Harriet Owen penned this poignant piece for the team on her departure
I remember joining Matrix for the first time, it was 2013 and I was pretty excited to join a well known and professionally run domestic team. With previous riders like Dani King and Jo Rowsell I knew I was going to be well looked after. It was somewhat of a transition for me as before this I’d been in the British Cycling system. I’d got a silver medal in the World Junior track championships, but wasn’t kept on the program, so I really wanted to try to find my feet with Matrix.
I guess for the team it was also a transitions, as they’d supported the Olympic riders up to the games, but they both left for another team, so the 2013 season was going to be a rebuilding process, I liked being a part of that. I had to change my focus fully road and life outside the BC system. It was hard at first but I quickly realised how stress-free racing was, being in such a well organised team, which is probably why I’ve ended up staying with the team for 4 years.
2013 was a good year, I won some smaller events, and had some very solid results in the bigger national criteriums, like 6th in the Ride London GP. The step up to UCI stage races was tough though, but the experience was great. 2014 was a great year for me. The experience from the previous year set me up for a solid Tour of Britain, which was pretty amazing. The first ever women’s event and we held our own. I also rode the Tour of Brittany, an event I didn’t finish in my first season with the team, but again the experience from that stood me in good stead and I worked well for the team there.
Last year was a tough one though. I got ill, and it wasn’t a good time. The team had just stepped up to UCI level and I was excited to get stuck into the classics. The team had always supported and encouraged me to be focused on the classics, and to be ill when the chance came up was really hard. The illness lasted for 12 months really, and wiped out both me, and my season, but the team stuck by me and opened a new door for me this season.
With a little less structured training and base in the tank due to time off, they offered me the chance to race criteriums in the USA. I didn’t know this chance would come up, but when offered it, I jumped at it. I love crits, and love the atmosphere at these events, but it was a big difference! You can’t compare Europe to America. America has a better atmosphere, and the prize money is huge. Whereas Europe is more the local people watch the races as a social thing and drinking beer (mainly in Belgium). Both are just as competitive as each other though so it’s personal opinion on which is better.
I knew I had a good criterium season in me, they really are my kind of race. I’d of had to of added 3 months of base training during the season while racing to get back to proper road racing form and that just impossible. Not wanting to miss a chunk of season, this offer from the team was just what I needed. I had some good finishes in the UK in the Tour Series and Nocturne, but my experience with the VeloClassic Stans No Tubes team in the USA really made me think it could be a good pathway for me.
For the coming years I see my focus on crit weeks and one day crits as well as a good mix of road races when possible. I have unfinished business with the classics in Europe but I’d like to be able to tackle them again when I’m in a chance of contending with the big guns. So for next few seasons, I’ll be looking to race in the USA, I mean what’s not to love about £6000 primes.
Thanks to everyone at the team for their support over the past 4 years, especially Matrix Fitness for the continued support of women’s cycling in the UK. They’ve changed the game for women riders and deserve recognition.