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In Melbourne last July, I took part in the Rapha Women’s 100, my first group ride and only my second 100km one. I would usually ride on my own, at my own pace and in my own time – whenever I could get some.
With two young daughters and my husband often working out of town, fitting into a group training schedule was near impossible. So, I was a little nervous turning up as a relative newcomer to the sport, a country girl on city roads. But I loved it. I loved that we all had a coffee before our ride and that all these women were going out to ride 100km together, while women all over the world were simultaneously doing the same. I soon realised that riding with others was much more fun and much easier than doing it alone.
My passion for cycling began when my second baby was around 10 months old and I finally started to claw back some ‘me time’. I had always been a keen runner but my post-baby body didn’t like running everyday and I needed to change it up. I also happen to live in arguably the best cycling location in Australia – in Bright, Victoria – and given there’s so much quality riding to be had here, it’s hard not to fall in love with the sport. For me, the freedom and exhilaration on the bike was a double-bonus; I got fitter and stronger, as well as getting some much needed relief from looking after two very small children.
So, this year, I’ve signed up to do the Women’s 100 again. This time round, however, there’s one small hitch, what you might call a bump in the road – by 20th July, the day of the ride, I’ll be 21 weeks pregnant. How much of an obstacle this proves remains to be seen. Even though I knew I was pregnant when I signed up, I wanted to do it for myself. Partly because last year was such an achievement, but also because I wanted to get some of my friends involved. Perhaps the challenge of riding a 100km pregnant also appealed to me. I like to believe that having babies doesn’t mean women have to give up everything, despite that’s how it feels sometimes.
I trained a lot this past summer, fulfilling more of my riding goals. I finally rode up Mt Hotham a couple of months ago, feeling my fittest ever. Last weekend, I rode 60km with some of the girls I’ll ride with on the Women’s 100 and it was hard. By the end, I was completely spent. My legs are rapidly losing their power and my belly continues to grow and squish into my Winter Tights. I am hoping with all my heart that two years of training will help keep my legs turning over for 100km, and that my tights will still fit in a month’s time.
If nothing else, the Women’s 100 has kept me on the bike when my warm bed was beckoning and my morning sickness was overwhelming. I will keep riding until I can’t ride any longer, and I can only hope that will be after 20th July.