Interview: Soup Athletica

What is Soup Athletica about and when was the Soup team formed?

At our core, we are about telling stories through cycling, sport and adventure, and doing it creatively and engagingly. Sometimes that can be through channelling the spirit of adventure or capturing the exhilaration of riding a bike, other times with an injection of tongue-in-cheek. The main aim for us is to inspire people to get outdoors and have a good time on two wheels through feature stories on our website, group rides, and our monthly newsletter "Journal".  

If you want to talk about when the Soup team was formed, you'd initially have to throw it back a handful of years. There was a small group of us (all recent arrivals to Melbourne) catching up almost every night after work or university to just ride around the city and have a good time. Slowly but surely we made friends from both in-and-out of the cycling community and a crew formed from there over the years. And now, with the year we've just had, the crew has been  through a major evolution as we remerge post lockdown, primarily headed up by myself (Adrian), Brandon and Lauren.


Where does the name ‘Soup Athletica’ stem from?  

The initial idea behind the "Soup" name came from a song called Soup Boys by Queens rapper Heems (Himanshu Suri). That song and the mixtape it was spinning regularly within our friendship circle. It was also coming into winter, meaning we were frequenting Laksa King in Flemington, and heading down Bridge Rd to get pho as a source of sustenance and warmth, so everything lined up nicely.  

"Athletica" stems from a desire to depart from the typical use of "Velo", "Ciclismo" "Cycling Club" that you often see in the cycling community. We also see it as a great way to incorporate or move into other sports and activities in the future.  

Recently the team shifted identity/brand from ‘Soup Boys’ to ‘Soup Athletica’ what inspired the change? 

When starting out we honestly weren't sure anyone would pay us any attention, so when it came to picking a name we kept the entire process alarmingly simple. Looking back the name probably (and rightly) led people to believe that we sat with the hyper-masculine space of cycling, all the while giving it a real send-up through our content. Another factor was that from 3 guys in their early 20's we had grown to form quite a wider community of people from all walks of life, and the name "Soup Boys" no longer reflected us as a collective.  

The name change was always something that was going to happen, it was just about finding the time to do it properly. Inspiration came from wanting to create a space for stories that you wouldn't normally see through the main cycling channels, whether that involved grassroots racing, self-guided adventures or just the everyday type of riding around the suburbs or city. Our new branding is inspired by the art nouveau movement, in particular, the ever-present  connection between body and nature when out on the bike – but the inspiration isn't purely visual. With a strong knowledge of art history amongst us, it was great unpacking the social elements of the art nouveau movement and re-contextualising them for a cycling audience –  bringing engaging and accessible cycling and lifestyle content to a wider audience.

You’ve done some collaborative work with REPETE cycles from the Czech Republic. How did the relationship come about & what were/are the projects in place? 

The team at REPETE reached out to us a few years ago just as they were looking to relaunch their brand after a short hiatus. Based in Europe, they had a good network within the industry, but wanted to offer a point of difference in their content, and expose their brand to a fresh market – landing on Australia, then ultimately us.  

Alongside the two founders Mikolas and Robin, we've developed an ongoing adventure-based campaign aboard 3 of their All-Road bikes, the REPETE Verne. Alongside them we developed paint jobs for each bike, helping to promote their custom offering they are calling "Decode Your Individuality", while we also partnered with Campagnolo for components.  

Unfortunately, the bikes all arrived just as COVID-19 was making its way to Australia, so they occupied cupboard space for the best part of 2020, before getting built right at the end of the year. With the new brand and recalibrated minds, we've put the bikes to the test a couple of times so far, and over the coming weeks and months, we will be riding them all over the place on our self-guided adventures and racing them at a few events.


What're some other collaborations Soup Athletica have been a part of? 

We're lucky to have a range of collaborative partners that we've worked alongside for several years now.  

Previously, we've partnered with Ride High Country where we have produced content around our self-guided adventure rides, while across the summer of 2018-19 we hosted a series of rides around their 7 Peaks season, guiding just over 200 people up to the summits of 4 major alpine climbs in the region.  

