Rapha Prestige Part II: Aim high, dig deep

Pointing out the obvious

Ten miles into the Rapha Women's Prestige, just over the Golden Gate Bridge, the going gets rough: a ten-mile run up Mt Tamalpais, the last four on gravel fire road, with 2,572 feet of climbing. We felt every inch. Our reward: spectacular views of the coast below, and the satisfaction of having knocked off nearly a quarter of the day's climbing.

After Mt Tam (where, by the way, a crazy guy named Gary Fisher started bombing bikes down fire roads back in the 70s, making Mt Tam the unofficial birthplace of the mountain bike), the road leveled out for a bit. Nothing but gorgeous scenery and an ugly headwind for the next 20 miles.

At mile 40, we learned we'd barely missed our cutoff time. We'd known this might happen, after precious little winter training. Still, it stung. We were given a new route, 20 miles shorter. Should we accept, and take the DNF? Or do the whole route, even if we'd finish in the dark? We all wanted to run the full race... but a little soul searching told us that one or two of us might not make the full distance. Risk leaving part of the team behind? No way. We'd take the shorter route and cross the finish line together, race results be damned.

Miles 40-80 were a sore, sunburned, scenic blur. In the town of Fairfax, we faced another route decision. Opt for a gentle 20-mile roll back to Rapha, as many teams did? Or include a painful, triumphant climb up the rollers affectionately known as the Seven B*tches? Um, yeah: pain and triumph.

Some of those final grades were so steep a full pedal stroke was almost impossible. We cramped. We cried. We urged each other on. And we made it! We savored the view from the top, then cruised back to the Cycle Club to be greeted with cheers and hugs, beers and brats. Balm for the Wisconsin soul, and a fabulous end to a ride we'll never forget.

Thank you, Rapha!

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We pick up the Trek women's Rapha Prestige story ten miles in, heading up Mt Tam and into the hard and hilly unknown.

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