‘I Love the Freedom to Go Places Using My Own Body’
Jordan Roe was only five, but he can still picture that electric blue Magna bike from Walmart—his first taste of flying on two wheels.
‘If you ask a lot of people what they love about cycling, the most common answer is the freedom to go places using your own body. For me, it starts with that. I’m using my legs to see all these new roads and amazing views, and I can just take it all in.’
A few stolen bikes and countless rides around the neighborhood later, Jordan got a fixed-gear bike in college to commute around campus. His friends followed suit, but got road bikes instead.
‘If they were gonna get road bikes, I had to get one. That was 2014, and I’ve never turned back.’
After several years of cycling, Jordan turned his passion into a paycheck—managing a bike shop in Maryland. While there, he got a call from Rapha—a London-based sportswear and lifestyle brand focused on road bicycle racing, clothing, and accessories. They were opening a pop-up in Georgetown, with the goal of finding a permanent space, and wanted Jordan at the helm.
‘I’ve been a long-time fan of the brand and I’ve been wearing their stuff for years. It had been in the back of my mind forever that I’d love to work for them one day. I got the call and was like, ‘Heck yeah!’’
In the late fall of 2017, Jordan opened the pop-up on M Street. By June, the new clubhouse debuted on Grace Street.
Jordan says Rapha’s ‘bread-and-butter’ are road cyclists who love the sport and follow the pro races, but the clubhouse was designed to foster an inclusive community for all, regardless of experience or expertise.
‘Some would love to be pros, but many are just commuting to work on bike. We have some people who are strictly racers who come in and hang out. Rapha’s vision is that we’re here for all cyclists, and that’s the biggest draw to having a clubhouse in Georgetown that’s accessible to Maryland, Virginia, and DC.’
There were no shortage of citywide cycling groups and shops before Rapha came to Georgetown, but Jordan says none of them adequately tapped into the camaraderie many cyclists are seeking.
‘There are a lot of serious cyclists in DC, which has been voted the fittest city for several years—and you hop on a random group ride and see why. They aren’t about community, they’re just about blowing each other’s legs off. There are a lot of fast group rides, but not much to accommodate people who just want to ride together. Rapha is tapping into that part of the community that’s been missing in the city. You make new friends here and they end up being the people you call at 6 am and say, ‘Hey, we’re riding out at 8, do you want to join?’
In addition to open rides for the general public, Rapha offers a $200 cycling club membership that includes access to club rides, private events, and community activities. Jordan says he’s seen a growing number of women, in particular, find their tribe at the clubhouse.
‘There are all these rides in DC and women who want to ride, but they get the total wrong vibe from them. We have a bi-weekly women’s ride, and it’s been great to see all these people roll up at 5 pm who didn’t know each other two weeks ago—or came from different teams and used to race against one another—and now they’re riding together.’
Just don’t count his wife among them.
‘My wife hates bikes! She’s a runner. I got her on a Capital Bikeshare a few months ago and she was kind of freaked out.’
It may not be a family affair, but Jordan is content to cycle solo when he isn’t on a Rapha group ride. Although his triathlon days—and 5 am training sessions—are behind him, Jordan still bikes in every day from Bethesda. He’s even learned to embrace the bike paths he once hated for their mixed-use challenges—sharing the Capital Crescent Trail with joggers before breaking free to explore backroads.
‘I can’t do the same ride over and over again. It makes me bored. Once you get out of the city, all these roads are connected and you can go miles and miles, seeing new places.’
Outside of DC, Jordan counts the roads north of Los Angeles, through the Santa Monica hills and up into the mountains, among his favorite rides. The Alps are at the top of his bucket list.
‘Many of the pro races go through there, and it’s stunning. For me, that’s the most amazing part of cycling—seeing all of this beauty.’