Rapha launched a special-edition kit for L39ION of Los Angeles that was inspired by the US team's dominant performance at Saint Francis Tulsa Tough the past two seasons. The three-day set of criteriums, held in mid-June, takes place in a city with a tumultuous history of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.
The first $43,000 in sales will be donated to CYCLE Kids, helping grassroots cycling programmes in local schools. The collection of items includes a pro team crit jersey for men and women, a pro team training jersey for men and women, socks and a cap.
The collaboration with Rapha and L39ION of Los Angeles also looks to support the resurgence of the Greenwood District of the city, known as Black Wall Street. The new design was inspired by the streets of the inner-city crits, which Rapha referred to Tulsa Tough races being ‘oil slick quick’. The new crit jersey also includes a graphic that references Black Wall Street and the area that was destroyed in the massacre.
“When we think about Tulsa, we think about what could have been. A community full of opportunities for minorities that was uprooted by hate and ignorance. We are proud to elevate and support Greenwood Avenue in its quest to help Black Wall Street thrive again and the ideology of Black ownership," said Justin Williams, team manager and co-founder of L39ION of Los Angeles, in a press release.
In 2021 L39ION of Los Angeles swept the women’s and men’s omnium titles, with Skylar Schneider winning two of the women's races and taking second place behind Kendall Ryan in a third, while Justin Williams, Cory Williams and Tyler Williams each shared in race victories. In 2022, L39ION was again dominant on the women's side, as Skylar swept the trio of races, and Ty Magner and Cory Williams went 1-2 in the opening Friday night contest.
Funds will go to the running costs of the new programme for CYCLE Kids in Tulsa for the first two years. In the lead up to the races, L39ION of Los Angeles riders took part in a bike build event on June 7 to launch the opening of the new CYCLE Kids programme at a local elementary school in Tulsa. CYCLE Kids, which began in Massachusetts in 2004, introduces children to cycling through school programmes in the academic curriculum to ‘harness the excitement of riding a bike’ for positive exercise and nutrition habits.
The new crit jersey features a design for aero efficiency and temperature regulation in hot-weather criteriums, like Tulsa Tough. Also incorporated into the jersey design is a label on the arm for clothing line Greenwood Ave, set up by business owner and activist Trey Thraxton. The branding acknowledges the tragedy of the past and celebration of potential for the future.
Since Rapha launched in 2004, nearly every product has carried some kind of story label that “connect both the product and its owner to the history, characters and intrigue of road racing and culture”.
The Rapha collection will be available at Rapha Clubhouses and on their website.
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