Madisen Greene proved herself against the sport’s best on behalf of women
Madisen Greene knows what it feels like to have been sidelined by team orders.
Four years ago the 18-year-old competed at the historic Cumbria 200 bike race in devastating conditions.
Having inherited the leader’s strip following the retirement of her father after 45 laps of the much-challenged cycle race course, she proceeded to break the fastest time recorded in the entire event.
Then her own riding style prevented her from challenging the leaders, and she went into the closing stages feeling she would be isolated from her rivals.
It took until the closing stages of the final stages of the event to realise she was the only female in the race and with only six men in the field, it was clear to her, as well as others in the back six, that she stood no chance of winning.
Madisen’s boyfriend and the young driver of the runner-up GTR, Martin Carey, the king of the off-road track, went on to do what he does best, taking home the victory.
However, few could deny the efforts of her father, who had driven the leader’s strip and, at just 14 and heading into his final year as a physiology student at Nottingham Trent University, remarkably he was even better than Madisen, steadily picking off the men who had attempted to prevent him from taking the victory.
“I felt that I was strong enough, that I was fast enough and that I could take the leaders,” said Greene.
“I knew that I was the only female in the race, so it was like, ‘oh’ when it went wrong,” she added.
Afterwards she spoke of her experiences, and how they left her as broken as she would be pleased to see them.
Having not registered since 2011 – when she was 15 – Greene had endured a great deal of frustration trying to find the degree of funding to compete in one of the sport’s all-time iconic bike races.
The man who travelled to her local pharmacy at the age of 17 and offered her a sizeable discount to buy the kit, and despite appearing for a similar presentation in front of the crowd at the Cumbria 200 with the hope of being assisted by the many supporters who had kept the funding going for her, an extractor fan – which transformed car tyres into a cycle tire – was a non-starter due to a lack of funding.
The learning and talent that has come from these difficult experiences, Greene believes, has helped her secure the sponsorship which has allowed her to take on numerous adult racing classes – including the Cumbria 100 – as well as proving her mettle in the impressive and male-dominated back six of the Cumbria 200.
“I’ve learnt what it takes to be able to get to the front, what it takes to be a consistent racer,” she said.
“I’ve also watched the older riders have disappointments and, when I have my own disappointments, hopefully I can learn from those and then transfer that to my own performances,” she added.
In a sport dominated by men, Greene, who is also in a relationship with the off-road racing legend Lewis Morgan, hopes that through her efforts in only the first year of starting a road career that women will have more say over the top places in the Cumbria 200.
Noting the progress made in the last five years towards the inclusion of female participants in the round, Greene is hopeful that the climb will be steeper as, in her opinion, most of the climbers are men, and the few women on the fence right now should look to climb through that fence and leave the field wide open.