On my bucket list of races that I wanted to do, I can’t say that the Holland Ladies Tour was on there. It is nothing against Holland. I like tulips. Chocolate for breakfast is fine by me, and I think for what clogs lack in appearance, they have in practicality. But there I was, in the land of windmills where the lack of elevation makes it some of the hardest racing you will ever do. Go figure.
They say that when the winds of change blow, some people build walls, and some people build windmills. Since Holland has windmills, let’s just assume there is wind there. Bring on the bike racing.
Stage 1 Time Trial: Celebrate the results as you please. I don’t think anyone says that they were “top 10” unless you were 10th. That being said, I was “top 10” in this TT, and it was worth the pain.
Stage 2: Some days you are the cat, and other days you are the mouse. When we weren’t turning, we were turning. Technical course with wind, rivers, bridges, and more, but I can’t say I noticed much more than the stem on my bike, which was getting covered with sweat and snot. The race was fast, fast, fast, and when it slowed just slightly, instead of being relieved at the reprieve, I just felt like a mouse that a cat was toying with all the while have full intent of killing the poor creature. Just put me out of my misery! Bam. Sprint finish. Thank heavens!
My pre-race interview on developing women’s cycling, the Holland Ladies Tour and my role on the Professional Committee as the Female Athlete representative for USAC here:
Stage 3: When in doubt, you can always scream to make a statement, at least it makes people pay attention to you if you feel you are just one of the pack. We have a screamer. With races in Holland come crashes, cobbles and chaos. The carnage is one of the parts of race that I hate, but it is a fact of bike racing life when you squeeze 120 riders into tiny roads with varying widths and traffic furniture. Every time the inevitable scuffle would occur, I would hear this girl scream. Ladies, we have a screamer back here. Yet, she was probably reacting the way we all wanted to. Now I realize that since she wasn’t attacking the race, at least she was making a statement, and well, I will remember her. She was not just one of the pack. Don’t always be just one of the pack, but maybe screaming isn’t the best option.
Stage 4: Almost winning a bike race isn’t winning, but it is SO close. The race was about 20 meters too long. I initiated an early break, solo, and was joined by a great group of motivated women. The time gap never got over 1 minute, and came down to 20 seconds, and suddenly ballooned back up again! It was one of those days that the break survived. We live for moments like this. We bike race for moments like this. It was my chance! I attacked 5k, 4k, 3k, and finally with a little under 1k to go! There was no one in sight! All I heard was the fans! I was going to win! Then they all sprinted by me. Yeah, about that. I ended the day 4th in GC and on the podium in the blue jersey for the “best fighting spirit”. It wasn’t the win I felt slip out of my clutches, but it was an incredible day.
Post race interview here regarding “almost winning” a bike race. At least I am “combative”… just as my parents thought…
Stage 5: Occio Micio! There is always time to smile or be crazy! If you want people to think you are crazy, just be yourself. My team taught me some key Italian phrases to communicate, including, left, right, straight, shut up and watch out! It is no secret that I love cats. When seeing a cat, I will say “kitty kitty”. They wanted to know what this word meant. Ahh, micio! They said to just yell in the race, look at the kitty! Yes, randomly I would say this during this race. If there was any doubt before, I am sure I was labeled as the crazy Americano. But, at least I smiled, and my teammates laughed, and sometimes you need to do that, even when racing. Next time you are riding, just try it… say Occio Micio (ocho meecho). It will make you feel better, I promise.
Stage 6: Find satisfaction in never giving up, no matter the result. A hard day where you climb the infamous Cauberg “a couple of times” which was remarkably easier than some of the other 6 to 9 (someone lost count) stated QOM’s, and some which were not marked. Getting behind crashes and having some bad luck made a hard day even more monumentally challenging for me. I told myself I needed boxing gloves that day, and boy did I need to be a warrior. A warrior princess that is. I might have died 10,000 times in that race, but I didn’t give up. There were literally tears mixed with the sweat at the finish. I can honestly say that I found accomplishment and satisfaction in never giving up. I finished the tour and have to say that I knew I fought for it. Took risk. Gambled. Was on the podium, and I never gave up. I take some pride from that, and I think that is something we all can do. Maybe racing in Holland isn’t all that bad after all… but I am starting to think “fight” is the common denominator…