2016 Rapha Womens 100

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It was a cold dark morning in Melbourne as I rolled out from home to the start at All Press Cafe in Collingwood.

Photo: Dean Tran

Nadine from Rapha Australia had organised coffee for the ride leaders to start and we signed our waivers and were briefed on the details for the day. 8 groups of approximately 12 riders were lining up for the challenging 100km course, but the focus was on fun.

A photo posted by Nadine O'Connor (@oconnorn) on

As the first group to roll out, there was just enough time for Mary Hall (my fellow group leader) and I to gather the troops and brief them on the first part of the ride.

Over the icy bridge off the Kew Boulevard and out through Ivanhoe. It was nice to meet and introduce a new group of riders to the backroads out towards Kangaroo Ground. First challenge was the Mount Pleasant route which was familiar to a few locals.

Photo: Dean Tran
The route was pretty lumpy and consistency was important. The second challenge was descending down Pidgeon Bank Road and climbing up the other side. It feels like the edge of the world, but at least the road is pretty straight and you can use the momentum to carry you part-way up the next face. This was a real wall for a few in my group, one stopped on the descent and had to walk down (while other groups passed us at +70kmph) I turned back to check on her and we rode the last part up together.

Another lady who had made it down and walked/climbed up Pidgeon Bank Road AND all the rolling hills after that was in tears by the rest point. It is a massive undertaking as a new rider to use all the skills, concentration and fitness to complete that section! Big Kudos to all ladies who joined us on the day.

H-Van and me all rugged up at the middle of the ride
The last section was a nice gravel section to the half-way point at Sugar Loaf Reservoir. After a coffee, a bathroom stop, some sugar and hydration all bar one rider had accepted the challenge to continue on to the 50km home.

Photo: Dean Tran

As we rolled in it was a lovely sight to see all the bikes lined up and tables full of ladies milling about to share stories. I piled up my plate with sandwiches and Kirsten poured me a champagne. What a day :)

I didn't eat ALL the food
The ride leaders lingered on a little longer, nibbling on the last parts of chocolate brownies and having one more coffee for the road. I managed to fit a couple of brownies in my pocket to snack on while watching Le Tour de France later that evening and dreaming of the warmer days to come.

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