Showing up for a group ride can often be intimidating, especially when you're riding with a group of strangers and even more so when those strangers are some of the fastest women in the world. I was invited to one of the CANYON//SRAM training rides the day before the AMGEN Tour of California women's race started in South Lake Tahoe, CA. When the email came through I felt pretty excited. There was limited ride info, only a meeting place and time: 1.5-2 hour ride through South Lake Tahoe.
Wednesday morning I woke up, put on my Zwift kit and pedaled over to the start of the ride. Not knowing the route or how fast the ride would be, I was a ball of nerves. As I rolled up to the ride start I was immediately greeted with big smiles and a warm welcome by the amazing SRAM staff and offered a buffet of Skratch drink mix and ride fuel. The ladies of CANYON//SRAM started to slowly roll over one by one and greet everyone. We had a short debriefing about the ride and were off to preview sections of Thursday’s race route.
Once we started riding, I was quickly put at ease by the team and the other cyclists on the ride. Everyone, especially the team, were welcoming and friendly. Knowing it was an easy spin (for them) before race day also helped, because otherwise, they easily could crush me without trying. Riding on their wheels and watching how smooth and confident these women are on their bikes was truly inspiring, not to mention how sharp they all look. With their team Rapha kits, Canyon frames and SRAM/Zipp components, they are without a doubt the best outfitted team in the women's pro peloton.
One of the most amazing things though, was being able to ride alongside these women in real life who I had only previously met and rode with on Zwift separated by thousands of miles. It was great to interact with them one on one on the ride. The team seems genuinely excited at the prospect of finding a new member of their 2017 squad through Zwift Academy.
For most of us, joining a group ride that may be slightly above your level can be intimidating. Even virtual rides that advertise a w/kg average that may be slightly above your comfort zone can be fear-inducing. Yes, the grand prize of Zwift Academy is to win a coveted spot on the CANYON//SRAM Racing team, but Zwift Academy is also a place for most of us to have a safe and encouraging place to push ourselves to the next level, see what our potential is and achieve things we never thought possible..... Like being fit enough to hang comfortably on a pro women's team training ride when we feel nervous to even show up.