When I woke up on this brilliant Friday morning with the blinds struggling to contain the sun, I knew it was going to be a good day. I turned over, opened one eye, and saw my dog’s bright pink Collie tongue lolling, as though she had run here from five miles away and chugged a bowl. My other eye opened, bleary with a side of bed-head, and tried to focus on the big, wet, pink member winding up for its daily slurp—a declarative slap in the face telling you it’s time to get up.
Wake up, bitch.
I tried to hide, but that tongue found it’s way into my ear, just thrusting thrusting thrusting thrust thrust thrust, which translates rather well, staccato and all, to fuck. you. get. up. now. i. love. you. so. much. but. i. have. to. pee. also. give. me. a. spoonful. of. peanut. butter.
My ears weren’t the only ones getting tongue-fucked this morning. Upon cracking open the internet, taking the test sip of my coffee, these burst forth, as though someone was pressing them up against my computer’s screen.
And right away, without any reservation of how well I know the words, because I do, Aerosmith’s “Pink” began playing in my head.
There are only so many things I can get mad about. I know I’m new-ish here. I don’t have seasoned and justified distaste for the bike industry’s missteps as Dirty. Nor can I dismantle the spec of a new bike, Six Sigma-like, as well as D2. And even though Cupcake and I endured the same soul-hardening winters as kids growing up in Midwest, his particular flavor of virulence is unmatched.
Alas, here we have the fruits of Rapha’s new “collaboration” with Bang & Olufsen. Headphones. Bang & Olufsen is a Danish outfit that makes nifty audio gear like, you know, headphones, whose homepage has only one word in English (“blog, English only”), making you feel like an ill-traveled American in a Quebec restaurant in which you know everyone speaks English but the only nod to the non-Francophone is a poorly-lit “Men’s room” placard at back, near the kitchen.
Which is all very odd, because once you find yourself in the English iteration of Bang & Olufsen’s site, you find yourself in something not all unlike the business card boardroom scene from American Psycho. There are no dollar signs. Everything is in “USD,” as though you need to take your Series 34 exam just to get near the fucking checkout page.
Now, Rapha has dispatched its logo, and tasteful pink 3.5mm cord that could’ve been pilfered from a sorority girl’s room, on the tasteful BeoPlay H6 model headphones.
Rapha, Rapha, Rapha. Come. On! Really? Yes, even I have a Rapha garment in my stable of cycling gear. And many riders in which I hold the highest esteem wear Rapha. I know very well several people associated with the company, whether they receive a paycheck or are ambassadors. I get it.
But the cycling media, wherein lies my deepest criticism, has been eating these up over the last two days since the release. Bike Radar’s review lists the headphones’ price as 329 pounds ($429). Yes, they’re a British-based site. But you know how things with a pound symbol instead of a dollar sign are just that much better: “Mmmmm, yes, let’s list the price with our precious, self-assured £, a symbol as bespoke as Rapha’s headphones themselves, because we all know it’s just a cursive L, which no one in America can write any more (dignified chuckles from ivory tower. In England.)
Stateside, North Carolina-based Bikerumor.com comes forth with the SEO-friendly “THE SOUND OF RAPHA: AS HEARD THROUGH CUSTOM BANG & OLUFSEN H6 HEADPHONES” review. It’s as restrained as a press-release-regurgitation can be. You can tell they’re pushing the line, sort of like trying to find where the line is with your new girlfriend’s dad:
“It’s probably safe to assume that most of us are fans of music, whatever your tastes may be. Whether you’re warming up on the trainer, trying to drown out the noise on a plane, or simply looking to isolate your brain for a bit, a good pair of headphones can be welcome distraction. Leave it to Rapha to team up with Bang & Olufsen to create a pair of headphones worthy of the Rapha name, and a large portion of your wallet…”
Ho-ly shit. Tell us how you really feel, Bike Rumor, lest you get kicked off of Rapha’s PR distro list.
Nay, I don’t meant to lampoon the BR folk. They’re journalists, too, barely breaching the third tax bracket. Thus, they exhibit the wherewithal to recognize the lavishness of price with an equal mix of apprehension and awe. Google “Rapha headphones” or whatever you’re able to bang out after the 7th beer this weekend and see who else has devoted server space to this pair of ‘phones that has a model name appealing, unabashedly, to a segment of American cycling exceptionalism—say, BMW-owning middle managers with clean Madones hanging upside down in the garage. But just seeing someone wearing these headphones, I bet, conjures the cool-guy cyclist image better than any review could.
How could you not wear these headphones and not be reminded of that summer you flew to France to ride TdF stages after the real spectacle already blew threw? Phil Liggett is already on his way home, listening to his own voice on the H6s, peeling his sack off his leg, while you’re out there wondering why your front derailleur is rubbing.
B-, bu-, bu-, but-, they’re so…nice! Look at the elegant African hair sheep leather ear cups, an-, an-, and, and the underside of the aluminum headband laden with Rapha fabrics using the same “technical” material found in their Pro Team Softshell jacket. Oh, these headphones must be so comfortable on the trainer as they are on the road. And that pink. The pink really does it for me.
One time, on my road bike, I torpedoed a jogger who did a U-turn in front of me without preamble or warning. He was wearing headphones.
Where was I? Ah, well, I’ve lost my train of thought. It got drowned out by the sound of Bang & Olufsen’s pants unzipping.
If there’s any solace here, it’s that one day, I hope, there’ll be enough advertising foresight to keep the sleek black earmuffs off of cycling’s finest riders, like the NFL’s ban on anything but Bose headphones (looking at you, Beats by Dre).
Scandinavian Jesus advised me before publishing this post. DC is always caught between the joy of good ol’ fashioned hate-mongering, and not spreading shitty ideas further than they’ve come already.
Rapha: the official sound of cycling. Go ahead and drink about that.
Sometimes, the shitty ideas speak for themselves.