“This is a dream for me” – Riding Tour de France with InternationElles

In our latest InternationElles blog, we meet team rider Helen Bridgman

I started cycling about seven years ago when my knees, hips and frankly most of my joints were screaming at me that it was time to give up netball finally after 25+ years! I dabbled with a bit of triathlon first but got bitten by the cycling bug good and proper when I started racing two years ago. Since then I’ve done a bit of crit and road racing and TTs and I’ve just become accredited so I can give track racing a try too. I love the thrill of racing and the camaraderie. We may be rivals in the race but we have a laugh together the rest of the time!

After having a blast racing in the London Women’s Racing (LWR) leagues, I became a volunteer on the committee and I am now co-chair of LWR. In this role I try to demystify everything around racing, help make it more accessible and encourage more women to give it a try and discover the thrills of this cycling discipline.

I’ve taken part in many different sportives and events over the years. My problem is I just say yes to everything! My very first one was the inaugural London Revolution in 2012. I had to buy a road bike and learn how to ride in cleats just weeks before I did it with a team from work to raise money for charity. I cried at least once – when I fell off my bike because I was so tired I couldn’t unclip – but I loved it! Never shy of a challenge, since then I’ve done the Marmotte, Tour of Flanders, Maratona, Red Bull Time Laps and the Vatternrundan to name a few. I also rode for GB in the World amateur GF champs in Italy last year after breaking my collarbone in a race just eight weeks earlier.

I dabbled with audaxes earlier this year too, the longest of which was a 300km ride which took us from London almost to Stonehenge and back! Nothing, however, will come close to what I am about to undertake with my fellow InternationElles in July.

In every day life I work in marketing for a global law firm. It’s a very demanding job and it’s always been difficult to juggle work and training. I am very lucky that they have let me take a three month sabbatical to enable me to focus on the Tour. I’ve been making the most of it and training hard – lots of long rides mixed with interval training and plenty of double days too. I’ve been lucky to have lots of friends to ride with to keep it fun and social so it doesn’t feel too much like hard work!

The opportunity to join InternationElles was a dream for me and one that was too good to miss. I am passionate about equality in all walks of life and was quite frankly gobsmacked when I started to understand the uphill battles there are for women in cycling at every level from grassroots to professional. Everything from lack of media coverage, lack of races and paltry prize money needs to change. There’s a lot of infrastructure that needs building around the sport to ensure that having another grand stage race for women is successful. I am really hoping that this summer we can shine a spotlight on these issues to help bring about change as well as inspire others to get on their bikes. All of this will drive me to keep pedalling, even when things get really tough in the mountains!

IG: @helebridg

T: @CunliffeHelen

 

“I am so honoured to be part of InternationElles”

In the latest update from InternationalElles, we caught up with rider Lucy Ritchie… 

My name is Lucy Ritchie, and I am 44 years old. I hail from Aberdeenshire in NE Scotland, I am married to Kyle (also a keen cyclist). We have no children but two Labradors, Maggie and Pele. I have cycled since childhood but took up road cycling more seriously aged 39. I had been a runner previously but was suffering on/ off from pain in my hip and so turned to cycling for fitness.

Initially, I started commuting to and from work – a 35-mile round trip – and it was great stress relief. Sitting in traffic for two hours a day was soul-destroying! I started riding with my husband and his mates and was quite surprised that I could keep up, being described by them as ‘strong’! So, I guess after a bit of a mid-life crisis …(!) I decided to throw myself at cycling and see just what I could achieve.

I hired a coach, bought a better bike and started entering Sportives and small local races. By 2018, I had gained my Category 3 racing licence and represented Team GB at the UCI Amateur Gran Fondo World Championships in Albi, France (2017) and Varese, Italy (2018). Riding as part of the InternationElles seemed the next logical step in my journey, just the right level of craziness, pain, endurance and hopefully satisfaction when we have completed the route!

Training has been tough – not so much cycling but fitting it in around a full time, sometimes intense job, working as a geologist/ team lead for Shell U.K, whilst keeping house and trying to have some social life. Without Kyle picking up the slack, this would have been so much harder. He has been the perfect soigneur. I’ve returned home from some miserably cold and wet rides to find the bath run and a plate of food waiting. Thanks Kyle!

My coach, Rich, has been equally supportive, using my commutes to minimise time on the turbo and as constant source of encouragement when I literally could not face getting on my bike for another miserably cold and wet ride – bit of a theme here…

Kyle Mowbray

I am so honoured to be part of this amazing team and I hope our efforts go some way to changing attitudes and paving a way for future generations of cyclists, both male and female. It’s all about creating a balance but we need equal opportunity to achieve this and we should be celebrating the differences between men and women with inclusion not exclusion.

“Bring on those 21 stages and the voices to come out of it”

InternationalElles rider Alex Chart tells us her story… 

Our Year 11 leavers book had the theme of the Mr Men and I was Little Miss Extreme Sports…. slightly ironically given I had been put in the “reject” PE class (i.e. those of us with no hand eye coordination the teachers simply couldn’t be bothered with).  This was because I spent my holidays either skiing in winter or scuba diving in the summer (UK and abroad).

