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Centers of Excellence

Get to know Matrix Cycling Club

By: Cecilia Patten  October 28, 2020

Based out of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, Matrix Cycling Club is a road, mountain bike, and cyclocross club that supports every level of cyclist, with a special focus on supporting the junior and U23 development. Matrix was founded in 1984 in partnership with Richardson Bike Mart (RBM), who remains the prime sponsor, and joined the USA Cycling Center of Excellence program in 2017.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the development program activities took an enforced pause but Matrix is using this time to regroup for next year. With more kids and adults than ever riding bikes, they have had plenty of inquiries about the program. Rob Yates, Club President, explains that expanding does not happen overnight and is a process, but they are looking forward to the future of the program.

We had the opportunity to speak with Rob Yates about the Matrix Cycling Club and specifically the junior development and their hopes for the future of the program.

How has cycling impacted your young athletes?

[Rob Yates] Our aim is to take kids of any ability and develop a love for cycling and the skills needed to enjoy it as a lifelong pastime. However, we have had our fair share of success in developing elite level racers in many disciplines. It’s great seeing juniors develop and get really excited about racing. Some stay with it, while others move off to college or careers and it maybe disappears a little bit. The biggest success is when they come back to re-love cycling as adults and continue the generational cycle with their own kids.

Another way cycling has impacted our young athletes is learning cycling skills and racing quickly bonds them as friends. It’s especially beneficial for those kids that are not necessarily strong at one of the traditional high school sports. When we take them to races, their social circles expand from just local friends to a whole community of junior cyclists. Particularly on the girls’ side, there is a strong social media-driven community where many of the fast and active girls that race bikes all talk to each other.

We try to give our young cyclists a breadth of opportunities with no pressure.

Why should young cyclists consider joining Matrix?

[Yates] We try to give our young cyclists a breadth of opportunities with no pressure. Our program is open to anybody at any level. For the junior development program, there are no entry criteria other than having a bike and a helmet and wanting to learn and participate. We keep the annual membership fee for juniors very low.

The aim is to have fun while also providing young cyclists a pathway to the top level of the sport if that is where they want to go. We'll teach you to ride your bike, we'll help you go racing, we'll teach you what to do when going to race and hold your hand through that process. Racing can seem complex and daunting for juniors and parents alike when they first begin.

We will also pay you to race your bike. The club also has a sponsor-supported program that funds our racers, known as Matrix Points. Based on race participation and results the club awards points that convert to RBM gift cards – and our juniors and U23 racers earn higher Matrix Points than our adult racers. We also help with the cost of attending national championships.

For parents, I would point to our commitment to SafeSport and looking after the welfare and safety of our juniors in the sport. And that cycling is a whole-family sport. It’s great to see a junior start racing and then the parents joining in riding and even racing too.

Are looking into the future? What are your goals for the cycling team?

[Yates] We are really excited about the future. Obviously, with COVID-19, everything has been very different this year, but we have continued to operate the club and we now have a few people doing some races. We continue to have the fantastic support of our sponsors Richardson Bike Mart and Toyota of Richardson. We are already planning for 2021 even though things remain uncertain in terms of local pandemic restrictions, race schedules, and travel. Our Men’s Elite road team, managed by Chris Carlson, will be racing a full schedule and continuing the success of developing our fastest junior and U23 men into top-level racers.

One of the big things already underway for 2021 is a big push to promote women’s cycling and hope to have a lot more news on this in the near future. There will plenty of focus on engaging female cyclists of all ages and ability – rides, clinics, etc. - as well as a renewed focus on women’s racing. Two of our highly experienced members Kim Chance and Christina Gokey-Smith are heading all this up.

We will also be putting plenty of effort into re-establishing junior racing particularly in mountain biking, assuming our Texas race series goes as planned. NICA racing is growing fast in North Texas and Matrix will be a gateway for juniors to transition from high school racing into USAC mountain bike, cyclocross, and road.

Thanks to programs like Matrix Cycling Club, young athletes are able to build fundamental bike skills and develop a love and passion for cycling that goes beyond their time in Matrix. With a strong focus on mountain biking and road cycling, with the potential to develop cyclocross, track, gravel, and even triathlon programs, Matrix is continuing to develop the next generation of cyclists from the Dallas area.

To learn more about the USA Cycling Center of Excellence programs and how you can help programs like Matrix Cycling Club continue to thrive, visit the link here.