I remember the first time I saw Fiona Dougherty race quite clearly. I was watching the women’s field at the Georgetown Cyclocross Festival last year, and this tiny girl was putting the wood to pretty much everyone. She was chasing Samantha Runnels, who was in the lead. Just chasing, chasing, chasing... Endlessly, aggressively pursuing her prey. The gap they both had on the rest of the riders was ridiculous, and I kept wondering how someone so small could go so fast.
There was an undeniable talent at play. It’s hard to put into words, but so obvious when you see it. Here was a girl who could go places, not just at a local level, but on a much broader scale. There was a maturity to the way this girl was racing. She had a fierceness, a souplesse, that was amazing to watch.
“What is souplesse?” You ask.
I think the writers over at Rapha provide the most succinct definition: “To pedal avec souplesse is to spin without thrashing, dance without stumbling; it is to look entirely natural on a bicycle.”
Needless to say, it’s a very rare quality.