The trip began from Lucca, Italy to our first destination, Lyon, France. No big deal. I travel between European countries all the time. I am quite the jet setter these days.
Leaving our “home” in Lucca offered a night of restless sleep imagining the races to come, and of course, missing my cat at home. Yesterday, we had a team meeting inside the protection of the walls of the city of Lucca. 2 Cappuccino. 1 Latte. 2 Litre Acqua Minerale Naturale. Gelato. 6 National Team Members. 1 Director de Sportif, 1 Bodyguard (as we like to refer to Andrew as—we need a bodyguard in these foreign countries). Andrew was explaining the logistics of the trip to us. Punctual departures. Punctual arrivals. Proper uniform. Professional actions. Peak performance. USA attire. What to expect from the team car, the commissars, the general standard operations and procedures.
He was saying, “I know you guys have been through this before, so it seems silly that I am going over these trivial details with you…”
I was wanted to raise my hand, saying, “Me! Me! I have never done this before! Yikes! I am scared! Help! A real UCI French stage race!? Ah! Somebody pinch me, or wake me up, or shake me, or give me confidence”
We left this morning. A truck full of bikes, equipment, helmets, TT helmets, discs, wheels…a washer and dryer…oven..refrigerator…microwave…food…espresso machine…and best of all, our great mechanic, Chris Franges. Looking into our US Cycling truck, you would think we are a complete independent entity. We have everything we need to survive at this bike race. 2 VW Pasaats. 4 people in each car plus one in the truck. We hit the road. Lucca to Lyon. Planning to ride on arrival.
The countryside we drove through was beautiful. I have never navigated through so many consecutive tunnels. Apparently we had to drive through the Alps. Not over the Alps. We drove through Genova…Torino…and who knows what else. From the warmth of the Mediterranean to the snow covered peaks of a Swiss mountain range. Onward bound. I feel like we drove more underground then we did on top of the ground. Andrew taught us how to transfer the aggressive Italian driving to our bike racing. Hold your line. Do not give up your position. And above all, do not give an inch. If you give an inch, they will take a mile. Show no fear.
The race starts Sunday. Prologue is on Sunday. A real prologue. I have never done a prologue before, so I am pretty excited about that. Each stage starts in a different part of France. We have hotel transfers each day after the race. Andrew will take our luggage from one hotel to another. When we get done with the race, all we will have to worry about is eating and getting our rubs (massage). Our bags will be waiting for us in our rooms. Our laundry will be done for us (hence the Laundromat in our truck). Wow. I think this qualifies as a real bike race, by the real US National Team. What am I doing here?
As the travelling continues, it may not be the most glamorous, but it is surely the most entertaining. Taking a group of women from different teams, diverse backgrounds, tossing them together, creating a national team, and throwing them into a race as a unified group. Love it.