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Portland builders craft bikes for ‘Rapha Continental’

Posted by on August 5th, 2008 at 12:54 pm

“Custom frame building is both a science and an art. It is an ever-evolving process of geometry, wizardry and psychology… “
– from Rapha’s website

High-end cycling apparel company Rapha chose two Portland-based framebuilders to build bicycles for their “Rapha Continental” campaign.

The Rapha Continental — which is part team, part documentary, and part corporate marketing strategy — is their attempt to recover the “lost art of cycling and the glory of suffering” by chronicling epic road rides throughout the United States with photographs and blog entries.

To go along with their stylish and functional bike clothes, Rapha collaborated with eight of the most respected bike builders in the U.S.. Among them are Portland’s own Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan.

Ryan and Pereira — who both know a thing or two about long-distance road rides — have produced two gorgeous bikes:

Tony Pereira
(Photo: Daniel Wakefield Pasley)

You can read an interview with Ira, Tony, and the rest of the builders (and see some great shop photos) on The Rapha Continental website.

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  • Daniel August 5, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Jonathan,
    While I appreciate your website and work in general, this post seems more a news release and advertisement than journalism. I wish these local frame builders the best, but what does this mean for the city of Portland and its cycling community? Thanks and all the best,
    Daniel

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 5, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    \”While I appreciate your website and work in general, this post seems more a news release and advertisement than journalism… what does this mean for the city of Portland and its cycling community?\”

    thanks for the feedback Daniel.

    I have been writing stories like this ever since I started this site three years ago (3rd anniversary of bikeportland.org was last week). have you been reading long? If you have, you\’ll know that not every single story I publish is going to be super meaningful or important to our city or our \”cycling community\”. Sometimes I just like to shine a light on something cool that is happening.

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  • Daniel August 5, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    fair enough, thanks for the response.

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  • jeff August 5, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Call it what you will, that site is pretty neat, great writing. I love the STP description:

    \”In fact why does anyone do it? Inspiration and humility. And entertainment, cycling pride (the loosest possible and most all encompassing idea of it) and for the humanity of it. And maybe because it’s hard and demanding and epic, and because it delivers all the glory through suffering you can take in a paceline led by a dude on a Bike Friday. Ok, and maybe because when else do you get to eat four pancakes, seven Little Debbie’s, a chunk of salmon jerky bought from an American Native in the front seat of a pick-up truck parked on the side of a road, four cokes, a tin of Pringles, three burritos, a plate of lasagna, two whoppers, a cheeseburger, three beers, five power bars, four gallons of water, seventeen electrolyte replacement drinks and a chocolate milkshake, in one day, without peeing or gaining weight. All the while supporting the Cascade Cycling Club and it’s partners.\”

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  • Tony P August 5, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks Jonathan. The continental project has been a bunch of fun. The Rapha gang is great to work with and style of the clothing fits really well with the kind of bikes that Ira and I build. I\’m really honored to be part of it.
    (And thanks for the plug–you know we builders can use any help we can get!)

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  • Chris August 5, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan are part of our cycling community. And Rapha has been pretty busy in the Portland area as well.
    Saw one of Ira\’s Continentals a few weeks back – beautiful! Good job Tony and Ira, and congrats!

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  • Red Hippie August 5, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Since Tony P is reading, maybe he could comment on his wheel build of choice for the Continental? Seems like a number of these epics are hitting gravel mid stride for extended periods of time. My cyclocross Bontragger rims seem to warp every which way after a few laps on Lief Erickson. Sugestions?

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  • KWW August 5, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    I commuted all winter and all I got was this lousy t-shirt that said:

    \”the lost art of cycling and the glory of suffering\”

    Seriously, this is a feather in the cap of Portland\’s bicycling culture. I am really happy that Rapha is here.

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  • Tony P August 5, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Red,
    All the continental bikes are equipped with Chris King built wheels with either DT Swiss or Mavic rims. The rims are very high quality (mine are DTs–I don\’t recall the model) and the builders at King know their stuff. I believe some of the Conti riders got DT Revolution spokes, but mine are built with DT Competition (14/15 DB) and they have stayed perfectly true in spite of a good chunk of gravel road riding and even a few trips down firelane 5.

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  • Icarus Falling August 5, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Good job Ira and Tony! Certainly part of Portland\’s Cycling Community, no matter what is stated in comments above.

