Meet the members

Each month, we’ll profile members who embody the spirit and the values of the RCC. We hope their stories will excite and inspire you to get out and ride.

November 2015

Kalif Ismail

RCC concierge and marketing coordinator for Southeast Asia | 0137

I was born in Perils, the smallest state in Malaysia, where a trip to Thailand is just a 40-minute drive away. After nine years living abroad in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom, I’m now living in the culturally diverse and metropolitan Malaysian city of Kuala Lumpur.

During weekdays, most mornings I will try to do a quick one-hour interval session around the area where I live, then go on longer rides at the weekend with a stop for a delicious bowl of wonton noodle soup to refuel, the Malaysian way.

The first time I heard about the RCC was through a friend who used to work for Rapha. The main thing that interested me was the opportunity to meet up with like-minded people that come from all kinds of diverse backgrounds. There are a few RCC members that live around my area, and typically we will gather on Saturday mornings, ride around the beautiful and hilly tropical forests of Janda Baik, and eat delicious traditional Malaysian meals along the way. There are two places that I really look forward to stopping at if I’m doing the Genting Sempah to Bentong route. First is Adak’s Café, which serves good local dishes like Nasi Lemak with Sambal Tempe. The second is the Wonton Noodles stall near Bukit Tenggi.

In 2013, I was asked by a good friend at Rapha to help out on a Rapha Travel trip that Simon Mottram [Rapha founder and CEO] would be attending in Pyrenees. It was a moment of ‘now or never’, and I said yes straight away. Leading up to the event I spent a large amount of time researching the routes, and even tried to learn some French. It was such a great experience to be out riding with an inspiring group of cyclists, and I felt very lucky to get the opportunity to spend that amount of time with Simon on our bikes in the Pyrenees. Let’s just say he knows a lot about the history of cycling.

Being on my bike is a very important part of my life. It gives me a sense of freedom, and provides the opportunity for me to relax from my busy schedule. I also use cycling to challenge myself.

October 2015

Jacquelyn Marie Herbert

RCCLA | 1805

Confessing to ‘laughing for a living’, Jacquelyn started her cycling life as a commuter, and hasn’t looked back since. Not only does it provide her with affordable transport, the shared interest in cycling has brought her and her partner closer together.

I’m originally from upstate New York, but now I live in sunny downtown Los Angeles, which affords much more time for cycling in the beautiful weather.

I currently work as an assistant editor on television shows, mostly comedies, and I get the chance to work with very funny people all day, every day. A typical day tends to involve a lot of time in front of the computer watching takes, working on different cuts, doing whatever I can to help the editor make it as funny as possible before air. Every day is an opportunity and a challenge to find something fresh, real, and adventurous, which is how I approach both cycling and work. Most of my friends have no idea what I do at work, but they like seeing my name in the credits of their favourite shows. I’ve had many great opportunities in my career, but my best experience so far was working on the series Parks and Recreation. The chance to be a part of such a funny show with so many strong female characters really meant a lot to me, and helps project the kinds of women I see reflected in my friends and fellow riders.

I started riding around LA to commute on an old steel Peugeot I got for cheap. I was hooked pretty quick and let it take the place of my car, going from someone who complained about the traffic to the person who always showed up with a bike bag and a helmet in hand. Since then cycling has only become more and more a part of my lifestyle, and while I now drive a car for my longer work commute, the weekends have become synonymous with long rides with my boyfriend. We both love bikes, and finding ways to add more cycling to our lives. I’ve since upgraded my bike and can’t get enough of training, group rides and encouraging friends that 50 miles isn’t far at all (I think it helps that I bribe them with the possibility of a very scenic LA and delicious post-ride coffee). Needless to say, every week’s a good week when my bike gets more mileage than my car.

My friends and I frequent the climb up to Griffith Observatory - it’s one of my favourite places in L.A., and the L.A. bike path leads you right to it from downtown to Griffith Park. In the past few years the bike path has really grown into a place for all kinds of cyclists, and Spoke Café, right off the path, has excellent coffee, snacks and service for your bike in case you find yourself in need of air or a spare tube.

Cycling has been a part of my life ever since I moved to L.A. Commuting on bike instead of owning a car made working cheap, entry-level jobs sustainable for me and allowed me to stay out here and pursue my dream career. Since then it’s always been a part of my life, from casual rides to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and quick spins to coffee, to big group rides and climbs up Griffith to work out the stress of a long work week. I have a hard time finding an aspect of my life that wasn’t enriched by cycling – it’s part of what defines me.

Tom Ennis

RCCNYC | 0022

Possessing a long-term love for racing bikes, Tom Ennis crossed the Atlantic in search of his dream frame and found it in London’s Condor shop. He’s a permanent resident of New York, and admits to spending too much time in the city’s Rapha Cycle Club.

I was born in New York City, and other than for a few months here and there when work required me to be in Los Angeles or London, I’ve spent my entire life in this city.

I’m not a bike commuter (yet) and I no longer race. I visit the websites, subscribe to the magazines, and stay current with the racing scene - both local and International - and spend way too much time on and off the bike at the Rapha Cycle Club New York.

During the winter most of my riding was confined to early morning laps and weekend rides in Central Park. Those miles do accumulate, but it’s a real challenge both mentally and physically to get out of a warm bed and ride 25 miles in darkness, with brutally cold temperatures, every day before heading to work. Now that the warm weather has finally arrived, the weekends take me out of Manhattan and over the George Washington Bridge along well-known routes to the cyclists in our area.

I worked at Arista Records for 19 years, spending the last seven as head of Marketing and Artist Development. I was fortunate enough to work with everyone from Annie Lennox to Whitney Houston to the Grateful Dead. Since 2013 however, I have been spending much of my free time developing a project called “Politicon,” which, essentially, is “Comicon” for lovers of politics. The first one will take place this month in Los Angeles.

Many years ago, my best childhood friend came home from a trip with his parents to London with a brand new racing bike from a shop on Gray’s Inn Road called Condor. Well, all of a sudden my “Easy Rider” inspired Raleigh Chopper no longer seemed like such a great thing, and my interest in lightweight racing bicycles began. Some 18 months after I ordered my own Condor frame (the least expensive one they offered but the only one I could afford) I went to London with my friend and picked the bike up at the Condor shop.

In 2006, I found myself back in London and decided to see if I could find the old Condor bike shop. They had moved across the street to much grander quarters, but I was happy to see that they were still very much in business. While perusing what was on offer, I came across two jerseys that stood very much apart from the usual selection of logo plastered lycra, and I’m sure you can guess from what company they came. I bought them both. Today that Condor hangs in the Rapha Cycle Club’s New York, along with those two original jerseys I bought.

I love the spring classics - any and all of them. They are a sign to me that winter is finally on its way out. Favourite rider? I loved Jens and Eddy Merckx, and love Cancellara.

There’s a direct correlation between working hard on the bike and becoming better at it. I call it the “fairness equation.” If you try hard, you will see results. Maybe only in small increments, but results nonetheless. As we all know, that’s not always the case in our every day lives. It also provides me with moments of peace.

Kunlaporn Charoensuk

Thailand | 2519

Kunlaporn lives in Bangkok and likely travels more than most, working as a flight attendant for Thai Airways. When she isn’t flying, she’s thinking about cycling.

I'm originally from Bangkok, and currently live and work here. I get to travel to many places however, working as a flight attendant for Thai Airways. When I travel to foreign countries, I find that there are many beautiful places around the world for cycling.

Normally, if I don’t have to fly, I ride my bike every day. I will practice on the trainer on Monday to Friday, and at the weekend, I will go cycling with my team or with friends. Usually we’ll ride a flat 100km.

When I go somewhere with work, I only stay for a very short period. It would be so complicated if I had to pack my bike, but as an RCC member, I can simply contact the concierge of the city I’m travelling to with my arrival date, time, and place, and a bicycle will be waiting for me.

If you come to Thailand, I recommend Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai Province for cycling. It is the highest point of Thailand, and the climb is about 30 kilometers long with 3,000 meters of elevation. There’s also an annual cycling competition to Doi Inthanon in February of every year.

Cycling is like meditation for me. I feel relaxed and have focus. I have new friends and friendships from cycling, and also good health. When I am on a flight, I feel happy because I want to come home and ride.

Yong-Gwan Cho

RCCSEL | 0479

Yong-Gwan Cho is a professional interpreter, and a new father to twins. He fits cycling in when he can, but a recent period off the bike has led to a realisation that riding is valuable part of his life.

I was born in the city of Busan, the second largest city in the Republic of Korea, and now I’m living in Seoul.

I’m English-Korean conference interpreter and now work as an in-house interpreter for Coupang, a leading e-commerce company in Korea. My days typically revolve around supporting translation and interpretation for mail exchanges and meetings. Bridging the language gap and helping things progress have always been rewarding experiences for me, and motivate me to push harder for friction-free communication.

Since I became a father of twins last year, I have realized that I can no longer afford long-distance and full day riding if not taking an official day-off from work. Now, bike commuting is the main outlet for my cycling, but I try to join my club riding to Bugaksan and Namsan, the two main climbing destinations for cyclists in the city of Seoul.

I’ve recently gone through a bit of a cycling crisis in my life, where I was cycling less and less. I was determined to rediscover the things I would have missed if I hadn’t started cycling, and now I’m back on the road commuting, I have to admit it truly has become a solid part of my life.

September 2015

Jan-Bert Jonker

RCCAMS | 2422

Jan-Bert lives in the Netherlands, and rides in Amsterdam with other members of the RCC chapter when he can. Besides road riding, he has a love for all things mud.

