I've always loved the quote "Well behaved women seldom make history" by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (Ulrich is a Pulitzer Prize winning Professor of History at Harvard University who fought to recover the work of women who were not featured in history books of the past...you know, back when women were meant to be well behaved, virtuous, and politically mute). On Sunday as I stood at the start line on the Champs-Élysées, this quote ran through my head like a song on repeat, getting better each time as the lyrics commit to memory. I thought of the four front runners who made this day a reality; Kathryn Bertine, Marianne Vos, Chrissie Wellington, and Emma Pooley, all heroes in the eyes of every women standing on the start line as well as every female racer, rider, mother, daughter, sister, and grandmother watching at home. These women helped make history and it wasn't without a fight. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for "misbehaving" and standing up for change!
This day stood out to me as a literal dream come true. I remember getting my first bike, going on that first ride, and falling in love with everything a bike ride made me feel. July would roll around and I couldn't wait to watch the Tour! Matt and I would watch every stage from start to finish and I would savor every second. I was always intrigued by the history of the Tour, how deeply the roots of cycling grew in Europe and the contrast between absolute brutality and stunning beauty that is in essence the sport of cycling. I loved the Tour, however every year I tuned in I also felt the stinging reminder that no matter how far I got in cycling, I could never be a part of that race. I could never aspire to race in the Tour de France.
I remember watching Cav sprint to the win on the Champs-Élysées during 2009 Tour de France. The perfect lead out, the perfect execution, and pure speed that seemed unimaginable! I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I'd be in Paris, five years later, the night before the 21st stage of the Tour de France, watching footage of that very same finish in preparation for our OWN race on the Champs-Élysées! My motto in life has always been to dream big, because as an eternal optimist, and someone who hates the word "never," I have experienced what its like to have a dream become a reality and the result is surreal. So always, always keep dreaming!
Although we may not have our own "Tour" yet, that one incredible day was a huge step towards something more, towards a day when women cannot only watch the Tour de France, they can aspire to be a part of it. :)
Click the articles below to read more about La Course and the coverage it received in some mainstream media!
- The New York Times
- The Economist
- The Huffington Post