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2 Weeks 8 Days
Words by Fiona Adler
These days my cycling gets squeezed between raising two children, running a business, maintaining some semblance of a social life, and the daily grind of getting dinner on the table each night. Which means I ride mainly in the dark (and often still half asleep). I’m normally pretty happy for cycling to take 3rd step in life, however I am extremely excited to be writing this just four weeks before jetting off to Europe to ride at leisure with five cycling friends (each fabulous women that you’ll meet soon).
If I’m honest, it was adventure envy that started this trip. Until fairly recently, a huge focus of my life was mountaineering. In fact, it was mountains that led me to cycling as I used the bike as my primary mode of fitness training. With my husband as my partner in adventure, we travelled to remote places and tackled mountains throughout the world, choosing ever-bigger challenges until we eventually summited Mt Everest. After our children came along, we both continued cycling and it’s become a regular part of our lives. But somehow said husband has managed to continue taking interesting adventure trips while I’ve been left (literally) holding the babies. It was definitely time to take action…
As I fantasised about a cycling trip away, criteria emerged. I wanted:
• Escape - Experience told me a trip should be long enough to allow me to forget about the usual responsibilities of life - a weekend away just wasn't going to cut it. It should be different enough to throw all of my normal routines and habits upside-down. My feeling is that if it's too similar to home, I haven't gone far enough.
• Exploration - I want to see places I've never seen, experience things that are not planned or on an itinerary. Many suggested a guided tour that would trace the Tour de France, but the yearning in me was not to be a spectator amongst crowds, or a follower in awe of others living out their dreams; it was to create some sort of adventure for myself.
• Companionship - One of the things I like most about cycling is the camaraderie that emerges of between cyclists over each passing kilometre. It has a way of throwing otherwise dissimilar people together and allowing friendships to form easily through the gradual sharing of personal snippets, combined with the bond of experiences shared.
It turns out I was not alone and several cycling girlfriends showed great enthusiasm for joining me to ride bikes somewhere foreign. Over a few weeks, the journey was planned - we'd base ourselves in a remote corner of France, and then later in a small town in Italy. We'd explore these two areas by bicycle and attempt to immerse ourselves in the richness of the location.
So now the "I" becomes "we" as the days leading up to our trip tick by and our anticipation builds. An unexpected reward has been the mini-adventures we're having around our own city while stepping up our riding in preparation for the trip. Stunning autumn leaves, misty mornings in the nearby hills, the new ritual of dinner after our weeknight tour-of-the-burbs ride, and discovering a piece of "yarn-bombing" in a small country town (a phenomenon I'd previously only read about).
Our all-girl group is a mixture of different personalities and on the surface, aside from cycling, it may seem we don't have a lot in common. Yet I believe we have an underlying connection. I have a theory that so far has held true, that cyclists are mainly intrepid souls, usually with a rich history and almost always with a curious and spirited outlook on life. We may have different approaches to cycling (some competitive, some casual), different work challenges and different home situations, but when we ride together that all adds to the richness of the conversation.
But interesting people tend to have full lives and for some of us, negotiating time away from work and (especially) family has been one of the more challenging aspects. Travel from Australia takes time and we didn't want to cut ourselves short. So to soften the blow with our loved ones, we've decided that we're only away for "2 weeks and 8 days".
Rapha is supporting Nickola, Sian, Lisa, Michelle, Lysiane and Fiona as they embark on their European riding adventure. Follow them on the 2 Weeks 8 Days Facebook page »
- Third team overall for the Men in Black at Stoke last night in the @TourSeries
- 2 be clear that was @johnherety decision to not let @AaronBuggle start. Tour of Korea and Irish National Champs will be his next rendezvous
- Happy to report @AaronBuggle is as good looking as ever after 13 stitches in his chin. Sorry to report not letting him start tomorrow though
- @flammecast @AaronBuggle His Shrone is fine !!!
- Big thanks to all marshals,coms and medical staff on the @anpostras today. Great work despite the numerous demands on their services today.
- Just to let all his girl fans know @AaronBuggle is ok. He's in hospital and will need some surgery on a cut to his chin. Will update later.
- We've just added 13 new rides since the weekend to our Rapha #womens100 Find a Ride list. → http://t.co/ux8c1JCuQc
- The team also racing the Ras in Ireland this week. Currently Aaron Buggle is the team's top placed rider in 15th overall.
- Tour Series resumes tonight in Stoke on Trent. RCJ line up is House, Clancy, McCallum, English and Mellor.
- Arboretum → http://t.co/cJXOyDWnK0 #raphasurvey #sanfrancisco #sf #cycling