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?
I’m currently in training mode for my first half-marathon and am enjoying the experience so much that I’m already looking ahead to find more events to keep me motivated all year long! Having upcoming races on the calendar gives you a goal to work toward. Plus, visualizing yourself crossing the finish line with a personal best will inspire you to lace up your shoes (or clip into your pedals, slip on some goggles, etc.) when you’re feeling less-than-inspired. Bonus points if you’re raising money for a good cause at the same time!
With that in mind, we found four unique events held across the U.S. that we can’t wait to try.
- When and where: March 10 in Arlington, Virginia
- Why: It’s a little late notice, but if you’re free this Saturday, try to beat the leprechaun in this fun run! The man in green begins 10 minutes after the gun goes off and tries to pass as many walkers and joggers as he can on the way to the finish. Snag a prize if you beat him, but don’t feel bad if you see him run on by. For every person the leprechaun beats, one dollar is donated to a local police charity.
- When and where: March 26 in Tucson, Arizona; April 1 in Charlotte, South Carolina; June 3 in St. Louis, Missouri; June 10 in Minneapolis, Minnesota; June 24 in Austin, Texas; July 15 in Fort Collins, Texas; July 22 in Denver, Colorado; August 12 in Des Moines, Iowa; August 19 in Chicago, Illinois.
- Why: Bored on your bike? Not during this race! Find a partner and tackle checkpoints around town, pedaling between each stop. Adding to the fun factor: There’s no set route or order to the checkpoints, so it’s up to you to pick what you believe is most efficient. Proceeds from each race benefits two or three charities in the host town.
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Pedal power! Helpful hints to dust off your biking skills (and muscles). — FitSugar
- Now that Dancing With the Stars has wrapped, it’s time to cook with them! Or is it? — Yahoo! Shine
- Meet The Biggest Loser‘s newest trainer who will soon put contestants through the paces alongside Bob and Anna Kournikova. — Diets In Review
- One of our favorite bloggers is fundraising and completing a triathlon in honor of a courageous neighbor. — Healthy Tipping Point
- MyPlate is turning heads this week, but a soon-to-be-opened exhibit offers a historical look at government nutrition recommendations. Find a sneak peek online or see it in person in D.C.! — National Archives
- Bugged by mosquitos? Find out what may be making you an easier target. — BodyOdd
Since it is National Bike Month (did you check out our previous post about it?), the fashion department decided we just had to share this awesome new bike that we saw at the Tommy Bahama preview the other day. Yes I said it, a Tommy Bahama bike. Known for their luxury island living-inspired clothes, Tommy Bahama hit the nail on the head with this one.
After teaming up with Pedego, a leading electric bike company, Tommy Bahama will be marketing and manufacturing electric cruisers that are lightweight and totally fun to ride around on. While they are on the pricier end ($2,700!) we still think that they are a great wish list item.
What makes an electric bike different? Read more
May marks National Bike Month (see how we’re celebrating on page 80 of the May issue!), and with the amazing spring weather, we’ve been inspired to spin around town a lot lately. We adore pushing pedals because it’s great for the environment, a fun way to explore our cities and a quick calorie-blaster—you burn about 500 per hour at a moderate intensity! So we were excited to hear about a fun “pay it forward” contest to get more people out on the trails or the road.
Go to Ride Schwinn’s Facebook page or their website to enter the Bike it Forward giveaway: Choose a category that you think a bike-worthy friend will enjoy (mountain, hybrid, road, cruiser, urban, bike path or kids). Each day this month, Schwinn will draw a winner from the online entries. They, and the person who nominated them, will be spinning in style with their choice of a new bike!
Then you’ll just need to grab a helmet to match your new ride!
Now tell us: If you could win any piece of exercise equipment, what would it be?