Matrix Fitness–Vulpine launch and line-up 2014

Following last season’s central London launch, Matrix Fitness – Vulpine headed to the home of British Cycling – Manchester – and  specifically to Popup Bikes to introduce the 2014 team. 

A new, individual and up-and-coming venue on the cycling scene, Popup provided everything needed to launch an exciting new line-up for the coming season, while the Manchester streets provided the perfect backdrop for amazing photography to document the occasion (courtesy of Andy Whitehouse), as the team once again looked to produce something out of the ordinary

The 2014 line-up brings together many different influences.  Leading the team in a mentor role is European cyclocross champion, Helen Wyman.  Having ridden three World Road Championships and won Jersey classifications in UCI ranked stage races, she offers the road experience required to step up to new challenges, including the Women’s Tour.

For the first time in several years, the team includes an overseas rider; Holland’s Sigrid Jochems. A leading sprinter on the European scene, Sigrid is returning to the sport after four years absence while she pursuing a gymnastics career.

The British Cycling Olympic Development Program is well represented with Mel Lowther, returning for a second year, and Bethany Hayward; a natural climber who will be looking to represent Team GB at the World Junior Championships in 2014. The team feels it has a solid future with these two emerging talents.

 

Harriet Owen ©AndyWhitehouse

Harriet Owen ©AndyWhitehouse

Returning riders Jessie Walker, Harriet Owen, and Jo Tindley are re-joined by Penny Rowson who briefly departed the team in 2013 but comes back with renewed determination to reach the highest heights of the sport. Louise Borthwich, last year’s stand out rider on the domestic scene also joins, and alongside Harriet – who is now a full-time cyclist – will make a formidable attacking line-up as the team targets the UK’s biggest races.

The final rider to come on board for the 2014 season is Para-cyclist, Lora Turnham, riding with her tandem pilot Corrine Hall, who in her own right is a current National Champion on the track. In 2013, this duo stormed to the World Title in the road Time Trial, and plan to take on three events in this year’s World Track Championships.

“We have a real mix; different skills, different personalities, even different disciplines, but we are very much one team.  This group has so much talent it will be a real disappointment if we don’t make the step up to professional status in 2015.  That’s the goal. We are already firmly working on 2015” commented Team Manager, Stefan Wyman. “This season we have a new set of sponsors, integrating with long-term partners like Matrix Fitness and Velocite, and everyone is motivated to make the step up. We want to be at the newly formed Tour de France event in 2015, along with other key events.  However this year all of our focus is on the Women’s Tour. We need to step up, present ourselves in the best manner possible, and hopefully surprise a few people with our results.”

The launch event itself centered on a RollaPaluza competition; with participants battling it out on a pair of custom-built rollers connected to a huge dial, with split-second digital timing over a simulated 500m distance, at speeds in excess of 50mph. The action was accompanied by Rollapaluza’s own Caspar Hughes as DJ, music and cheering crowds. It was perhaps no surprise that Team sprinter, Harriet Owen, won the main event.

The team Q&A, introduced by Chris Garrison, Bontrager UK, was dominated by talk of the Women’s Tour, but it was clear from the 100+ crowd that there is a thirst for knowledge on the sport, with an ever increasing number of cycling fans prepared to come out and support women’s racing.

One question: “What will it be like to race against Vos?” was met with this response from Wyman: “Vos is amazing for the sport and she has been for about eight years now. She has really raised the level of women’s cycling, but there are others like Emma Johanson, Lizzie Armitstead, and Lucy Garner who will go very well in the Tour so I don’t think it will be a one woman show. She will try and get wins for her team as much as for herself. We won’t be going there to just make up the numbers. If I thought that I would have politely rejected the offer. We go there with real ambition, so it’s realistic for us to score a top ten in a stage, which will be incredible for a team of our size. We are not going to celebrate just finishing, we want to achieve, and at this level it’s all about one member of the team getting a result.”

The team now heads off to Limoux in the South of France, where they have just over two weeks together before returning to the UK for the Tour of Reservoir – the first team event of the season.

 

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Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

RideLondon 2013

RideLondon 2013

If you were to tell me last Sunday saw 16,500 cyclists enjoying 100 miles of closed roads stretching from the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, weaving through the city and out west into Surrey, I’d think you were crazy. But this was certainly no tall story.

 

 

 

 

The Prudential RideLondon Festival of Cycling hit the capital last weekend seeing more than 65,000 cycling enthusiasts enjoy everything about the bike. A free-cycle through the city soaking in the sites, a Bike Show and the Women’s Elite Crit Race on the Saturday. And on Sunday, the RideLondon 100 followed by the Men’s Pro Race, both taking in a circuit similar to that of the Olympics.

Back in April when I found out I’d won a place to ride with #TeamSkoda, one of the key sponsors of the event, I was not only excited to be part of the UK’s largest celebration of the bike, but pretty nervous too. I’d not long moved back from Amsterdam with the goal of becoming a grimpeuse (climber), or at least a better one than I was. RideLondon was the perfect event to give me the motivational kick to get my slow-twitch muscles working and build the stamina to complete my longest ride yet.

Training
I’d struggled at the beginning of the year to feel the love for the bike. Winter seemed to drag on and as an asthmatic; cold, damp conditions are the worst! I was struggling to enjoy club rides, knowing everyone else had to wait for me at the top of every hill. I decided the only way to deal with this was focus.

