As they pedaled into Paris on July 21, Kate Powlison and Kristen Peterson of Boulder, Colo., Heidi Swift and Jennifer Cree from Portland, Ore., Kym Fant of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Puerto Rico's Maria del Pilar Vazque made cycling history. They are believed to be the first female team to finish the entire 2,200-mile Tour de France.
Riding a day ahead of Tour professionals, the women stayed in the same hotels and endured the same daily grinds that the pros did in cycling's most grueling event. The women of Rêve 2012 rode the whole event on Cannondale's new 2013 SuperSix EVO, a road bike built for the female body.
After the race finished last month, STACK sat down with Cree, Fant, Powlison and Peterson for a behind-the-scenes look at the history-making ride.
STACK: How does it feel to be finished with the Tour?
Cree: I miss my Evo like crazy. It feels like a culture shock...I can only hope I get to do something like this again in my lifetime.
Fant: Every day it sinks in a little more that I just rode 2,200 miles and climbed over 170,000 feet in the last 21 days. The epic climbs, the caravans with people cheering on top and the last ride into Paris were surreal.
STACK: Was the race everything you expected, or were there a lot of surprises along the way?
Cree: The biggest surprise is how the human body adapts. The first week of our tour was the hardest for me. There were days when I thought I was going to get off my bike and head to some beach in Spain…If I weren't there, it would be hard to believe how the body adapts to the stress of nine- to 10-hour days.
Powlison: Being on the bike was maybe the easiest part of the whole trip…I also didn't expect all of the amazing support we received on a daily basis from everyone back home. It turned out to be such a huge key to our success. Through these comments and stories, we began to realize that we really were making a difference and creating positive changes in people's lives.
STACK: If you could change anything about the race, what would it be?
Fant: I really stressed out about making sure I did all my training rides, which [caused me to] sacrifice time with family and friends. I showed up and was one of the stronger riders, but you are only as fast as your slowest teammate. I should have had a little more fun during my training.
Powlison: We struggled in the beginning to find the right paces and figure out how to work together. Once we began working together really well day in and day out, those were the best stages and the days that I'll look back on with the best memories of riding together as a team.
STACK: What advice would you offer girl cyclists inspired by your race?
Fant: You can train your body to do anything. It's your mind that has to be tough. You must love to suffer or at the least welcome the challenge.
Peterson: Do it! This opportunity was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see some beautiful countries and get to experience the real culture of the small towns. I would suggest not doing every single kilometer of these races however...We had to ride on some very dangerous, highly trafficked roads and even on some highways…But more than anything, just say yes to adventure.
Stayed tuned for more on the cycling "Super Six," as STACK presents exclusive coverage of the Rêve Team's training, surprising nutrition, and mental preparation. In the meantime, check out STACK's tips on endurance training.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock