This Summer, 6 women came together for an organized 120-mile Gentleman’s Ride event in New England.
The Goal: To cover all 120 brutal miles together, as a group.
The most successful teams at these events have generally been women. Surviving the elements, the group dynamics, the unforeseen difficulties. Ultimately, it’s about more than what you put into riding for a long, long time…It’s what you get out of it that stays with you.
With that, here’s a peak at what this particular ride meant for Cannondale-fan Kirsten Begg and her team, the WOO GIRLS!
Have you ever had that moment where you're in the midst of something that you thought was one thing when you realize it’s somehow become something else? Something better.
It was probably at about mile 56, a lunch stop at yet another handily-placed general store, when I, and possibly the other 5, realized what we were truly getting out of the day. It had started as an organized and challenging 120-mile ride with our, and other teams of six, needing to stay together for the duration. Just ride your bike, right? Pick a pace that suits everyone. Nice and steady. We Got This.
But somewhere between the previous evening's hand-wringing over correct tire width for the dirt roads, laughing and letting the miles go by we stumbled on something bigger. That thing, right? That moment. We all knew, by mile 79 on a dirt climb, when the heavens had opened, whipping us with torrential rain, hail stones and some rather closer-than-comfortable lightning. We knew we would talk about this day, remember the belly laughs and guffaws of this weekend.
It wasn't about completing 120 miles, it was about what transpired along the way. Pre-formed goals and aspirations discarded amidst camaraderie and snack stops, flat tires and never-ending dirt road climbs, amid aches and soreness and more than a few new curse words. The need to wear matching outfits, and "look tight", sacrificed in a shivering, frigid instant, for shapeless but warm garbage bags handed out at a tiny village store after a sopping wet and cold descent off the hills.
The ridiculousness of riding as the torrential rain whipped our faces, rustled our garbage bag "jackets" and soaked us through, while waves of water flung up by cars passing in the opposite direction crashed over our heads. We were smiling through the grimace. It was farcical. But awesome. Where, I mean where, could we have ever had such an experience? An experience which, like so many, was made by the fact that we did it together. Tackled alone it would have been a sorry death march. Scenic, for sure. Challenging, definitely. Tackled together though, it was one of those special days.
That it was 120 miles on a bike is irrelevant. 120 miles on a bike was what got us to the start line, a group of six with casual friendships through racing. But actually doing it was what brought us together, made us laugh uncontrollably, get lost, stuff our faces, curse like sailors, change our minds.
Again. Change the plan. Stick to the plan. Smile. Complain a bit. Compare aches and pains. Admire the view. Whizz down hills and along dirt country lanes. You can do it alone but you can't experience it alone. Can't share it alone. Can't look back at it alone, catch someone's eye alone and just spontaneously burst out laughing alone.
For the ride we were the "WooGirls!". The post-ride tee shirts we made up say so. We wear them with pride. Since the ride we are better friends, racers, riders, people, women. We have the nod, the bond, the hugs. The pain and suffering. The knowledge. The power. And the strength. And, already, are considering WooGirls! Adventure #2.
photo credit: Bob Swider