Jennifer Cree, Kym Fant, Kristen Peterson, Kate Powlison, Heidi Swift and Maria del Pilar Vasquez make up Team Rêve (the French word for dream,) six amateur women cyclists who are riding each stage of the Tour de France, day by day, one day ahead of the Tour. Besides making it all the way to Paris, this extraordinarily ambitious effort aims to encourage more women to ride bikes, and to bring attention to women's cycling.
None of the six is a professional road racer, though they are hardly your "average" (whatever that might mean) cyclist. They come from California, Colorado, Oregon and Puerto Rico, and have almost no experience as a team. I admit to knowing very little about them, not even how they were chosen, or about Rêve as a project, or about Bikes Belong, which they are hoping to raise money for.
What I want to do is point out rider Heidi Swift's blog on Peloton Magazine. She is an engaging writer, and whatever success the team has, it is a fascinating story to read. I have no idea how she will be able to both ride a stage of the TDF every day and then write about it in the evening, but I hope she does. It is fascinating reading on many counts. I wanted to share the site with you, and I for one hope they make it every inch of the way to Paris.
Here are some of Swift's words, after Stage 1:
It was a hard stage today. Nothing to dismiss easily. In the final 4k we turned straight up a 17% climb that narrowed and switched here and there through the town. Up, up, up, up. Unrelenting after nearly eight hours in the saddle. I cursed and stood on the pedals and bumped over cobbled roads and then it ended. I thought of the godlike men who will arrive there tomorrow, crushing up the grade in an explosive finale.
What we do on this course is an exercise in survival. What they do is pure magic and outright athleticism. The crossover of the two is where mortals are able to touch a little bit of that golden light. We will never match their glory, but we can feel the same roads under our tires and spend the day entertaining the idea of our bodies failing while our wills go on doing what they do best: overriding doubt and defining greatness in terms of risk and the willingness to attack life with uncompromising intention.
Bikes Belong's research analyst and communications coordinator, Kate Powlison is one of the six riders. She wrote: "Increasing women's bicycling participation is a longstanding interest of mine, both personally and professionally....I'm doing the Rêve Tour to support more women riding bikes in the U.S. and to prove to any woman that no matter how daunting the trip—whether it's a Grand Tour, a century ride, a steep hill out of town, or a riding to work for the first time—it can be done."