The team climbs Coleman Valley Road on the way back Occidental | © VeloDramatic
After sitting out 2011 Rêve is back on a mission in 2012. This July, in partnership with peloton magazine, we're going back to France with six amateurs intent on writing a new chapter in the annals of women's cycling. The Rêve women's team will take on the complete 2012 Tour de France route, proving to themselves, other female cyclists, and women thinking about taking up the sport, that any bicycle dream is possible. In true Rêve fashion they'll ride one day ahead of the men's Tour, stay in the same spartan hotels and endure the unrelenting grind of daily transfers that define the three-week journey around France. Every training mile and every kilometer in France will be pedaled in support of Bikes Belong. Bikes Belong is a national coalition of bicycle retailers and suppliers working to make cycling safer and more accessible for women. We aim to make a significant contribution to that purpose.
If I hadn't been there in 2010 to see the Dutch boys pull this off I wouldn't believe it was possible. I close my eyes and replay long stretches of road that meander through sleepy villages – follow ancient rivers down cool green valleys – cross plains rippling with wheat, lavender and sunflowers to the power-line hum of cicadas – and finish in bustling town centers, atop wind blown Cols, or anticlimactically in empty parking lots. For my money this is a more compelling and exciting journey than the race itself. I can't wait to get back to France with the girls, but first there's thousand of miles of training and a service course to stock.
I should mention none of this would be happening if not for a casual dinner conversation with the Swiftest Heidi on the planet. In truth it took all of 30 seconds for Heidi to mentally clip in and start pedaling towards Paris. By breakfast the next morning she had Brad and Tim at Peloton committed and that got me thinking, why not go with a women's team.
In support of this effort they'll be equipped with the most advanced women's specific product available. They'll ride Cannondale's elite SuperSix Women'sbicycles. The women's SuperSix shares the racing heritage of the SuperSix line that carried Team Liquigas/Cannondale to victory in the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a'España. Light, responsive and comfortable, it's the ideal bike for this unprecedented Grand Tour attempt.
The Women's SuperSix will feature the advanced ergonomics of FSA components, the latest SRAM Red with Quarq power meters (we hope to share the data), and in the mountains, we'll have the advantage of SRAM's WiFLi climbing gearing (11-32 cassette and mid-cage derailleur). Understanding that no bike component is more important or personal than your choice of saddle the team will have the full benefit of Fizik women's-specific technology under them.
Giro will keep the team safe and cool in Aeon helmets and connected to the pedals with the high-performance Factress road shoe featuring Easton's EC90 carbon outsole. And on the biggest climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees the girls will appreciate the minimalist feel of Giro's new LTZ (Less Than Zero) glove.
With the support of Strava, you can follow the team every step of the way through their training and then analyze daily data feeds from every stage in France. We hope to announce more details soon on how you can support the team through Strava on our team page.
Five of our six riders are selected and training. We expect the final spot to be filled before March 7th. In the weeks ahead we'll share the background stories and motivations of these six women but for now let's briefly introduce the two riders pictured above. Portland's Heidi Swift (dark kit) is a regular contributor to peloton magazine and a force to be reckoned with on and off the bike. It was her immediate enthusiasm for the Rêve project that set this women's adventure in motion. Heidi is a wonderful writer with a descriptive gift for uncovering the inner dialog between rider and bicycle but she never seems to miss the beauty of the landscape that surrounds her. Heidi passionately races cross and road in and around her hometown of Portland Oregon. Swift knows and is known by just about everyone pedaling there and often writes about the magical Sicilian kitchen of her boyfriend Sal's family. Expect this summer's story in the September issue of Peloton to be something very special.
Kym Fant (white kit) is co-owner of Norcal Bike Sport and Bike Peddlar stores in Santa Rosa California with her husband Glenn. Though Kym's first love is mountain biking – she's competed in a number of 24-hour races as well as adventure racing in the Eco-Challenge – she's become an accomplished road rider who's no stranger to industry photo shoots (I can attest that she never seems to blink). My photo of Kym riding the Cannondale Women's SuperSix is on the cover of the March issue of Bicycling. Kym and Glenn have a young son fittingly named Axel, and somehow she's able to juggle family and riding with a busy career in Managed Markets for a major pharmaceutical company. Luckily her work regularly takes her to Portland where she can ride with teammates Heidi and Jennifer. W