In my first week on the Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling I have taken to the illustrious streets of Paris and London with my teammates and the rest of the women’s peloton to race, to suffer and to take a chance at victory.
Paris, the city of lights is the host to the men’s Tour de France on its final stage and this year it also hosted the second edition of La Course. Early Sunday afternoon 120 women entered the cobbled Champs-Elysée rounding the Arch de Triomphe at the top end and the Place a la Concorde at the bottom of a 6 kilometer circuit where we showcased our talents, speed and tenacity in an ever-increasing downpour. A few ominous raindrops on the start line were a precursor to a crash filled epic day of racing. Within the second lap almost half of the peloton was frantically chasing back on, myself and a few of my teammates included, through a mess of broken bikes, screaming racers and jockeying team cars. I would be caught in three crashes and lacking the strength to catch back on yet again my race in Paris was done with still a third of the race remaining. Frustration and disappointment swelled within me but I was proud to be able to watch my Matrix teammates Christina, Lucy and Helen cross the finish despite the many dangers and difficulties they had to navigate without my help. It was a tough day for many but without the course, the conditions, the fierce competitors and the generous efforts of our staff and Matrix sponsors I wouldn’t have had such an unforgettable experience for my first race in my new stripes.
London, what’s a gherkin? Thanks to our director Stef we were able to be tourists for a bit as we wove our way through town and along the Thames in the Matrix team car on our way to the Prudential London Grand Prix. We passed the Prime Meridian, the Tower of London, Big Ben and finally arrived at Buckingham Palace where thousands of cyclists were finishing their final laps as part of a cycling festival called Ride-London. With the last foldable bicycle wheeling off the course carbon fiber frames took to the circuit anxiously awaiting the 6pm start. For fifty-five minutes the people of London beheld an elite women’s peloton zooming in the fading light and whispering leaves of Hyde Park. With the ornate gates of the Queen’s house before us our team sped along the 1-mile circuit covering attacks and attempting to make the break that would stick. Penny, Kim, Mel, Christina, both Lucy’s and I raced aggressively and took chances but in the end it would come down to a sprint finish with Laura as our top rider coming in 8th. While disappointed not to see our team colors on the podium we were content to know that everyone had gone all in. Afterall, we just gotta play ‘em one day at a time. We give it our best shot and, the good Lord willing, next race things will work out.
Sadly, I did not get the invite to the garden party. Will have to make my formal introductions to the Queen on my next trip. For now, it was time to roll out and with a quick stop where we treated ourselves to some London curry we were on our way to the team home in Belgium. The next three weeks Matrix Cycling will be racing kermesses before heading to Plouay-Bretagne for the final women’s World Cup of the season. Wish us luck.