Seeing a city by bike undoubtedly lends to experiences not found on motorized transportation. Rapha, global purveyors of stylishly functional road gear and Rapha cycle clubs, understand this and are launching a series of bike-based travel guides for eight cities across Europe. To give the pocket-sized books the level of creative detail the brand is known to give to all of their products, Rapha called on eight different illustrators to portray a unique aesthetic worthy of each city's character.
Knowing that navigation is the key to success on two wheels, the Rapha guides provide ample maps of both the city as a whole and more detailed maps of featured neighborhoods. Bike routes are clearly marked along with refueling points (i.e. restaurants, cafes and bars), bike shops, WiFi access and other points of interest like museums, galleries and historical sites. Suggested neighborhood tours are laid out without a tight schedule. Since traveling is all about exploring, going off the book is encouraged. A peruse through the London guide—a city we at CH are well-acquainted with—reveals a hefty bit of local knowledge mixed in some of the must-see spots. The guide shines on the less-traveled streets of "locals only" neighborhoods, such as north London's Hampstead and Copenhagen's Christianshavn and Islands Brygge, with under-the-radar pubs and locally owned bike shops listed.
Though non-riders alike will find Rapha's guide books interesting, they are best suited for travelers who are not afraid to push the pedals in an unfamiliar city. An etiquette and need-to-know section tailored to cycling in each city is extremely useful, especially in places with a language barrier. For example, the Milan guide reads, "Everybody is very accepting of unorthodox actions...Don't be foolhardy, but don't be reticent either." For serious roadies looking to get in some serious riding in the countryside, the books offer a very useful section on racing and training. Highlighting everything from nearby professional races to ongoing amateur events to group ride meet-ups and suggested solo rides, the Rapha City Cycling guides will have you getting more out of your next two-wheeled European excursion.
The series of eight guides is available from Rapha online for $40 complete with an exclusive slipcase. Though the rich aesthetic of the guides may tempt you to keep them in mint condition, they are meant to be used. Best of all, they fit with ease into the pockets of all Rapha cycling jerseys.
Photos by Hans Aschim