One of the things characterising the rising profile of women’s racing in the UK is the number of new teams popping up with not only good riders but also a strong team ethos and distinctive presence despite very limited sponsorship, writes Huw Williams.
A few years ago Team Mule Bar Girl wrote the book on how far the right blend of riders, image and attitude could get you and are now being rewarded not only with lucrative sponsor partnerships but also some of the best results and riders on the amateur circuit.
In 2013 Nicole Oh’s Les Filles project picked the best riders from her previous team, added a few friends with a like-minded idea of racing hard but having fun and created a team which not only looked several tiers higher than many better funded teams, they got results to match and dominated the local London women’s race league.
One of the teams following that trend in 2014 is BOOMCYCLE, who turned heads at a couple of pre-season races with their strong, coordinated image and the fact that even in novice races they were clearly and unusually riding as a team. A little research reveals that BOOMCYCLE are for the most part a group of London-based former triathletes and adventure racers who are sponsored by… a spinning class? That seems like an unlikely place to start a road race team so I caught up with them at Stourport at the Woolly Mamil 3 circuit race to find out more. Team leader and spokesperson is the effervescent Sarah Odell who told me how the team came about.
“I used to race with Pearsons cycles a couple of years back and saw how well Nicole did when she left to follow her vision of making Les Filles happen. I watched all these girls I knew race in the Ride London GP and thought ‘wow, I’d love to be doing that’ so I entered the Westminster GP at the end of the season and following that, one of my friends, Daz Parker who’s a tri-athlete and X-Terra racer said she’d like to try it too.”
Parker, an instructor at a bespoke London spinning studio called BOOMCYCLE, suggested that there might be a sponsorship opportunity. A meeting with Boom director Hillary Gilbert confirmed a level of support was available for race entries and it was a case of finding the riders to form the team. As a former adventure racer Odell had no shortage of friends with a strong fitness base who were up for the challenge of starting a road team from scratch. “I saw how Les Filles had succeeded by not just picking riders based on results but riders who had a similar mentality and fitted together so well, I didn’t want to just ask a load of riders who were all already 2nd cat established racers, but find a group of really keen cyclists and turn them into racers. I wanted a group that was prepared to get up early in the morning, travel to winter races to get the points and get the experience necessary. The team are really serious, hardcore, they’re giving it their all.”
Mindful of their lack of experience on the technical aspects of road racing and some of the less than respectful attitudes of some roadies to triathletes, Boom undertook a couple of training races and coaching sessions both on circuit and in their local Richmond Park in order to develop the necessary skills to compliment their undoubted physical strengths before embarking on the Wooly Mamil winter series in the Midlands in order to gain real-world race experience in preparation for the coming season.
“We’re all hungry to see how far we can go” says Odell, “we’re getting as much experience as we can pre-season. We’ll be aiming for a couple of Women’s Team Series races in 2014 and a couple of us like the idea of town centre crits, we’re also aware that given our strengths there are some events where time trials are key so we might look at those.”
BOOMCYCLE are currently an eight-rider squad formed of: