Paul Ripke readily admits he’s had a fair bit of luck in his career. But luck, it’s said, favors the prepared. Paul, then, might just be the most prepared man on Earth.
His career as a photographer and videographer, telling the stories of brands and teams, has taken him laps around the globe, with more than a few enviable gigs along the way. And for each job, he’s had an impeccable knack for timing. When he documented the German national soccer team, they won a World Cup title. And when the opportunity came along to work for a Formula One team, it was for none other than Mercedes-AMG Petronas and superstar driver Lewis Hamilton, who have been nearly untouchable the past seven seasons. But early in 2020 he left that job of a lifetime with Mercedes, asking to be let out of his contract early to tell his own story.
While Paul has a lot going on these days, running his personal brand called PARI—which borrows the first letters from his full name—hosting podcasts and more, he’s been making plenty of time for one thing in particular: riding a bike.
It all started in early 2020, not long after parting ways with Mercedes after another championship season for Lewis Hamilton. A couple months before the world descended into pandemic-induced lockdown, he threw his leg over a top-tube and declared himself a cyclist—something he hadn’t thought of himself since his childhood in Germany, where he grew up bikepacking with his dad.
By December 31, he would surpass 10,000 kilometers for the year while rolling through Joshua Tree National Park, one of his favorite rides to date. In between the first kilometers spent mainly on the coastal bike paths near his home in Newport Beach, California, and the ten-thousandth one venturing out into the desert, he began a cycling club, PARI SOUPLESSE CLUB, bestowed with the name of his personal brand.
But he didn’t want to start just any club. No stranger to doing things his own way, Paul created it in his exact vision to encompass all the aspects of riding he has come to love during his zealous foray into cycling. “Getting to know people on the bike and having a beer after is the whole idea of PARI SOUPLESSE CLUB,” he says.
And he’s very serious about the club’s motto, “Look pro, go slow.” “I don’t like the KOMs,” he says, referring to chasing Strava segments. (Though you can still find Paul on Strava, just chasing a mileage goal, not KOMs). “I don’t even know where a KOM is on any route we do. The social aspect is the most important part. I don’t care how fast we go.”
And Paul means it when he says he doesn’t care about pace. “We always wait for the slowest person,” he says, adding that he often doesn’t find that to be the case on other supposedly no-drop group rides. And in this time of re-emerging into the world, a little social paced riding is exactly what we all need.
The club is truly all about the ride and socializing. That’s why Paul looks for partners for the club like Schwalbe who embody its spirit. “I don’t want a single extra second with my bike after I’m done riding,” says Paul. “I want gear that is durable and reliable and I get that with Schwalbe.” It doesn’t hurt that Schwalbe tires like the Pro One provide a super supple ride at the same time.
And because it’s all about socializing, Paul has found some stellar company for the club’s first U.S. rides, starting in July in California. Celebrity chef Chris Cosentino will be co-leading a mixed-terrain ride in San Francisco on July 12. Two days later, July 14, the club rides out of Pismo Beach with world-renowned photographer Chris Burkard on a mixed terrain route into Los Padres National Forest. Then on July 16 a road ride takes off from the PARI CLUB HOUSE in Newport Beach, where Paul calls home. All you have to do is show up and come prepared to ride in a cool place at a social pace with interesting people. Join the Strava club for info on the rides and to stay up to date on future events!