The race started out of a square in Frammeries, Belgium, near the French border. Almost 190 women bumping elbows! A couple of the big-hitter teams were there: Specialized Lululemon, Greenedge, Rabo Women’s, Lotto Belisol, Hitec , Skil, and of course the USA National Team! Our roster included myself, Amanda Miller (TIBCO), Andrea Dvorak (Exergy), Jacquelyn Crowell (Exergy), Megan Guarnier (TIBCO), Robin Farina (NOW), and Samantha Schneider (TIBCO). The course consisted of a 37km start loop and 4X12km loops, with a 700m cobbled climb every lap. There were about 7 roundabouts in the first 37km. I crashed twice in that first 37km. Ridiculous, I know. The first time I was sitting mid-pack on the outside left going into a roundabout. There were bowled gutters lining it and I got bumped onto the very edge of them. I may have been able to keep it up if the roads weren’t so slick from the constant drizzle, but they were and I hit the deck. I slid along the tarmac for a little bit, but jumped right up, popped my bottle back in it’s cage, cyclocross mounted and jumped right back onto the back of the peleton. I came away with some road rash, but nothing that would keep me from racing. I only got 15km before crashing again. We were on a wide open road when everyone decided to slam on their brakes, yell, and dive towards the middle of the peleton. I was, unfortunately, in the middle of the peleton. I don’t even know how I got on the ground, but all I could think was, “Not again!” and “I scuffed my brand new shoes!” One other girl went down; she yanked her bike to untangle from me and took off. I picked myself up, adjusted my brakes, and realized my chain was off in the front and twisted in my rear derailuer. I got to the side of the road and waited for Andrew Hawkes and the mechanic who were in the follow car. They got me back on my bike and motorpaced me back up to the caravan. I jumped from car to car and finally made it to the peleton. At this point we had gotten to the smaller loop and were approaching the cobbled climb. I was in the back, worst place to be. A gap opened a couple riders up and I spent the rest of the lap chasing back onto the peleton. I made it on during the second lap, right before the cobbled climb. I was in the back, AGAIN. Another gap opened up a couple riders in front of me. I spent the rest of the race chasing with a group of 13 women. I learned quickly that Europeans do not like working with you if you’re off the back. We finished 7:18 down on 1st place, 75th place for me. Megan Guarnier put a solid result in at 5th, though! After I crossed the finish line, I grabbed a Coke and headed to the ambulance to get my battle wounds scrubbed… OW… I cried a little bit. I crashed on the same wounds both times, so they were pretty bloody and ON FIRE. I’ve found more bruises as the days pass and my knee has been stiff. I walk like a cripple, but it feels great when I ride!
European racing is completely different from racing in the states, but it’s very exciting! I’m stoked to be here racing alongside the best female cyclists in the world and representing my country! I have race number two tomorrow, Omloop Van Het Hageland. Stay tuned for more adventures!