I’m from the east of the Netherlands, from a town called Enschede, and I still live there. My girlfriend and I spend our weekends between Enschede and Amsterdam, and we ride our bikes in both.

When I’m in the Netherlands I try to ride twice in the week, and then one long ride at the weekend with my girlfriend or some friends. I like the combination of different types of bikes, but in the autumn my cyclocross bike weapon of choice. Dark and rainy days in the mud: simply perfect.

What I like most about cycling are the unexpected situations you face. This spring my girlfriend and I where training close to Menton, France. After climbing the Col de La Madone we descended towards Nice. After passing through several small villages where all the restaurants where closed, we rode through Peille, a beautiful thirteenth century village. In one of the old streets we found a small and old creperie and enjoyed one of the best crepes ever.

This year a Norwegian friend invited me to join a team in the Rapha Prestige Oslo. I had never met the other members of the team before, and besides the love of bikes, there was something they all shared - they were all RCC members. After I heard their stories about RCC is decided to become a member of RCC chapter Amsterdam.

Andrew Doyle

RCCMCR | 1770

Living and working in Manchester, Andrew would like nothing more than to be paid to ride his bike. Until that day, he’s happy with the balance he’s found squeezing in long commutes and hilly rides with his RCC clubmates.

I’m from Manchester - born and bred. However, I’m not ruling out a move to another country someday. I currently live in the bohemian town of Chorlton, which is a stone’s throw from the city centre and a comfortable ride out to the best the Peak District has to offer.

I currently work at the University, and produce timetables for students who can then access them via their smartphones or online. It’s far from simple and I often describe it as like doing a Sudoku and a crossword at the same time. Luckily it does give me a good work/life balance, meaning I’m able to cycle lots and spend time with my family. Ideally, I’d just like to be paid to ride my bike.

I pretty much ride every day. I commute by bike come rain or shine which, for me, is perfect headspace before and after the working day. I’ll go out for a fast training ride midweek either solo or with friends, then go out with RCC on Sunday, usually off into the hills somewhere.

We don’t tend to stop for a coffee on our group rides too often, but the pre and post ride coffees at the Rapha Cycle Club Manchester are always great. If you were coming into Manchester on the train stopping at Piccadilly, I’d recommend “Idle hands” coffee shop on the train station approach. It’s only there for a short lease, but their cold brew coffee is a favourite of mine.

Geoff Little

RCCMEL | 2517

Geoff works in a primary school in Melbourne. He sees cycling as a form of meditation, and in an effort to reach cycling-Nirvana, recently tried his hand at cyclocross racing.

I was born in Melbourne, then lived in the country as a teen before returning to live in the city.

I see that my work life and bike life are in many ways reflections of each other. Both require dedication, hard work and good communication skills. I work as a deputy principal and teacher in a leading Melbourne primary school. I’m passionate about education, and believe that providing a quality education is of paramount importance for all children. I’m currently interested in mindfulness and its role in learning. Research tells us mindfulness techniques can assist students to positively develop their cognitive function, focus and ability to make informed decisions.

Similarly, as cyclists, each time we take to the road we are a rolling example of mindfulness in action. I see cycling as an active meditation process, where we are required to be fully engaged with the road ahead, the people around us and the constantly changing conditions, much like a modern school environment that students and teachers face each day.

Like most cyclists who try and juggle family and work commitments with cycling, my rides start early and in darkness. Five times per week the alarm is set for 5am, and rain, hail or shine I ride. It’s a magical time to be a road cyclist, rolling through deserted streets and sleepy neighbourhoods. I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful suburb that is located close to Melbourne’s famous Yarra River. Running alongside the river is the Yarra Trail, and with its mix of sealed path, gravel and single track, it’s basically a cyclocross racer’s training paradise.

At the weekend, the cyclocross bike takes a back seat to my road bike, where the roads inevitably lead to the climbs located on the outskirts of Melbourne. King Lake, the Dandenongs and Toolangi are the usual mountains I find myself riding.

Last year, I entered my first cyclocross race. I nominated B grade as a starting point, but based on some earlier bike race results, the race organisers bumped me to race A grade. The moment the starter’s gun fired, I knew I was in for a tough hour - the speed at which the fast riders lapped me was nothing short of phenomenal. It was easily the most humbling experience I’ve had as a cyclist.

James Alastair Bentley

RCCLDN | 2623

I'm originally from Bradford, but I now live in Okeford Fitzpaine, a village just outside Blandford, in North Dorset.

I work in the oil and gas industry, and was a saturation diver for 15 years. I'm now a saturation supervisor. I look after a 12-hour shift and a team of three divers who work at an average depth of 100 meters. We carry out repairs, maintenance, inspections, installation and decommissioning work for all the major oil and gas companies, and some of the smaller lesser-known ones. I miss the diving, but diving isn't a great career if you want to keep bike fit, and I am keen to race again while I've still got a bit of punch.

I try to ride every day if I can, even if that ride is just to the shops or an amble with my daughter. When I'm on the dive support vessel, there is a Wattbike in the gym, which I use for interval training.

I like the fact that the RCC is a global club, with the opportunity to travel and meet other members. I always intend to have a ride the London chapter when I’m in the city, but other commitments tend to get in the way. In an ideal world I would set up a North Dorset chapter.

I've been a cyclist since I was six. It gave me my freedom then, and continues to do so now. I’ve ridden everything from BMX to uni-cycle, and just love being out on a bike. It makes me feel like a kid again. I like to be serious every now and then, and I've just started racing again, but my favourite rides are with my daughter who is turning into a great little cyclist.

Pepe Louise Phillips

RCCITL | 3189

Pepe watches the skies for a living, but can’t be held responsible for inaccurate weather forecasts – despite what her friends think. She lives in Germany with her partner, and loves riding around the quiet roads of Darmstadt.

I grew up in London, studied in Bristol, and have been living in Darmstadt, Germany, for the last 12 years.

I am a remote sensing scientist working on an upcoming European satellite imagery mission, serving operational meteorology and climate. All my friends love to tease me when the weather forecast is wrong, but I have nothing to do with weather prediction itself. I just work on the imagery from space. The high point of my career will definitely be after launch, when the instrument is switched on and we receive the first images.

Cycling is a huge part of my life, and aside from the simple enjoyment of riding, I always try to use the bike instead of the car for environmental reasons. Both my partner and I train and race regularly. We commute to work together everyday and compete in road and cyclocross races both in Germany and abroad.

Newly addicted to cycling, some fellow student friends and myself decided to go on a cycle tour in the French Alps. Being the “scientist” of the group (and therefore considered potentially capable of reading a map) I was allocated the route planning for the 10 days. Without really realising, I devised the hilliest route possible - taking in epic climbs like Alpe d’Huez and Galibier to name but a few. We were so unprepared, but that didn’t matter as we just pedalled on blindly with that ‘Absolute Beginners’ enthusiasm. The tour culminated with us

‘hitting the wall’ somewhere on the Col de la Croix de Fer. Luckily, an approaching orange hue in the distance turned out not to be a hallucination, but rather the Rabobank team out on a training ride. They stopped, systematically emptied out half their bottles into ours, and then gracefully rode away into the looming sunset. I am forever grateful for that rescue drink.

A cycle club like the RCC that crosses international borders is great for those that travel a lot. I am also a fan of Rapha’s dedication to female cyclists. The serious clothing range all goes some way to getting more women on bikes (and looking good in the process).

The best part of cycling around Darmstadt area is the abundance of quiet roads and the variety of the scenery; ranging from the windswept flats of the Rhine valley, to the rolling hills of the Odenwald and the dramatic backdrop of the mountains and castles of the ‘Bergstrasse’. When riding in the area, plan a stop at Burg Frankenstein for a (alkoholfreies) Hefeweisen and enjoy the castle and panoramic views that inspired Mary Shelly to write her Frankenstein novel. The road climb to the top alone is worth the effort and is a popular Strava segment. If it’s coffee you are after, continue into Darmstadt to Vino Central opposite the main station. They roast their own. Need I say more?

Michael Pearson

RCCITL | 0982

Michael is from Yorkshire, England, and now lives in Malta. When he’s not riding overseas, he’s spending time training – keeping himself in the best shape for whatever adventure he decides on next.

I learned to ride a bike in Ilkley, in Yorkshire, England, and I’ve always done some type of cycling alongside other sports. As time and work moved along, mountain biking in the Peak District was my main exercise and adventure.

Increasingly I found watching the Grand Tours became an essential part of my summer, and I was fascinated with the achievements of these athletes on wheels. The distances, the speeds, the mountains, and the weeks of sheer effort. I was completely in awe. Road cycling quickly became, for me at least, the true endurance test, and my respect for those who excelled at it was immense.

When several years ago I retired to Malta, the roads and distances made cycling difficult. It didn’t feel safe on the island. I increasingly used the gym and spent hours on the bikes simulating the road experience, while improving my overall fitness. I decided that the best way to feed my cycling urge was to set a major challenge for each year, then spend the first part of the year training for it. So far I have been on a seven day tour of Guilin, in China; an unsupported ride with panniers across America, coast to coast, covering 4,100 miles, in 61 Days through 12 States; and this year the Tour de France inspired me to go out to the French alps and ride the great alpine climbs.

My cycling heroes are Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, purely because they were the breakthrough Brits who inspired a nation to believe anything was possible. I also looked up to Marco Pantani, who died far too young.

My highlight of last year was definitely going back to Ilkley to watch the Tour de France ride on the same roads I learned to cycle on so many years ago. Who would ever have imagined that happening.

