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    Women's Prestige Hirado 2018

    Having a unique history with the blend of Western and Japanese culture, along with its surroundings of beautiful ocean and nature, this was the location where women from all over Japan gathered to take on an adventure.

    Hirado, Nagasaki Prefecture

    Located on the westernmost tip of Kyushu, this area was the window for western trade, building relationships with countries such as the Netherlands and Portugal, and making it Japan's oldest international trading port.

    It was something unexpected
    Rapha Prestige Hirado
    But once it was decided, there was no time to lose
    We rush to gather a team.
    With the women's prestige, the women have their own particularities
    because we want to ride in style
    we devote our attention to our outfits
    the rule is to wear matching jerseys
    and our ride accessories have to be matching with our jerseys too.

    Six a.m.
    The first team starts off
    running towards the sunrise.
    The sunlight reflecting on the rice paddies
    sparkling bright
    of course we are awed by the beautiful curature of the man-made rice paddies
    what a delightful space this is.

    What came into view at the Kawachi Touge Pass
    was the perfect panorama of fresh greenery and the Genkai sea.
    When the landscape is beautiful, lively conversation is sparked.
    "This is awesome," remarks the member who participated for the first time
    Even though she had once declined, saying that Rapha Prestige is too difficult,
    she prepared and entered with us.
    In order to get to where we are,
    we practiced so much, didn't we.

    But things start to unfold and change, one after the other
    a complete contrast from the splendid scenery.
    What lay before us was an extreme hill that was more like a wall
    the road became an awfully steep slope
    all the faces begin to contort
    everyone going up the hill at different speeds
    wondering how long this is going to continue,
    this nagging hill.

    Coming to a point where I could no longer pedal, I gave up and put my feet down.
    In the corner of my eye
    I saw my teammate persisting mightily.
    Upon seeing her
    I decided to start up again
    Once we reach the top, the tranquil view awaits
    it's a wonder how one can ever so easily forget the grueling things that just happened.

    Arriving at CP1
    In front of our eyes
    lay the white beach and the emerald ocean of
    the beach of Hitotsuku.
    I understood why this was called the most beautiful ocean of Hirado.

    Going a bit further
    the rice terraces of Kasuga were a sight to see.
    Next we head to Ikitsuki island.
    A stretch of ascents and decents.
    What was the worst was the wind
    it was hard to tell if we were moving foward or not
    it conciderably delapidated my feet.

    We arrive at the Oobae Lighthouse.
    When we went up to the observatory
    there was no borderline between the sky and ocean
    as far as the eye could see.

    And so we strive for the goal
    we go along the same road from the Oobae Lighthouse to the Ikitsuki bridge.
    As we pass by the members from other teams
    we call out to each other
    "We're almost there, keep it up".
    This road on our return
    we had the wind on our side
    making the run smooth.
    This magnificent location of ocean and cliff
    gives me the actual sensation that I am running on the earth with my own legs.
    We reach the goal,
    all of our faces beaming
    with the Rapha Prestige completed
    our faces proud
    congratulating each other on a good fight fought.

    What's so great about Rapha Prestige,
    the wonderful route is needless to say
    but it's also about falling right into the trap laid out by the course director
    to experience the exact storyline that was intended.
    This is only possible on a bicycle
    and this experience
    is probably someone else's opportunity
    to encounter a new adventure
    as it was for me,
    so many discoveries
    and discovering myself.
    There's a sense of sadness once it's over
    and already a longing for the next prestige,
    wondering what kind of story we are going to encounter next.

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