Back on the bike. And thank you to RAPHA.

IT”S THE NEWS WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR (well, I have, anyway). Lucy Piper is officially back on the bike.


At last, life can get back to normal. A bit. I still can’t run – the place where my appendix used to be still really hurts when I try and jog. Maybe it left a big gap when they took it out? Should it still be hurting like this? Who knows. Doesn’t matter for now. I can pedal.

What I can’t do is signal; as soon as I lift one hand off the hoods, I realise that I have zero core stability. And yes, signalling has become treacherous, and yes, I will officially take on the title of ‘Swervy McSwerve’. For the time being.

I finally started using my Strava account, which I’ve had forever but never actually used it before. And it tells me that since last Saturday, I’ve ridden 347km. Plus about 10km a day in commuting but I don’t think that counts as I wear my jeans when I commute. Does it count as training if you’re wearing jeans? I think Strava might get a little addictive, as it gives you all these medals and trophies. They’re just virtual, of course. But still, better than nothing, which is what I have in real life.

I also swam THREE TIMES last week. That is more than I trained in a week during ironman training. Which explains my swim times in races.

So three swims and six rides. I feel so much better now. When I’m riding my bike I’m like a dog let off the leash, albeit a small dog with short legs, who thinks it’s a horse but really it’s just a sausage dog. That’s probably more where I’m pitched. But on the inside, I feel like a tiny dog who feels like a big greyhound who feels like a horse. Does that make sense? I’m not so sure it does. Let me just say this: I am much more relaxed now. Poor Jarrod has had to put up with me moaning about not being able to do sport, non-stop for eight weeks. I think he is more relieved than I am that I can ride my bike again.

In other news, I just wanted to give a bit of praise to the cycle kids at Rapha. I emailed them this week about a pair of fluoro socks I bought from them recently, that lost their colour after one (delicate) wash. (Now this is a long email, I suggest you skip it and scroll to the bottom).

Dear Rapha,

I just wanted to get your opinion on something. 

When I ride my bike, I wear your kit. Jersey, shorts, sleeves, hat, rain coat.

 To say that I love your brand would be an understatement; standard lycra makes you look like nothing short of an idiot. And I already do quite a good job of that myself, without dressing up in some ridiculous shiny green, yellow, black, white, pink, red and blue skintight array of lycra, covered in sponsors (even though I’m far from professional), that makes me look like the confectionary counter at the local newsagent’s.

 So thank you Rapha. I now have self-respect during those brief periods when I’m still in my kit, but not actually physically on my bike (walking in and out of my office etc).

 The most recent addition to my ever-increasing Rapha wardrobe was a pair of Chartreuse pro-team socks. Having previously lived in the Alps, I have a somewhat hazy but positive nostalgia for Chartreuse. I’m not sure this influenced my purchase, but I’m just setting the scene…

 I was never intending to buy the socks – as cyclists, you probably have similarly insufficient funds to me, due to spending on bikes and their accompanying paraphernalia. But you surprised me with some good Rapha karma: I’d been saving for one of your raincoats for a while, and when I finally went to buy it online, you had launched a ‘one weekend only’ 50% off deal.


 The socks went into my virtual basket. And so did a copy of Paul Fournel’s ‘Vélo’ – initially given to me as a 30th birthday present, I had recently left my copy in the back of the seat after a flight from Melbourne to London. This 50% off sale was one of the best days of my life so far. No joke.

 If I’m being honest with you, I actually bought the socks for my husband. That’s why I got them in a large size. But when they arrived, I couldn’t part with them. So I didn’t tell him I had intended them for him. No, I kept them. My guilty, greedy, Rapha secret socks. He doesn’t ride in Rapha yet anyway (he will, soon. When I get a pay rise…).

 I kept them for myself. I’m a terrible wife.

 I wore them once. And they were magnificent.

 And then I washed them once. A delicate, cool wash.

 And now, they are no longer magnificent; that one wash has transformed them from a flashy fluorescent chartreuse, into the muted yellow of the insignificant post-it note stuck to the bottom of your screen to remind you to ‘MAINTAIN PERSONAL EXCELLENCE’ (see attached screen shot). If it were in chartreuse, perhaps it would be a more visible reminder. But alas, it is a vague shade of Anchor-butter – destined to be forever ignored at the bottom of the screen, rather than being the flash of inspiration I intended.

 Similarly, my husband’s brand new chartreuse Rapha socks have turned into their post-it note equivalent, and are no longer a 90rpm (65rpm if Im being honest) flash along the roadside as I whizz past.

 So my question to you Rapha, is this: Did I do something wrong when I innocently, and delicately, washed my new socks? Is there a trick to maintaining the fluoro goodness beyond one wear? Or were they intended as a throwaway item, destined for a single, showstopping outing on the road? Or perhaps it is Rapha karma paying me back for not giving them to my husband as I originally intended…

 This was a very long email. Apologies. 

lucy piper_triathlon

This laborious piece of brain dump was received by Rapha, and responded to in the most eloquent, prompt and friendly manner. They were awesome. Having sold out of aforementioned sock, they asked me what they could do to replace the item, and are now sending me some new oversocks. They didn’t have to do that. They could have just said “you’re a terrible wife who stole her husband’s socks which were intended as a gift, and then did a rubbish job of washing them, alas making you a terrible AND undomesticated wife”. But they didn’t. They were wonderful.

