Inverurie cyclist conquers Tour de France and Everest challenge
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An Inverurie woman was part of a team which took part in an epic six-day challenge to raise awareness of gender inequality in cycling.
Lucy Ritchie (45) is a member of the InternationElles, a global group of amateur female cyclists, who are spread across the UK, Netherlands, USA and Australia.
The 10 riders juggled full-time work, family lives and extensive training regimes to finish the challenge.
The group's initial plan was to travel to France and to ride the Tour de France one day ahead of the male competitors.
However, with the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions that are in place a plan B was needed.
They first completed a four-day, non-stop team relay of 3484km from home on static bikes. The five UK-based riders then took on the infamous Everesting challenge, climbing the full 8848 metres of Mount Everest in just 18 hours on Friday, September 4 to join a group of only 446 female riders from around the world who have successfully completed this incredible feat of stamina and perseverance.
The rules of Everesting are that cyclists must reach the total elevation of Mount Everest by riding up their chosen climb in a single attempt, with strictly no sleep allowed.
The ascent of the Bwlch, Rhondda Valley’s second-category climb, represents 339m of elevation at an average gradient of five per cent and each rider climbed it a staggering 27 times.
Mrs Ritchie, who works as a business opportunity manager for Shell, has represented Great Britain twice, ridden the Maratona dles Dolomites race three times, has won a support stage at the Tour Series and is the current district 10-mile TT champion.
She said: "There is no female equivalent of the Tour de France and we are campaigning for this to change.
"We want to give women and girls the same opportunity as the men and the chance to reach the pinnacle of cycling.
"Last year our team did each stage of the Tour de France the day before the men. We were supposed to do it again this year but because we have international members they could not travel due to the current restrictions.
"However, we had done so much training and still wanted to raise awareness, so we covered the distance on bikes at home in a relay with each team member cycling every two and a half hours. We managed to complete the distance in 99 hours.
"To do the elevation we took on the Everesting challenge in Wales, which saw us cycle from 4am to 10pm to complete it. We covered 207 miles and 29,700 feet.
"To prepare it was an intensive training regime, but I have a coach and compete so that helped."
Mrs Ritchie is part of the Inverurie-based Team Ecosse Northboats Cycling Club.
She was joined in Wales by Louise Gibson, a global events manager from Marlow; Jess Fawcett, a communications freelancer from Edale in the Peak District; Rhian Denton, a talent acquisition manager and Jules Cass, a physiotherapist; who are both from south west London.
InternationElle Carmen Acampo successfully Everested in The Netherlands with 66 repetitions of the Camerig, a fourth-category climb. Julie-Anne Hazlett, in Australia, and Heather Sawtelle, in the USA, both Everested from home with eight repetitions on the Alpe du Zwift, a virtual hors categorie climb.
The group is supported by Skoda, whose cycling ambassador Dame Sarah Storey was in awe of the efforts undertaken by the group.
She said: “The InternationElles are truly amazing. To follow the Tour de France relay with 9000m of climbing in a single day is superhuman.
"What was most impressive was their camaraderie and support for each other despite the fact they each must have been utterly exhausted.
"A global pandemic was not going to stop them shining a light on the continued inequalities in cycling and show what female cyclists are capable of.
"Thanks to their efforts progress continues to be made in reaching that goal of equal pay and race opportunities. I’m so proud to work alongside them and we are changing perceptions and bringing new voices out in support.”
The InternationElles are looking to galvanise the global cycling community in support of their cause and have created the opportunity for everyone to join in and show support by visiting www.skoda.co.uk/thisisourtime
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