Monday, January 21, 2008

Trans Iowa: A Dichotomy

Trans Iowa: The "under-the-radar", low brow, ultra-endurance ride that is in parts gritty, torturous, and ultimately rewarding isn't what most people would regard as a reason to be "elevated" to iconic proportions. It isn't an event one would associate with a "top tier" cycling clothing company, or any "high brow" discussion concerning cycling. Yet that is where one Trans Iowa rider finds himself and where one cycling apparel company has gone to help market itself.

Check out this page on the web. I was tipped off to its existence by d.p. this past weekend while we were, (ironically) doing research on the T.I.V4 course. I am a bit flattered, and confused as to just what to think of this.

First off, let me say that I am happy for Ira Ryan. He's taken his two wins at Trans Iowa and gone on to greater things. He is the only winner of the event and since we don't pay much for that honor, (as in zilch, nada, nuttin'!) at least he is making hay out of that fact and I am glad to see it. As for Rapha, I have heard nothing but raves for them from cycling's elite. The reason I haven't heard anything from elsewhere is because their products are stratospherically expensive. A "Ferrari" amongst Chevrolets. (Or Fords, Toyotas, and get the idea!)

So I see this connection and I can understand it on one level, but the irony is not lost on me. For some reason, (call me mad if you must) I just don't see a Rapha kitted cyclist doing Trans Iowa. At least not somebody who actually paid for their kit. It certainly isn't anywhere near the description of what the first winner of T.I. was wearing during his turn as T.I. champion. Weathered Atlas Racing kit, cobbled leg warmers, and minimal protection against the elements. That's my memory of a gritty, unmatched, and functional cycling kit worn by the winner. It fit the event perfectly.

The dichotomy of this dusty, rural, and barely noticed event seems at odds with the ultra-chic cycling duds that Rapha puts out. Yet this company draws a parallel with it. I don't know, maybe I'm the only one that finds this strange. I just think it's weird.

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