July/August 2015

Darren Read

RCCMCR | 0164

Darren is part of the dynamic team which runs Rapha’s global retail operations from the Headquarters in London. He is the proud owner of a Second World War tank.

I have the privilege of working for Rapha in the Retail Operations team. Our team is responsible for the day-to-day running of all the existing Rapha Cycle Clubs & the Archive Store, as well as planning and opening all future Cycle Clubs. I love my job and I’m fortunate that I get to travel and visit the Clubs all over the world, as well as getting to ride my bike with some very interesting people. It’s hard to choose a high point, but nothing quite beats the feeling of opening the doors for the first time of a brand new Cycle Club!

Living on the outskirts of London I’m very lucky that I can quickly get out and into the country lanes. A typical riding week for me is usually made up with the commute, an early Wednesday high-tempo ride and a longer, more sociable ride at the weekend with a few of my good friends and fellow RCC Members. I love the social side to riding and always have a trip planned for me and my bike, this year so far being up to the Lake District and Mallorca to work on the early season tan lines!

An interesting fact about me that not many people know is I own a Second World War tank! It’s a Universal Carrier or ‘Bren Gun’ Carrier, which I found on a farm about 10 years ago and which I have been painstakingly restoring back to its former glory.

The RCC’s Bike Hire is fantastic and I’ve used it on many occasions. Knowing there’s a bike set up for you, in immaculate condition, really does take the stress out of riding when travelling and the trepidation you can have about hiring! I’ve really enjoyed the social side of the RCC and the camaraderie out on the road. I get to ride with a few members every week and we always head out to the Chilterns so if there are any members in that part of the world who would like to join us feel free to get in touch! A great place for a coffee stop is ‘Fred & Ginger’ in Kings Langley.

Cycling is important to me for so many different reasons and my rides throughout the week cover them all! On a Wednesday I get a chance to push and challenge myself on local climbs and roads. During the week my commute gives me the chance to unwind and digest my work from that day. And, my weekend social gives me to chance to catch up with my good friends to find some new roads and ‘chew the fat’!

Andrew Pike

RCCMEL | 0095

Andrew is part of the marketing team covering Australia and New Zealand for Rapha. New Zealand-born but now Melbourne-based, Andrew was a top-level triathlete in his younger days.

I’m Andrew, also known as Pikey. I was born in the Lower Hutt hospital in New Zealand and went to school and university in Canada then settled in Australia. I’ve moved around a bit but pulled up stumps now in Melbourne.

My days with Rapha are busy and varied, from working events to developing the RCC programme and planning photo shoots. I have worked in creative marketing agencies for several years and have been with Rapha for the last four years.

The opening day of the Sydney Cycle Club is definitely a highlight of my time working at Rapha. The opening party was fantastic but most people remember the six-hour ride in torrential rain. It didn’t hold up for one minute. I think that ride set the culture for the club and now, two years later, you’ll find as many as 80 riders rolling out on a group ride.

I stay as connected to the sport as possible and get out on the bike most days. One of the rides I enjoy most is my commute to work. It’s not far but I ride a step through, sit tall and go as slow as possible. I only race occasionally now and my riding mostly revolves around good company, exploring new roads and the hunt for the ultimate cup of coffee – more often than not on the Melbourne chapter club rides.

Call me biased but Melbourne leads the world in coffee, food and many cycling trends. My favourite place to “park up” is Allpress in Collingwood. There is an abundance of safe bike parking, the staff are very passionate and the coffee is roasted on site. My favourite from the menu is the mixed plate. Allpress love coffee as much as I love cycling. It’s a good marriage.

An interesting fact about me? I once submitted fake ID to enter the Hawaiian Ironman as a seventeen year old. 18-24 is the youngest category.

Charlie Chen

RCCTPE | 0240

Charlie Chen, born and raised in Taiwan, is a lively presence in RCC Taipei and Customer Service Manager for South East Asia at Rapha.

My typical workday revolves around emails and calls. People think that customer service is just a job, but that’s not true for us at Rapha: we really do care about our customers and work very hard to make sure they are looked after.

I try to ride an hour or two before work in the weekday mornings and go on longer rides along the coast with my friends on the weekends. I feel privileged to be part of the RCC and to ride with such passionate cyclists, Scott Daly from Australia being one of them.

My recommendation for a great place to have coffee is the All Day Roasting Company café in Taipei. It’s a ‘must-visit’ in town.

Cycling, for me, is a way to escape. We live in a digital world, are constantly swamped by information, and cycling is the perfect way to unplug, escape and to be on your own.

Claire Blackie

RCCLDN | 0179

Claire is the ‘face’ of Rapha’s London Headquarters, Imperial Works. She works Front of House and Café Supervisor, having recently returned from several years living abroad in truly diverse places.

I was born in Epping, Essex in the United Kingdom but spent 17 years away from the area in Leeds, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Clapham and France until I returned 18 months ago.

Our café at Imperial Works is for the staff and guests and we serve coffee, breakfast, lunch and snacks. My day is really varied as I have to make coffees, serve food, welcome guests, deal with suppliers, research new products and generally help to keep the HQ running smoothly. I organise the parties too!

My cycling lifestyle changes as I change as a person. I go through phases and cycling supports me through life. I’ve been through phases of being into triathlons and did an Ironman, then I’ve had phases of being really into sportives and doing one every week. From 2009-2013 I lived in Nice and rode freely in the local mountains, exploring and riding mountains like the Col de la Madone and Col d’Èze regularly. During that time in France I ran my own cycle tour company for three years and so I was out regularly guiding my clients on the bike, planning tours or managing the shop.

One time in Nice, my husband Anton and I drove one hour north into the Mercantour National Park to visit the wolf sanctuary then do a three hour loop ride after lunch. We had our Michelin map and had planned our route using roads we had never been on before. It was absolutely beautiful in the mountains but we set off later than planned and was a lot hotter than we’d realised with the villages we passed having limited water and no shops or cafes. We just kept climbing col after col in the heat. We were tired, thirsty and hungry and hadn’t seen a house in hours when we finally came to our descent back to a town. The map said it was a paved road but in fact it was a 12km steep descent (10%) on a gravel fire road! I must admit I cried at the top as the gravel was so deep and I was exhausted but Anton helped me down and slowly we rode down the entire road without falling off once. It was nearly dark by the time we got to the valley and we still had a 15km climb back up to the wolf sanctuary to the car. Finally, we arrived, eating the best pizza ever with the biggest smiles on our faces. We had ridden 120km with 3800m. We made it home for midnight.

Now I’m back in the UK I enjoy riding through the Essex country lanes and I love riding my Pashley to and from the station every day though the forest. I’m a British Cycling Level 2 coach so I’m often out teaching beginners and women at the Lee Valley Velopark.

Riding makes me feel empowered and I enjoy unplanned, relaxed rides through stunning areas. It makes me forget about everything else and I enjoy the fact that I can go to places on a bike you can’t get to elsewhere…I get a lot out of coaching other people to enable them to ride a road bike and be able to start their own journeys and relationship with their bike too. It’s a joy to watch them learn and develop.

Emma Wallace

RCCLDN | 0120

Emma has the responsibility for making sure that Rapha stocks the right amount of products online and around the world. She is Birmingham-born, but lives in Peckham, London currently.

Most people have no idea what I do, particularly my family, who think I am in marketing (I work in merchandising). The important parts of my job are to ensure we have stock of the right product at the right time. The best parts are when we get to launch new products after a long build-up of planning and forecasting. It is always interesting to see how well products sell and how close our forecasts are, especially when it is with new and risky products like the sunglasses, headphones and the data print collection.

I commute to work most days, which is about 7 miles each way. I do some long rides every now and then around Kent and have started going back to Herne Hill velodrome for the women’s sessions. They are really good for skills training and learning to race.

My most memorable ride was when I cycled to Paris with my boyfriend. For an anniversary present he got me an all-expenses paid trip to Paris but I had to cycle there first! We arrived in France at 4am and started cycling in the dark through the forests in the mist. After a few hours and when the sun was beginning to rise I was so cold I had to stop (this was before I had any Rapha kit). We later realised I was in the first stage of hypothermia but I managed to get back on my bike to get to a village nearby which luckily had a hotel and they took one look at me and ushered us in. After a couple hours rest we set off again, feeling a bit rough but warmer. By the time we got to Paris it was dark – by far my longest ever ride – but we were greeted with a sky filled with fireworks!

Riding keeps me sane. It helps me to wake me up in the morning, unwind on the way home from work and helps me think clearly if I have something difficult on my mind. I also like the physical challenge of always trying to improve.

Francesco Capitummino

RCCLDN | 1721

Franco is one of Rapha’s travelling men, driving the Mobile Cycle Club up and down Europe throughout the season. He is Italian, although based in London [occasionally].

I’m Franco, from Cefalu’, a town by the northern coast of Sicily. After going to study in Rome, I went to live in London for a while although nowadays I move around a lot, because my job is to work with the Rapha Mobile Cycle Club [MCC], which I help drive around Europe to the most important cycling races and events throughout the season. So I live on the road, travelling in this huge, captivating motorhome. In May I spent some time at Lake Garda, June was by Mont Ventoux… Some people think I am living the dream, and I agree!

When I was in London, commuting became my religion but I also tried to enjoy as many rides as possible with the guys from the Cycle Club, where I was working at the time. Out on the road in Europe, I ride around three times a week, and always in different locations. A few weeks ago I had my longest riding week: Mont Ventoux on Monday, Utrecht on Friday with one more in between Vezelay. 320km and 4,650m elevation.

