Hidden Gems

Mission accomplished. I completed my first major European tour. The experience that I achieved is unbelievable.

My highlights:

Getting fifth in the prologue. It was technical, and hard, truly European. Ladies, my second trip to Europe, and I can ride my bike fast, or something like that. Watch out next time when I don’t break into every corner. I will just ride fast.

Taking that confidence from the prologue and trying to apply it to the next race. Getting scared being at the very back, getting up to the very front, attacking, and staying off the front for 60k. From the back, to the front, to off the front.

Blasting though small French towns, lined with fans, completely by myself. Flying. Actually thinking for a moment that I could win the bike race. I could really win. I didn’t, but that feeling that I could, I will never forget. In my head, I was on a campaign for champagne. Welcome to Europe. Next time, maybe I few more girls will come with me, take that challenge…and I could win.

Feeling my body give everything last ounce of energy it had. Suddenly, I needed to be in the draft. I couldn’t survive without the draft. Cramping. Having a feeling of complete failure turn into a “consolation” prize. I got to podium. I got to experience the unanticipated reward for taking great risk, although it wasn’t the reward I wanted…such as winning the bike race…it was a reward. The respect of attack, riding your bike hard. Suicidal? Possibly. Kamikaze? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Definitely.

Getting back into the bike race after a hard crash. It was so hard mentally to try to force myself to care about a bike race when I went into survival mode. I was there, turning the pedals, but I wasn’t in the race. However, in this moment of somewhat helplessness, I reflected on why I was there. Why do this? I love it. Yes. I have potential. I am made for this sport. Through this, I got stronger, mentally, and of course physically. Looking at the other women involved, as I joined the society of bandages, bruises, the dull expression of pain, at dinner, I thought…what I tough group of women. I guess that means that I am tough too.

Racing for the USA. That is cool, right? Team America. Strong women, great camaraderie, and we won our first European stage of the year…who would have thought? Something about racing for your country, bolsters you with pride.

There are so many experiences from this that I never want to forget. I will use these experiences as building blocks to continue to grow on my development. Cascade. Nationals. Italy. France.

It was so good to be back in France. Lucca was nice, but it wasn’t France. Racing on those roads in France made me feel at home. I don’t know what it is about that country that I love, but I do. The pastries are good, the coffee is decent, but it is the people, the language, the fashion that I can’t have, the roads, the vibe, the true good life…and they know how to put on a bike race. Flowers. Fans. Support. Tres Bien. Even though that country carries more history and knowledge within its depths, more then I will ever know, but even though so many people have experience, lived, and studied there…there should be no mystery. Yet, the country reveals a hidden gem to me. Something I feel is just our secret, between me and France. Don’t tell Italy. J’adore. It will be a secret I will always have close to my heart.

I will be back. See you next year.

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