you will probably already be aware of the veritable treasure of phrases uttered by the mighty dave t on a weekly basis. there are those amongst you who think that it is i who creates those you see above, but i assure you that these are either verbatim or derived from conversations during the sunday morning rides. i truly wish i had started recording these on a regular basis, for were that the case, i'm sure we'd already have at least two well-thumbed volumes of the sayings of the mighty dave t on the bookshelf. sadly, i never had the presence of mind to do so, leaving them as so many wise and humorous words floating untethered in the aether.
of course, the mighty dave has been there, done that and bought the teeshirt; there is little that overly impresses him, and he does not suffer fools gladly. therefore, when we are on the receiving end of a limitless slew of reasons as to why members of the civilian population have need of excusing themselves from joining the sunday morning ride, he can be particularly dismissive. rather than simply drag their bicycles from the bikeshed and put in the required effort, far more time is spent explaining why they need to improve their fitness.
this situation led to the recent quote from the mighty dave "if you try to ride fast for as long as you can, at some point in the process, it's going to hurt". or words to that effect.
most of you will be familar with the sensation; there's always at least one guy in the peloton who climbs like a mountain goat, and in order not to be found wanting, we try our darnedest to minimise the gap between them and us. in most cases, that's bound to hurt. similarly, after grovelling into a headwind down uiskentuie strand, the notion of sprinting for the 30mph sign at bruichladdich is often a matter of pride rather than competition. and boy does that hurt. almost as much as coming last.
rapha have adopted the forcats de la route (convicts of the road) as an adjunct to their monochrome imagery, a mantra that is every bit as true for the pelotonese as it ever was for those early competitors in the tours de france or italy. who amongst us has not cast regular glances at the clock on the mantlepiece, eager to get the saturday morning shop over and done with in order to get out on the bike? similarly, the sooner the sunday programme on radio four moves onto the day's church service from wherever, the sooner we can clamber from bed and dress for the road. though we like to think of it as a voluntary effort on our part, we're every bit as captive to the need as our more competitive forebears.
the former perren street inmates began their career with an exhibition entitled kings of pain, a surreptitious introduction to the next ten years of cycle clothing, events, publications and sportwool trinketry. it seems only right and proper, therefore, that those ten years are celebrated with a particularly impressive, limited edition sportwool jersey. you could, of course, argue that a jersey is a jersey, is a jersey. zip at the front, pockets at the back and an agreeable amount of fast inhabiting every merino wool fibre. it's a difficult contention to deny, but this, as was once the slogan for cyril lord carpets, is luxury you can afford.
the jersey forms part of a set, the components of which can be purchased separately, including an essentials case, a cap and a bottle opener, all incorporate the motto ex duris gloria (glory through suffering). that maybe as tendentious as referring to every bike ride as epic, but is intended to refer more to cycling's impressive heritage rather than another level of pretentiousness to be adopted by the wearer. the sportwool employed as the fabric of the jersey is a development of the original, offering slightly lighter weight and better wicking of perspiration.
in a creative nod to the past, the king of pain jersey is topped with a poppered collar, effected by tailoring taller than usual before folding over in similar fashion to a polo-shirt and poppering each side of the full length zip. the usual zip-garage is incorporated in this affair, but at the risk of sounding overly critical, it's possibly the single feature of the jersey that it fails to carry off with aplomb.
rapha have often favoured the use of black graphics on black fabric, something that is brought to a design peak on this particular jersey. descending from the left shoulder are a series of black embroidered graphics that take the form of hallmarks, denoting both quality and provenance. "the straight bars represent the 'forcats de la route' employed on rapha's pro-team line. the drops are for blood, sweat and tears; the essential fluids of pro-ness, as it were. the crown presumably needs no further explanation, being that of both victor and king.
"the arrows represent those once displayed on convicts in the british penal system. we're all marked as cyclists in one way or another."
fear not, however, that you will have to recall the above word for word in conversation during the weekly bike ride; the black on black format is not too obvious to the casual observer wiping sweat from his/her eyes. across the shoulders on the back of the jersey there are several diagonal panels, cunningly and cleverly mimicking the tyres that the early tour riders used to wear about their person, in the days before mavic neutral service. in a partial break with tradition, despite the existence of three rear pockets, the outer two have zipped closures, joined by the compulsory zipped security pocket. the hem is controlled by an elasticated draw-cord, though i've often found the existence of such adjustment to be surplus to requirements; rapha's jerseys have always fitted me impeccably.
it may be entirely predictable that rapha chose to celebrate their first ten years of existence by way of a jersey, especially one that lives well above the norm, but to place it in the vernacular, it's a doozy. it wears every bit as well as anything that emanated from the original imperial works and on past experience, it'll continue to do so all the way through the next ten years. i have no real idea of just how limited this edition will be, but if i were you, i'd form an orderly queue at the website front door after the weekend.
the rapha king of pain jersey retails at £150 and available in sizes xs to xxl. thanks to david evans for additional information.
friday 18 april 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................