Words: David Evans | Date:
The Rapha Women’s 100 was created to celebrate and unite women riders of all abilities and the pen portraits here depict, broadly, three different levels of riding. While you may fall somewhere between them, hopefully they will inspire you and help you connect with the Women’s 100. Perhaps you’re a novice and want to evolve into a racer. Perhaps you’re an enthusiast and want to understand how a novice thinks. Whatever the case, we hope you can join the ride on 20th July and help Rapha encourage more women to experience road riding for themselves.
Riding still has that fresh feeling of unfamiliarity, and she is enjoying every second of it. Any insecurities of ‘doing it wrong’ are banished – just doing it is doing it right. Riding is an escape, even if what she’s not quite sure what she needs to escape. There’s a sense of all there is to learn and all there is to do, a sense that riding bikes is part of something bigger. She whips up her new enthusiasm for riding amongst friends, an evangelist for early rising and morning rides to coffee shops. She’s building a routine of rides with friends that will see out the summer, finding a better route of out town, fixing a flat, tackling a longer climb, seeing places in a different way – all as a way of finding out about herself.
Her first bike was acquired through necessity; a less crowded commute in the warmer months, an easy way to stay active, some time to herself. Then, out on country lanes early on a Sunday morning, surrounded by friends and untroubled by the wind and rain, she realised cycling had become part of her life. Riding has given her a fresh outlook on familiar things. There’s a calendar of races to watch, cheers and chants in French and Flemish, a new appreciation of post-ride meals and some unusual tan lines. All of which forms a loose mantra: ride bikes, have fun.
Where it all started is a world away from where she is now. Gentle rides gave way to club rides, then chaingangs, Thursday night time trials, and finally a racing licence. Now it’s jerseys adorned with sponsors’ names and instructions from the directeur sportif. Some things haven’t changed. There’s still the breathless exhilaration in the moment of attack, still the knowledge that riding is a need as much as a want. On the start line, a handshake for a visiting well-wisher before the final piece of race-day kit is put on; a neutral facial expression that masks her desire for the win. She’s told she’s a role model. Very well then, but the only time she needs eyes on her is when she’s escaping off the front.