On September 24th a group of over 20 women from 7 different countries set off to tackle a 700km bikepacking challenge starting in Torino and finishing in Nice. You may know this route under the name Torino Nice Rally. Why is this special? This has been the first bikepacking challenge exclusive for women in Europe! It may well be the first time ever that a female collective has been formed to undertake a cycling adventure of this magnitude.
The event is brought to you by komoot, and is the brainchild of world-renowned endurance cyclist, Lael Wilcox who will lead out the group.
A first for female adventure cyclists
While this should be a headline for an article from 50 years ago, it’s true! A thing that is very notable about the bikepacking community is how open and inclusive our sport is. Still, It is very sad to see each time an event has only a hand full of women in it. Not even speaking of BIPOC or LGBTQI+ athletes. Are they themselves to blame? No, clearly not. It is on us (Yes, I am speaking as a man, myself.) for creating an environment and industry that is restrictive and clearly not open for those groups. It is very encouraging to see so many role models thriving and starting to drive change in this forever difficult topic.
Lael Wilcox is clearly an inspiration to us all, and her initiatives drive very important change:
“I’ve been told that it’s impossible for women to ride long distances, to climb mountains, to ride through the remote countryside. Yet I’ve done all of these things and so have many women that are joining on this week-long adventure. I’m very motivated to show that women are extremely capable in the world of ultra-distance cycling and this event is a way for us to connect with each other and to share our stories and our passion for adventure cycling”
The event was self-supported but without the pressure of being a race. That way each woman was able to create her own adventure - whether that’s to ride solo or with others, and to sleep and eat where preferred. At their own pace and being able to form friendship and focus on the shared experience with those around her.
Turin to Nice - surely no walk in the park
The Torino-Nice rally route was designed by James Olsen in 2016. Since then, it has attracted a cult-like following, with riders undertaking the challenge annually in September. Parts of the route had been gravely affected in 2020 by storm Alex and Olsen painstakingly plotted a re-route which was then recced by komoot and published as this Collection on komoot. The result is a finely-tuned route that winds through the Queyras and Mercantour national parks and the Ligurian, Cottian and Maritime Alps. This route was followed by riders taking part in the Women’s Torino-Nice Rally.
More and more female athletes join the growing community of adventure cyclists
With cyclists looking to escape road traffic and exploring by bike off the beaten tracks, adventure cycling is enjoying increased popularity across Europe. Even more notable, a lot of tracked tours and adventures uploaded to komoot are coming from female cyclists!
Surely this is a result of the continuing support of the brand for supporting women in their ideas and adventures.
“We want adventure cycling to be accessible to everyone, to transcend genders and nationalities. The experience of riding the TNR in a group of women will be history in the making that in and of itself! We’re super excited to be able to support Lael in bringing this to the international bikepacking community this year.”
Gaby Thompson, Global Community Manager komoot
Hats off to this incredible ride! We are surely jealous looking at the pictures. 😜 Do you know of more important women only bike events or outstanding female athletes we should cover? We would be honoured to report about it. Anything to add? Anything we missed? Start the conversation, hit us up, we are looking forward to drive the conversation!
Individual photo credits in captions.