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The Summit

The Summit

Photo by Laura Austin 

Words by Abby Watson


If you were following along on Instagram, you may have noticed that posts about the Rapha Women’s Ambassador weekend in Texas Hill County kept flooding your feed long after we’d all returned home and resumed our regular daily life. Well, that’s because we had an awesome time and I know I found myself distracted, missing the daily rides and constant laughs with this impressive group of women.

Photo by Emily Maye

Photo by Emily Maye

 

One of the most exciting parts of the weekend was meeting the new ambassadors. I felt like I knew some through mutual friends and social media, but for some of the women I only knew a name and the city where they live. Out of the 18 total Rapha ambassadors in North America, eight were new this year and I knew our group would be more diverse than ever.  The new ambassadors include die hard cyclists who regularly drop strong men up climbs and women who have only been riding 18 months; I had no idea how such a group would come together, especially out on the road.

 

 

Liz Barcheck, a new ambassador from Boulder described her experience as follows: 

I was pretty nervous to travel and ride with almost 20 women, mostly because a lot of the riding that I ‘grew up on bike’ doing had been with guys, or at least a co-ed group of riders. This trip reminded me of the power of women and how it’s so different than the power of men. I was surprised to realize that some of the ladies, who initially seemed the most different from me, actually turned out to be some that I connected with the most. It’s inspiring to find people, both men and women, who approach riding a bike the same way I do: as an opportunity to see new places and push the boundaries of what we think we’re capable of achieving. And these ladies can do all of that while looking fabulous.
Photo by Emily Maye

Photo by Emily Maye

 

I agree with Liz and had a similar experience while getting to know some of new women. On day one, I wouldn’t have guessed that the ambassador who is newest to cycling, Kelly Krause, would teach me the most. Kelly and I didn’t spend much time together until Sunday, our last full day together and our longest ride (a hilly 64 miles). Kelly may not realize it, but her willingness to push her limits, bravery and self-acceptance were truly inspirational to me.

 

Photo by Abby Watson

Photo by Abby Watson

Kelly had the following to say about Sunday’s ride:  

"I had worked this day up quite a bit in my head throughout the weekend. I hadn't been on my bike for 65 miles in a while, let alone climbing this much. We were on day 3 and my legs were really feeling that HCB (Hill Country burn). As our ride groups were called in the morning, my level of nervous was at an all-time high. I looked around at my group, one-by-one and thought 'fast, fast, badass, super strong, fast, great climber, another badass, etc.' I joke to many that my heart for cycling is bigger than my wattage, so the last thing I wanted to do was slow down the group. How I wish I would have never wasted a moment being nervous. 

Early on into the ride, Cynthia Young turned around, came to the back and said 'I'm going to ride with you today? Ok? We'll go whatever pace you want. I'm here. We're all here.'  Cynthia can ride. And climb. And go fast. She quickly taught me the importance of 'Do You.' "

 

Over the course of the morning, into the afternoon, I experienced camaraderie and teamwork unlike I’ve ever experienced before. It was beautiful. With a little patience and a lot of kindness, my fellow Ambassadors helped me climb, let me hang onto their wheel, descend with a smile and ‘go faster!’ They shared their tips and were the first to root for me when I crushed a hill.


There was a point in the ride I could’ve taken the easy way out and given up. The day was turning long and we were all hot and tired. I turned to the group, ‘If y’all want to get home quicker and go on without me, I won’t be offended.’ Abby Watson stepped in — without hesitation — ‘If you’re in, we’re in.’ I looked around at everyone, clipped in and said, ‘Well then, let’s ride on!’


Not sure I’ve ever clipped in with that much confidence and love for the bike and the crew I was riding with.
Photo by Abby Watson

Photo by Abby Watson


We stayed up until 2 am the last night there: drinking wine, laughing till our stomachs hurt and soaking up as much time together as possible. I’m still smiling. Keep an eye out for these awesome ladies on the road; they might not be on the top step of every podium, but odds are they’ll be out there challenging themselves, looking for adventures, fun times and great company. And to me, that’s winning cycling.


2015 Rapha Ambassadors:

Abby Watson (Portland, OR)

Alie Giaime (New York, NY)

Beth Strickland (Emmaus, PA)

Bianca Pettinicchi (Santa Monica, CA)

Bronwen Gregory (Dallas, TX)

Bud Reeder (Laguna Beach, CA)

Cynthia Young (Vancouver, BC)

Jenny Wojewoda (Boston, MA)

Jolene Holland (Austin, TX)

Julie Krasniak (Portland, OR)

Kelly Krause (Austin, TX)

Kelton Wright (Santa Monica, CA)

Kim Cross (Birmingham, AL)

Laura O’Meara (San Francisco, CA)

Lentine Zahler (Boulder, CO)

Lindsay Knight (Chicago, IL)

Liz Barcheck (Boulder, CO)

Pia Scaroni (San Francisco, CA)



 

Supported by these great partners: Rapha, Trek Bikes, Oakley, Giro, Skratch, SRAM


https://instagram.com/abbylwatson/

https://instagram.com/abbylwatson/



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