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Behind the Scenes at Rapha Travel

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Rapha Travel trips delve into the heart of cycling, offering unforgettable adventures on the world’s greatest roads. From col-bagging on long weekends to hardy ten-day forays across remote terrain, each departure’s experience is characterised by the unparalleled support offered by Rapha Travel’s team of guides, soigneurs and mechanics.

We asked mechanic Mattia Bettagno to offer a glimpse into the inner workings of a Rapha Travel adventure.

My job is to be a movable bike shop. Before the trip, I’ll work on building up all of the Canyon rental at our Service Course in Italy, then I’ll drive them to wherever the ride is taking place. Each day I’ll look after the bikes, washing them, tweaking them and keeping the chain lubed, as well as offering constant on-the-road support. We want our customers to feel like pros, with a new bike every day. On trips, I work wherever I can: in garages, car parks or even hotel rooms!

The Service Course is our treasure trove. It’s a big work space in Varese, which is where I grew up (Mattia raced at a high level for the Mapei development team as a junior). We have shelves and shelves of Muc-Off, Rapha clothing, bidons, coolers and so on, as well as my mechanic’s workshop in the corner.

What’s most special about Rapha Travel trips is the service. We take care of everything for our customers, from lling their bidons every morning, to the fresh rice cakes we make each day. We work a lot when the customers don’t see us: we ride and enjoy dinner with them, but then disappear into the night to work on the bikes, do the laundry and check the next day’s route.

I love to see people escape their comfort zones with us. The riding on Rapha Travel trips can be hard - we climb all of the legendary mountain passes - so the sense of achievement is always strong. People really appreciate the little things too: a hot drink at the top of a cold climb, a spray of the Muc-Off Lens & Goggle Cleaner on grimy sunglasses during a sweaty day, or our daily ‘awards ceremony’ at dinner. Many customers come back, so it feels like a family at times.

I got this job by complete chance. When I gave up riding competitively, I learnt my trade as a wheel builder and mechanic here in Italy for a few years before travelling to California. On the day my visa ran out [in 2012], I met the Rapha Travel guys. I’ve worked on 40 trips since then, and there have been some really special times. When a nice group of people comes together, and the riding is amazing and evenly- matched, there is nothing like it.

Thinking on your feet (or pedals) is everything in our business. Last year at l’Eroica [Rapha Travel runs a special yearly trip to the amateur sportive ride in Tuscany] I was riding with a group of our customers and after 50km, one guy’s rear derailleur broke. He was distraught, thinking that the day was nished for him, but I got out my multi-tool, cut his chain and turned the bike into a single speed. He made it to the end and was extremely grateful.

Join Rapha Travel on one of their next adventures around the world. Visit rapha.cc/travel for a list of upcoming trips.

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