European racing can provide valuable learning opportunities. After 7 days of racing, long transfers, and great crowds, I am able to soak in a little bit of the knowledge that I must have been receiving via osmosis, baguettes, and brie.
Things I learned from racing La Route de France Féminine Internationale:
- No one quits. No matter if you are opening gaps, winning the race, hanging on the back, or trying to make the time cut. No one quits. You always fight. Sometimes you win, sometimes you get dropped, but you always fight.
- No one is gluten free. Well maybe not no one, but still. I’m not. And how can you be gluten free in France?
- It always rains in France. Always. At least that is my experience.
- Speed is your friend. 150k can be done under 3:45 no problem. Yes, we did this.
- Internet is luxury. Cherish it when you have it. Skype your mom.
- Be combative. Being combative or having “bad luck” may be bad for relationships, but it scored me on the podium twice! The French love an excuse for flowers and kisses, and I happily will fill this void. Combative or not.
- Back of the bus. Yes, someone always has to be at the back of the pack, but try not to make it you.
- Beware the unknown podiums and awards. You never know when you will be on the podium or get a call up. Lantern Rouge, Bad Luck, Being Pretty, you name it. Have your podium attire and smile ready.
- Racing is hard. The speed is unrelenting. You want someone to quit. Anybody! But look at Lesson #1. Keep fighting.
- You may hallucinate. This happens when you spend that much time in the “red zone”. Bike racing is all about making friends. Even if they are imaginary.
- Enjoy the moment. Even in the pain. Smile because you are there and you can do something incredible.
- Alena Amialiusik is on tough rider. 2nd Overall, but expect so much more from this lieutenant.