One of the biggest challenges in working your way up in the pro women’s peloton is that experience is required, but opportunities to get said experience are hard to come by.  This season I set a goal of participating in more USA Pro Road Tour and UCI events. I am so grateful that the Amy D. Foundation allowed me the opportunity to race the one at the very the top of that list: The Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Racing Redlands was likely the toughest yet most rewarding and inspiring experience I have had on my bike to date.  The Amy D. Foundation staff was incredible in fully supporting us and taking care of anything we needed all week long.  In the beginning it was actually hard for me to arrive at the course without carrying my trusted tool bag and the slew of the items I usually bring should something not go to plan.  But, I had to learn to let go, and letting go really helped me focus on what I was there to do, which was to race my bike!

Coming off an injury that prematurely ended my last season, I started the week unsure of my fitness and questioned whether it was appropriate for me to be there at all.  I consistently surprised myself and ultimately proved to myself I am back and I do belong. My outcome goals for the week were the top amateur jersey (the white jersey) and a top-20 GC placing.  Due to an unforeseen technicality as well as a rookie mistake in the criterium (when in doubt, just go to the darn pit!) I did not finish the week with either one. However, I came away from the experience more stoked and proud than I ever expected to be had I accomplished both.  I rode extremely hard, made friends in the peloton, and was able to learn something positive in each stage. Hopefully I can continue to build on the progress I made this past week and not only participate in more races like this in the future, but increasingly contribute to the overall race dynamic as well.

Racing aside, this team was the dream.  It is hard to predict how well a group of 9 strangers will come together, but the chemistry of our 6 athletes and 3 staff was flawless.  Every person on this team had something unique to offer, and the atmosphere was fun yet professional and focused all week. Huge shout-out to our mentor Amber for bing a selfless leader, both on and off the road, and exemplifying what it really means to #RideLikeAmyD.

THANK YOU to all of the sponsors who made this opportunity possible and allowed us to look and feel like legitimate professionals all week long.  Our sweet Pearl Izumi kits, aero Lazer helmets, and bright Handlebar Mustache socks made it easy to find each other in the peloton. CarboRocket hydration helped us beat the heat.  We had Feedback Sports trainers to warm-up and cool-down with. Our support vehicles were decked out in wraps by Pioneer S&M and equipped with spare bikes by SCOTT. Additional financial support from the GiddyUP Film Tour helped support operational costs to keep it all going.

On to the next adventure 🙂

Hope to see you on the road!

Michele

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