spend much time at either the Campagnolo or Chris King booth, but I am sure their high

quality components were well received by the bicycle-loving crowd. Now it was time for an

Espresso over at the Biosk-counter where Lars and Julien served the usual great coffee and delicious

snacks – all organic, of course!


My next stop was at the Crema Cycles booth were I talked to Basti for a little while. Crema Cycles

is active in a number of different ways – they sell custom frames by US-brands including Geekhouse

and Independent Fabrications over here in Germany, they organize events such as this „Freiburg Collective

Bike Expo“ or the „Crema Cross“- Tour and are about to go public with their own CremaCycles

Cross Country (26″ & 29″) and Enduro (29″) frames built by Canadian framebuilder Mike Truelove.

More of these frames will be shown at the Eurobike in the summer. (Expect twotoneatl coverage!)


Other exhibitors included German magazine „Fahrstil“ and Italian Cyclegear brand “Biciclista“, who are

famous for their colorful cycling kits.

But of course the highlight of the weekend was the Rapha Roadride – Jon and I were super proud to

support Rapha and it was a pleasure to put together a route for the ride. Inspired by my post from last

year, Kieran of Rapha Germany asked me to come up with something similar. The challenging terrain of

the ride included three climbs, one of which the Schauinsland-mountain with its 11km ascent, it was the longest.

Outstanding views were guaranteed with this route!


About 40 people gathered Saturday morning in front of Rapha‘s „Mobile Cycle Club“ truck and signed

up for the ride. After Kieran’s introductory words everybody got on their bikes and we were ready to roll.

As we left the city limits it started to get hilly immediately and not long after that the first serious climb

was waiting for us. Of course we didn‘t stay together as a group the whole time, but we all met again on

top of the Schauinsland where snacks and drinks were served. All this worked out surprisingly well and the

whole ride didn‘t see a single puncture. Great!


After a breathtaking descent into the Münstertal valley with topspeeds well over 70km/h, some short

dirtroad and gravel parts, more climbing and great riding through vineyards we got back to the

Expo-grounds about three and half hours after we had left. What a great experience to ride with all these



This event was the first official Rapha event in Germany and marks the beginning of active campaigning

over here. So far the German market has been more or less neglected, but I am sure this will change

from now on. And what a way to start activities here in Germany.


Overall this has been an awesome weekend – amazing weather and great people! Freiburg really is

the „Bicycle Capital of Germany“ and I hope for a new edition of this event next year with even more

exhibitors, more activities and more people showing up.

In other news, I am totally stoked that Jon and his family will be spending the summer here in Freiburg and I am sure

this will lead to many more posts on the blog. Can‘t wait to show you around Jon!

More photos can be found on the European Touches flickr

PS: You can also follow me on twitter for irregular updates from the cycling world over here …


Check out the video of the ride here: twotoneatl.com/2011/05/18/rapha-rides-the-blackforest-video

The Premiere of Rapha Continental | 2/24

We’re proud to kick off 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show events with our friends at Rapha, who’ll be premiering their latest Rapha Continental Film, along with a screening of D’Acciaio (Of Steel) which captures master frame builder Dario Pegoretti in his Italian workshop.

Both films will be shown on the big screen and we’ll have food and drinks. We can’t wait to see you here, and kick off the 2011 NAHBS in style. Free to attend, come enjoy!

Two previews to get you stoked:

Rapha Continental | D’Acciaio (Of Steel) by Ben Ingham

…And if you’ll be in Austin for NAHBS don’t miss the Gentleman’s Ride later that week!

Text from: mellowjohnnys.com

Rapha Gentlemen’s Ride | SAT 2/26 | 6:30am

Rapha Ride
All photos in this post are from last year's Rapha Ride in RVA

Date: February 26, 2011 @ 6:30 am Location: Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop 400 Nueces Street

Last year’s ride, as documented here by Jeremy Dunn, was fantastic.

If you will be in Austin for NAHBS this year. Wake up early and make sure you do this ride.

Rapha Ride
The peleton stopped at a light, gentlemanlike of course

Join MJ’s and our friends at Rapha for their 2011 NAHBS edition of the Rapha Gentlemen’s ride (ladies welcome too!).

NAHBS and Rapha don’t come to town every week so we’re rolling out a special ride from our top secret training ride book.

Delicious Juan Pelota Cafe Coffee at 6:30am and ride leaves at 7am  with Nuetral support provided by SRAM.

Kyle of Tracko & Golden Saddle Cyclery

This 2-2.5 ride will enjoy a more spirited pace (17-18ish)  and sample some of the beauty that is Austin–including the hills west of town.

Start your day off right and finish up in time to enjoy a full day at the 2011 North American Handmade Bike Show.

Rapha Ride
Jeremy of Embrocation Magazine & Whit of Pavé

Be sure to RSVP on FB and even better on Rapha Rendezvous on your iphone.

Quoted text above from: MellowJohnnys.com & first photo by Donna Miller

European Touches ~ Vol. 6 ~ A visit to the Rapha Headquarters in London


When I was in London in this past December I managed to

squeeze in a brief stop at the Rapha Headquarters

in the famous Camden district. I wanted to try on some of their products and was disappointed to hear that

the temporary „Rapha Cycling Club“ had already closed down earlier in the summer.

Luckily Paula, Rapha’s new area rep for Germany, welcomed me in the office and showed me around.


This was especially great, because everyone was very busy.

With just a few days before Christmas, orders were being prepared and shipped to all the customers

across the globe eagerly awaiting their new cycling gear.


I got to hang out in the „show room“, where all the Rapha products are on display for future retailers

and business partners. Seeing the great gear they produce you ask yourself, why you would ride with

anything but this… Though upon checking my wallet I was reminded ,

this is why my closet isn‘t all Rapha quite yet

Nonetheless, I left with a great looking Paul Smith Merino top for myself and got Jon one of the new

Cyclocross Team-Caps. Good stuff as usual …


Big „Thanks“ to Paula, Barney and all the great folks at Rapha.

A few more photos can be found on the European Touches flickr.