A True Équipe
Guest riding for Femme Equipe p/b Swisse for the Redlands Bicycle Classic was the experience of a lifetime. I haven’t been around as much positivity, strength, and encouragement in quite some time, and the environment that this team created was indescribably amazing. “Guest riding” means that while I hail from another team, I was able to don the Femme Equipe jersey for the week and become integrated into the team while in Redlands, California. Although I was nervous at first about how this integration would go, I felt welcomed from the start thanks to Lori, Stef, Jennah and Cat. Rounding out the roster for the week were guest riders Jess, Charlotte, and Josi.
The week proved to have many highlights, but a personal highlight of mine was a fourth place finish on stage 3, the Queen’s Stage – meaning the longest and/or most difficult stage of the event. At Redlands, this meant a summit finish up Oak Glen. During the four laps around Yucaipa, we all looked after each other – whether it was a look over the shoulder or a “how are you doing?” it was always clear that we had each other’s backs. Going into the final turn leading the pack up to the summit, I had slipped towards the back of the charging peloton. Seeing an entrance and knowing that I needed to be in a better position going into the climb, Stef called to me and guided me as to where I should go. As soon as we made that turn, the pack strung out, shedding riders with every pedal stroke. I made the selection because I was up there in the pack, able to respond to moves. Stage 3 was a killer day for the squad, with two of us in the top 10 and another 2 in the top 30.
There is something both comforting and motivating in knowing that you are surrounded by teammates who care and look out for you. Stef was our team leader on the road and the best placed General Classification rider, and for her to still be always keeping me in mind is a testament to her selflessness. I felt this all week along from each of the girls, and it truly allowed me to be the best rider I could be. I can only hope that they felt I returned the favor. Femme Equipe cultivated the best possible environment for us all to thrive, and that is truly something special.
*I would also like to make a special shout out to Rachael Wilson and Melissa Locher from Bikecoach Fitness Studio, Roman from Don’s Bicycles, and Sean Wilson from USA Cycling for their support all week!!