Over the last few weeks, during the many times I’d written this article in my head, it always started with the opening line: ‘I started the ride – but failed.’ As the 2014 edition of the Women’s 100 drew closer, my belly was much bigger than I remember the last time I was 22 weeks pregnant, added to which gastroenteritis hit our family two weeks before the day of the ride. There was also the fact it had rained, snowed and rained some more this past month here in the High Country, in the Australian state of Victoria. Amazing for skiers, less so for cyclists, so needless to say my final training for riding 100km while five months pregnant was a little hindered.
But, and it gives me great satisfaction to say so, the story turned out very differently to how I’d imagined. The sun came out (eventually) women came out to ride, too – and I made it, the whole 100km. With my bump nice and comfy inside my husband’s Winter Tights and many an extra layer, on Sunday 20th July, a friend and I headed out at 7.30am and in -3C degrees, to start our 100km. My four-year-old wondered why I was going for a ride at all when everything outside was white, and with great pride I told her that, thanks to Rapha, women all over the world were doing just the same that very day. There is something about that, it just gives you a buzz. Enough, it seems, to get out on your bike, even during in the most severe frost to hit my home town of Bright in many years.
The Women’s 100 reinforces the joy of riding when you all share the love. At 9am we met up with a larger group, all about to start their own 100km, and from then on there were 12 of us riding in what had now become a balmy -2C. We rode first through valleys and, to be honest, it was pretty painful to begin with, both my toes and fingers numb. At the end of the second valley, however, we were met with a campfire by our ride organisers, along with warm drinks and a brownie – a little bit of gold. Having now reached 63.25km, I was actually starting to think I might finish the 100km.
By 90km we were homeward bound, the layers had come off, toes and fingers had thawed and we rode towards snow-capped mountains with the sun beaming down. It couldn’t have been better and I was exhausted but proud. Four hours and 29 minutes – a very happy day’s riding and I’ve already signed up for next year.