In the event space, we have also been involved with the Hells 500 Ol Dirty, where we have curated the official playlist and taken on hype-based responsibilities for a few years now. We also have long standing relationships with Bridge Road Brewers and the Gears + Beers Festival in Wagga.  

Focusing on the cycling industry a little closer, we've done content-focused work with brands and organisations like CyclingTips, Cycling Australia and Rapha, while we've been partnered with Pedla and Kask amongst others through our cyclocross team.

Besides cycling, what other interests fall into in the Soup Athletica community?

Within our community, we've got a whole assortment of day jobs and interests outside of cycling, which makes us work so well together as a whole, and allows us to tell stories that capture your attention.  

Across the board, we are quite interested in cooking whether that is whipping up a hot bowl of soup or taking care of the BBQ on a sunny afternoon. There's a lot of interest in other sports or outdoor activities beyond cycling – walking, hiking and running, soccer, motorsport, swimming. Lastly, we all have an appreciation for culture and creativity, whether that is through music, art, design, fashion and more.

The Soup team have recently pieced together some really nice hand-dyed tees ‘the  Shibori Sunset t-shirt’. What was the inspiration behind the design?

In the past, we'd made some typical tie-dye t-shirts which proved to be quite popular. Through creating the Shibori Sunset t-shirt, we wanted to take it another step further, and in doing so align it to the idea of craft and DIY that we push through our philosophy. Screen printing the logo is the easy part, but the hand dyeing process was realised by Lauren who chose the pattern and developed the whole production line.  

Visually the orange of course stems from one of our key brand colours, and as is mentioned in the name, is channelled by late summer sunsets where they can get blindingly orange. We wanted to be able to create something that was intrinsically "us", something that was unique, and a t-shirt that was hyper-specific to cycling, allowing anyone to wear it in whatever context they choose.


Can we expect more garments? 

The short answer is yes, but anything we create will be done so with a purpose, a fit, and a story to tell in mind.

What are the team’s espresso spots during rides? 

There are almost too many to list. Across Melbourne, our go-to's are Impasto, 25 Tilba St, No.19, Crumbs Bakery, Espresso Albert Park, and Tom's. When we are out of town, classic spots worth a revisit are the Mount Beauty Bakery, Sixpence Coffee in Bright, Exchange Espresso in Adelaide, or any McDonalds along a major highway.


How did the team stay connected during 2020? 

When lockdown first started we would meet up on a range of different virtual riding platforms, jump into a Facebook group video chat and go from there. After a couple of weeks, it seemed the whole process got a little stale, so it evolved into the simple act of connecting through social media, all the while giving each other the space we all knew we needed. It was an interesting time to connect on a level that went beyond cycling too, allowing us to gain a  deeper understanding of one another.

How can keen riders join the Soup Athletica community?  

Any keen riders can join us on our weekly ride in the inner-north west suburbs of Melbourne. It's held each Wednesday morning unless advertised otherwise and goes along at a pretty chilled pace before we finish with coffee. Other opportunities to join in on the fun can be seen across our socials, or over on our Strava club page, where we advertise upcoming rides or routes from our adventures that we think you'd like. The last way you can join in the community  vibe is by simply dropping us a DM, our lines are always open.


What can we expect in 2021 and how can we stay connected with Soup Athletica?

With a new brand and some amazing new people in our crew, we're looking forward to bringing some fresh new stories and perspectives to the fore through our social channels, website and monthly newsletter. This year hopefully marks the return of some of our, and our readers favourites: the WNTRSLSTC ride, a season of cyclocross with the Soup Bæs CX  team, and commentary around the European grand tours during our colder months.  

The best ways to stay connected with us are through our Instagram or Facebook, over on our Strava club, by subscribing to our monthly newsletter "Journal" or heading to our website.

Soup Athletica also have great taste in music. Check out the playlist they curated alongside their interview here.

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