We’re riding the Tour de France.
Six amateur women including myself. Every last stage of cycling’s most beloved race. Every last kilometer. All 3,479 of them.
There, I said it.
(How do you announce such absurdity?)
In July our small team goes to France with Rêve Grand Tours as part of a project imagined and then brought to life by Michael Robertson, the talented photographer behind Velodramatic (and Creative Director for Rêve). The idea, born over a shared dinner while we were both on assignment last December, is simple: give a small group of women the opportunity to take on the biggest cycling challenge in the world, document the process and tell the story.
With support from a host of generous sponsors, we will be shuttled, sheltered and cared for day by day. The hotels are booked, the transfers are arranged, the pieces are in place.
We will ride the course one day ahead of the professional men that we have watched, admired and urged on in years past. We will climb and laugh and cry and probably, at some point (or several some points) crack. Unlike the men behind us, our only goal is to survive - to finish.
To that end, we’ll work together. To that end, we’ll ride our bicycles obsessively from now until the end of June. To that end, we’ve rearranged our lives and asked our families to forgive our absences. We’ve adjusted daily schedules and created training hours where it seemed impossible. We have located the longest, steepest climbs in near proximity to our homes and devoted ourselves to those grades.
We study race profiles, we study French, we study power files, we study nutrition plans, we study recovery technique. More than ever before in our lives, we are students of the bike. But the preparation exercise is as religious as it is academic: we’re operating with a healthy degree of faith backed by the rigor of science and the assistance of experts.
I’ll document our journey to Paris here on peloton Magazine’s website: the training, the team, the trials, along with stage-by-stage updates of our progress (connectivity allowing) when we get to France. After everything is said and done, we’ll publish the full story, illustrated with Robertson’s images, in the September 2012 issue of the print magazine.
It’s the adventure of a lifetime - certainly the adventure of my lifetime to this point - and the weight of the thing is not lost on us. We are everyday working professionals with full time jobs. Some of us have children. We ride bikes because we love it, not because we are paid.
We are doing this because, as cyclists, it is the hardest thing we can imagine and, as athletes, we are hard-pressed to back down from that kind of a challenge. We are doing this for a million reasons that we don’t even understand yet. Because our guts tell us it important and we have learned to trust that impulse.
We hope that along the way we can inspire more women to pedal, increase awareness of cycling advocacy issues and tell one hell of a story. We’re in it for the long haul - and we hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Over the next few weeks I’ll introduce our team and sponsors in greater detail but for now I’d like to extend a thank you to those that have made this a reality: Cannondale Bicycles, Giro Sport Design, Strava, Rêve Grand Tours and peloton.
For more information about the tour, visit the Rêve Blog