Rapha Prestige: Santa Cruz 2022

Rapha describes their Prestige events series as an “embodiment of adventure, teamwork & resilience” they believe that “some of the most rewarding aspects of riding a bicycle. It is not a bike race; it’s a test of fortitude and bonds between four riders who take on a challenge together, pushing their own limits and finishing as a team”.

Nearly two months on and we’ve just about gotten rid of the reminders from this ride out of the nooks of our bikes and kit, that Northern California mud is tough!

The event is like no other, the route GPX file is shared with riders only a week prior to the event date, and the information you get on top of that is incredibly sparse. You are provided the start and finish point for the ride, as well as a recommended minimum tire size but that’s pretty much it. Teams must ensure they are equipped with nutrition, spares, and water to last the whole ride with only a few opportunities to resupply.

Now that the dust (or maybe mud is more appropriate here) has settled, we thought we would gather our thoughts as team KAV in a post-ride write-up. Here’s our debrief of the Rapha Prestige Santa Cruz 2022.

Let’s start with the rundown of:

Team KAV

Question:

What bike setup did you ride?

Whitman: Ribble Endurace SLR with 30mm Schwalbe G-One Speed. Rim brakes rule!

Jake: Ibis Hakka MX with Pirelli Cinturato 40mm Gravel Tires.

Lucy: BlackHeart Allroad Ti with Pirelli Cinturato 40mm Gravel Tires.

Ben: 3T Exploro RaceMax with Pirelli 40mm Gravel M

Question:

Summarize the ride in 3 words

Whitman: Team Bonding Fun

Jake: Fun, Beautiful & Wet

Lucy: Beautiful, Hard, Muddy.

Ben: Fun, Epic Adventure OR Too Much Rain

Question:

One thing you regret taking with you on the ride?

Whitman: Camelbak - I was playing it safe, but it was cool enough and there were enough stops to get by with water bottles.

Jake: Having two bags for the day (frame & burrito). It was just overkill. I went full “chubby boy scout" mode and overpacked food.

Lucy: I had too much food. I’m normally not very good at eating enough on bike rides

Ben: No regrets, everything had a purpose.

Question:

One thing you wished you had on the ride?

Whitman: A waterproof force field.

Jake: A rain jacket: It ended up being so wet & sooooo cold.

Lucy: An e-bike. Just kidding, a bigger cassette probably would have made my life a little easier.

Ben: Waterproof vest

Question:

If you had to pick a song to summarize the vibe of the ride what would it be?

Whitman: Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head.

Jake: I’ll pick a classic: Daft Punk - One More Time - It was a day of highs and lows but I was super happy to be out there on my bike creating memories with good people.

Lucy: Simon & Garfunkel - The Sounds of Silence - “Hello darkness my old friend 🎶” This got into my head at multiple points during the ride.

Ben: Beautiful Day keeps coming to mind because the whole ride was beautiful. Loved the climbs, the descents, and the company. Other than freezing in the rain at the bottom of the last descent and at the gas station, it was all so fun!

Question:

What was your favorite part of the ride?

Whitman: Tossup between the Summit Store sandwiches, Turkey, Brie AND Jam and the hot chocolate at the cut-off point. But if you’re talking about the course, it’s wherever that photo was taken of us cresting the hill and overlooking the valley. Gorgeous. Only thing missing were angels singing as the clouds parted and the sun broke through.

Jake: Sending it fast down the muddy descents. I was laughing out loud from pure joy, sliding around & flirting with being out of control but keeping the rubber side down.

Lucy: The descent after the second off-road climb was great. It was pouring with rain but the roads were stunning and the views were nothing like I had seen before as it was my first time riding in Northern California. Those Redwood trees really are something else!

Ben: The last muddy descent thru Biyani, the wildest and most fun descent I’ve done this year - memory made!

Question:

Would you do it again next year?

Whitman: Can you forecast the weather a year in advance?

Jake: Heck yeah. I would do it again next weekend.

Lucy: Now that I have recovered, yes! Although, I would prefer it if it was a little warmer and drier!

Ben: Hell yeah! Wherever the next Prestige is

Question:

Favorite thing about the ride?

Whitman: My helmet felt so good… hey I’m the founder and CEO ;). Otherwise, it’s always the team and people. Got to see an old college buddy and ride with friends/colleagues in gorgeous Santa Cruz - what’s not to like?

Jake: Getting out of my comfort zone with good people. That mix of excitement and nerves that come with going on a big adventure ride, that’s what it’s all about.

Lucy: Teamwork. We had never all ridden together before but it was great to learn people’s strengths, encourage each other and keep pushing on.

Ben: Riding with you guys!

We encourage anyone taking on the challenge although it’s most definitely not for the faint-hearted. Who wants to join us next year?

Numbers: 118.8 miles // 11,763 ft of climbing

Photos courtesy of Jordan Clark Haggard // Rapha North America

#RaphaPrestigeSantaCruz