Last week Marianne Vos hosted a secret Twitter ride in London as part of her latest initiative #TakeTheStage. Beth Hodge joined 49 other ladies for a spin in the Essex countryside with none other than Vos herself.
Last Sunday myself and 49 other girls from around the UK rode through Essex with Marianne Vos, Rebecca Charlton and Alice Barnes. That’s more a statement for me, than for you dear readers, as I still can’t quite believe it myself.
The word got out on the twittersphere last week that a ladies only secret twitter ride was to take place with the multiple world champion, Marianne Vos, who describes herself as a “fulltime hobby cyclist". Vos was in town for the Revolution Series and through #TakeTheStage, an initiative which promotes women’s cycling both at a grassroots and at a professional level, us lucky ladies (and a few chaps) rode on a 55km loop through the Essex countryside alongside the pros.
The atmosphere at the meeting point was absolutely electric. Vos was happily signing bikes and caps (thanks to the rider who brought the Sharpie!) along with posing for photos. She was so chilled out, especially considering that she had just wrapped up a weekend of hard racing. This immediately put everyone at ease. There was plenty of chatter about the race series, what clubs we rode with and friends were made instantly -many faces were recognised from Twitter.
Divvied up into three groups, we rolled out from the Olympic Velodrome. A support car led the way with photographers sat in the boot, and the fantastic London based Les Filles racing team were allocated as ride leaders, armed with map loaded Garmins to keep us all on course. Weaving our way through London, turning plenty of heads as we went, we soon got out into the countryside where we started rolling proper.
Vos split her time between the three groups and had plenty of advice for the girls along the way. Beth Anderson (@roseofwinter) rides for Rapha Condor CC, and was sat on my wheel for about 10 miles whilst having a chat with Vos. “It was amazing to get the chance to ask her advice about tactics for racing. It’s a moment I’ll remember for a long time."
The ride didn’t only cater for experienced girls. Jen Wilson (@redjen73) has “only been a cyclist with a capital C" since March. Jen was openly nervous about Sunday’s ride, but the open and friendly nature of the group gave her bags of confidence: “It was an amazing experience. I mean really, the great Marianne Vos riding with little old me!"
For me personally, the special nature of the ride was that it brought together so many ladies who all share the same passion. Alice Cutter, Dulwich Paragon (@alice_cutter) noted that “to see so many women was fantastic", and Monika Zamojska , Brixton Cycles (@monmon_zet) agreed: “the day was a great proof that women’s cycling is not such a niche after all".
New friendships have been forged, ideas and tips shared, and a special day riding with the pros will be remembered forever.
Rides like this from #TakeTheStage are only the beginning. There are big plans afoot in the world of women's cycling led by professional cyclists including Vos. More news to follow soon!
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