The Next Hundred
Words and photos by Michelle Lee
If you were one of the 8,000 women who joined the Rapha Women's 100 this past Sunday, you've got bicycle hangover. A disaster of a laundry basket. An incurable urge to devour all of the carbs. A ridiculous grin on your face from going longer or harder or hillier or braver than you've gone before. And, without a doubt, a hunger for more.
Here's what you can do to build on a memorable day.
1. Keep that community. While you were tackling the climbs or swooping through valleys last Sunday, you probably met a lot of new friends. Post on last week's Facebook event, offer up a time, place, and route, and go ride with newfound riding partners. Bonus points for turning it into a weekly event.
2. Join a club. It might be Rapha's Cycle Club, a women's race team, or another great organization. A good club isn't only a great-looking kit — it's a crew who will take on similar challenges and adventures together, whether it's the local downhill park, bikepacking trips, or the crit scene. Your local Women's 100 leaders might be a good resource to fill you in on your region's clubs and teams.
3. Conquer your biggest weakness. Then make it a strength by practicing at least once a week for 6-12 weeks. Research shows that deliberate practice, or "heading to the frontier of your abilities," is what builds expertise over time. Maybe it's riding the same descent until you can trust it from the gut, and then practicing technique until you fall in love. Maybe it's hill repeats. Or, hey, maybe it's even getting your breakfast routine dialed so you can start each dawn patrol with good, healthy fuel.
4. Invest in a bike fit. As your saddle time increases, any pain from fit issues will compound. On our local Women's 100 series rides, we commonly see two fit problems. First, the saddle may be too high — hips rocking is a telltale sign, especially at high cadences or in harder gears. Second is in the cockpit: handlebars should be shoulder width, and the stem should be short enough for you to reach the hoods and drops comfortably. Watch this video to learn more about handlebar fit, or look for a local fitter with a strong reputation. Professional bike fits usually cost $200 and up, depending on the degree of time and detail, and pay more dividends than any component those same dollars could buy.
5. Pay it forward. "It doesn't get any easier, you just get stronger." Teaching someone else not only grows the women's cycling movement, it's likely to reward you with some serious feel-good vibes.