At the end of last year I applied to be part of a new venture in the UK for Pearl Izumi. Pearl is one of the largest cycling clothing brands in the world and based in Boulder, Colarado. Last year Pearl Izumi sponsored the UK Tour Series but this year distributor Madison, based in Milton Keynes has decided to take a different approach and sponsor 50 grassroots cyclists as part of a PI Champion Team instead.
The selection process apparently had to whittle over 300 applicants down to us lucky 50, all from a diverse range of backgrounds and cycling disciplines! We were all invited for the launch day at Madison’s headquarters in MK last weekend and from the moment we got there we felt like superstars, signing in on a massive glass panel, TDF style. We had a series of presentations about the brand, some nutrition advice from Secret Training and then the grand handout of lots of sponsored kit including some very bright and comfy cycling shoes.
After a quick lunch getting to know everyone and lots of fettling of shoe cleats and bikes we split into a couple of groups, roadies and mountain bikers. The roadies said afterwards they felt amazing with a Shimano team car following them around, us mountain bikers got a emergency response medic who looked a little disappointed when we all came back in one piece from our ride around Woburn Sands.
To be honest I had felt a little bit apprehensive before the ride out, everyone else’s facebook profiles seemed to show them a couple of feet off the ground and gathering before the off I seemed to be very much the odd one out in lycra shorts rather than baggies, no knee pads and no dropper seat post. I decided to promote Mountain Bike Orienteering by leaving my Orifix map board on too!
Luckily for me the jumps area of Woburn was closed for felling so I was spared any embarrassment and the riding suited me fine, lots of swoopy decents in and out of the trees and fast narrow singletrack which needed the power on all the time.
A particularly big drop off was a challenge and on my own I probably would have bottled it but I it was fine.
Back at Madison base we were treated to tea and cake and another excited natter before we all headed home to catchup again with all our new cycling #pichampion friends on social media!