UPDATE: With all the excitement (if we want to call it that) in my life of late, I haven’t been tending to the store quite as I should have. A few orders were backed up a couple of weeks; I’m sorry about that. I also meant to put the Roubaix shirt back into circulation before now. Well, it’s finally up and I’ll be filling orders today and tomorrow. If you’re nearby, there is still a chance I’ll get these to you before the race—Padraig
Paris-Roubaix is among the purest of pursuits. The cobbles cause it to instantly resonate with you, or not. There really isn’t much middle ground on this race. Either you love it or wonder, “WTF?”
The 29 stretches of pavé are each rated on a five-point scale. Not a single section receives a 1-point score. It is as if the French are suggesting that the pavé, by their very nature, are more difficult than any ordinary road.
It’s a truth no one needed to confirm for us.
And really, in this race, the road is nothing more than a pavé-delivery device. The attacks don’t go on the asphalt, they all go over the stone. If the entire race could be run over pavé, we, the fans, would be that much happier.
This shirt is intended for the former, rather than the latter. I went to Joe Yule and his recently launch apparel company Stage One Sports. Joe is responsible for the RKP logo, the kit as well as this T-shirt. Stage One will offer an a la carte collection as well as custom work for team designs coming soon to a peloton near you.
I wear a lot of T-shirts. This is the first time I’ve ever had someone design a shirt pimping my love for something. And really, when it comes down to it, as much as we love the riders who contest Paris-Roubaix, what makes the day memorable isn’t so much the racer as it is the pavé.
The pavé is the real star of Roubaix.
The shirt is a high-quality 100% cotton all-black Anvil T-shirt that should render invisible any grease stains you might pick up while working on your bike.
Order yours here.
Questions? Drop us a note.
BTW: We’d gotten complaints about the cost of shipping from a few readers. After talking with the post office, I learned of another way to do priority that brought the cost down. This should be a bit more palatable. Also, if you plan to order several items, let us know and we can bundle them in shipping and refund a bit of the cost to you.
I know people who don’t wear T-shirts. They don’t make sense to me in the way that vegans don’t make sense to me. I get that they stand for something, that they have set high standards for themselves, but cool T-shirts are fun, full stop. Not wearing T-shirts, ever, is missing out on good-natured, low-key fun. Veganism is the same thing to me. Life without cheese—real cheese, not that imitation stuff—is something approaching pointless.
Me? I love a great T-shirt. And because I have a job that really never requires a suit or tie, let alone both, I can wear T-shirts just about every day. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve got plenty of stylish button-down shirts, stuff that makes me look entirely more presentable (not to mention professional) than any T-shirt ever will. But I live in California, which is laid-back the way George Clooney is cool. It’s as if laid-back hadn’t been invented until there was California; same thing for cool.
I’ve mentioned previously that the T-shirts we sell here on RKP were driven by entirely selfish concerns. They are shirts I wanted to wear, plain and simple. That a few hundred other people like them enough to buy one and (hopefully) wear it is what happens when luck collides with fun. Bam.
Reviewing T-shirts is reality-show lame, but with it being Christmas and all, I thought it would be fun to give a nod to some designs out there that have caught my eye of late. First up are a couple of designs from Stomach of Anger. As you have probably noticed, they are advertisers here on RKP. And judging from the out-clicks the ad has gotten, a great many of you have at least checked out their web site. I have to admit I was completely unfamiliar with them prior to them reaching out to advertise. I went and looked through their offerings and nearly laughed out loud when I saw the design above.
I like this Wiggins design because it riffs on another darling of England, The Who. It’s got a lot of my favorite qualities in a T-shirt: It is carried by an eye-catching design, depends on a certain amount of insider knowledge to make sense and most of all, it’s playful. And, of course, it’s a chance to make a statement about your views on your loves, or life in general. What’s not to like?
Of course, some shirts are less playful than just out-and-out irreverent, such as this shirt featuring Floyd Landis in a Santa Claus hat accompanied by his now-famous quote: “At some point people have to tell their kids that Santa Claus isn’t real.” It is perhaps one of the few ways I’ve seen to laugh at the fallout subsequent to the USADA Reasoned Decision.
Speaking of irreverent, the design above is being offered by Gage+Desoto. It was designed by the game studio Pajamahouse and takes a swipe at global warming. After all, if there’s no sea ice, the best option that polar bears, penguins and seals may have is the bicycle. I wish they had this in kids’ sizes; I’d get one for my son.
No one takes irreverence more seriously than the artists at Kukuxumusu (say Koo-koo-choo-moo-soo). They’re a Basque company I first ran across close to 10 years ago when riding through the Pyrenees. Many of their shirts use recurring themes; some play (prey?) on the longstanding tensions between the French and the Spanish, with the French portrayed as frogs with bulging eyes and the Spanish characterized as bulls. Others take swipes at the Catholic church for the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the church worldwide.
Recently, Kukuxumusu released its first cycling-themed shirt. In celebration of this year’s Vuelta start in Pamplona, the company teamed up with Miguel Indurain to offer a shirt that celebrated cycling. Some of their designs (particularly the ones celebrating the Festival of San Fermin) are like something straight out of Richard Scarry’s children’s books, with a cast of dozens and a great many ridiculous things worth noticing, if only you slow down enough to really look.
One of these days I’m going to talk them into doing a design for RKP. I have no idea how I’ll do this, or what subject might be used as it’s starting point, but I love what they do too much to give up.
It’s been written that this isn’t an age for creeds. I’m not one to argue with that view. However, for most of us cycling isn’t so much a sport as it is a belief. What we take from cycling, from the fitness gained to victories earned, can be summed up as lessons. We’ve learned things, things that influence how we see the world.
The central truth of cycling in my life has been that in suffering on the bike, I’ve gained insights that have informed me, taught me about the world in ways I could never have guessed, nor even wanted. While the Zen koan “knowledge is pain” is beyond true, it doesn’t speak to the journeys we make, either literally on the bike, or metaphorically through the bike. ‘To suffer is to learn’ is the simplest, most direct recognition I can make for what cycling has given me.
So why not have it on a T-shirt?
One of the unanticipated dividends of starting a blog has been the opportunity to explore fun projects with an extraordinarily gifted graphic designer. The upshot is getting to commission some of the coolest items I’ve enjoyed as a cyclist. Joe Yule at Stage One Sports is simply the best graphic designer I’ve worked with—and I’ve worked with some good ones. He’s responsible for everything from the RKP logo to the kit and, of course, our popular Roubaix T-shirt.
I just asked him to make a shirt he’d like to wear.