I am partial to France. Holland is orderly and welcoming, but something about France always tugs at my heart. That being said, I am not in France. However, I was in the French side of Belgium for the classic race, Fleche Wallone. The roads suddenly felt familiar. The language was calming. The buildings were nostalgic. Ah. France. It wasn’t Flemish, it was French. Apparently there are two sides of Belgium, and I have been residing in the French side. It was like a big welcome home to me.
I wasn’t there for a spring vacation. I was there to race. Another World Cup. One of the biggest Spring Classics for les femmes, held on the same course and same day as the Pro Tour men. Fleche Wallone. This was a pretty big deal. This was not the time to immerse myself in the French, c’est la vie, life. It wasn’t the time for chevre chaud et aubergine avec sauternes. It was the time to race our bicycles.
Team presentation was in the square of Huy the evening before the race.
Fleche Wallone is by far the most fun bike race I have ever competed in, and I would love to return to this race. With 9 significant climbs, and the terrain rolling through the hilly Belgium countryside, you constantly feel the lurch in your stomach and legs on a brutal roller coaster of power and attrition. The Mur d’Huy is a monster all of its own. A wall of a climb through packed streets and fans as the grade hits 26%. Oh, it’s a monster all right. Unfortunately, I had come down with a significant head cold the day prior to the race. That race is a beast, but doing it while under the weather? That makes a mole hill a mountain. Team USA was able to work for KMac throughout the race, and she finished a very strong 10th. The race was a complete success, yet I have some unfinished business there. Fleche Wallone and your infamous Mur d’Huy. I will be back for you, healthy, and ready to rock and roll.
Next stop. Izegem. One more race on my dockets until I head back to the states for some more racing.
Vitamins. Water. Must get healthy now.