When I first started this blog there was this clothing company called Rapha:
[He looks like he got caught in bed with someone’s wife and had to get dressed really, really fast in order to flee.]
At the time, I was a sub-middling bike racer, and all my stretchy bike clothes were from my bike racing team. If you have any experience with custom race stuff, you know it usually arrived from somewhere in eastern Europe smelling like the cigarettes they were smoking when they packed it. These were not exactly fine garments, and some runs were so bad I’d have been way better off racing in jorts and underpants But to me, riding around in an actual team uniform was the very apex of velocipedal habidashery.
Given this, I never looked any further when it came to cycling attire, because, like what could be cooler than team kit, right? As such, I wasn’t really aware of Rapha until people started emailing me about them. I suppose they thought I’d find their whole overly serious, epic pain face, hurts-so-good thing funny…and of course I did:
Rapha’s general manager at the time (the cuckolding rake in that photo at the top of the post) was quite good at his job, and understood that, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, it’s better to be blogged about than to not be blogged about. He reached out, we became friendly, and at one point he gave me a fixed-gear jacket, which is the most 2009 thing ever because how does a fixed-gear jacket even make sense?
I wasn’t lying about the jacket, by the way. It was very nice, and I wore it to work until I smartened up and stopped going to work altogether. In fact I still had it as of last year, when I passed it on to my elder son, who then left it at school, never to be seen again. Presumably someone found it and decided to keep it, and little do they know they now own a piece of cycling history.
Anyway, he even invited me to those Rapha “Gentlemen’s Races.” This was way before Rapha started taking pains to appear inclusive. (You could never field something called a “Gentlemen’s Race” now, as both of those words are now considered deeply offensive.) They keep trying to turn Jobst Brandt into the “Godfather of Gravel,” but as far as commodifying the unsanctioned ethos and the spirit of unserious-yet-also-totally-serious competition that has since come to define the whole “gravel” thing, in many ways those Rapha rides set the template. These rides were self-perpetuating content machines comprised of industry people and what have since come to be known as “influencers,” they generated photos and films, and they’d even give the riders disposable cameras like people sometimes put on the tables at weddings. Of course I’m describing all this somewhat cynically, but not only was it good marketing, but it was also lots of fun, which I know because I did a few myself:
That’s me on the right, I was hurting pretty bad, and I doubt I took a single turn at the front.
Anyway, a lot has changed since those heady days. Rapha got bought by the Walmarts or something, and it’s now ubiquitous rather than rarefied. Meanwhile, other quasi-high fashion pseudo-luxury brands have emerged, the latest high-water mark in on-the-bike douchery being Pas Normal.
Sorry, Pas Normal Studios.
You know it’s good stuff because the models look moderately disgusted by you.
Despite all these changes, it’s good to know that Rapha can still bring the douche chills, which they’ve done most recently by collabiating with something called “Brain Dead:”
I have no idea why Rapha chose to work with this particular brand; maybe it’s because their SEO people realized everyone’s been googling “Rapha” and “Brain Dead” for years so they figured they might as well finally cash in. This collaburbation does promise to be quite fruitful, though. For example, consider these brownish sacklike pants:
That’s the “Trail Maintenance Pant,” I’m assuming it’s pre-dirtied to make it look like you actually did something, and it’s only $200:
Note that the “Read Less” button is unintentionally in keeping with their name.
So what’s being Brain Dead all about anyway? Well, absolutely nothing:
That’s not even word salad. It’s word baby food.
But yes, Braid Dead indeed “sits in the space between people,” as you can see from the other stuff they sell, like this Chia Pet:
And this Green Day tote bag:
How incredibly disruptive.
Just think how how great you’ll look showing up late on purpose to the next trail maintenance day, your Best Made axe leaning jauntily on your shoulder:
You’ll be like Derek Zoolander reporting for duty at the mine:
Just make sure you don’t attempt to ride in your trail maintenance pant! For that you’ll need another pant:
Here’s a better look from the front:
The good news is that they’re five dollars less than the “trail maintenance pant:”
Incidentally, the “Rapha trail pant” is what you do after you get dropped on the group ride and before you catch your breath and ride back to your car, hanging your head in shame.
Hey, don’t get me wrong, I like fancy pants as much as anybody. I’ve posed pensively in the forest in my Rivendell MUSA pants:
[“Is that squirrel masturbating?”]
And I’ve extolled the virtues of the Vulpine Opus jean:
I’ve also done trail maintenance exactly one time, and I’m still congratulating myself for it:
Nevertheless, I’d humbly submit that the Brain Dead Rapha stuff attains a level of douchery that has so far eluded even me.
I just can’t believe they did a “collab” with a company called Brain Dead and didn’t include a helment:
It’s an old one, and it’s about motorcycles, but still:
Actually, you don’t have the right to never see anything upsetting, and the fact that people think they do certainly explains a lot. Nevertheless, in the event that I fall down and die, in lieu of wearing a helment I’m happy to carry a waiver that allows you to walk away.