Little had anyone realised what was to come; 5 Ironman events, Half-Ironman’s, 14km river swims, World Championships road racing (amateur cyclists), Marathons, ever increasing distance cycling and now this… I was never the sporty type, and only knew of road cycling as that annual event where men cycled up mountains for 3 weeks in France.  A few friends’ dads had gone out to ride a stage of the Tour de France here or there, but never a female was spoken about on a bike.

So, when I was asked if I wanted to be part of this epic adventure of the InternationElles I didn’t need to think twice.  So much of my life has been in a “man’s world”.  Studying maths at university the majority of students around me were male, working in corporate finance – again all male and cycling in my local club, which is 95% male.  Every aspect of my life I have trodden a path that fights against the gender “norms”.  I’m a stubborn, determined person and will never allow someone to tell me what I can or cannot do. Cycling is no different.

I’ve joined this team to help bring the gender imbalance in the sport I love to light and to force people to talk about it.  The first step to equality is acknowledgement and discussion as to what the right thing to do is, this event can help that.

I’m terrified of the stages to come; the cobbles, the climbs, the descending, the weather, the saddle sore, the lack of sleep and the long journeys between stages.  I’ve loved the training building up to this; structured, focused, with a purpose.  Despite training as much as feasible, there is still so much unknown in what is to come.

Yet the one thing I know for certain is this needs to be done.  We need to speak out and we need people to listen.  We need to inspire the next generation to get on their bikes, regardless of gender, ethnicity or background.  Everyone should experience the freedom cycling brings, whether it be to move around their local town or to race with the world’s best.  Bring on those 21 stages and the voices to come out of it.

Your Monday Briefing

Voxnews

Get your week started with the latest news from the world of women’s cycling

  • On Friday, Donnes des Elles au Vélo started riding for the fifth consecutive year the entire route of the Tour de France a day ahead of the men’s race. On the course the 13 French women riders will campaign for the return of a Women’s Tour de France and raise awareness for women’s cycling.
  • Team Bahrain Merida, in conjunction with the Bahrain Cycling Association and McLaren, has announced the formation of Bahrain Cycling Academy (BCA). The Academy will also support female riders in Bahrain, promoting organised cycling and women’s coaching clinics. Their aim is by 2025, to achieve equal participation in cycling between men and women in Bahrain, and to create an elite UCI Women’s WorldTour team.

Recent results

  • The first stage of the Giro Rosa ICCREA, a team time trial, was won by Canyon//SRAM, second place went to Bigla and third to CCC-Liv. On the second day of the Giro Rosa, Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) was victorious ahead of Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb). The third stage went to Marianne Vos, second place to Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott) and third to Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Bigla)
  • The Mercedes-Benz UCI MTB World Cup – Vallnord (short circuit) was taken out by Jolanda Neff (Trek Segafredo) while Rachel Atherton (Atherton Bikes) won the Women’s Elite Downhill. Anne Terpstra (NED) won the Women Elite Cross-Country Olympic event in Vallnord.

Voxwomen TV

  • Watch the Giro Rosa highlights show every day here on Voxwomen starting 5 July and concluding 14 July. Times are 17.30 UK time, 18.30 CET and 12.30 US EST. Don’t miss this great opportunity to catch up on what has been happening on each stage.

The Voxwomen Cycling Show

  • Our latest episode of the Voxwomen Cycling Show is out now. We talk to Rachel Voyles about her role as a soigneur at Rally UHC Cycling, as well as Hagens Berman Supermint team owner Lindsay Goldman, and share with you all the action from Liège–Bastogne–Liège and the Amgen Tour of California.

Zwift Blog

  • In her piece, “I am nervous, I am excited, I am ready to suffer,” Louise tells her story of how she became involved in InternationElles, the international team that rides 21 stages of this year’s Tour de France one day ahead of the men’s team. A truly inspiring tale of persistence and commitment to cycling by this British cyclist.  Stay tuned, as the team will be documenting their journey and experiences over the coming weeks on Voxwomen.
  • In her most recent blog, Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb) writes about her favourite stage race of the season, the OVO Energy Women’s Tour. Find out why this event has such an importance for her.

Insider Podcast powered by Rawvelo

  • Listen to our latest podcast right here, in which Abby Mickey and Laura Winter talk about the OVO Energy Women’s Tour, our exciting Giro Rosa Iccrea announcement together with Trek, the latest Rawvelo photo competition, and much more!

Voxwomen announcements and events

  • Check out the Voxwomen Big Week Off! and secure your place in this fantastic event by paying a non-refundable deposit of £150. There are a limited number of places at the event, so you can be sure to reserve your place and then pay in installments. If you would like to participate in a week of social riding, get nutritional advice and training tips, all in the beautiful Spanish countryside, then take advantage of this unique offer by clicking here.

This week in cycling history…

  • The women’s hour record was first established on 7 July 1893 by Mlle de Saint-Sauveur at the Vélodrome Buffalo in Paris. The French rider completed 26.012km which was the first unpaced hour record for a women rider. The first women’s hour record approved by the UCI was set by Tamara Novikova on 7 July 1955. The Russian rider broke the women’s World Record for 1 hour covering 38.473km breaking the record of Italian Alfonsina Strada that had stood for 26 years.

Shop Voxwomen and insider specials

  • Have a look at our attractive range of quality cycling clothing and accessories? We offer mugs, socks, jerseys and more. Head over to our online store and see what we have to offer. By making a purchase, you’ll be helping Voxwomen to bring more women’s cycling to an ever-increasing fan base.