August 22, 2016
Rapha Women's 100
Normally when I do photo shoots I am forced to be a bit of a fly-on-the-wall. I set a scene into motion and document it as it unfolds. However, when I was asked to not only shoot, but ride in Rapha’s Women’s 100 kilometer event… I was the one who had to set myself in motion… in more ways than one.
I’ve shot for the cycling apparel company Rapha many times (see previous shoots here). Normally when I shoot for them I am riding in a van alongside the cyclists to shoot their product in action. But a few months ago I received a call from them asking me to not only shoot their Women’s 100 event, but ride in it… documenting the experience from my perspective for an Instagram takeover. Always being up for a challenge, I agreed… without mentioning that the furthest I had rode a bike up until then was about 30 miles (a 100 kilometer ride is about 62 miles).
I received that call for the job a month before the actual event, so I spent the next 4 weeks kicking my ass on a bike to prepare. I was on a bike at least 5 days a week, climbing up mountain passes, and pushing myself to the limit… knowing that if I had to shoot this event I had to keep up with the rest of the ladies doing the ride and still have enough energy to focus on shooting. There were pleanty of times that I wanted to quit and say that I couldn't do the shoot. From running out of water in the middle of nowhere and drinking sips of Gatorade from bottles I found on the side of the road, to my body completely giving out after not eating enough food for fuel during an 18-mile climb up a mountain... it wasn't easy, but every time I got on my bike it became easier. This was life changing for me… from the way I ate, how I treated my body, and how I looked at my city. Los Angeles turned into my playground, every road and hill becoming an obstacle to overcome.
Rapha’s Womens 100 is an event that encourages thousands of women all over the world to ride 100 kilometers with group rides on July 17th. I joined the Southern California group ride with about 40 other badass women. We started from the Rapha pop-up shop in Venice and proceeded to ride 70 miles through the Santa Monica and Malibu mountains (you can see the exact route on my Strava here). I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous going into the ride not knowing how I would fair compared to the other women since I had only been biking seriously for a month. To my surprise I stayed with the front group for most of the ride, and wouldn’t have anything to worry about regardless because all the women were encouraging rather than competitive.
Not wanting to lug my big DSLR Canon 5D MarkIII that I normally shoot with on this long ride, I shot all the stuff on the bike using both my phone and a GoPro camera that I had mounted to my bike. The ride took 5 hours with an elevation gain of about 6,000 feet with all the climbing up mountain passes we had to do. We ended back at the Rapha pop-up with some well-deserved mimosas and pizza… and smiling faces all around after overcoming such a long ride in the California heat together.
After putting in all the work to get in shape for that ride, I’m hooked. Since the ride, at least a few times a week I wake up early and start my day off with a bike ride. It’s an incredible way to clear your head, see more of the place you live in a new way, and make the most out of your body. Most of all, it just feels good to start your day off by overcoming something… after that, whatever tasks you have for the rest of the day seem easy comparatively. So whether it is cycling, running, yoga, or even going for a brisk walk… I highly recommend finding a physical activity to challenge yourself. Your mind and body will thank you.
P.S…. HUUUUUUUUGE thanks to Trek for supplying me with a bike equipped for such rides. Wouldn’t have been able to do this without it. And obviously Rapha for opening me up to a whole new world.