Rapha Prestige Part I: The women of winter

Two of our team of six, pre race. Nervous excitement doesn't begin to cover it.

In Wisconsin, April doesn't mean the end of winter. Not this year, anyway. So when the invitation arrived to ride in the Rapha Women's Prestige in April, our intrepid women's product team was a little, well, trepid. The stats were daunting: 123 miles. 12,000+ feet of climbing. 120 days since we'd seen dry pavement. Did we dare? Of course!

The invitation-only Prestige isn't your typical bike race. It starts and ends at the Rapha Cycle Club in San Francisco. (On the wall hangs a quote: "Courage. We all suffer. Keep going.") In between, the unsanctioned race charts a brutal course through traffic, tourists, gravel and the Bay Area hills.

Once we'd accepted the invite as the only group east of the Rockies to participate, our team crammed in what little saddle time the even-worse-than-usual Wisconsin winter allowed. (And some it really didn't allow.) We boarded our flight wondering what, exactly, we thought we were doing... except we knew what: we were proving to ourselves that we were physically and mentally tough enough to go the distance.

The morning of the race dawned sunny and windy. We were to roll out at 7:50, the 10th of 20 teams to depart. The gut-rolling nerves we felt as we waited to ride fell away with the first few pedal strokes. Right, this was why we were here: the road ahead. The 2013 Rapha Prestige.

The first ten miles were a bob and weave through San Francisco traffic as we figured out how to use our race-issued GPS. We found our way to the Golden Gate Bridge, and braved what turned out to be a surprisingly dicey stretch as scenery-struck tourists wandered unpredictably into the bike lane. We had a few close calls, but no pedestrians were harmed in the making of this Prestige.

Lying in wait on the other side of the bridge: the toughest, worst, best ride of our lives.

To be continued...

We're inspired by the great athletes who ride Trek bikes, from world champions to weekend warriors. They remind us to dream big, and motivate us to do our best.

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What happens when the winter-weary women of Trek take on the Rapha Prestige? Setbacks. Success. And killer scenery.

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