Rapha Women's 100
Words by Anna Maria Diaz-Balart, Photography by Eloy Anzola and Erik Cho
Statistics Courtesy of Rapha
Few rides have the spirit and camaraderie of the Rapha Women’s 100. It is a ride that beginners train diligently for, and one that seasoned racers make sure not to miss, even if they’ve already raced that day! This past Sunday, thousands of women across the world rode together. Just under 9,000 women registered with Rapha, and countless others rode on their own. Official rides spanned from London to Kazakhstan, from New York to Dubai. In major cities the rides were so big that they had to be split into multiple waves. Countless small rides sprung up in small towns, and groups of friends put together their own co-ed Friends 100s. The goal everywhere was simply to get out an ride.
The Women's 100 started as something much smaller just a few years back. Laura Bower, the UK head of marketing for Rapha, had noticed an increase in the number of female riders, but they were riding alone a lot of the time and having difficulty connecting with other riders. In an effort to remedy this, and also to rally a group of women for the 2013 L'Etape du Tour, Bower created the Women's 100. While it may have technically begun to get 100 women to ride L'Etape together, its clearly grown into something much bigger.
These days its stands at 100km (or more) group ride. While for many it’s simply training ride, the really impressive aspect of it is the community that it leaves behind. From jovial hashtags, to online forums coordinating training laps, many of us formed our strongest bonds on Rapha rides (Tayler and I certainly did!) The Women's 100 is the occasion used to invite friends who are casual riders out on the road, and a ride that turned casual riders in to racers.
For those of us lucky enough to live in cities with brick and mortar Rapha Cycle Club, it’s easy to make it the hub of our cycling activities: it’s a starting point for rides, a cafe for a recovery bite, a place to watch races, attend talks, and even hear a DJ every now and then. The Women's 100 ends up being a roll call for the community, whether there is a local Cycle Club or not. When you search the Women's 100 hashtag on Instagram, thats where you find the community at large. So whether you rode last Sunday, or you’ve just decided to it next year, look to the #womens100 community now. This is the group that will motivate you to push yourself, ride more often, and see where cycling can take you.