Starting A Cycling Team
By: Deirdre Maloney, founder of HighGate Racing
How did it all begin? Well, let’s start at my very first Ontario Cup race. I was so excited and so nervous. I couldn’t even make eye contact with any of the other girls that I was lined up with on Good Friday 2015. I remember having a strong feeling that I did not belong, I felt like an intruder in a space where so many others seemed so comfortable. It reminded me of grade school, the new girl in class. No one to smile at, no one to share my nerves with, no one to tell me that I was going to be OK. The gun goes off, it’s a mad dash, a spike I hadn’t expected. In just a few minutes I was dropped from the lead group and left struggling to stay with the other few riders that were in the same boat. I was devastated. That’s it! I’m never doing another bike race again!
At the time I was an elite age group triathlete, always placing top ten overall, always 1st in my age group, ALWAYS fastest bike split unless a pro showed up. I thought I would kick ass in a cycling race. Boy, did I have a lot to learn…
I went back and got beat up a few more times but slowly I started to get the hang of the ebbs and flow and was able to stay with the pack.
Fast forward to pre season of 2017 and I’m ready to move up to the E2 category, but I really don’t want to move forward without a team as I’m sure the tactics are in full swing at that level. My good friend Jessica and I decide to put a women’s team together, I’d met quite a few girls by then, maybe I could convince some of them to race with me? Not only did we conger up an E1/2 Team, we also had an E3 and masters squad to boot! We were a small group but we REALLY liked each other. A good group of friends, on the same team, racing and having a great time.
By the end of the season I’m feeling great, the team is amazing AND I know I can offer more. I want a bigger squad, I want more women on bikes and I want more women to try racing. We post on social media, we reach out to friends and BOOM, it blows up, in a very good way! Our team quickly goes from 13 to 29 in just a few weeks. We have quite a few riders that are brand new to racing in 2018 and this is exactly what I wanted. For them to have someone to smile at, line up with, tell them they’re going to be ok. This is what HighGate Racing is all about. Women supporting women. Encouraging each other to be brave, stepping out of their comfort zone and trying something new.
We have also created a youth development program that I’m extremely proud of. Our U23 riders race fees and kits are completely covered, we are also working on a scholarship for them.
When I look at what has been created and I hang with my teammies, I see and I feel something so special. We are all on the same level, our categories do not separate us. Each person is bringing something important to the table and it isn’t their race results, it’s their support. We support each other, this is what makes us special, this is the magic that I wanted to create and I see it unfolding more and more the bigger we grow. I tell my girls I don’t care if you race 1 or 10, you are still as equally important. As long as you share a smile.