The bicycle is an important part of my life: it makes me happy and when I’m out riding I feel like my mind works a lot. I’ll try to write a book in the future – it is almost complete, I just need a few more rides!

Jake Brown

RCCLDN | 0216

Jake is the coolest IT worker around. A tattooed audaxer who lives near London’s edgy Dalston, Jake is in charge of a large part of Rapha’s technical infrastructure.

I am originally from Ottershaw, a small village in Surrey, which is to the south west of London. I now live in De Beauvoir, a small neighbourhood between Old Street and Dalston. It’s really central, but it is quiet and charming. I love it.

I started working in IT when I was eighteen and three years later found myself at Rapha, providing IT support to the team based at Imperial Works, but also to our global offices and cycle clubs. Working in IT, no day is the same. One day I’ll be making infrastructure changes to the devices our website runs on, whereas the next day I’ll be up in Manchester installing new payment devices in our Cycle Club. Every single technical query from around the world is sent to me, so there’s quite a lot of responsibility there; but it’s great. People definitely think that all I do is turn stuff off and back on all day long – which totally isn’t the case!

The amount of riding I do goes up and down throughout the year. Strangely, I tend to put more hours in during the winter. I love cold weather, so I have no issue with layering up and leaving home whilst it’s still dark. A typical week will usually consist of pre or post work Swain’s Lane hill reps and then trying to get two decent rides in at the weekend. Kent is a bit trickier to get to than Essex because of where I live, but I’m trying to spend as much time there as possible at the moment – I find it far more interesting than the terrain of Essex. There is a great place to finish after riding in Kent, too: Beer Rebellion on Gipsy Hill. Cheap, tasty beer if that’s what you’re after. Great food too. A particular favourite of mine is the beer fried Gherkins aka ‘Beerkins’.

Recently I’ve started to audax a bit, and do longer rides, with the aim of doing the 619km Bryan Chapman Memorial next year. So far I’ve done an Audax UK 300km, which started at 9PM, and a few other guys from Rapha and I drove to Dunwich, rode to London and then back to the beach at Dunwich. That was 350km. Long day! I am really enjoying challenging myself with distance, rather than speed, right now.

One Saturday morning, the day of the London Nocturne, a few of us were out in Kent doing a fairly standard loop… it was fairly normal, until we saw a group of guys flying toward us. We very quickly realised that it was Team Wiggins on a training ride! They were quite literally a blur blasting past us. We even saw someone in a white World Champs skinsuit on a white Pinarello Bolide… Sir Bradley Wiggins, perhaps!?

Cycling has given me a lot. I live with cycling friends and I met some of my best friends through cycling. It’s also a great way to escape the realities of life – it’s a release and is sometimes exactly what you need after a tough day in the office.

Mariko Yoshida

RCCTYO | 2035

Mariko is a talented pastry chef who makes staff and customers very happy with her sweet creations at the Tokyo Cycle Club.

After I finished my studies in French pastries, I lived in Paris working at two Michelin Star restaurants there. I came back to Japan and worked at several restaurants, including one of Alain Ducasse’s, before running my own catering service which supplies the Rapha Cycle Club in Tokyo. People often think that I’m only able to make pretty cakes but I specialized in all desserts. The best one I’ve made is the ‘Wiggo’ cake – everybody loved that one!

I ride my bike to work everyday and when I’m on holiday I try and go out to discover some beautiful countryside. I went to Hiroshima with friends on my last trip. I always get inspired during cycling – it really refreshes my mind and gives me energy.

The Tokyo Cycle Club has different faces for different times. We have fresh pastries each morning, which are best served with coffee, while in the evening you can eat a nice meal while watching the European pro racing on the television.

Sarah Clark

RCCSGP | 0202

Sarah runs marketing and sales for Rapha in the Asian Pacific. She is a UK expat based in Singapore.

I am from Ascot in the United Kingdom but I now live on the ‘Little Red Dot’ [Singapore] where I have been for five years. I worked at Procter & Gamble in the UK for nearly 14 years, spending most of that time in beauty sales & marketing… which is ironic given I hardly ever moisturise or use make up.

I spent a lot of my career working on the Olay brand, where highlights included working with British fashion icon Twiggy, and making a series of rather sultry adverts as a lead into the provocative TV show Nip/Tuck. I also created the first 60-second ‘infomercial’ for Procter & Gamble, although I was working on such a tight budget (in relative terms) that I even got my husband to play one of the roles as a ‘skincare scientist’.

Now I am Marketing & Sales Manager for Rapha APAC. Most people think my job is ‘to ride my bike’ and that I live the life of Riley. I certainly love my job, but sadly it isn’t all riding epic Prestiges and hanging out with bearded heroes. The great thing is that there is no such thing as a typical day. When I am in Singapore, I split my time between Skype calls to my team members across the region, global calls with London HQ and the other regional heads, and catching up on the projects that I lead at a regional and global level.

I also travel a couple of times each month, to make sure I am helping the team where possible, and also meeting our ambassadors, customers and RCC members to stay close to the reality of the business in the different markets.

When I’m in Singapore, I tend to ride 10-12 hours per week, with 1-1.5hr rides during the week and 3-4 hour rides Saturday and Sunday. Given Singapore is quite tiny, my husband and I often travel to ride at weekends, and can easily reach Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines for a riding weekend.

Having lived in Singapore for 5 years, I am used to riding flat and fast; I do love climbing but I’m very slow! However, my husband and I have loved tackling the climbs available to us in the region, including Genting and Fraser’s Hill (Malaysia) and the infamous Doi Inthanon (Thailand) and Wuling  Taiwan)

We both love to race and will always take place in some of the larger stage races in the region, such as Tour of Friendship in Thailand and Tour De Bintan in Indonesia.

Singapore has lots of hidden gem coffee shops for the exploring cyclist – Chye Seng Huat Hardware, Wheeler’s Yard, 40 Hands, Loysels Toy… all worth stopping in!

Yufta Omata

RCCTYO | 0077

Thoughtful Yufta is Rapha Japan’s resident wordsmith and press officer. A philosophy student who studied in France, Yufta returned to Japan to live in the mountains.

I am from Tokyo, Japan and currently live in Kobuchizawa, which is a small town at the foot of the Yatsugatake mountains. Need I say it’s a good place to ride?

I started working in the cycling industry at age 18 as a journalist/photographer apprentice and I covered the Tour de France as a 19-year-old boy in 2005, the last victorious moment of Lance Armstrong. I believed everything I saw – I was too young. In 2008 I covered the Giro, and the Tour again, and these experiences made me truly love the sport and its humanity. I stayed in France then, to study philosophy, and upon my return to Japan began working for Rapha as a press officer and copywriter.

My ordinary life is quite simple: I commute by bike (20km, 650m UP!), type words into my MacBook and descend back to my flat. I have recently started fishing before work, which is good for my wellbeing. A major misconception people have of me is that I am not a bike rider because of my appearance: ‘nerd’ glasses, naturally curly hair and a skinny body!

Cycling saved me. When I was in France, very lonely and suffering with the great cultural differences, I was depressed. Cycling was the only way I could get out, discover the culture and communicate with other people. Nowadays commuting takes up the majority of my riding time and in the winter I enjoy racing cyclocross each weekend. I started road racing for the first time this year too – in the RCC club colours of course. I’d like to ride with RCCTYO much more but I live quite far away unfortunately. When I am in Tokyo, however, I try to visit the Nezu museum, which is near the Cycle Club and has good Japanese art with beautiful gardens and café.

Cycling is not just a physical thing but also mental. It has such depth in Europe, especially France, Italy, Belgium and Holland. In the UK it is different but still rich. At the end of the day, if you have a bike to ride, la vie est belle.

June 2015

Steven Guymer

RCC number: 0237

Steven lives in a small village on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds in England. He coordinates cycling lessons and road safety training for young people, and lays claim to racing against Chris Froome in his elite racing days.

Since taking up my role as Cycle Coordinator, my cycling lifestyle has changed dramatically. I now ride three nights a week, and use Mondays and Fridays as rest days. During the season I often race between two and three times a week, including an open time trial on either a Saturday or Sunday.

I knew I wanted to be part of such an exciting concept as soon as I heard about the RCC. The idea of having like-minded club mates all over the world, and the opportunity to represent Rapha in races, really appealed to me.

The roads here in East Yorkshire are some of the very best this country has to offer. They are extremely quiet and offer great training options. There are flat, rolling and hilly roads to suit everyone’s cycling needs. The most popular café amongst the local cyclists is The Ramblers Rest in Millington. It is located in a lovely valley, deep in the heart of the Yorkshire Wolds. The proprietor, Angela, is extremely accommodating to hungry cyclists. Her homemade soup goes down very well on a cold winters day!

I was born into a cycling family and have been associated with the local cycle scene my entire life. From a young age I wanted to earn a living from the sport, and so far I have been able to do so. Cycling has taken me to lots of amazing places and allowed me to meet lots of fascinating people. Whether for business or pleasure I am happy as long as I am on two wheels.

Silvi De Almeida

RCC number: 1824

Silvi is a community manager for Paris City Hall, and a Rapha ambassador. She has been cycling for 10 years, and was once rescued by a pickup truck when lost in America.

At Paris City Hall I’m in charge of social media, and all the planning that goes into cycling events. Because of my job, people I meet think that I must see all the exhibitions and cultural events in Paris, but unfortunately there’s hardly any time – I’m usually working.

This year I have started cycling with the Paris Women’s Cycling Club. We created the club after taking part in a Women’s 100 ride in Munich. It was an incredible and exciting experience riding with so many women, so we tried to recreate this in Paris. Every weekend we meet for a ride in Paris or Longchamps, or to train around the hippodrome.

