Portland women to bike Tour de France route

Portland women to bike Tour de France route


by KGW.com Staff and Pat Dooris

Bio | Email | Follow: @PatDoorisKGW


Posted on June 19, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 20 at 12:34 PM

PORTLAND -- Six women, including two from Portland, will try to become the first to ride each stage of the 21 day, 2,200 mile Tour De France, a day before the professional men take the course.

Heidi Swift and Jennifer Cree have trained for the ride over the past year. It will be more extreme than anything they’ve experienced in the U.S.

"Yeah, there's alot of moments that I wake up and wonder what I’m doing. There's been a lot. I cannot over state that!" Swift said.

She's not a professional rider. In fact, she's a free- lance journalist. Her friends are what she calls normal women leading normal lives.

Jennifer Cree is a dental hygienist in Laurelhurst. Swift said their schedules are much different than the professionals.

“We ride our bikes and go do work and take care of families and it all adds up. It’s been challenging this year," Swift said.

But the dream has pushed the women to train with relentless determination. Some stages, like the 16th Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon through the Pyrenees, promise to be grueling. “It'll take us, it'll take us 13 or 14 hours," Swift said. "It’s a huge challenge!"

Swift didn’t even like bikes until about 6 years ago.

“My fourth grade boyfriend was in a real serious accident, went through the windshield of a car and then a really good friend of mine in middle school was in an accident on a ride with his father and was paralyzed from the neck down. And so I really, like bikes are not for me you know," Swift said.

But in 2006, the Seattle area native moved to Portland and fell in love with a man who rides bikes, so she started riding too. And now she can’t stop. After months of training and preparation, the day is almost here. As word spreads, encouragement is pouring in from women inspired by the adventure.

“I think there's alot of women who do ride who've sort of latched on to it like 'wooo! If they can do that what can I do?' And that's what’s really been powerful so far about the story is it’s an exercise in just challenging your assumptions and limitations and reconsidering what may be possible for yourself," said Swift.

But there are detractors too, including more than a few who suggest the women will never make it. Swift is not intimidated.

“At the end of the day, we're going to France, we're gonna ride our bikes in France for three weeks on, like a paid trip. There's just no way it can end up being bad in my eyes, you know?” Swift said.

Sher will post daily updates at peletonmagazine.com.

You can learn more about the six women at Reve 2012.