It’s not unknown, that I’m a big Rapha fan. I eat up the site, the blog posts and the films – I also spend a healthy amount on the gear. What can I say, it’s nice. For a rider like me, who is in to ‘nice’ stuff, not to mention, photography and film, what could be better than Rapha… So, when I found out they were coming to my home town of Edmonton, I of course, left town to ride in Kananaskis. Yes, that’s right, I went riding elsewhere… See, the way it all went down, I didn’t know about the Rapha YEG ride, when I committed to my carefully laid plans to get away to Calgary and go riding with my pal, Ken, in Kananaskis – there was no changing plans, given a multitude of schedules, family obligations and so forth. So, I went off on our own Bikeridr ride, and our pal, Jason Redfern tossed his chapeau in the ring to go on the Rapha ride. In talking with Ferno after, the thing I remember him saying most was, ‘there sure was a lot of merino wool…’ Here’s the scoop from our ‘inside man’:

The Rapha Continental crew came to Alberta at the bequest of Alex Steida, the first North American to hold the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.

An invite to the group ride was forwarded to me by the purveyor of this fine website. Driven by curiosity I found myself at Da Capo with about thirty Rapha fans ready to uneasily stampede through the Edmonton River Valley like a Running Room ‘Learn to Run’ clinic.  “They can’t actually be serious leading a group road ride through trails?” was murmured more than once. I didn’t know what to expect.

Trail maps were out and the planning looked solid as morning espresso was drunk. My apprehensions of riding a road bike on river valley trails with so many unknowns subsided, slightly.

The ride leaders were serious.  After an extensive tour through kilometres of road construction and several flats, the leaders descended into the Edmonton river valley trail system with a mass of riders in tow.  Despite a ‘no-drop’ policy the pace on the front proved to be too much for some who showed up with pacemakers or fixed geared ‘whips’.

The mini-van driving camera crew managed to somehow pop out of nowhere several times along the route, oftentimes running down the bank of the river to shoot a few seconds of footage along the trail.  If we found ourselves on the road it wouldn’t be long before a white van would whip around the group, rear hatch open, cameras blazing.  Amazing feats of navigation and videography were performed that day.

The Rapha gentlemen were pleasant. Their American handmade bicycles, all by different fabricators, with matching paint jobs and pink anodized accents, impressive.

Their impression of Edmonton?  “Nice trails!” “Reminds me of home!”

In the end the Alberta Rapha Continental segment was about the Jasper leg of their visit and Alex Stieda’s exploits.  Edmonton was compressed into mere seconds of footage.  No footage of glorious panoramas of the Edmonton city scape, no suffer faces on epic climbs, no harrowing gravel road descents. Edmonton was left on the cutting room floor. Maybe our little cycling oasis in the middle of the land of oil, Truck Nutz and Tim Horton’s failed to impress our worldly cycling guests?