By Tegan Cox
I have been following professional women’s cycling for a little while now. I love cycling and want to support the sport anyway I can, that includes challenging the idea that no one is interested in women’s cycling. I had thought I had peaked at gushing at Loren Rowney at the Australian national road championships and after that committed to quiet admiration while the girls warmed up and worked on their race faces.
So when the opportunity came up to join the team as a guest rider prior to the Tour of Flanders I was quick to agree and slow to think.
WHO AM I?
My name is Tegan Cox and riding a bike has become my thing. I live in Sydney, Australia and fill the non-riding hours with a professional job.
You see, I am not the most skilled of bike riders, nor the fittest or fastest. A Venn diagram explains everything
So what was I doing riding with a professional women’s team and how would I find my way back to the hotel. And which way do I look for traffic at intersections?
I only had to spend a few days ruminating over if I would be able to keep up and what I would wear (all black, classy).
Inspired by an interview with Chloe Hosking following the Australian National Championships I made a commitment to becoming a really awesome cyclist and to give racing a go. I found a cycling club that is committed to women’s cycling and have started the upward learning curve
I don’t come from a sporting background so all of this is new to me. I was more of .an academic athlete and did no sport what so ever. Actually, that isn’t entirely true. I was part of a dance competition for three months in 1992. Co-incidentally this was the same year that I last rode a bike. In 2009 I acquired me a road bike and got involved in triathlon. I ride well in straight lines.
TIME TO RIDE
The Saturday before the Tour of Flanders, well out of my comfort zone and creeping slightly into the freakout zone I meet with the Specialized Lululemon team in a carpark of truck stop hotel somewhere in Gent, Belgium.
The girls were riding the Tour of Flanders the next day so it was to be an easy ride (for them).
Friendly and reassuring, Kristy handed me my guest rider loaner bike. A tiny S-Works Amira with those wheels that go woooosh. I am feeling pro.
Ina, Clara, Chloe, Evie and Ellen were my companions for the morning.
Off we set, navigating a car park and I rely on everyone else to know left from right. The ride was flat, the wind not much more than a breeze and the cobbles, totally absent.
Riding a whisker away from the wheel in front takes some getting used to but I trusted the experience that surrounded me. Before leaving Sydney I had list of Q&A but it all escaped me. So like all group rides, it’s just a good chance to get to know new people
I knew each of their girls had their own story of coming to cycling (that you interwebs! http://velociosports.com/get-into-cycling) and I was keen to explore this as much as possible.
As we navigated the tiny Belgian towns I learnt how Chloe got started, quizzed her on the life of a pro in Spain, admired Clara’s bike handling skills (advanced bunny hopping), how to ride the cobbles, the unknown of the race the following day, as well as the reason why I was here – to support Right to Play.
It isn’t every day you get to chat with national champions, Olympians and all round superstars, in hindsight I wish I had asked a few more useful questions.
Rather I just enjoyed what I love most about cycling. Chatting with your girlfriends and enjoying the ride.
Until the games began. Each of the team has their own way of sharpening up for the race the next day. I tried to hold on to Evie’s wheel for as long as I could until I feared my lungs would leave my body. I couldn’t hold on as Clara lead Chloe out for a few sprints but have the idea.
We headed for home. The team car and the crew accompanied us from lululemon who were filming from a stealthy black van. You don’t get any more pro than a team car AND a black van with Gordon hanging out the side door getting the best angle.
“Our greatest fears lie in anticipation”
Said Balzac. I had nothing to worry about and everything to gain from being out of my comfort zone.
My new team mates for the day were only to happy to chat and help me with the things I was unsure about.
Everyone needs heroes, inspiration and aspiration. Riding with the girls gave me that in spades. Even if it was sad to hand back the team bike but so keen to get back to Sydney to start riding my own.
Regretfully I can’t spend every ride in the company of my new friends. Through joining a cycling club have I found a friendly bunch who are only too happy to help.
With thanks to the specialized lululemon team for allowing me to join in, look after me and help me find my way home. The breadth of experiences and stories in this team is truly amazing.
Sort of interested in maybe thinking about cycling or racing? Then just get started. Talk to people, find a club, start where you are. The fear really is in anticipation. Riding a bike takes me out of my comfort zone in many, many ways but it is worth it.
I had always thought cycling, riding in groups and racing was intimidating and unapproachable. I have been proved wrong in a number of ways but it took getting way out of my comfort zone to know this.
Get out of your comfort zone. Ride a bike. You will love it.