The Rapha Women’s 100 is an annual world wide event that calls on women to ride a 100 km route of their choice on the same date to celebrate women’s cycling. This event has been running for more than 10 years now and I’ve managed to get amongst the women’s 100 action for most of those. I’ve shared the day with friends, ridden the event in Australia and overseas and been fortunate enough to take part in leading rides on the day as well. The event has inadvertently become the moment in the year where I take note of the progress I’ve made in life and on bikes, in the 12 months prior. The women’s 100 is all about personal challenge and I’ve watched myself evolve as the event itself has grown.The first time I took part in the Women’s 100, the challenge of the ride was the distance itself, moving forward, the challenge became riding in a brand new city with strangers, then the challenge of riding in strong winds alone when the weather was so wild it saw the organized rides for the day get cancelled. More recently, the challenge became riding gravel on my road bike, then the progression to learning what it means to be a good ride leader for others during the event. This year marked a new milestone for me; my first Rapha 100 whilst proudly working for Curve Cycling. Curve Cycling has been in my peripheral vision for years, synonymous with big adventure, a devil-may-care approach to route planning and (of course) beautiful bikes too. The route planning and the partnership with Rapha for the Melbourne edition of this Women’s 100 ride was something I was excited to have fun with. All riders (for the Rapha road and Curve Cycling gravel ride) started and finished at the same location in the picturesque town of Woodend, some 80 km or so from the Melbourne CBD. Never one to leave planning to chance, I spent some time in Woodend in the weeks prior to the event itself, knocking together a faster rolling approximation of a Curve route I had ridden and enjoyed before. With the heavy lifting of the route planning taken care of thanks to the Curve Ride Library; I simply needed to add approximately 20 km to get us over the 100 km mark and make sure that the route offered enough challenge to provide a sense of satisfaction for riders upon completion. It seemed a bit unfortunate that the original loop included the Mount Macedon surrounds without actually sending riders up the mountain itself. So in the April Edition of this beautiful route from Woodend, at the 80 or so km mark, up the mountain we went. I’m not sure what the average gradient of this particular route up Mount Macedon might have been, but I can say that the lack of chatter on the ride up (and at least one poor soul swapping bike for a bit of a hike), says something about the amount of effort required to make that final ascent before the roll back into town. Maybe it’s just me or the vegan Magnum (celebratory ride fuel) talking, but this particular edition of the Women’s 100, in the company of new friends and a fun loving Curve Cycling Kevin Of Steel, hit all the right notes; sunshine, smiles, scenery, a singalong and just a taste of a super steep slog!
Kudos to Rapha for keeping the women’s 100 momentum going for so many years and to all the women all over the world who take on the challenge. #itsneverjustaride.
Words by April Drage
Photos by Juan Pablo Ramos and Emily Gartland