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Women who conquered Tour de France route now set to tell the tale

Posted by on August 7th, 2012 at 2:23 pm

They made it!
(Photo © Michael Robertson/Velodramatic)

They did it! It wasn’t easy, but the six woman Reve Tour team that set out to tackle the entire Tour de France route accomplished their goal. Two of them — Jennifer Cree and Heidi Swift — are from Portland and they’re back in town, ready to share the experience with the many people who supported them along the way.

Two events this month will give those of us inspired by the Reve Tour a chance to hear from Heidi and Jennifer and ask them those burning questions.

The first event is being hosted by The Portland Society, a non-profit business alliance of “professional women who are passionate about bicycling.” Here’s more from Portland Society co-founder Elly Blue:

“We are presenting a special evening event with Heidi Swift and Jennifer Cree…

They’ll talk about their experience both as an athletic feat and as an awareness-building endeavor. The state of women’s sports cycling is in an interesting place right now, and this is a great chance to learn more about the economic and cultural aspects of that side of cycling and to get inspired for whatever ambitious task you’re facing, on or off the bike. There will be lots of time for networking and meeting people before and for questions and discussion after.”

The Portland Society event (full details here) is tomorrow (8/8) from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at the Lucky Lab in North Portland (1700 N. Killingsworth). It’s open to the public, but get there early because there are only 45 seats!

And next Thursday (8/16) is Reve Tour Night at Upper Echelon Fitness in northwest Portland (1420 NW 17th Suite 388). UEF has a special connection to the Reve Tour team: Jennifer Cree is married to UEF owner Russell Cree. At this event, you’ll get the chance to see a full presentation about the trip featuring photos and insider stories followed by a Q & A session with Heidi and Jennifer. The event is scheduled for 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00).

— Read more about this extraordinary ride through the writing of Heidi Swift published by Peloton Magazine.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Russell @ Upper EchelonMy Magic HatPetewsbobNola Wilken Recent comment authors
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My Magic Hat
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My Magic Hat

I may actually go to this, if only to learn how I, too, may find people to finance my 3-week vacation.

mabsf
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mabsf

Dear Magic Hat, if you are jealous, just say so, but don’t snark! I am also not quite sure that riding the Tour de France route counts as a vacation.

wsbob
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wsbob

Hat, you certainly ought to see if you can seize an opportunity to have someone finance for yourself, a vacation like the one you seem to consider the ladies ride of the TDF route to have been. It shouldn’t be too tough if you’re prepared to ride like they did, or better…each stage of the TDF course one day ahead of the pro team racers.

Making the tour easier for them than the racers, is that they weren’t racing, and according to Swift’s periodic updates during their tour, had help from some guys riding along. Still seems to me like quite an effort that, in part because they’re, smart, energetic women, rather than men…gave the TDF a nice little extra twist. I’m hoping another group of gals will take up the challenge for next year. Maybe you’ll find a way to be one of them.

Kristen
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Kristen

Way to go, Reve Tour ladies!!! I was really inspired by your stories and tweets and pictures.

My Magic Hat– It wasn’t a vacation. Heidi, at least, was on assignment writing for Peleton Magazine every day with a large article to come in September. They were also riding for Bikes Belong, which is a non-profit cycling advocacy organization dedicated to putting more people on bikes more often.

Uncle Muscles
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Uncle Muscles

Going on charity rides is still a vacation. Does anyone really think these things are more effective than direct action/funding? No, they’re simply a way to assuage our innate Portland sense of liberal white guilt. It’s not some epic struggle for charity, it’s a bike ride.

Jeff
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Jeff

am I the only one who just doesn’t get it? cycling vacations involving the TdF routes have been happening for a long time. why is it so “epic” when a bunch of U.S. women do it for charity?

Brad
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Brad

I’m getting a good laugh out of this! A group of regular, work-a-day women riders that just completed a 2000+ mile ride including some of the hardest climbs and scariest descents in cycling being criticized by people that think the hill on N. Interstate is too hard to manage and that riding bike lanes in the ‘burbs is horrifying. Epic BikePortland thread! EPIC!!!

