So the first thing to say is I made it to the end! I am so proud of myself and of our team for our hard work. And when you are cycling as a peloton, into the headwind and the pouring rain, at 6am on a Sunday, believe me it is a team effort!
What can I say about doing it as a woman? Well, currently it's not a very diverse exercise, (there were 5 women and 90 men on my route) so it's not very representative of the industry. For me, it was a very polar experience. There were times on the road, particularly in the first few days, when the testosterone levels were feverishly high. Lots of 'lads lads lads' chat, some really excruciating mansplaining as guys get tired and fracious and their urge to explain increases. I actually had one guy inform me that I shouldn't really be there at all, as there is a ride called PedElle that's 'for the ladies'. The fact that it doesn't cycle to MIPIM, or that I might want to have a business network that included men as well as women completely passed him by. This same guy then wolf-whistled at me as I took my jacket off, after several hours of battling through the rain and wind together. It was a bit depressing to have to bat this rubbish off on top of keeping up with the cycling, which frankly was exhausting enough.
There was, however an incredibly positive other side. Every ride captain was so supportive, as they were of everyone. As a woman (and I was the least fit of the five) very simply put, biologically you go slower but can go longer. Psychologically we are better at endurance, and less power-straight-out-of-the-gate (obviously these are generalisations). To make use of this skill, the ride captains often placed the women at the front of the peloton, which meant we dictated the pace. What tends to happen then is that, overall, the peloton pace is slightly slower but very consistent, which reduces the problems of stop-start surging further down the pack, cuts down the number of breaks down the line, and generally keeps everyone together and makes the group more efficient. So our little group of women were often cycling together, which is a bit less intimidating than cycling surrounded by blokes with massive thigh muscles. The organisation and the ride captains all did a fantastic job in making sure that every time I was on the road I was supported and I enjoyed it. I had a fantastic time and can't wait to spend the rest of the year preparing for the next one.
So, my general conclusion: there is slightly more testosterone-heavy sexist chat than in your average day, but nothing more dramatic than any woman hasn't dealt with before in her life, and in no way has it put me off. I would 100% recommend the ride to my female friends, and I applaude the organisation for working to celebrate the women riding and enouraging us. As we rolled in along the beach front on the last day they put all the ladies up front and we led everyone in, which both felt incredible and was a great nod to our contribution to the ride - and their wish for more women to join.
By Donna Macfadyen, associate at Makower Architects
Hello reader. If you like this story, we think you'll love Velocity magazine. You can buy a copy here. Please tell us what you think about the website and/or the magazine - click here to take a one-minute survey. Thank you.