Ride Recap: Rapha Women’s 100k
I discovered Rapha while living in New York City. One of my guy friends had a jersey and introduced me to the cycling brand. Then I started riding with their women’s group in 2014. Some of my most memorable rides were with the ladies I met through the women’s Rapha rides. We spent a lot of hours riding 9W just for a blueberry muffin at Bunbury’s.
When I moved to Dallas I wasn’t sure if I could find the same type of group to ride with. My friends in NYC weren’t hardcore racers, but they also weren’t casual riders. They were passionate about cycling and being challenged.
Then I met Bronwen Gregory. She shared the same passion about cycling and about getting more women on bikes. It was an instant connection. Bronwen was selected as the 2015 Dallas Rapha Ambassador. I was beyond excited for her and for how this was going to change the dynamics of the gender gap for cycling in Dallas. She dove in feet first planning the Rapha Women’s 100k by starting a Tuesday night all women’s ride. The rides went for 10 weeks before the big 100k. Bronwen took these women under her wings and guided them through the glorious and often confusing sport of cycling.
The Rapha Women’s 100k was held on July 26th. Over 8,000 women around the world had pledged to ride 100k on that day. Bronwen, Melanie Clancy (Bike Friendly Deep Ellum and the editor of Active.com), and I were the Dallas ride leaders. We started planning weeks in advance because we wanted the ride to be well-organized and fun. After a few changes to the route put together by Bike Friendly Deep Ellum, we were really excited to do something different by taking the group through South Dallas, Lancaster, and the Great Trinity Forest Trail in the Joppa Nature Preserve before heading back to Oak Cliff.
Twenty eight women showed up to Dallas Bike Works in Oak Cliff at 7 am still a little sleepy, but filled with excitement and ready for an adventure. The morning was slightly steamy for Dallas, but not too hot yet. After an informative pre-ride talk by Bronwen and a visit to the snack and hydration table, we rolled out on our journey through South Dallas. After getting settled in our large group, we headed through Oak Cliff to Lancaster. There were a few turns and a couple stops getting through the neighborhood before we landed on a straight away to the town center of Lancaster where our first water stop was located. Our SAG guys, Ricky, Sean, and Hector brought 4 coolers stocked with water, Gatorade, Skratch powder, Skratch cookies, Stinger Waffles, Clif bars, energy chews, bananas, and watermelon. I can’t say enough good things about these guys giving up their Sunday to help us out. They changed our flat tires, gave new cyclists advice on how to make it through the ride, picked up riders when they couldn’t continue, and made us laugh when we needed it the most.
photo by Andrea Cirbian
The ride naturally split into 2 groups in Lancaster. Melanie and I led the larger and Bronwen took the smaller group. There were a lot of racers on our ride and we pushed the pace while being careful not to drop anyone. A few experienced riders volunteered to sweep, which was extremely helpful and unselfish of them to sacrifice their speed to make sure no one got left behind. Melanie and I took turns leading and monitoring the ride while the 2 sweepers made us of aware of anyone that wasn’t in the group.
The next part of the route was mostly straight aways on country roads with little to no car traffic. Seriously could not have planned a better route for cutting loose on the open road. We had been on the road for a couple of hours now and it was starting to get really hot. There’s not a lot of shade on roads in Texas and we could all feel it.
Joppa Nature Preserve was our last planned water stop before getting back into Oak Cliff. This was my personal favorite part of the ride. The trail winds through a heavily wooded area with the Trinity River flowing through it. It’s hard to believe Downtown Dallas is only about 10 miles away from this beautiful landscape.
Once we got off the Trail, the heat was in full force. It proved more of challenge than anything else experienced on the ride. Everyone wanted to get back to finish as soon as they could. After a few flats and riders who needed to be picked up by SAG once we got back to Oak Cliff, the majority of the group victoriously finished together. Melanie, Meagan, and I waited until the last rider had been picked up before we sprinted down Polk ( not on the route, but the quickest way back) to the finish. I’m not sure how we had the energy, but I imagine it had something to do with knowing there would be ice-cold beer and pizza waiting for us and that our SAG guys were throwing us cold towels to put around our necks.
The fun continued during the after party where we bonded over swapping stories about the ride. Teddy Roosevelt, our ride mascot definitely had the most fun.
Thanks to all the ladies that come out to ride and an extra special thanks to our SAG guys. Riding with that many people you can do your best to plan for unexpected events, but you never really know what’s going to happen. We learned a lot, and hope to organize many more women’s rides.