I invested in some turbo-training DVDs and started to get into the routine of coming home to a warm, dark house, shutting myself away in the attic for 90 mins. I was also attending weekly track training sessions – riding a fixed gear with intensive interval training was helping to build additional muscle and fitness. By the time I got back out on the road at the Amstel Gold Race in April, I could already see the difference in my power, completing the 125km route (including all the climbs) in just over 5 hours and with energy left over to party that evening. My longest ride yet.

Sussing out the Surrey Hills with Ben

Sussing out the Surrey Hills with Ben

Come the beginning of May, I was ready to head off to the Alps. Cycling for me has always been about social riding; particularly in windy Amsterdam. But for once I was on my own. By tackling the cols alone, I really got to know not only my physical capability, but my inner chimp. I not only came back a different cyclist, but ready to better my performance. I was finally in love with the bike again.

With lighter evenings kicking in, I was now back on the bike 3 – 4 times a week – mixing it up with long weekend rides and some challenging Cat 3 & 4 climbs in the Chilterns, track-training on a Thursday, and some fast, short interval based rides mid week.

Another week in the Alps at the end of June, and I could really see the difference. This time I wasn’t alone. But I not only felt comfortable, I knew how to pace myself and not succumb to the pressure of those that were faster around me. I came back broken, having never cycled or climbed so much in one week before, but I now knew I was capable of more.

Although I’d aimed to become a grimpeuse by the end of the 2013 season, I can happily say I’d already beaten my goal, if not bettered it. Of course, I still have plenty to improve on, but compare me to the cyclist of last year, and you wouldn’t recognise me. I don’t recognise me!

Race Day
The week before RideLondon I was struck down with a chest infection and fever; my lungs collapsing on me and a course of antibiotics prescribed. My worst nightmare and one I seem to live every time I have a big cycle event coming up. Feeling particularly rubbish, all of my enthusiasm had washed out the window, more a fear that I wouldn’t be able to start, let alone complete the full 100 miles comfortably. It was only 2 days before “race day” that I decided I would start and see how I got on. And aren’t I glad I did!

My alarm rung loud at 5am on Sunday morning. I stumbled out of bed into the lycra I’d already laid out the night before, and clambered into the already loaded car trying to eat some form of breakfast – in this instance a banana, 2 boiled eggs prepared the night before and a cup of tea. Entering London on eearily empty roads, I hadn’t really anticipated the eery empty roads I would soon by cycling on.

Arriving at the Olympic park, I was shocked at the sheer number of cyclists in their pens, like patient cattle waiting for the farmer to open the gate. There were hundreds, if not thousands, and I was only seeing an 8th, maybe even a 9th of the total number of cyclists that would pass through the start line that day.

Riding for Skoda, we were welcomed into the VIP tent, brekkie thrown in. Still half asleep, I only batted half an eyelid at Laura Trott and Dani King of Wiggle-Honda Pro team sat at the table tucking into their bacon rolls.

Me and the Matrix Fitness Girls

Taking advantage of the open roads

After a quick discussion with the rest of Team Skoda about our target times, the 6 of us were directed into our wave ready to start at a very prompt 7.50am, along with other Skoda cyclists and the girls from Matrix Fitness RA.

The start was strange. Not only were we swarmed by thousands of other cyclists, all with the same intention, but we were on completely closed roads, ignoring traffic lights and riding straight through junctions. For the first 5 – 10km, the majority were keeping to the left of the road, obviously feeling out of their comfort zone encroaching ‘the other side’. Soon losing the other Team Skoda members, I stuck with the Matrix Fitness girls, Hannah Walker, Jessie Walker and Emma Grant, as we weaved our way through the cyclists, out of the city and into the countryside of Surrey.

The 4 of us had concerns that the ‘swarm’ would continue into the hills, making it difficult to complete the course in a time of our choosing. But come Newlands Corner (not long after a little crash I had as a result of a stopping peloton on a narrowing road), the masses had started to thin.

Apart from ‘lethal’ Leith Hill, the last 25km had to be the toughest. I’d lost the girls following a medic stop at 50 miles and the motivating cheers of ‘you need to beat Boris, he’s ahead of you‘ were a distant memory. Everything was hurting, I couldn’t find a wheel I felt comfortable to sit on, and I just wanted to finish. Pulling onto the Mall, the crowds roaring with support, I was able to use the last of what energy I had to pick up my speed and cross the line with a smile on my face.

6 hours and 24 minutes after starting (including the 30 minute medic stop to clean my wounds), I had finished, lungs in tact! I was particularly happy to roll up to the second Skoda tent of the day, park my bike and enjoy indulging in some proper food, a shower and the Men’s Pro Race.

2014?
If you fancy giving RideLondon 2014 a go, the ballot opens this Monday, 12th August. Good luck!

 

With Thanks:

A massive thank you has to be passed on to the following people and companies:

Skoda & Cycling Plus for providing me the opportunity to take part in a fantastic event, with a big part of that thank you to Jonathan Durling for the support throughout the past few months, and the grandstand tickets!

Matrix Fitness Racing Academy, Helen and Stef Wyman for all of their support at Skoda training events, with particular mention to Hannah, Jessie and Emma for their support on the day.

Team Skoda – without the banter, training rides and comparison of notes over the past few months, the event wouldn’t have been the same without them. Well done all!

Boris Johnson, Prudential, the event marshals and St Johns Ambulance for laying on a fantastic event normally unimaginable for London and very much reminiscent of the Netherlands.

The spectators – a lot more than I was expecting – but awesome, every one of them!

And of course, my wonderful friends and family for all their support and for putting up with my moaning!

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

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