Every weekend at the 3R Women’s Steady Sunday Rollout, a group of women get together to challenge each other and lift each other up.
It’s the first ladies-only ride for the Zwift club 3R, which stands for “Ride, Raise, Raise.” The community was founded with a focus on supporting the World Bicycle Relief charity as they ride and race together, and its members also believe in supporting each other.
The leader of the Steady Sunday Rollout, Stefanie Sichler, has been Zwifting since November 2015 and joined 3R in 2016. Originally from Germany and currently living in Oregon, USA, Stefanie has gained friends from across the globe through 3R.
“The women’s side of Race3R is relatively small in relation to other women’s race teams and in relation to the greater 3R organization, which is a fun combination, in my opinion,” says Stefanie. “We are a tight-knit group of women that support each other through the ups and downs of life, while also having the infrastructure and overall support of 3R at our disposal.”
Zwift: When did this group ride form, and who started it?
Stefanie: Our Women’s Steady Sunday Rollout started May 2nd, 2021. Deborah Stockley and I had been talking about starting a ride for a while and eventually the stars lined up. 3R offers a plethora of mixed rides, all with leaders and sweepers and a wonderful community. As our first women-only ride, we wanted to offer a steady-paced ride that’s easy to join and keeps it interesting, with little challenges each week.
Z: What would you say the group’s core purpose and goals are? Why do you believe your group is important to the Zwift community?
S: All 3R (Ride, Race, Raise) rides and races exist, of course, to help draw attention to our charity partner World Bicycle Relief. Beyond this, the core purpose of this ride is community. We check out different routes each week, so you learn more about the courses and the ins and outs of Zwift. Our group stays together from beginning to end and our participants are all very welcoming and group-oriented, so for the Zwift community, this ride is a non-intimidating, friendly group where women can come to connect with each other each week and get stronger together.
During Zwift Racing League (ZRL) season, we preview the ZRL courses, which allows us to have different race strategy discussions and keep the ride interesting with lots of different routes!
Every so often, we’ll have a badge event, where we try to achieve one of the longer route badges together. The last one was 25 volcano laps. We just started talking about the PRL Half in the near future, so stay tuned!
Z: Who are the group’s leaders on Zwift?
S: For the group ride as long as my schedule allows, I tend to lead Sundays, but we have some fantastic alternates that are well versed in leading rides. These ladies lead other 3R rides throughout the week. Carolyn Pfalzgraf and Deborah Stockley (Debs) can often be found wearing yellow on the 3R SPARK and VOLT 06:00 (GMT) group rides. The strong legs in the back sweeping are primarily Mary Dootson, with lots of help from Hayley Vale, Sian Hawkes, and some of our other team members jumping in if needed.
Debs does our ride admin and also holds the position of 3R Ladies race team captain. Previously a rugby (union) player, she can still be found in the middle of the racing scrum as it leaves the pen.
I’ve been riding competitively for over 10 years – criteriums, road races, and TTs – and I’ve recently fallen in love with doing epic climbs outside. I’m a trauma therapist by trade and since the end of last year have been venturing into the endurance coaching world.
Z: Is your group affiliated with a Zwift racing team?
S: Our official race team is Race3R and we are recruiting across all race categories and for all time zones.
We do have a validation process that all applications need to go through to ensure that all team members are racing on accurate and calibrated trainers. We also have a very strict policy of racing out of the correct (or higher) category pen.
Z: How do you think participating in cycling can empower and benefit women and girls?
S: Cycling, although it may sometimes not seem that way on long solo training rides, is a team sport. Cheering each other on and pushing each other is a wonderful way to lift each other up and empower each other. And, in a still predominantly male sport, it’s so important for those of us that have been doing this for a bit to welcome those that are just getting started, so that we can create more opportunities for each other as we grow the sport together.
Z: What are the benefits of being involved in a community of women who ride?
S: So many benefits!
Z: Are there any special memories or experiences with this group that you’d like to share?
S: I know it sounds cheesy, but every single week with this group is super fun! The regrouping and teamwork to this day is mind-blowing. But one memory that was super fun was one of our group TTT practices. Normally, we split the group into 4 and I call the turns. Every 2 minutes, we rotate which group is at the front, with the beacon, or at the back. That particular week, however, each group had a volunteer leader and they talked each other through the turns. It was wonderful to watch the teamwork and leadership and communication that happened on this ride, especially at the end when we did 1-minute turns.
3R Women’s Steady Sunday Rollout (women only)