I first heard about the RCC when I was invited to become a Rapha ambassador, and I think it’s a great idea. Of course, in Paris we’re missing a dedicated place to meet and to start or finish a ride - a Rapha Cycle Club. But at least we have the forum, which lets us plan meeting places and rides. For now I love to start my rides at Dominique Saibron’s place in the 14th arrondissement of Paris when I ride south, because he makes amazing traditional pastries and real chocolate milk. When I ride north, I start or end at La REcyclerie in the 18th arrondissement. It has a great atmosphere, and serves a fantastic brunch.

Cycling is the means by which I plan to eat up the world; starting from home, riding long distances to different places. I just want to be in contact with green roads and amazing landscapes.

Rhys Howells

RCC number: 0191

Born in Haverfordwest in West Wales, Rhys spent his teenage years in Abu Dhabi and Jakarta before settling in Crystal Palace, London. He is the Rapha Cycling Club Secretary, but has also bee offered his services as a wet weather product tester.

One high point of my time at Rapha was the 2012 Olympics. There was a very special vibe in London that summer. Londoners undertook an exodus which left the streets empty. This coupled with fantastic weather, Wiggins’ Tour de France win and the Olympic road race finishing on the Mall, all made for an incredibly special and unique time which I often think back to. I was also incredibly lucky to be given tickets at the very last minute to watch Wiggins, Cancelllara, Froome and Tony Martin roll down the start-ramp in Hampton Court Palace for the Olympic TT; Icing on the cake for sure. The journey to Hampton Wick that day felt more like wading through a music festival than a cycling event on the streets of Greater London. I’ve also been privileged to be closely involved in prototype product testing on a regular basis. Last summer I flew to Livigno with two other riders and a member of the product development team for an intensive three day block of riding in wet weather. This testing provided a platform for a new product-testing and feedback procedure, and has directly informed many of the technical and material choices for the upcoming Autumn-Winter range.

I’m a sucker for good coffee and we’re spoiled for choice in London at the moment. If I’m riding in Essex, I will often meet friends outside Wilton Way Café in Hackney. They open just in time for us to grab a coffee and still leave town early.

Cycling has meant different things to me at different times. When I started riding, it was an escape from my A-levels. I’d ride a loop past Roch Castle, to Newgale Beach, along the coast past Druidson and back to town through Broad Haven - and still be at school for first period. Since then, it has become more about physical achievement and pushing myself. Now I’m swimming with the big fish, and find myself exposed to some hugely talented riders in racing and training has humbled me somewhat and although I still dream of riding in bigger and better races, I’m coming to terms with what are realistic goals. I’m refining my training to beat what’s in front of me.

I’d like to ride for a Conti team and compete at the Ras one day.

The biggest buzz still comes in the first few races of the season. I remember getting to the start-line of my first race this season, still heavily fatigued from a tough winter of training, not feeling all that keen. Within 10 miles I had made the break and I felt pretty certain it was all worth it. It’s a bit of a rush; that feeling.

Monica De Leon

RCC number: 0575

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Monica now calls Orange County in California home. She’s an English teacher in a middle school, and recently had her first go at crit racing – despite how ‘fast and scary’ it seemed.

I am a middle school English teacher, which means my days are long and exhausting. But at the end of each day, I know that I am doing something worthwhile. Sometimes I compare my job to riding a bike up an unrelenting climb. You doubt whether you can push another pedal stroke, and you question why you’re voluntarily subjecting yourself to the pain. Then someone rides up next to you, almost effortlessly, and crushes your spirit as they pass. But as soon as you summit that hill and you start the descent, you quickly forget it all. You revel in that liberating feeling of the wind blowing through your hair. The memory of the pain fades as the experience as a whole becomes what is most important.

One of the best parts of cycling is that there is no shortage of stories to be told. Early when I started cycling, I coerced my friend into going on a recon ride for the Gran Fondo Giro D’Italia in Pasadena. It turned out to be over 100 degrees that day, with more than 60 miles riding and 7,000 feet of elevation. Neither of us had the fitness or experience for such a ride. At every switchback I prayed for a downhill, but it never happened. At mile 30, my friend started to experience some heat exhaustion and stopped riding. We were mostly out of water and nutrition and we didn’t know where the next water source would be. Eventually, I convinced her that the only way to get through it was to get back on the bike and ride slowly. A few miles up, one of our friends had made his way back to look for us, and we both made it to the next stop. She and I still laugh about the experience and appreciate the bonding that occurred that day.

I force myself to find balance between work and riding, because both are important and necessary parts of my life. Most days I ride with friends, and on the rare occasion, I’ll head out for a solo ride. Those tend to be longer and more strenuous. I also recently tried crit racing. While I did fairly well amongst my group, it made me realise that crit racing is not my thing. I much prefer long endurance rides, not fast scary ones.

Some people are born again when they find religion. I was born again when I found cycling. Cycling is the space where I learn what I am made of every time I set off for a ride. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had finally found my home. Cycling has grounded me and has given me the structure and stability that I needed. There are few regrets that I have in my life, and not finding cycling sooner is definitely one of them.

Kenneth Ramaekers

RCC number: 0031

Kenneth lives in Hasselt, Belgium, and is the curator of a fashion museum which is currently exhibiting the ‘Hello, My Name is Paul Smith’ display. He loves the Classics, just not the cobbles.

I try to cycle about three times a week, but with a very busy schedule this isn’t always the case due to work demands. I’m the director and curator of the

Modemuseum Hasselt (Fashion Museum) in Hasselt. I choose what exhibitions are on display, and also take care of the finances, marketing and communications. I get the best ideas when I’m on my bike, so I try to be on it as much as possible. When you’re living in Belgium, you need to ride the Classics. This year I went with the RCC from Hasselt to ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. I can’t say I love the cobbles, but we definitely understand each other.

I have a love for cycling history. My uncle Rik Evens won two stages in the Vuelta a España in 1950, riding for the Peugeot-Dunlop team. After 1952 he gave up on cycling because, back in those days, it was really hard to make an honest living in the sport. For me, I think many people find it strange when your life revolves around fashion and you’re also interested in sport and its history.

Hasselt and the province of Limburg is a cycling paradise. We have over 2000 kilometres of cycling routes over here, and the Amstel Gold Race course is around the corner, which is incredible - how many other sports do you have the chance to ride the same roads as all the legends that have been before you? Hasselt is also known as the ‘capitol of taste,’ so if you like good food and beers, this is the place to be.

Cycling really helps me unwind. I like riding on my own, but it’s even better with a bunch of friends.

Grace Jehan

RCC number: 0330

Grace is originally from England, and now works as an art director at Apple. She has lived in America for more than fifteen years, but takes any opportunity she gets to explore the country in which she grew up by bicycle.

I’ve been living in California since 1999, and currently call Oakland my home. I’m an Art Director at Apple, and no, I can’t help you fix your laptop. My job involves long hours and a lot of travel. Fortunately, RCC has made it possible for me to ride whenever I’m back in London.

Weekdays I ride the Oakland hills in the mornings, dodging wild turkeys and navigating thick fog. Whenever my work schedule allows, I ride the 50 miles to the office from home, or sneak out into the hills for a lunch ride. Weekends are spent exploring the roads or trails of Marin and the East Bay, and right now I’m preparing for my biggest cycling adventure yet: a week in the French Alps.

A couple years ago I was working in London for a month, and took one of my bikes with me, exploring the countryside near where my parents live in Gloucestershire. I had no route in mind, and found myself on a tiny lane, surrounded by sheep being herded by some beautiful dogs and a handful of gents in tweed on rusty old bikes. It made me realise that I need to spend more time rediscovering the country where I grew up.

I’ve only done this once so far, but I love the ability to borrow a bike in other cities with the RCC. It’s such a great way to discover a city and meet lovely folks who also like things with two wheels.

Cycling is becoming an essential part of my creative process. Some of the best ideas are borne from suffering, or so they say. It provides the mental and physical challenge I need, as well as camaraderie, peace, pain, and joy, all at the same time.

May 2015

Andrea Maaike Arbuthnot

RCC number: 1430

Andrea lives in Toronto, Canada, counting Lake Ontario as one of her local ride attractions. She entered her first road race this year, and is thriving with the support of her fellow RCC members.

In Canada training in the winter is a real challenge. Sometimes it gets cold enough that my water bottle freezes in a matter of minutes. It might sound crazy, but in my opinion, it’s more fun than riding on a stationary bike indoors.

I love following people around the world on Strava, and chatting with other RCC members of the forum. I recently rode with a few international members who are also based in Toronto, so the RCC is proving to be a great way to meet new people in my area and keep me motivated.

If you want to practice climbing hills, go to the bottom of Brimley Road in Scarborough. The toughest hill I’ve ever done is on Appleby Line going north from Derry Road.

One of the best things about cycling for me is that anyone, no matter their fitness or skill level, can enjoy it. I have never thought of myself as athletic - I didn’t play any sports growing up, but this year, with support from friends and talented riders, I’ve started racing. I really enjoy being part of a community of people who help each other accomplish more than they thought they could.

Cindy Lewellen

RCC number: 2318

Cindy is from Portland, Oregon, and works in advertising. It might not be the life of Martini lunches and glamour as depicted in television, but her work has allowed her to travel all over the world, and work with some impressive clients. She can even lay claim to cycling with Sir Brad…

I use cycling as a means to stay fit, challenge myself, explore new places, spend time with friends, and take time away from my busy work life. Mostly though, I cycle because riding my bike makes me happy. I was in a serious cycling accident in November and will always have 14 pins in my hip to remind me of it, but ironically, the bicycle is also the thing that nursed me back to health both mentally and physically after I was out of a wheelchair.