Chapeau, ladies! I enjoyed your ride blog and look forward to Heidi’s re-cap in “Peloton”.

Jeff
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Jeff

how do you know exactly what some of us consider difficult riding? Fact is this sort of supported sport touring is done every year by various tour groups in France. Sure they did a great job and had a lot of fun, maybe raised some money, etc. Physically challenging? Of course. I still don’t get the hype.

Pete
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Pete

Maybe so, but it’s certainly BP-newsworthy. Maybe go to the aforementioned events and possibly answer your question yourself…

Brad
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Brad

Fair enough. An assumption based on years of observing and reading comments here about commuting being too hard due to a lack of infrastructure, flat topography, and “interested but concerned” fears, rants against spandex and expensive whips, and a generally displayed attitude of “Portland GOOD, ‘Burbs BAD”.

It this any less newsworthy than electronic bike counters? Bike themed dance parties? A feature on bakfiets? An editorial about e-bikes? I do notice that when Jonathan writes about “athletic” usage of a bicycle, a certain element around here gets all bent about it. If it isn’t utility/transportation/saving the Earth/policy wonk/bike fun/non-athletic/practical usage then it offends someone. Haters gonna’ hate, I suppose.

Ray Ogilvie
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Ray Ogilvie

I’m with Hat.

Nola Wilken
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Nola Wilken

No dicks, no doping. Gee that’s quite a threat apparently.

My Magic Hat
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My Magic Hat

My original thought was not about genitalia (though I find it interesting that “dicks” were apparently discriminated against), not jealousy, and it’s certainly not about the presence or absence of dope. It’s the motivation that I find in question. The charity funds could have been raised far more effectively without the expense of a self-indulgent supported bike tour (Look into it. Those things are expensive).

This was not an act of good will. This was not about proving that women can ride hard (interestingly, without the 180 male pro’s in the TDF, the concept falls flat). This was a group of people taking advantage of the good intentions of other people and organizations in order to get something they wanted for themselves. In this case, the participants wanted to go on a bike trip they could later brag about. This – in the world outside of Portlandia – is known as a “Vacation”.

Good for them. Just don’t make it something it’s not. Hell, a day behind the Reve Tour were countless touring cyclists PAYING MONEY to do the same ride. Every pedal stroke.

It was aesthetically pleasing, but ethically dubious – if we’re all honest with ourselves, anyway.

If the Reve tour happens next year, and the riders cover all of their own expenses, I’ll take it all back.

Russell @ Upper Echelon
Guest

Magic Hat – For the record, Cannondale came to this project mid-way through the planning. We had already signed up my wife and committed with the initial agreement of paying our own way for Jennifer. It wasn’t until months later that Cannondale became involved and paid for the trip. So if we are honest, you are wrong. No way you could have known that, however. But now you know.

And it is rare for someone to ride the entire TdF course. Look around the tours and you’ll see most are 3-7 days long, just doing the mountain stages. And rightfully so, the flat windy stages are very challenging, not much fun, and the women had to ride on freeways to follow the course, which was very dangerous. They didn’t have the safety of road closure, but did these stages anyway to achieve their goal. But this isn’t the route most would choose for their vacation.

And the comments and support we’ve gotten has been huge from people that have never followed the TdF. The goal of this trip wasn’t to get already avid cyclists to take trips to France, it was to reach outside of our community and expose new people to cycling. And it was a huge success. We’ve had an overwhelming response from people who have a new interest in the sport. Call it a vacation, call it a tour for charity, call it what makes you happy. We call it the ReveTour and we call it a success. A tremendous challenge accomplished. I encourage you to come out on Thursday and meet the Heidi and Jennifer, I think you can see what this trip was about. And feel free to contact me, as well. I’m happy to answer questions. Thanks,

RC