28-01-2020 - News

‘I never felt I was treated differently because I am a woman – this was very encouraging’

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Monika Sattler, 32, from Munich, Germany. Rode the ‘Triple Crown’ – Pyrenees, Alps and Dolomites back-to-back in 2018 – on her first experience of the Haute Route.

I’ve been riding for eight years. I wanted to become a professional cyclist and raced in Holland, but now realise what I love is what I call adventure cycling.

I quit my job as management consultant for IBM and now I want to establish myself in adventure cycling and inspire and encourage others – especially women – to get out there.

Before the Haute Route I had done a few stage races at semi-professional level, but I’d not done too many multi-day events. Two months before the Haute Route I did an eight-day ride through eight countries from the Stelvio in northern Italy to Holland.

I only signed up for the Haute Route Pyrenees a month before it started, then a friend convinced me to also do the Haute Route Alps. Before I knew it I’d agreed to ride the ‘Triple Crown’. I didn’t know where the route would take me but thought it sounded like a challenge – a cool one.

I never felt I was treated differently because I am a woman, I was just another rider. This was very encouraging, and how things should be. There should not be any gender specific rules or anything like that. We are all riders – if I screw something up it’s because of my cycling, not because I’m a woman. There was amazing camaraderie throughout the whole group of riders at the Haute Route.

Within the race there are different pelotons – those at the front, the real racers that I don’t even think I even saw – and the rest of us. Both groups have different mindsets and are doing their own things.

I never felt I was competing against others – male or female – I was, instead, challenging myself. I learnt in the first week to leave your ego at because as soon as somebody goes better than you, if you start beating yourself up about it then the next few weeks are done. I learnt that very early on.

There were a few low moments, of course there were, but they were far outweighed by the good ones. There’s not one specific moment in time that I would call the greatest, but rather a collection of moments when you realise we – the riders – are becoming a family. People are looking out for you, and each other.

I turned up here alone, I didn’t have a team around me or know anyone at all and I left feeling like I had a whole new family. Don’t be scared, just do it, just come, people will talk to you and within a day you will know everyone. One of the cool things about Haute Route is that they print your name and nationality onto the race numbers that are pinned on the back of your jersey, that’s a great conversation starter. There are 50 nations represented out on the road so there’s always something to talk about.

Usually I do something once and then move on to a new project so ordinarily I wouldn’t come back to the Haute Route, but now just half a day after finishing the Triple Crown I’m thinking: what else is there? I just don’t know what can compare to the Haute Route – there’s a great chance that I’ll be back.

I’ve done quite a lot of events – all over the world: Australia, the States and of course Europe – but the Haute Route really is very special. The organisation makes everybody feel special, like a professional: the food, the post-race massages, the Mavic guys who are really amazing. With all the nationalities, too, it’s like a rolling United Nations on bikes. It’s awesome.

As I say, there wasn’t one particular moment, just lots of small – but special – memories that made the Haute Route such an amazing experience.

For full article and further rider stories, click here. Want to learn more about the Haute Route or sign-up to one of their events? Head to hauteroute.org

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