Thank you Will at Rapha. You are a customer service boss.

lucy Piper_triathlon


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15 thoughts on “Back on the bike. And thank you to RAPHA.

  1. […] just being a girl and riding a bike. THANK YOU BICYCLE GODS. More to the point, thank you Rapha (not for the first time). I even managed to get papped a couple of times and make it to the homepage of the Rapha site and […]

  2. Kel says:

    Fabulous letter Lucy – Hels passed me on the link. I can also attest to the Rapha chaps being a rather fine group of Gentlemen – I know the SE Asia rep Adam T-C and he’s salt of the earth.(and soon to be descending down to Sydney like myself if rumors are true). Quite unbelievably I still don’t own a single item of Rapha kit (they call me Capt Assos back in the UK), but to commemorate my 40th I’m think i’LL go on the email list for a pair of Chartreuse pro socks (my team-mate Pete turned up in a pair to the Rapha Gentlemen’s Team Time Trial here in Singapore 2 weeks ago – very smart indeed). Or maybe one of those incredibly cool looking classic winter jackets… now that I actually need a winter jacket again (Brrr).

    If you manage to suss the trick for preventing the creation of sock shaped post-it notes, let me know just in case 🙂


  3. Helen says:

    Well this post is already out of date since you’ve just been welcomed back to running club!!!! I just want to say, I love running with you when you’ve had appendicitis. I can totally dominate conversation AND I get to set the pace. I hope you get your fitness back fast, but not too fast. Let me bask in the glow of being fitter than you for at least another week (even if it is due to major abdominal surgery…….) 🙂

    • You nutter – you own me every time we go out in running club – this is just my latest excuse!!! haha I think it will be months before I can keep up with you at your full speed 🙂

  4. Sima says:

    Piper, you’re awesome

    • Sima!!! Long time no see! What’s happening? I should probably come have a run around on the hockey pitch soon – as soon as I’m running again. What’s news – are we winning?? xxx

  5. ookgirl says:

    Lucy – great to hear that you are back on the bike! I loved your comment about feeling like a little dog who feels like a big dog who feels like a horse. (I think I got that right.) Anyway, when I had major surgery, it seemed to take forever to get my core strength back. But don’t worry – it will come. Your swimming will help; it helped me. My running took forever to return to form (about a year). I could run, mind you, but much slower. It just takes time for the ole bod to bounce back, but it will! And yours might bounce back faster. (I’m old 🙂
    Keep calm & keep pedaling 🙂 -jenn (

    • Jenn, wow. I find your blog such an inspiration. Major surgery is a big deal, even more so when you’re having an organ transplant. Sheesh. You are one tough cookie, and I’m stoked that you’ve enjoyed reading my experiences too. I will be following your writing closely, I have lots of questions for you… Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and leave your thoughts. Happy training 🙂

  6. kevin Rowley says:

    Hi Pal,
    Kevin Here, Nicky’s just getting up, it’s Sunday, and she is having tea in Bed not in a cup.
    Then I’m gonna get her take my Barbells to the attic. Work on my transmission and paint the garage before Breakfast.
    Hope you are laughing a bit after all you have been through….just as well you come from good stock…. And back out ‘On the Road Again’… Song there somewhere. That’s the Rowleys tune…. As we are on the road again… Back to Blighty by Lexus end of the month, Bilbao to Portsmouth, then looking forward to fish and chips pint of Sussex Ale.
    You’re as tough as the lads in the Lions Team that won yesterday in Hong Kong. Man of the match was Mike Phillips good looking Welsh Lad… Excelent player tough as old boots so he is. As is yourself…. And yes.. less of the old boots Rowley…. Nicky thinks you are beautiful as does your Dad… “And then some” … As he often says ….. And all your Fans out there….. Good luck to Yer Pal….

    Kevlar.. X…. Nicks up more tea…..
    Ps. I think this Lions Team has the makings….the Aussies know this… Lots of hand bags swinging.

    • Kevin, I think you need your own blog – The Life and Times of the Rowleys. Wow. Sounds like you have lots on! But yes, I’m back on the bike, and getting there bit by bit, slow and steady wins the race! So good to hear from you. I’m trying to get my hands on some Lions tickets over the next couple of weeks as I’ll be gutted it I miss out!! I think we will smash them Aussies (don’t tell my husband). Will keep you posted! Big love and kisses to Nicky and the boys xx

  7. rundontrun says:

    We have a Rapha shop in London. One day I will go in and buy stuff. In the meantime I will have to make do with stroking their merchandise. Longingly.

  8. Gerry says:

    I’m glad to hear you back on the bike, Lucy, even if until this morning I didn’t even know you were off it (I’m new to the blog)!

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