McKean High School graduate Kym Fant (née Lulu) has been vigorously and skillfully pedaling a bike since she was just three. This past summer, the now-California resident’s love of cycling brought her to France with a team of other female cyclists to tackle the legendary, grueling 2,400-mile Tour de France course. TSD heard of Fant’s amazing feat and had to learn more.
Town Square Delaware: What exactly is “Project Reve” and how did you get involved in this mission to conquer the Tour de France?
Kym Fant: Reve launched in 2010 by getting a group of 15 Dutch riders to do every stage of the 2010 tour. Their vision is to lead cyclists through all the Grand Tours. They thought it would be a great project to get six women to do every stage of the Tour de France, which would bring awareness to women cycling and to raise money for Bikes Belong, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging cycling. I was doing a photoshoot for Bicycling Magazine and the photographer, also the co-owner of Reve, asked me if I would be interested. There I stood on the top of Coleman Valley Road in Sonoma County overlooking the Pacific Ocean thinking, can I do this? Can I logistically train for such a feat? I have a full-time job, a small business and a 2 year old. I have been taking on extreme challenges like this every couple years over the past decade so it didn’t take me long to spurt out “YES!”
TSD: It actually didn’t occur to us that the Tour de France is only an event for male cyclists. Why isn’t there a parallel women’s event and was that part of the motivation for your team?
KF: There used to be a Women’s Tour de France but it was only five to ten stages of what the men’s race would have (21 stages). Lack of sponsorship quickly killed that event. Our motivation was not to necessarily to get that event back but to prove to so many doubters that women can actually ride and survive 2,400 miles and climb over 170,000 feet in 23 days (that included the riding we did for warm-up a couple days prior to the start) while being successful in your career and being a mom. The faces of young girls when they would see us climbing those massive mountains was priceless! When I came home, I was shopping in Whole Foods and a lady came up to me and asked if I was the one who just did the Tour de France. I said yes and she proceeded to thank me and said it was so inspiring because she is also a mom and just bought her first road bike. It is stories like that which make me realize that is why I did what I did!
KF: We were all selected by Reve but we did not know each other. One of us was from Puerto Rico, two from Colorado and two from Oregon. We were selected based on our endurance experience and we all have some kind of tie into the cycling industry (my husband and I own two bike shops in Santa Rosa).
TSD: What were some of the most memorable moments of this adventure?
KF: The climbs! So surreal – epic beauty! One stage was 120 miles and 17,500 ft of climbing. I couldn’t believe my body was able to wake up and do that day in and day out for almost a month!
TSD: How long have you been cycling?
KF: I started riding when I was three. I rode quite a bit in Delaware but it was more around the neighborhood and doing tricks and building ramps to jump off; I had a freestyle bike. I guess you could say I was a “tomboy.” When I went to Florida State I joined the mountain bike club and just fell in love with the sport! I didn’t start racing until after I graduated college, though – it started with triathlons, then mountain biking, then endurance races (24-hr mountain bike races and expedition adventure races). I am more of a mountain biker actually. Last December I crashed and got a concussion and two weeks later I was asked to do the tour — it was a sign to hang up my mountain bike and dust off my road bike.
TSD: When you are back in Delaware, where do we find Kym Fant?
Usually hanging out at my parent’s house in Greenville, decompressing from work and catching up on much needed family time. If I do go out, I’ll meet up with friends at The Logan House, and always grab a cup a joe from Brew HaHa!. On holidays we go to Krazy Kats and on all my visits we hit the Union City Grill!
I love the beach – I spent 5 summers in Dewey and it’s always a good time. The trails in Delaware are pretty fun. I wish I would have known about them when I was living there. I usually just go and explore, get lost and eventually find my way – makes for a fun adventure. White Clay Creek area is a great place for that! I’m coming home in a couple weeks-can’t wait!