2020 will see the launch of a collaboration between Outdoor Voices and London based cycling brand Rapha.
To kick off the collaboration, the two teams met in Mallorca for a week of cycling, designing and getting to know each other. Rapha’s Head of Product Development, Miriam Lock, and Outdoor Voices Creative Director, Tiffany Wilkinson-Raemer, talk about the trip and coming together to try something new.
Tiffany Wilkinson-Raemer, Creative Director at Outdoor Voices
Rapha makes the best cycling clothing in the world and is a brand we really admire.
During a pop-up we did in Aspen, a few women came in asking for biker shorts with a “chamois” (The pad in the bum area to help alleviate the pressure from sitting in the saddle for an extended period of time). Around the same time, Ty (OV’s Founder & CEO) was dipping her toe into cycling so we started thinking about the sport more seriously.
It’s an activity we don’t have a ton of experience with, so we’re thrilled to be partnering with experts like Rapha. Coming together was a chance for both brands to learn something new and make a great product we couldn’t have made alone.
When we first started talking, Outdoor Voices and Rapha felt quite different. When they told us their motto was “Glory through Suffering” we couldn’t quite relate. At OV we believe that there should be a feeling of joy in every activity you do, so the concept of suffering seemed a little foreign to us.
Then, after riding together in Mallorca we came to realize that we’re talking about the same sentiment, just in different terms. We’re both trying to get people out there and moving. They call it “Glory through Suffering” and we call it “Doing Things.” Though our mottos read differently, they are both about a commitment to moving your body on a regular basis. That consistency and effort = reward.
Team OV is a pretty active group, but everyone on the trip was new to long-distance cycling. The most relevant experience the majority of the group had was a daily bike commute or in-studio spin classes. During our second day of riding, we did the first major incline and I met the rest of the group at the top thinking that was it. When we started the next incline Alexa (OV’s Design Director) and I thought there must be some mistake. Little did we know we still had 29 miles and six hours to go.
I pushed myself harder than I ever had before. We climbed over 3,000 ft — after each ascent I was always so happy to see the rest of the group waiting for me at the top. As we rode I felt so connected to the rest of the group. When the ride was over I was physically exhausted but so proud of myself. Trying something so challenging that at times felt impossible and actually achieving it was incredible.
We learned that once you’re on the bike you want the absolute best gear possible. That’s been our mission with Rapha — to create an enduring product that really performs and inspires women, experienced riders and beginners alike, to get on a bike and start riding.
Any tips for new cyclists?
The Rapha Team was so generous and taught us so much.
- Don’t wear underwear with your bib shorts. (They are more comfortable without)
- If you are a woman make sure you get a split saddle, it helps alleviate some of the pressure that can build up during a long ride.
- When going downhill, squeeze your breaks with little pulses rather than holding them down for dear life. (Thank you, Maria!)
- There are lots of “rules” in cycling. It’s okay to break them!
Miriam Lock, Head of Product Development at Rapha
On Outdoor Voices
We met OV through a shared passion for sport. Our brands differ in many ways, but the values that drive our missions are very similar. OV aims to get people moving, we aim to make cycling the most popular sport. Both endeavors are important to our hearts, we know that this partnership will inspire both of our communities to ride more and that’s most important.
On Doing Things (on a bike)
Part of the charm of cycling is the ability it has to clear your mind and put you in your own space. We all love riding our bikes for that reason but Doing Things is more about exploring with friends and using the bike as a means of seeing new things. It makes cycling more inclusive and approachable. Less scary than it is when the challenge is to beat your personal best and go as fast or as far as you can. That’s not to say that we don’t challenge ourselves, it’s just that the challenge is finding a new place you’ve not been to before or getting to know someone new on a group ride. It’s all about having fun.
On the Collaboration
Some people will tell you that you need ten bits of equipment that you can’t use or wear for anything else just to ride into town. It can be a sport of specifics but we wanted to abolish these old rules. During the research phase for this collection, a few of us from Rapha joined some women from OV for a ride in Mallorca. We all rode the same route, on similar bikes but we all wore different clothing. This made us realize that a cycling kit does not have to be hyper-specific in order to be functional.
The collection we have created makes cycling more approachable by blending cycling functionality with an alternative aesthetic that works whether you’re going for a ride or going for lunch. The garments are as far removed from our aerodynamic, tight-fitting racewear as it’s possible to be. They are easier to wear, suitable for a broader range of body shapes and aimed at getting more people on bikes. It’s not about the speed or distance. Just about the riding.
On Getting Started
The Rapha Cycling Club is great tool for dipping your toe in the water. You can join rides before becoming a full member to see whether you like it and, if you do, there’s the option of renting a bike from one of our Clubhouses rather than buying your own. Visiting our stores or riding an event like the Women’s 100 is a great way to meet more experienced riders, join them on a ride and learn from them.
When it comes to buying a bike, try to borrow as many friends’ bikes as possible to get an idea of your size and preferences. This way, you’ll end up testing out a load of saddles too, which will help you find the right one. You don’t need a really expensive bike from the outset. Lots of our customers start off simply and upgrade the bike as they go.
I used to think of cycling as an individual sport but since joining Rapha I’ve realized that it isn’t. We take turns riding into the wind, make sure everyone has enough food and encourage each other to keep going. This team effort helps breed a real sense of community and camaraderie.
Out on the road, this manifests itself in random cyclists, perfect strangers, warmly waving at each other as they pass, spontaneous chats at coffee stops and the offer of assistance every time you get a puncture. You feel connected through the sport. That’s the thing that joins us.