On March 16, 20 women in the Memphis cycling community will embark on a five-day bike ride to Seagrove, Florida. She to Sea, now in its third year, has become a monumental way for these women to strengthen their sisterhood while raising money for the patients at West Cancer Center. 

Heather Nichols, one of the She to Sea founders, remembers being inspired by the Ride 2 Rosemary men’s ride and looking to find a way for women riders to follow in their footsteps of fellowship, community, and fundraising for West Cancer Center. “We saw how much the long, challenging ride meant to those men that we rode with and were on teams with, and we wanted to find a way to bring that to our community of female bikers,” Heather remembers. 

During the first year of She to Sea, with the support of the Ride 2 Rosemary group, the ten female founders planned their route and trained, unsure of exactly how their journey would look. Each of the founders took on a role that fit their talents to make the ride happen, from organizing lodging, finding support, organizing training, inspiring fundraising, and much more. By the second year, they were up to 14 riders, and now, in year three, they will be departing with 20 riders, representing many local racing teams and cycling communities. “From the start, we knew that the women in the community could have a place in this ride and fundraiser, but we weren’t sure how to go about it. We knew the Rosemary brotherhood needed to stay that way, but because of them, we were inspired to take on the challenge as our own sisterhood,” Heather says. After completing their first year, the founders couldn’t wait to bring new women in and see them experience the challenge and sisterhood themselves. 

Lisa Mayo was one of the new women who joined She to Sea for year two. She began riding in 2020 and fell in love with cycling and the community. However, she was still very surprised when Heather contacted her and asked if she wanted to join the She to Sea team. “I was so honored to be invited to join, but I did not think I was ready for it, and there were many challenging aspects of the ride that I was terrified of,” Lisa remembers. However, once she embarked on the ride and felt the support and love of her biking sisters during the challenging moments, she knew she would make it through, and now the fear has transformed into excitement for her second ride. “I am so looking forward to being able to enjoy every moment without fear and to see the new riders experience all of the joy and closeness we all feel,” Lisa says. The fundraising aspect for West is especially important for Lisa because her husband was treated there for cancer in 2017. Now, her husband greets her at the finish line in Seagrove, and celebrating with him makes it much more meaningful for her. 

Brenda Nathan is a new She to Sea rider preparing to complete the ride for the first time this year. Like the other riders, Brenda loves the camaraderie of the Memphis women’s cycling community and is excited to join them for this year’s challenge. “Once I saw what these women were doing and their sense of purpose, I knew immediately that I wanted to join someday. The community is so loving and supportive, and even though I am nervous, I know I can do it with so many strong women by my side.” Brenda’s preparation, simply put, has been to spend as much time on her bike as possible. The women participate in group rides together in person and virtually on their indoor trainers. “I am most excited to just get out there with my friends and prove to myself that I am capable and to bring recognition to such a good cause,” Brenda says. 

Despite their different experience levels, training schedules, and backgrounds, each She to Sea woman shares a sense of community and love for one another that will get them through the finish line physically and emotionally this year and for many years ahead. 

Learn more about She to Sea and support West Cancer Center by visiting Westcancerfoundation.org/she-to-sea and follow their journey on Instagram @shetosea.