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Festive 500 : The Round About Way


 
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I started cycling in 2014. In that same year, my one cycling buddy showed me a Rapha Continental film. The film showcased a ride that honored cyclist Bryan Chapman. The ride featured a group of 7 or so cyclists riding 600 kilometers through the mountains in Wales’ treacherous winter weather. 

This was my first exposure to these films, and it ignited something inside of me. I had no idea that cyclists could look so fashionable on a bike. This film also revealed that cycling could be communal and adventurous. I loved the idea of suffering with a group of friends to accomplish a goal, then celebrating over beer and food! As a photographer, I resonated with Rapha’s entire brand both visually and communally. They have always represented the perfect nexus of sport, fashion, nature and design. For me, photography and cycling go hand in hand.

Today, I have the privilege of being part of the Drama Kings, a cycling club in Birmingham’s (AL) neighborhood of Crestwood. Most of us will never be more than hobbyists (although we had a few amateur podium finishes this year). Our mission is simple - to push each other physically, to explore our city and to enjoy fellowship. Rapha played a part in shaping this mission and makes us look good while doing it.

This year, I completed my first Festive 500. With the help of the Drama Kings, I never rode a mile of it alone. With my Leica M 262 strapped to my back, I documented our rides. The Festive 500 was physically grueling, and photographing it was an additional challenge. While the Festive roundel will be cool to sew on the back of my Rapha Classic Jersey, the experience of suffering, supporting and celebrating with these men is what I cherish most. To quote the Rapha film that got it all started for me, “There’s a lot of camaraderie on rides like this because everyone knows what your end goal is, though you might sometimes be taking the round about way getting there.”

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Bryan Johnson