On Sunday, 26th July, thousands of cyclists around the world demonstrated their collective spirit by taking part in the Rapha Women’s 100. With 9,000 participants having pledged to ride, and many more joining the 333 organised rides worldwide, the initiative continued its growth in the name of inspiring women to cycle 100km on a Sunday in July each year. With participations logged from Iceland to Indonesia and Kazakhstan to South Korea, it was a truly global affair.
The first rides to see in Sunday morning and kick off the day’s ‘centuries’ were in New Zealand, where three Rapha-organised routes took place, with homemade signs and mid-ride treats aplenty. Shortly afterwards, dozens of rides began throughout Australia, including a strong Sydney contingent taking on Royal National Park in wintry sunshine and a Melbourne group tackling the infamous ‘Dipper’, a series of five punchy 500-metre climbs with an average gradient of 10.5%. Meanwhile, in Asia, thousands of cyclists rode with gusto despite the frequent torrential rain, and a special mention also goes to the Singapore Foldies club, who completed their 100km on folding bicycles.
On to Europe, and while weather conditions were equally damp, spirits certainly weren’t affected there either. The Paris Women’s Cycling Club finished their ride in time to watch the end of La Course by Le Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées while an impressive 83 pre-arranged groups in the United Kingdom departed in the morning. Some ended up being all-day battles against the elements, with one London group not returning home until after 7pm. Finally, in the Americas, over 100-plus rides took place, most in North America but some as far south as Bolivia, Brazil and Chile.
Magnificent stories always come out of the Women’s 100. The youngest participant this year was Karen Suzaki, a 6-year-old from Tokyo, who completed the 16-hour ride with her father Shinya. They stopped off at the airport, the horse racing track and the zoo to break up the day. In terms of distance, British cyclist Judith Swallow impressed with a phenomenal 253km through the Scottish Highlands, yet equal credit must go to all of the participants who had never ridden the full distance before Sunday. Some of whom had never pedalled further than 40km previously.
Further tales came to light of endlessly creative route-finding over gravel and through disused tunnels, of one group riding half the distance under booming thunder and lightning, and of one trio of ladies who raced competitively in the morning and then joined a W100 ride straight afterwards. In San Francisco, ride leader Laura O’Meara was given a speeding ticket on behalf of her group coming off the Golden Gate Bridge supposedly too quickly [“To the fast women I rode with… this speed ticket is for y’all and your power”, she wrote] while rumours persist about a Mexican participant completing her ton in ripped jean shorts. A story for every ride, a story from every rider.
Above all, the Women’s 100 is a day to inspire ever more people to celebrate the joy of riding a bicycle, and the togetherness that it so often brings. We applaud all those who made their days extra special, from the group in Nebraska who held champagne toasts at the finish, to the gelato-eaters in Lake Garda, Italy and to the Dallas girls who drank tequila shots afterwards. One participant from Kuala Lumpur, Winnie Khoo, probably had the most special day of all: she accepted a marriage proposal upon completing her ride. “I planned it months ago when the W100 date was announced,” said her fiancé Ming Chiat Lim. “She is a big fan of Rapha and I felt it was the most appropriate day to propose.” Congratulations to them, and to all those who saddled up for this year’s Women’s 100. We look forward to seeing you again next year.