I’m grateful to work with creative and inspiring people, yet still have the opportunity to engage my analytical mind for certain challenging projects and situations - no two days are ever the same. I’ve met so many amazing artists, athletes, celebrities and directors, but the most memorable has to Muhammad Ali, with whom I had lunch during contract negotiations for a deal I was doing with him for a client at the time.

My favourite rides are those with good friends, good conversation, good scenery and a significant amount of climbing. Once when out riding in Mallorca, we noticed a guy in Team Sky kit pedalling towards us on the opposite side of the road, with a car moving slowly behind him. We laughed thinking, “who’s the poser in full Team Sky kit with a follow car?’ When he passed us, we realised it was Sir Bradley Wiggins. We pedalled in giddiness for the next several kilometres, never seeing him again.

Lee Basford

RCC number: 2347

Lee is an art director and designer living in Tokyo. He practiced martial arts until injury and rehabilitation drew him to road riding, which he now uses as a means to explore beyond the limits of his city life.

I’m originally from the Midlands in England, and after studying in London, I moved to Tokyo. There is no typical working day for me, and I’m fortunate that the places I draw inspiration from sometimes combine. I was recently invited to ride and photograph the annual Tōhoku ride, which commemorates the earthquake that devastated the region.

I cycle everywhere in Tokyo. It’s such a rich and varied city, and it still feels fresh every time I go out. Other than that I try to go on two big rides a week, if not with the club, then out exploring by myself - getting lost in the places where the gloss is removed and the heart of the city is revealed.

Recently I planned a route through the Yatsugatake mountain range. The weather was beautiful and clear and I expected to see a little snow remaining at higher altitudes, but what I hadn’t planned for was the Okawara Pass being completely cut off by snow. I hiked until I could get back on the bike, then the road home turned into a path of gravel, rocks, fallen trees and a lot of snow. Not the best conditions for a road bike or road shoes, and not quite what I had expected from the map. It did get a little scary, but I made it back with only one puncture and a few scratches – plus a story and some great photographs.

The Cycle Club in Tokyo is my local club, and being part of a community of cyclists like the RCC is so unique in a busy city like Tokyo. It serves as an important hub, because it’s easy to miss things when there’s so much happening. The forum is also a very useful tool for keeping up to date.

Tokyo is a city where you can find some of the best food and most iconic locations in the world, but not many people realise that it’s a city surrounded by mountains. At the western edge you can find Takao and Okutama, both rich in wildlife. The natural onsens (hot springs) and outstanding food there make for the perfect end to a hard day’s riding.

Markus Brandstetter

RCC number: 0531

Markus lives in Germany and manages an intensive care unit. When he isn’t working or spending time with his family, he’s out riding in the mountains of the Black Forrest.

I grew up in a little village near the Black Forrest, in Southwest Germany. I manage the intensive care unit at my hospital in Lahr, and have done for almost ten years. The days start early and are quite long, so when I come home I’ll usually ride my bike for about 2 hours. I then enjoy time with my family, drinking espresso with my wife, and having fun with my two-year-old son.

I live in a very beautiful area of Germany between the Black Forrest and the Vogesen Mountains. There are a lot of places where you can stop for a coffee or bite to eat during a ride. It's one of the warmest and most beautiful areas in Germany.

I have loved cycling for a lot of years; it helps me to get my head free from work, and it’s a great way to push yourself to your limit, or to measure your power with friends. Days without work give me time for longer rides, but there must be a good harmony between work, family and cycling. One of my favourite Mountains to ride is Mont Ventoux - a great climb in a beautiful landscape, punctuated by the smell of lavender. I've probably ridden the Ventoux about 20 times.

Michael Freidank

RCC number: 1525

Michael lives north of Munich in the small town of Freising, and commutes by ‘cross bike to work. He hopes to one day open a cycling café with his girlfriend.

I work as an air traffic controller, observing and directing flights in the area between Passau-Nürnberg-Stuttgart-Munich. I love the responsibility that comes with my job, and working in shifts leaves a lot flexible time to ride the bike.

I ride my cross bike to work most of the time, which leads me through a sleeping city, along the Isar river, via rolling cornfields. In my free time I ride my road bike with my girlfriend, colleagues, or friends from my triathlon club.

In the North of Munich, in the city of Dachau, there is a Cafe within the castle, which has a wonderful view over the City of Munich. It also serves the best cake.

Cycling has so many different benefits for me: it connects me to my brother, who lives in Berlin; it provides my travel to work; and it is surely the best way to experience new things and explore new territory.

Lee Jackson

RCC number: 1730

Lee lives in a small borough outside Manchester, England, and works as a career advisor for young people. On the weekends he leads rides for the RCC, and has a passion for all things two-wheeled.

I’m a career advisor to teenagers in a borough of Manchester. A typical day will involve working with vulnerable young people with different needs, many of whom are involved with youth offending programmes of social services. It is my job to inspire them to reach their full potential, which is often being overshadowed by their circumstances. As Alberto Contador says: “querer es poder’ (want is power).

My other job is ride leader for Rapha and the RCC in Manchester. Typically we ride on a Sunday, but I have been known to take people out under the cover of darkness during the week. I believe in variety, so the only typical aspect of the ride is to expect the unexpected. This may involve a game of tiddlywinks at the top of a climb, a nice food treat, or what seems to be a trademark of mine now - a song to get you up the climbs.

I like all things two-wheeled, so the house is packed full of bicycles and motorbikes in one state or another. I am currently restoring a 1979 Raleigh BSA, and a 1977 Suzuki.

I try to enter a couple of road and cyclocross races every year, and I am a firm believer that passion should feature in all the things I do - so I choose my battles rather than commit to a full season. If I feel like racing, I will go and race. It has to be fun.

Giseok Ahn

RCC number: 1720

Giseok is a freelance conference interpreter, specialising in Korean and English. He lives in South Korea, and cherishes the time outdoors that cycling provides him away from work.

I started cycling around seven months ago. I had wanted to start cycling for a long time, but my wife wasn’t keen as she thought it was too dangerous. After persuading her, I bought a Giant road bike – and that’s where the obsession started. I try to ride at least twice a week, even if the ride ends up being an hour or so on the indoor trainer.

People think that I have a lot more free time than I do, because I don’t have to commute and have a flexible timetable as a freelancer. But I become so busy in the peak conference season that it’s simply not true. There is one positive however, in that I sometimes get to ride in the weekdays, meaning quieter roads and a less crowded environment.

Recently I had a free day so took a ride to somewhere I’d been only a few times before. After a good lunch on the way back, I got totally lost. It started getting dark, and I had to ride a punishing 40km extra before I found my way.

Korea is well equipped for cycling, with bicycle-specific roads. In particular, there is a route from Seoul to Busan along 4 major rivers, covering a distance of around 600km.

Sarah Weltman

RCC number: 0653

Sarah rides when she can, fitting cycling in around her busy schedule working in sound in the theatre. She credits cycling with saving her life, and is currently focusing her training on upcoming charity rides and sportives.

I’m a freelance sound engineer and sound designer in theatre. I can be mixing sound or editing one day, then rigging a sound system the next, and my work can cover venues ranging from velodromes to Shakespeare’s Globe.

I cycle as much as work allows but I always seem to have so much to carry. For me it’s about training for the long charity rides whenever I can. Also, because I’m freelance it’s not always possible to cycle to my place of work, but I try to make up for it on my days off. I did my first TT recently with Penge CC, and there’s definitely room for personal improvement. I’ve just completed the Mitie London Revolution and hoping it will help with the climbs of the Wales Velothon next month.

I started riding when I was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2011. I hadn’t ridden a bike since my teens but I saw a poster at Charing Cross for the LLR London Bikeathon, and I decided to help the charity help people with the same condition as me. It gave me something to focus on, and when I was on a bike I felt like there was nothing wrong with me at all. Four years later, I’m still taking medication, but the symptoms have gone and the disease is under control. Cycling, with a bit of help from King’s College Hospital, has saved my life.

April 2015

Kirsti Ruud

RCC number: 1933

Kirsti is a 26-year-old coach to Paralympic athletes in Norway. She is currently studying coaching and leadership, finding time away from lessons to race and train with her women’s cycling team.

I work as an assistant coach for the Norwegian Paralympic cross-country team in the winter, and in the summer I work as a physical coach for a Paralympic champion rower. I also work as an athlete manager throughout the year. Having the opportunity to work with great athletes has been a very valuable lesson for me as an athlete, and also means that I usually work for 2-3 weeks, and then take 2-3 weeks off – giving me time to cycle a lot!

I mostly ride with my team UCK ATEA. It’s made up of five women, and this year we hope to bring home the National Team Time Trial gold in June and maybe a medal in the National Championships. Last year I came 5th in the nationals, so this year I hope to be in even better shape.

This summer I went to San Francisco and California, and had an amazing time there exploring on my bike. When it comes to training though, nothing beats Mallorca; it has everything, including lots of hills and some of the most beautiful coast rides I’ve ever been on.

Ruth Horn

RCC number: 2187

Ruth is an academic researcher at the University of Oxford and a Rapha ambassador. She loves cycling in different countries, especially across Europe.

I am originally from Munich, but lived in Paris for eight years before moving to the UK five years ago. Cycling has always been a big part of my life, and my main means of transport – which is probably why I still haven’t taken the time to get my driving licence!

