Words by Kelly Krause
If you've noticed #womens100 in your Instagram feed lately, it can only mean one thing: the annual Rapha Women's 100km ride is just around the corner -- 12 days to be exact.
It also happens to be one of my favorite rides of the year.
The thought of over 8,000 women across the globe coming together to support one another, set goals and above all, share one plan for your entire day - have fun on your bike.
On a personal level, this is the ride that taught me about the power of community. When my fellow co-Rapha Ambassador Jolene Holland & I sat down last year to plan out our training series and #womens100 ride, we had one goal in mind: let's bring women together to have fun on the bike. That simple. No other agenda other than enjoying time on the road.
We opened the rides up to everyone and encouraged beginners and seasoned cyclists alike to join us. We created a Facebook group, started a training series from May to July that would help women slowly build up to the 100k distance, and let the rest fall into place. We had a hunch we'd have enthusiastic women come out and support -- both Jolene and I had touch points in two different communities -- her with racing and me with social, local bike clubs and spin studios, and everyone seemed genuinely excited. However, our expectations were completely exceeded.
Have you ever seen Field of Dreams? You know, the 1989 flick starring Kevin Costner who plays an Iowa farmer that hears mysterious voices in the cornfield saying "If you build it, he will come." After some nudging from his wife, he finally builds a baseball field on his land and ghosts of great players emerge from the crops to play ball. It's a classic.
Anyway, it was kind of like that (minus the mysterious voices). The moment we kicked off our training series, new faces and women from all walks of life and cycling backgrounds emerged. Every month, someone new would join us. The momentum was amazing and truly gave me the chills to see so many women come out and just ride.
I loved that we were all out there for different reasons. Some were reconnecting with the bike after years off. Others just purchased their first road bike and wanted to ride with other encouraging women. A few were using the #womens100 in their summer training plan. And for others, including myself, the #womens100 would be the longest ride to date. Regardless of the reason we showed up, we were all in it together.
And when I say all in it together, I mean it! We bonked together, set PR's together, laughed, cried, talked about our insecurities, shared our vulnerabilities, cheered each other on, turned around or waited at the top of the climb for one another, offered up an extra water bottle, and celebrated with post-ride ice cream.
Outside of the training rides, we became friends. We supported one another off the bike in our professional endeavors, we took road trips, went to concerts, tried yoga, shared heartache and even became bridesmaids in each other's weddings. As a matter of fact, this August I will officiate Jolene's wedding!
This, all because of a shared love for the bike and the community. The momentum from last year's Rapha #womens100 only keeps growing. Most of the women went on to race crits or cyclocross, and even created their own cycling clubs. This year, even more new faces are showing up and joining training rides, leading their own rides and above all, supporting women in cycling.
For me, this ride isn't about going the fastest or beating last year's times. It's about keeping the momentum alive. It's about encouraging and supporting new and seasoned riders and celebrating women doing something epic together.
Regardless of where you live, or whether or not there's an official ride in your city -- start your own, get out and ride and keep the power of community and the spirit of women in cycling alive.
Because, who run the world? GIRLS.