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Women Who Conquered the Tour de France Course: "Quitting Is Not an Option"

Riders enjoyed the distraction of the beautiful French countryside. (Photo courtesy of Cannondale)

Last month, you may have seen footage of some of the world's greatest endurance athletes—long-distance bicyclers—huffing and puffing up hills and jostling for position while competing for the illusive yellow jersey. But what you might not have known is that a group of six women started one day before the official Tour de France field, covering the same terrain (2,162 miles) over the same three week time period. This is the first known time that a team of amateur female cyclists have tackled the entire tour course.

The first question that comes to mind: Why? "Completing tough journeys defines you as a person and just makes you a better human being. Plus, I have three boys and I'm trying to teach them to never quit," says Maria del Pilar Vazquez, one of the cyclists on the Reve Tour 2012 team. Adds Kristen Peterson, another Reve member: "If someone asked you if you wanted to ride your bike around the French countryside for three weeks, would you say no?"

Besides raising awareness about the sport by "walking the walk" while pedaling away on Cannondale EVO bikes, as well as blogging along the way, the women also raised $60,000 for Bikes Belong, a non-profit that aims to get more people on bikes.

FITNESS caught up with the Reve riders before their amazing journey (to read about their feelings then, click here), and now, after, to find out what they learned while taking on a course that trips up even world-class riders.

  • Train, train and train some more. "I trained every day for two consecutive months. Beyond time on the bike, my program included two days in the gym and three days of core work. Mental preparation involved a lot of visualization and saying to myself: 'quitting is not an option'." — Maria del Pilar Vazquez
  • Count your blessings."No matter how much pain I was in, I didn't for a second take for granted that there are a lot of people out there that physically can't have this opportunity. I am so lucky to have my health and physical ability to complete such an endeavor." — Kym Fant
  • Add incentives. "While it is probably every nutritionist’s nightmare, we toasted with a beer after every stage. It became something we’d look forward to going through those last few painful miles each day. Knowing a cold, frosty drink was waiting got me through more than one or two tough climbs!" — Kristen Peterson
  • Focus on positives thoughts. "When things got tough, I thought of the people who bring joy into my life. When my legs were hurting, I would focus on these people, relax, breathe and spin. Up up!" — Jennifer Cree

Now tell us: What motivates you to push through challenging workouts?

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