Rapha Women's 100 - The Invisible Peloton: Lindsey Fraine

The Invisible Peloton: Lindsey Fraine

Even in this strangest of years, we’re determined that while we might have to ride solo, we will never ride the Women’s 100 alone. In the first part of a four-part series from ultra-endurance cyclist and writer Emily Chappell introduces us to the women in her invisible peloton and asks who will be in yours?

Lindsey Fraine

A producer based in London, Lindsey was diagnosed with endometriosis but does not let it stop her from riding or raising awareness about the disease.

What does cycling give you?

At the moment it gives me a break from endometriosis. There are days when it takes an enormous amount of energy to get out of bed and actually go and ride my bike, but when I can do that, it really makes me happy. All these words like self-esteem and courage and strength sound a bit clichéd, but I really do genuinely feel those things. Cycling makes me stronger. It takes courage to get up, and to feel like I can go out and ride 100 kilometres. And because I do that, I feel better about myself.

Has it always been like that? Did you face any hurdles when you were getting started?

My hurdles have become more apparent as I’ve got older. I have a body that can’t keep up with mainstream cycling – this constant desire to be better, stronger, ride further, ride harder. That mentality isn’t in line with my physical ability, so I sometimes struggle to find people to ride with who are happy to just have a gentle ride. A lot of it is ‘train hard, train like a man’, you know? And for me that is just exhausting. I don’t want to train like that, but I also can’t train like that. So for me that’s now my hurdle – finding people who can accept that I might get halfway through a ride and have to go home, or cancel in the morning.

Tell us about a time when you exceeded your expectations, or achieved something you never thought you’d be capable of.

Portugal was my first solo bikepacking trip, in 2016, and that was the one when I had a real sense of ‘I did it’. I learned so much. I was trying to be ridiculously strong, and I was planning 100 mile rides. You can ride 100 miles in the UK and it’s sort of alright. And then I was trying to do that in Portugal in September, in 40 degrees, and finding myself surrounded by vineyards, no water for miles, and thinking ‘this is becoming quite dangerous.’

I had to slow down. I tried to leave much earlier, and did shorter days. I re-plotted the route and ended up only doing about half of what I had planned. But that was interesting in itself, having to let go of my expectations, and adapt to the situation I found myself in.

How did you get yourself through the tougher moments of the challenge? What did you do to keep yourself going?

It always comes back to my health, because it’s been such a battle. Every month I have several weeks of pain, as part of the endometriosis. So if I can get through that every month, then I know I just have to slow down and I will get there in the end. If I’m in pain with endometriosis one day and I can’t go and meet my friends, or go cycling, or go to work, then I just have to give in. And I think that’s been a really important part of my cycling. In those moments when I feel like, for example, I’m getting heatstroke, I just give in, and listen to my body.

Who is in your invisible peloton?

One of them is my aunt who is 91 who we think had endometriosis. Of course, back then it was not diagnosed and she had a hysterectomy in her 40s. We seem to have the same body. And she’s incredibly tough. If she could cycle up Ventoux with me then she definitely would.

I’ve always been so impressed with the Olympic cyclist Elinor Barker, knowing she was diagnosed with endometriosis. I wonder if that’s what gives her her drive.

My friend Max would be in there, because he taught me so much about cycling. He’s been injured the past two years years, and I miss our trips to France.

I’d have to include two of the women in my club, Lesley and Lee, just because they put up with me whinging about my health all the time. And they’re also brilliant women on the bike.

Sometimes cycling is a challenge, and sometimes it can help us through the other challenges in life. Has this been the case for you?

It helps me cope with endometriosis, because having the ability to still get up and ride, and feel the sun on my face just makes me feel alive, to balance out all those dark painful moments where I feel …not so alive. I would be really sad if eventually my health stops me from doing the thing that I love. Cycling really is what that gets me through it all.