Mandatory Rapha Law

Laura Trott, in her recent tirade against anyone who commits the faux pas of riding a bike whilst not being Laura Trott, expressed her desire to make all those people who ride a bike but aren’t her wear a helmet everytime they do it, just like she does, so they would be a little bit less not like her. Laura Trott, no doubt playing to her ‘air-headed track-bunny who’s never had a proper job, hasn’t been alive as long as many of us have been riding bikes, thinks cycling is an indoor sport and proudly boasts of her Strava King of the Mountains title for the climb up the wheelchair ramp at the back of the velodrome without the slightest hint that she knows why anyone might be trying not to giggle’ persona can’t really be taken terribly seriously but it did make me think about what I would make people wear if I was the unelected minister for bike fashion instead of poor old Trotty, knowing self parody that she is as she pretends to be living proof that bike helmets don’t protect your brain quite as much as is sometimes claimed by their wearers. After a little thought, almost as little thought in fact as Laura Trott likes to make us believe she puts into her prononcements, there could be only one conclusion. What else, I decided, would cyclists unite around other than that well known brand of styish retro cycling chic from the big smoke, so I came up with the Mandatory Rapha Law.

I am certain the helmet law proponents will get fully behind this as it meets many of the same requirements as their own idea. It would help reduce the number of people on bikes down to a small core of proper cyclists riding proper bikes who are prepared to spend out on proper kit, it would help members of the public identify cyclists should they get off the bike briefly to go in a shop or stop in a cafe where otherwise there might be a risk they could be mistaken for any other passer by who just fancied a coffee or who ran out of jelly babies, and it would assuage the conciences of bad drivers because they would be reassured that the person they just ran over was a cyclist and not a normal person like them who just happened to be riding a bike. This last situation will occur less often once the MRL is in force of course as motorists will give more room to riders sporting high end kit. There is no scientific evidence for this statement whatsoever but it might be true and you can’t prove that it isn’t and if it saves one life…

Naturally I still need to iron out some details for example I need to decide if Rapha would need to be worn when pushing your bike to the car to take it on holiday, testing a potential purchase outside a bike shop, riding on an off road path or trail, riding within your own grounds, going for one of those bike fit sessions where they film you in the shop on rollers, doing a turbo session in your kitchen, or watching cycling on TV (I’m inclined to Eurosport: no, ITV4: yes although I can as yet provide no justification for this). I also haven’t really considered the under 18s and whether kids will have to wear premium bike specific kit for doing a paper round, hanging around outside the shops, or riding a tricycle up and down the garden path but as my law is all about health and safety we must think of the children

Some of you will have noted already that Rapha don’t make helmets and therefore anyone found wearing one will be breaking the law and subject to a fine, having their bike crushed and being made to listen to a sanctimonious finger wagging lecture about bringing the whole of cycling into disrepute by not wearing what someone else thinks they should be wearing but of course helmetists will be fine with that as they fully accept the principle of employing social opprobrium and legislation to impose one person’s fashion preferences onto somebody else they’ve never even met before. The flip side of the lecture for non-compliance will be that in the event of an incident any passer by at the scene will be required by law to exclaim ‘It’s a good thing you were wearing a Rapha!’ and this will apply whether you had a minor wobble on a bend or were run over by a 44 tonne truck. This is another example of the way the Mandatory Rapha Law will bring cyclists together or at least bring together the ones who haven’t been driven off the road by it.

There are bound to be some challenges in the early stage of adoption of this law, and some opposition, particularly as the second hand value of bikes plummets, as London’s Boris Bikes hire scheme folds, as existing Rapha wearers feel a bit put out that everyone else is wearing their favourite stuff now and as police resources are diverted from catching murderers and rapists to stopping cyclists and checking they haven’t painted a white armband on their Aldi jacket so naturally there will be some transitional concessions for instance riders will be allowed to sew a label under the Rapha logo which says ‘I bought it in the sale’ to make them feel less uneasy but in the end I think everyone will agree that you can’t take any chances where health and safety is concerned and this omlette is worth breaking some eggs for. If Rapha is good enough for Team Sky it’s good enough for you and doing nothing is not an option.

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