    I must say I am not so encouraged by Rapha though… Not at all…
    Another story entirely.

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  • Refunk August 6, 2008 at 2:41 am

    Of course the bikes are beautiful. I don\’t get what\’s \”continental\” about \’em, however. Without a charge card, or a SAG, no one\’s crossing this continent on those bikes. Or would panniers be too \”epic?\”

    Any ride is good, ten miles or ten times that, but every day can be epic if that\’s yer intent. All these week-end warriors riding in catered fund-raisers (however worthy the cause) for a day or three definitely should be having fun. You want epic, though, go to and pick any title with an asterisk at random; those are examples of epic rides, as opposed to week-end R & R (one-day rides — paugh! — maybe that should be weakened rides…).

    Pretty bikes, for sure, though.

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  • Refunk August 6, 2008 at 2:43 am

    Hey. It dropped the URL!

    That was:

    \”You want epic, though, go to http://www.crazyguyonabike.com and pick any title with an asterisk at random…\”

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  • Michael R August 6, 2008 at 6:04 am

    The glory of suffering? Save us from this attitude!

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  • Icarus Falling August 6, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Refunk,

    It appears you, and others, may not know the achievements of Mr. Ira Ryan, in terms of long, unsupported, suffering epics.

    Ira Ryan is a man among, well, boys in comparison to most. His feats in winning the first S.F. to Portland, unsupported messenger race speak for themselves.

    But, beyond that, I have personally nicknamed him the \”King of Iowa\” for his wins on the unsupported, gravel or worse roads in the Race Across Iowa. I believe his last victory there was by mere minutes, with a total time that was only like 23 hours. I also believe the last 1 or 2 he won were on a bike made with his own hands.

    These races do not allow help. Either help from race connected people, or outside help either.

    And this style of bike is exactly what is used to complete such ventures.

    It is easy to sit in a padded chair at your computer, and imagine that these \”continental\” bikes are called such in a manner as to sell more of them.

    But if you knew the man, you would know the truth.

    I love Ira Ryan. He is always nice, has the glow of a pregnant Riverdancer, and the attitude to match.

    I only wish I had the time and the financial responsibility it takes to start, accomplish, and win some of the rides/races he does.

    And yes, they are Epics…..

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  • Refunk August 6, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Ah, Icarus Falling,

    Thanks for the backstory on Ira. Let nothing I write imply any denigration of his life as a rider or skills & art in bike building.

    Had to look up the Race Across Iowa, and yeah, these bikes look perfectly suited to that stuff (Randoneuring, by another name, but perhaps more competitive). They are wise to begin west and ride eastbound on their route and yup, it looks like fun.

    I rode from Chicago through the worst storms in Iowan memory this summer, where every watercourse (and that\’s where all the campgrounds are) was flooded and the cornfields were trashed from incessant bad weather continuing from last year and the Nat\’l Guard alternated between looking scared & bristling as I tried to pass westward through Waterloo as they were closing off streets and bridges behind me. I rode westbound, unsupported, with a minimum 15 MPH headwind every day. Readily do I admit the weather kicked my ass. It lifted my tent with me in it and picked up my loaded touring frame (while I was off it) and tossed it a few meters and caused me to bail off the bike and dive for cover while lightning strikes pummeled the immediate environs, etc.

    With all due kudos to Mr. Ryan, I doubt that his riding and building are the genesis of the bike name (Iowa is not a continent). I\’m pretty sure these bikes got the name as a PR thing of Rapha\’s. And, also, I prefer my Brooks to this computer chair any sweaty, dehydrated, grinning day.

    As for the word, \”epic,\” I guess its usage depends on viewpoint. Some people consider any ride out of cell phone range to be an epic. Others savor the compression of the effort to meet challenges into tiny timeframes, and at that rate of performance, yes, even a day certainly feels like an epic. I still attach the classic interpretation however, and so recommend http://www.crazyguyonabike.com if you want epic, in terms like odessey, and so on…

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  • Refunk August 6, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    hmmm… that would be odyssey not odessey

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  • Refunk August 6, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Icarus Falling,

    Thanks for the backstory on Ira. Let nothing I write imply any denigration of his life as a rider or skills & art in bike building.

    Had to look up the Race Across Iowa, and yeah, these bikes look perfectly suited to that stuff (Randoneuring, by another name, but perhaps more competitive). They are wise to begin west and ride eastbound on their route and yup, it looks like fun.