Every ride I go on in a new area seems to be the best ride I’ve ever done, but if I had to pick my favourite, it would have to be around the lakes in Bavaria, where you get amazing views of the Alps. I was also recently riding with the other Rapha ambassadors in the Peak District, which blew me away with its beautiful greenery and gently rolling hills.

For me, the best café stops are at the end of a ride when you sit down with your mates to chat and relax. Zappi’s Bike Café in Oxford is one of my favourites, but I also like random coffee stands in a park where you can sit down in the sun and stay outside.

I’m still relatively new to road cycling, but I’m quickly becoming addicted to challenging myself, going fast and climbing high. I also really enjoy the other aspects of the sport, such as spending time with friends and getting to know new people. Sweating, suffering, laughing, and having fun together during a long ride creates a special connection with others. The fact that very different personalities can build a wonderful group by sharing their enthusiasm for road cycling is amazing.

Stefan Rohner

RCC number: 0152

Stefan Rohner works in construction Ibiza, and has lived on the island since 1988. When he isn’t cycling, Stefan is usually taking photographs, and until a short time ago, still developed his own films and prints in a dark room.

I started cycling when I moved to Ibiza in 1988. I came from humble beginnings, riding an old tank of a mountain bike and simply enjoying nature. Now, I ride a titanium Firefly road bike. I may take cycling more seriously, but I still enjoy being out in nature.

Some of the best places I have ridden are in Spain, touring the side country, or cycling the hills of Mallorca. The Gavia Pass in Italy is also up there as a big favourite of mine. It’s such a beautiful climb.

When I’m not cycling I’m usually taking photographs. Until a short time ago I would develop my own films, printing in a dark room on stunning fibre paper.

My favourite rider is probably Cancellera, but my real love for cycling dates back to the Indurain years. The scandals in professional cycling hurt my love for the sport, although my faith is now returning. Paris – Roubaix is no doubt my favourite race, and riding the cobbles for yourself is surely an experience that every cyclist should try at least once.

Tayler Dubé

RCC number: 0195

Tayler is an Art Director and Co-Founder and Editor of Pretty Damned Fast – a women’s cycling blog.

I grew up in Connecticut, USA, with a dad who raced bikes competitively. After college, I moved back in with my parents and took up the sport as a way to exercise and spend time with my father and sister. I became totally addicted. After moving to NYC, I joined one of the Rapha Women’s Rides and eventually took over as ride leader.

My favourite rider has to be Marianne Vos – does anyone else really compare? I also love watching the Classics, like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders.

I may be biased, but the best place for a café stop has to be the Rapha Cycle Club NYC! I have a hard time starting a ride without stopping in for coffee and a croissant.

I ride because it balances me. My work is stressful and I am constantly adding projects to my plate. Cycling means time to reflect, time I get to spend away from a computer. I also love the camaraderie cycling provides. I’ve met so many amazing people through the sport.

My dream cycling trip would have to be a ride somewhere in Central America. Somewhere I can ride my bike, camp, and see wildlife. Maybe I’d make it a multi-sport trip and go white water rafting or zip lining, too!

Toshiki Sato

RCC number: 0514

Toshiki works in marketing for Nike Japan, and has lived all over the world – including Australia, Zimbabwe and the USA.

My first memories of fun on a bike are from when I was nine years old, living in Zimbabwe, riding my homemade off road course in the back yard of my house. I didn’t pick up a road bike until four years ago - a Trek Madone that I still ride today. Since then I haven’t stopped, acquiring a BMC TM01 Timemachine for triathlons, and a Cielo Cross Classic for cyclocross racing.

One of the best places that I have ridden, which is actually very near to where I live, is the "Ura-Onekan" – or Onekan backstreet - the name given to the area by many cyclists living in Tokyo. Go to Instagram and search for #uraonekan – you’ll find photos of a small forest with narrow gravel roads and cyclists with big smiles (my first experience of Ura-Onekan was actually with Simon Mottram when he came to Japan a few years back).

Although the time difference is devastating over the weeks that it runs, watching the Tour de France is always a pleasure. The unscripted drama, the enthusiastic spectators, and the amazing scenery of Europe all add up to a one of a kind event. I would love to ride in the Alps one day and actually see and feel what the pro riders go through.

My favourite cyclist (and my wife's favourite) is Richie Porte. We’re almost the same size, and the fact that he’s one of today's best riders inspires me greatly.

Ah Hsien Yen

RCC number: 0005

Ah Hsien Yen is the Rapha Mobile Cycling Club Manager in Taiwan. When not riding, he can often be found drawing (the self-portrait on the left is one of Ah Hsien’s own).

I first knew that riding bikes was for me in 2004, when I started to ride mountain bikes. It wasn’t long until I bought my first road bike, but the focus wasn’t on training initially – my main goal was finding the next café stop!

After discovering Rapha, I joined the Rapha Continental Asia ride in 2013, and was fortunate enough to meet some of the Rapha staff. Their attitude towards cycling rubbed off on me, and I knew that I wanted to work alongside a company that is so dedicated to the sport.

My favourite pro rider is Wiggo – you just can’t deny his style.

I now ride as often as possible, taking great pleasure in exploring the world by the power of my legs. My ultimate dream is to cycle in mainland Europe – to experience suffering on the same roads as the pros would be incredible.

Ben Greeno

RCC number: 1638

Ben is from England and is currently living in Sydney, Australia. He is a chef, and finds road riding provides the perfect way to clear his head.

I have been living in Australia for four years working as a chef. I have a son who is just under two years old, and we live in Newtown, Sydney. I began cycling roughly 18 months ago, but only started getting serious about it seven months ago.

The best place I’ve ever ridden is Tokyo, even though it was only through the city. We went from the Rapha Cycle Club Tokyo to Tskujii Market. We got to see the city, some of the sights, then had breakfast in a ramen shop.

I ride to clear my head – it gives me time to myself to think. I'm hoping to spend a few weeks in France next summer, and want to attend a Rapha Retreat in that time.

When I’m not riding or working, I try to spend time with my family, and enjoy checking out as many new restaurants as possible.

I currently ride a Focus Cayo Evo, and my favourite race has to be Paris Nice.

Erik Joule

RCC number: not provided

Erik works for Strava, and has had a passion for cycling from a young age. When he isn’t cycling, he can be found working, or drinking coffee at his favourite rider-friendly coffee shop in San Francisco.

I was born in the very southern part of France, then moved to the USA when I was 16-years-old. I got my first real bike when I was 11-years-old and I have never looked back.

As a young French kid, watching the Tour De France with my grandpa on the black and white television was a summer ritual never missed.

Although I have ridden mountain bikes for a few years, my passion still lies in road biking; it is where I feel the most free. My all-time favourite bike is a steel frame Speedvagen from my good friend Sacha White at Vanilla Bicycle Company in Portland, Oregon.

The green hills of Vermont have a special place in my heart, and I ride them every summer and autumn when I can. Norway is definitely next on the list. The places in which I ride inspire me as much as the incredible talent within the professional riding community. Tao Geoghegan Hart gets the spirit and the soul of the sport, and his wisdom is inspiring at such a young age. And of course, Peter Sagan reminds us how fun the sport truly is.

I am the Chief Marketing and Commerce officer for Strava, and if I’m not riding, I am usually at work. I am however lucky enough to consider my work to be my play, so it never really feels like I’m working at all. You’ll often find me at Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco - they make the best coffee and are incredibly friendly to riders.

Riding gives me a huge sense of freedom, and it’s only when I ride that I feel fully connected to what’s around me, and to myself. Riding is like life: a beautiful struggle.

Colleen Ang

RCC number: 0162

Singaporean Colleen Ang works in operations at an IT company, although if not at work you’ll probably find her riding or running, often with her husband in tow.

I was inspired to take up cycling after a bout of illness 20 years ago, becoming a roadie after an initial stint mountain biking. Road cycling is a big part of my life and while I used to race competitively, nowadays I go out with my mates at the local club. Our café stop is an Indian food place, and we always stock up on roti prata breads!

Once a year my husband and I pack our bikes for a cycling holidays and I’ve also particularly enjoyed the Rapha ride events near us in the past few years. My dream riding destination is Italy, a fabulous place to ride. Bormio, with its access to great climbs like the Stelvio, is a dream – I’d go back to the Dolomites in a heartbeat.

I ride an Italian bike too, a Pinarello Dogma F8 but I also have a Pake Steel single speed for pottering about on. Downtime is spent with my Jack Russells, walking them, playing with them, or lounging with them snugly at my side!

Cycling has rewarded me with such rich experiences, both physical and emotional, and as well as getting fitter and healthier, it has allowed me to see the world in a difference perspective – on wheels. The friendships I’ve made and shared on the road are something equally special to me.

Marcus Enno

RCC number: 2055

Known to most as Beardy McBeard, Marcus Enno is a professional cycling photographer based out of Bondi, Australia. Rapha has published his beautiful work several times.

Bikes have always played a part of my life, whether it be a mountain bike, fixed gear, tourer or road bike. My weapon of choice is Giant – I ride their Defy, Propel and TCX models – and you can usual find me astride one at the Rapha Cycle Club Sydney, my local hang out.

I’ve got a real soft spot for cycling in Italy. The Giro was the first Grand Tour I covered and the passion of the tifosi is unparalleled. It’s the scene of probably my best ever ride too: I climbed Stelvio the evening of the 2015 Giro stage, reaching the top at 9pm just after sunset. Snowflakes began to fall and I descended into the darkness without another soul to be seen. Very surreal.

