Rapha Prestige Merricks

1:11 pm Unknown 0 Comments

With some trepidation about the weather, long course and my own fitness that I threw my hat in the ring for the 121km Rapha Prestige Merricks. The concept of a Prestige ride is for groups of four riders to complete the course at staggered intervals to arrive at the end in around the same time for refreshments (a handicap race). This was one of the first women only versions run by my friend Nadine O'Connor the marketing manager of Rapha Australia and she coaxed me into it. She received a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the day - a total success for a great day out. My story and observations of the day are below:

I got my start time slightly wrong and gave my team "The Road Rascals" an extra handicap - but we were fine ticking over the kms and overtaking a few teams out on the road. My team role was to give directions around the 121km course and I did not miss a beat with the map pre-loaded on the Garmin. This is simply the BEST way to ride a new route without having to hesitate, stop, and get the phone out to keep checking you are on course or if the next turn is coming up.

With over 110 women out on course there was a great sense of community. Free coffee had the starters milling around, taking photos, and cheering each group to roll out.

My late start played into my favour as I didn't get to pump my tyres and 70-80psi in the back meant I was cruising nicely on the gravel sectors that I had feared the worst. I was struggling on every uphill, and my lack of race training showed, thankfully a few years of endurance in the legs kicked in that carried me through to the end of the day.

Team captain Carolyn Fraser had done a great job by keeping us in line, organising accommodation and registering the team. It was great value at $40 entry: 2+ coffees, gourmet lunch of salads and poached chicken followed by mini brownie and tartlets plus a glass of your chosen wine was delicious and amazing. All riders received a gift of a cap and drink bottle which was a nice surprise too!

Carolyn and Lisa leading a group into the home stretch

I was super glad to have steady teamies like Lizzy G and Lisa Coutts, as we shared the work over the day with positive encouragements for each other. Liz had a lot of experience riding most of the sealed roads before and it was a real special treat to ride all the way out to the very end of Point Nepean as a group (past the signs that said no bikes - oh we are such rascals!). At the mid-checkpoint the coffee flowed again and we all soaked up the sun, shared some tales before the tailwind blew us towards home.

There will be plenty of pics and some official footage below. Over most of the difficult sections I think I had a camera in my face or lurking around a corner from an arty angle so I didn't feel the need to pull out my phone to capture every moment.

At Point Nepean. Breath taking coastline.

It was a challenging course to complete and for experienced and new riders it was a great achievement. Noted that this cycling event was not on closed roads, there were no corner marshals, and I have no idea what organisation went into organising with the local shire/council/authorities. But this was hands down better than any club race that I've attended in years (coming in close 2nd would be some Vets races where they put on a full lunch spread, but the gender/age imbalance definitely rates it lower).

Rapha Prestige Merricks from RAPHA on Vimeo.

So, what's next for Rapha Women? In July there is the women's 100km ride. You can sign up for this for free and find a local ride to come and join in the fun!

You Might Also Like