    I rode from Chicago through the worst storms in Iowan memory this summer, where every watercourse (and that\’s where all the campgrounds are) was flooded and the cornfields were trashed from incessant bad weather continuing from last year and the Nat\’l Guard alternated between looking scared & bristling as I tried to pass westward through Waterloo as they were closing off streets and bridges behind me. I rode westbound, unsupported, with a minimum 15 MPH headwind every day. Readily do I admit the weather kicked my ass. It lifted my tent with me in it and picked up my loaded touring frame (while I was off it) and tossed it a few meters and caused me to bail off the bike and dive for cover while lightning strikes pummeled the immediate environs, etc.

    With all due kudos to Mr. Ryan, I doubt that his riding and building are the genesis of the bike name (Iowa is not a continent). I\’m pretty sure these bikes got the name as a PR thing of Rapha\’s. And, also, I prefer my Brooks to this computer chair any sweaty, dehydrated, grinning day.

    As for the word, \”epic,\” I guess its usage depends on viewpoint. Some people consider any ride out of cell phone range to be an epic. Others savor the compression of the effort to meet challenges into tiny timeframes, and at that rate of performance, yes, even a day certainly feels like an epic. I still attach the classic interpretation however, and so recommend http://www.crazyguyonabike.com if you want epic, in terms like odyssey, and so on…

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  • Refunk August 6, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Very sorry for the double posting.

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  • JeremyS August 6, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Holy gorgeous! I\’d be happy with either bike; please sign me up. And I don\’t think time spent on either bike could characterized as \”suffering.\” :)

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  • joel August 6, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    refunk – the \”continental\” name is a reference to the european continent – rapha is a british company, and there as here, theres something traditionally to be in awe of as concerns racing on \”the continent\”, and the storied history of epic (not in the \”odyssey\” sense of the word, but in the \”holy crap that was hard!\” sense) rides the sport is peppered with. for many of us, it conjures up images of things like paris-roubaix, or andy hampstens blazingly epic assault on the gavia through a blizzard in the 88 giro d\’italia.

    and icarus, i have to correct you, cause you persist in this – but ira did not \”win\” the \”race\” i organized from sf to portland back in 03 – kent peterson won it. ira finished second – and theres no shame in that, at all, considering that everyone who finished rode about 750 miles in less than 5 days, totally unsupported. just a credit where credits due thing.

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  • Icarus Falling August 6, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Sorry Joel,
    I thought he did. I forgot about Kent coming in first….

    I\’m sorry. My bad.

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  • SkidMark August 6, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Refunk, do you have some doubts about whether Ira or Tony could construct a frame capable of crossing a continent? These guys are perfectionists who have practically dedicated their lives to making bikes. They\’ve done ALL the research, put in all the hours designing and building, and have learned from and respected those who have come before them. Not everyone gets asked to be at the North American Handmade Bike Show. Ira had a waiting list before he had a shop. I think his bikes could make it across Europe or even the USA. Tony\’s bikes last underneath HIS abuse, so I am sure they are strong enough as well.

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  • Icarus Falling August 6, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    I also recall Joel that you have corrected me on that note before.

    I am old and I forget things.

    What were we talking about?

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  • Refunk August 6, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    joel,

    Good explanation, thanks. Funny, I was gonna mention Kent for examples of epic rides…

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  • Refunk August 6, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    No, Skidmark.

    No doubts about either builder. Zero. I think I was responding mostly to language, not art or craft.

    Rereading my own posts, I see where there could be negative implications about the bikes\’ quality, \”no one\’s crossing this continent on those bikes,\” and I regret that hasn\’t come out as I intended. What I meant was that they did not look exactly suited to an unsupported Trans Am ride (or other transit of the NA continent). Geez, I\’m sure they\’re fine bikes!

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  • A.P. August 7, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I\’m pretty bored of the marketing effort. I was pretty into it about 6 months ago, but now I just have continued on with riding my bike. Rapha obviously has hired some big marketing guns with W&K, but at some point, I don\’t think there\’s a large market for 200 dollar medium build quality jerseys, with high quality styling.

    I have one of their long sleeve jersey\’s and while the color is awesome, it\’s already ripping out above the pocket seams on the back and it has not seen that much use.

    I feel that there\’s a high likely hood that rapha will always be a niche company within a niche market. Which I guess makes sense with their partnership with hand made bike builders.

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