Teenager on target to complete virtual Tour de France challenge
Scottish teenager Grace McCabe is a day away from completing an impressive cycling challenge. The 17-year-old from Strathaven in South Lanarkshire has been riding a virtual version of the Tour de France. And she is determined to show other females that they can be as good as the male riders.
Grace said: “I have watched the Tour de France many times as a child and I have always dreamed of riding it one day. But still in 2020, it is a men-only race and I think this is crazy. Why don’t we have the same race for women?”
Starting on her 17th birthday on June 19, Grace, who is in sixth year at Strathaven Academy, has been riding day after day for almost three weeks.
She is following the same daily “stages” as the 2018 Tour de France – “my favourite tour to date,” she said – but riding her miles on local roads or indoors on a turbo.
Her aim each day is to reach the same elevation as the equivalent Tour de France mountain stage or the same time as the fastest rider.
So far, the keen cyclist has ridden days of up to 200km on local roads, Swift efforts of 1000m elevation and done many two ride days, such as a road cycle in the morning followed by a Swift ride in the afternoon.
She has taken only two recovery days, just like the Tour de France riders.
Her dad, Gary, and a few cycling friends have joined her for some of the cycling days, although, she said: “I can’t expect anyone to cycle with me day after day. Most people think it’s crazy distances.
“Basically, I like a challenge and this it something I want to push myself to do.”
Despite being so young, Grace, who races at national level in junior cross-country mountain biking, believes in her ability to keep going day after day.
She said: “I know my body won’t give out. I have done a few endurance rides before and while they are hard physically I have the strength to keep going.
“I also love cycling. It’s just what I do.
“The hardest thing is the mental side of the challenge. There are times when my brain wants me to stop cycling but I have to keep telling myself I can do it and keep going.”
Grace’s ride for MND Scotland
Further motivation comes from the goal of raising money for MND Scotland. She chose the charity after her second cousin, James Evans, from Bristol, died aged 36 in 2018 from the incurable neurological disease.
Grace said: “I was going to do the Tour de France challenge simply for my own achievement – as something bigger than I have ever done.
“But I decided to put the event to good use and raise money for a charity that is poignant to my family.
“Now that people have made donations and pledges, it is spurring me on to make sure I keep cycling.”
‘There should be a TDF for women’
Grace, who lives with her parents, Eleanor and Gary and younger sister Naomi, 13, believes there are still significant differences for women and men in sport.
She launched a #RespectThePonytail campaign last year to promote females in sport.
She said: “There could be so many more opportunities for girls and women in sport and especially endurance cycling events like the Tour de France.
“I hope that others will see what I am doing and perhaps be encouraged to do something similar.”
To donate search “Tour de France Challenge” at gofundme.com. Follow Grace on Instagram @graceemccabe and Twitter: @GraceMcCaBlog