With a group of fifty women, we’ll begin the Komoot Women’s Torino-Nice Rally at 8 am on September 24th. It’s not a race, but a challenge to finish the route in a week with a finishers’ party at the Service Course in Nice on October 1st. While the ride is self-supported, women are encouraged to ride together, help each other, share stories and positivity and build a rolling community. It’ll definitely be hard, but it’s meant to be fun. Adventure arrives when we push our limits into the unknown with the confidence to see how it’ll unfold. I’m deeply encouraged to see fifty women take on this ride, make it personal and do their best.
Designed by James Olsen, the Torino Nice Rally is a 700km mixed surface route traversing the Alps between Turin, Italy, and Nice, France. With ten significant mountain passes, it climbs famous cols and old gravel military roads, passing small towns and refuges along the way. The highest point is over 2,700 meters with 17,500 meters of climbing. James has been hosting an event on the route for years— it’s not a race, but a challenge to finish in a week. Riders begin together and leapfrog along the way, sharing kilometers and stories. At different junctions, there are options for routing— to take the smoother longer course or the rougher more direct track. There’s always a debate about equipment choice— whether to ride a gravel bike or a hardtail, both have their benefits. Camping and staying in shelters along the way are recommended.
For the women’s challenge this year, we’ll all be following the same track to have more chances
for interaction. Here’s the Komoot Collection:
Organizing the Komoot Women’s Torino Nice Rally marries two of my dreams— riding this route and hosting a women’s bikepacking challenge.
I’ve been looking at the Torino Nice Rally for years. I love riding in the Alps and am so grateful that James has pieced together a world class track. Routing in Europe can be challenging. Due to its long history, there is a much denser network of roads and trails than in the US. This creates opportunities as there are so many more options, but can be daunting as an outsider when trying to figure out where to ride. A huge thank you to James for all of his hard work on scouting and publishing the TNR— a gift to the bikepacking community.
Organizing events breathes life into routes. You set a time and a place to meet and share a track and all of a sudden, people start imaging themselves there. They start researching the route, considering equipment and fitness and they do what they can to be there. They have life-changing experiences, they share stories and they dream up more projects and adventures.
I’ve seen this at bikepacking races and group starts. For example, at the Baja Divide group start in January 2017, 96 riders set out on the 2740km route in San Diego and crossed the border to Mexico together the next day. A week into this ride, Cait Rodriguez and I dreamed up Anchorage GRIT, our girls cycling mentorship program, and made it happen three months later.
This is also where I laid the plans to cycle all of the major roads in Alaska later that summer. Bikepacking is inspiring— when you get the opportunity to bounce ideas off of others with few distractions and all the positive energy, you start dreaming huge. Group starts are more effective for this than races because without the pressure of competition, riders get more of a chance to mix it up.
Routes like the Torino Nice Rally are public and open at any time. Organizing an event makes the experience community-driven and unique. Often, when I line up for bikepacking races, I’m the only woman or at most, we’re ten percent of the entire field. I’m motivated to organize a women’s challenge to encourage other women and also show what we’re capable of— women of all backgrounds are welcome to join.
I’ll be riding with a SPOT tracker with live tracking here:
If you’re in the area and want to come out, please join us for a stretch. Not all riders will be on Trackleaders, but many will share their daily rides on Komoot and photos on Instagram. With the help of Gaby Thompson and Komoot, we’ve put this challenge together in just a few weeks. Time has been tight, but I’m thrilled we’re making it happen. I’m sure we’ll all learn a lot. My hope is that this will be the first of many similar events around the world— choose a route that takes about a week, set a date and a starting point and go!
With mixed terrain over long distances, it’s hard to make gear selections. Packing light and compact is essential. With a split between pavement, gravel and some rougher mountain tracks, bike choice is a compromise and definitely personal. Above all, ride the bike you have and don’t be intimidated by gear. The route has been ridden on 35mm tires, but larger volume tires are definitely recommended. I’ll be riding a gravel bike, the Specialized Diverge, while Rue will be on a hardtail, the Specialized Epic HT. Neither of us have ridden the route and we’re taking our best stab at setting ourselves up. Rue often prefers flat bars because it’s easier for her to ride and shoot and carry a backpack for camera gear. After so much bikepack racing on flat bars, I have nerve damage in my hands and wrists and try to ride drop bars as much as I can. Here’s our full gear list. Please don’t hesitate with questions, we’re happy to share our preferences.
Lael’s set up:
Bike: Specialized Diverge
Wheels: ZIPP 303 with a SON hub laced into the front wheel for dynamo lighting
Tires: Rene Herse Oracle Ridge, endurance casing (700×48)
Handlebar: Easton AX70 carbon handlebar
Shifting: SRAM AXS Red shifting with a a 40T chainring and the XPLR cassette (11-44)
Brakes: SRAM Red hydraulic disc brakes
Ergon Women’s SR saddle
ZIPP seatpost & stem
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT
Wahoo RIVAL to record daily tracks
iPhone on Quad Lock as back up
Spinelock seatpack, Pronghorn handlebar harness with a medium dynema dry bag, Mag-Tank
2000, 2x Mountain Feedbags, Jerry Can,
Nemo double sleeping bag, Sea to Summit sleeping pad
Souplesse Race bib shorts, merino t-shirt, 2 pairs of merino socks, pro mitts, gloves, tights,
Explore rain jacket, down jacket, powerweave shoes, slides, Classic glasses with clear lenses,
Topo Designs merino long sleeve, Ripton shorts, REI shell mittens, 66 North rain pants,
Specialized Prevail II helmet
Spare tube, multitool. tire lever, pump, tire plugs, sealant, zip ties, derailleur hanger, quick links, AXS
battery, charger, brake pads, pliers, multitool
powerbank, charging cords, earbuds, SPOT tracker, Black Diamond headlamp,
Personal: chapstick, wallet, passport, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, 2 water bottles
Rue’s set up:
Bike: Specialized Epic Hardtail
Wheels: SON dynamo front, Hope rear, Roval rims
Tires: Tufo (29×2.25)
Handlebar: Hope carbon flat bar
Shifting: SRAM AXS, 30T chainring, 10-50 Eagle cassette
Brakes: SRAM G2
Specialized Women’s Power with mimic saddle
Hope carbon seat post & stem
Luggage: Revelate Designs framebag, Pronghorn front roll system, medium drybag, mag tank
2000, Spinelock seat pack,
Sea to Summit sleeping pad, Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 tent
Canon 1-V 35mm film camera
24-105mm f/4 (for film camera)
70-200mm f/2.8 (for film camera)
Minolta P’s panoramic 35mm film camera
Kodak Portra 160, 400 and 800 film
Rue will be documenting the ride with Tom Gibbs (@bicycle_factory on Instagram). She’ll hop in and out of a vehicle, at times, to cover the full field. We want to capture as many of the riders as possible and share their stories.
Follow #komootWTNR on Instagram to see riders’ updates while we’re out there.