Amongst the pros, my two favourites are probably Richie Porte and Peter Sagan. I’m lucky enough to have spent some time with Richie and found him to be one one of the most down-to-earth and genuine riders around. I like Sagan for his incredible bike handling and playful antics.

When not riding, I’m usually taking photos, although I prefer to combine the two if possible! For me, riding a bicycle is not only about turning the pedals, it’s an adventure. Every time you roll out your front door into the wide world you never know what you’re going to experience. And that’s why I love it.

Aaron Hulme

RCC number: 1245

San Franciscan native Aaron Hulme owns and manages the Suppenküche and Biergarten restaurants with his twin brother, Matthew.

I do not remember a time that I was not aware of the sport of cycling. My parents exposed my brother and I to as many things as possible, and mastery of the bicycle was one such thing. By the time we reached our second year of high school we had already cycled across France, hiked across Switzerland, and ridden bicycles self-supported from Rome to Paris.

After college I became a professional mechanic in the pro peloton, it just seemed the thing to do! This privileged position allowed me to work at the Olympic Games and at the highest level of the sport all over the world, on the track, the mud, the road, for men and women. I have shaved my legs for over 25 years now, and thanks to Rapha and the Stammtisch ride community I can say I still compete as a master.

My bike of choice is a steel ride made for me by my friend Tony, who runs Tonic Fabrication Group and I also ride a Tonic cyclocross bike. The place I ever rode, and raced too, was the Chianti region of Italy when I did L’Eroica in 2006. Unsurpassable.

I have a great appreciation for those hard working, thoughtful pro cyclists. The ones with real character who can orchestrate the fate of a race – Paul Sherwen, Sean Yates and Bobby Julich come to mind. As for the races, it must be the Tour de France. It is cycling… it is the bicycle.

When not riding I’ll be working or reading, but I prefer to ride – if you do it right, you can fly.

Katya Crema

RCC number: 1574

26 year old Katya Crema is a two-time Winter Olympics Ski Cross competitor and Masters of Property student at University of Melbourne.

I got into road cycling eight years ago as a form of cross training for skiing and the sense of freedom and independence are the two things I enjoy the most about it – as well as the incredible places it can take you around the world.

In February 2015 I was proud to compete in my second Winter Olympics, getting seventh place in Ski Cross. I have spent so many winters ski training and racing in the Dolomites in Italy that I would love to go back and ride up them on my bike in the summer!

I ride a Giant Defy Advanced, although also have a Pinarello steel-framed Team Telekom for commuting. I’d love to get into cyclocross though and my favourite rider is Lisa Jacobs.

Aside from skiing and riding, I currently study architecture/property at University of Melbourne, and I am also Sales & Marketing Manager for the Crema Group. I’m also pretty vocal at encouraging other females to start riding!

Paul Jonathan Thompson

RCC number: 0460

Paul Jonathan Thompson is the founding Principal of the Urban Assembly School of Music and Art, an NYC public high school.

Growing up in the Bronx I spent many years traveling around the country racing BMX. I loved being a kid riding around NYC during the 80’s and exploring the city by bike. Not only did you have access to the whole city, floating through all of the different neighbourhoods on a bike felt liberating. Over the years I transitioned to riding downhill and eventually landed on road cycling.

I’m still fascinated by the freedom I feel floating through the rich neighbourhoods of the city, chronicling all of the changes that time has brought to them. I love the calm that it brings. You can take in life as you move through it… You can clear your thoughts, and hopefully work a few things out.

Any destination with rolling hills and a view of the ocean is heaven to me. I would love to ride in Hawaii, or along the white cliffs of Dover, or down the Cinque Terre…. HWY 1 outside of Santa Rosa… The best kind of places for food and drink on a ride is any place where you can stop, take in beautiful scenery and have an espresso or a pint.

These days I also love riding the rolling hills between Florence and Siena in Italy. Taking in the scenery, eating and drinking with good people along the way. I love the Giro, but of course the spring classics too - Strade Bianche, Flanders.

My favourite pro rider currently is probably Fabian Cancellara, seems like a stand up guy and is obviously very gifted. But overall my inspiration comes from a slightly older gentleman, named Major Taylor. I admire him for his talent, resilience, and grace.

I ride an S-Works Venge with Zipp cockpit and wheels, a Sram Red 22 group set, and I use a Quark power meter.

Kei Tsuji

RCC number: 2023

Kei Tsuji is a long-time collaborator with Rapha, specialising in cycle sport photography.

I started riding a road bike when I was 18, then later I went to live and work in Siena, Tuscany for one year, and got to know more about European cycling. I found all the local Italian cyclists truly inspiring. After graduating from university, I worked as a bicycle messenger in Tokyo, and got involved in cycling media as a translator, writer and photographer. The 2009 Giro d’Italia was the first big race I covered, and now I shoot races all over the world. As a rider, I became a cycling tour guide in Siena last year. The hills of Tuscany are my favourite especially near Siena, the strade bianche is incredible. I’d also love to ride and explore the Dolomites. Unsurprisingly my favourite races are the Giro d’Italia and Strade Bianche.

My favourite types of riders are the downhill specialists, like Samuel Sanchez, Vincenzo Nibali, those who take advantage with skill rather than just calculated power.

I ride a Kualis, a handmade frame by a Japanese builder working in the US.

James Lyon

RCC number: 1519

James Lyon is Events Manager at British Cycling and also part-time Ride Leader for CCMCR. He’s been involved in cycling for years, firstly as a hobby then a day job working in bike shops, then as a racer.

My first profession was chemical engineering. I started out riding and racing track then moved into MTBing and then back to Road with the occasional bit of CX thrown in too. Jack-of-all-trades, master of none. My racing days are mostly behind me now but I love the ride leading and guiding aspect.

My favourite race to watch is Paris-Roubaix, I just love the unpredictability of it.

I’m a big Mark Cavendish fan but also love the female Team GB Team Pursuit squad. But there isn’t one person who inspires me – it’s anyone who gets on a bike and tries their best. Be it someone who’s recovering from illness and using cycling as rehab, to someone who’s only ever ridden 20 miles but is planning to ride a Sportive – that element of putting yourself out of your comfort zone to better yourself, anyone doing that is inspirational.

It’s impossible to put into words exactly why I love riding: But it’s the freedom, the ease of getting around, the camaraderie, the competitiveness, its ability to bridge divides between people and create a common bond, a way of meeting new people and an excuse to visit cafes and eat cake!

My favourite place I’ve ridden so far is Colorado. The scenery there was just stunning.

David Ward

RCC number: 1718

David Ward is a 48-year-old jeweller and silver-goldsmith from Birmingham, UK.

I've been making jewellery since age 16 at college and various top companies to teaching at The school of Jewellery in Birmingham, before setting up our own company "Barbara Tipple" (my partner’s name) in 1994, she's the artist in the partnership, I'm the craftsman. When I'm not on my bike I'm at my bench making jewels.

We have a shop and workshop in Albemarle St, Mayfair in London as well as in our hometown, Southsea, on the coast. I have been awarded Freedom of the City of London, and this enables me to be a master, training apprentices whom I also encourage to ride bikes.

I used to ride 10- and 25-mile time-trials in the Midlands in my teens before taking up running cross country and road for Sparkhill Harriers. Returning to the bike 10 years ago for a way of commuting from Southsea to London when we opened our shop in Mayfair, I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve now ridden five Rapha Cent Col Challenges with founder and organiser Philip Deeker, who seeks out the best of the Dolomites, Alps and Pyrenees.

Every Cent Cols trip there's someone who gives their all to finish everyday, usually in the dark and we all wait before we have supper so we can cheer them in. In the CCC Dolomites a few years back, Phil laid on a lunch stop on top of a huge and wonderful climb called Cima Ciampigotto in a cafe called Baita Ciampigotto. The view is stunning, the gnocchi is the best I've had. The funny thing was they didn't quite understand we were 30 riders riding 100 cols and made 100 gnocchi orders probably thinking we were riding 30 cols, we didn't complain.

Jens Voigt has been a huge inspiration and often pops into my head when the pain in the legs gets too much. Geraint Thomas is becoming his replacement though, he always gives his all.

My favourite race is the Giro, especially in the last few years. The Tour of Flanders for a one day classic. I've ridden the Ardennes, it’s beautiful but so hard.

I ride for the freedom and adrenaline rush from pushing up the hill or gliding down it. My favourite place to ride has to be the Pyrenees. Although it helps to have Phil Deeker find the wild places that don't seem to be on my map.

Angela Von Twickel

RCC number: 1910

Angela Von Twickel lives in south London and is an assistant in a Private Equity Firm.

As well as the riding I do lot of skiing. I'm currently on my way to Chamonix to do the Haute Route ski tour from Chamonix to Zermattt. I've been a commuter cyclist for years but only really got serious in the last two years when I got a place in the ballot for the inaugural Ride London sportive.

One of my fondest cycling memories is riding in Cyprus as a child. We lived on an army base in Nicosia and were free to leave the house in the morning and as long as we were back by teatime no one really worried about us. Looking back on it now I might have been a bit of a tearaway.

My favourite racer is Geraint Thomas – what’s not to like about him?

There are others who inspire me to ride though: Rapha's own Gem Atkinson and all the other ladies I cycle with, they are always supportive and we encourage each other whether it's up the next hill or getting up at 5am for an early morning ride.

In terms of my favourite race I’d say the Giro. Stunning scenery.

The great thing about riding is the headspace. If it's commuting to and from work or a long weekend ride, it's a chance to switch off and escape.

There is a ride from Lhasa to Katmandu via Everest base camp that I want to do: it's been on my wish list for years, so that’ll be next.