Springtime Adventures: Part One – by Annie Foreman-Mackey

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(nearing the end of Flèche Wallonne – photo credit to Krist Vanmelle)

While the rest of the team has been tearing up the roads from Arkansas to Quebec (Wahoo!), I have been across the pond with the Canadian National Team. My second time racing these spring classics in Belgium and Holland, I had a bit of a better idea of what to expect when jumping into a pack of 200 strong women fighting for position on tiny and twisty roads. We just finished off a big week of 5 races in 8 days, including: Ronde van Gelderland, Flèche Wallonne, van Borsele ITT, EPZ Omloop van Borsele, and Dwars door de Westhoek.

Last year in my race report, I noted that “the lessons learned in Holland can be summarized by two words: WIND and POSITIONING.” I would say that this continues to ring true, with the added qualification of NEVER GIVE UP. These one day UCI races bring with them an interesting mental game: staying 100% focused and gritty through 120-140 kms of full-on racing. Flèche Wallonne brought an added dimension of 11 QOM climbs, 2 of which were the the renown “Mur de Huy”. My National Team teammate Kirsti had a rocking ride, finishing in the top 25 at her first world cup race. Impressive!

Though I’m not always the most patient person, it is motivating to see improvement from how I was riding last year. I’m slowly feeling more comfortable maneuvering my way through the pack, driving up the climbs, and reading the race. I’m excited to keep building on these skills, soak up the experience, and keep learning and growing in every race opportunity.

Back at the Canadian Belgium Base in Tielt-Winge, we’ve been recovering between races with coffee spins to Leuven and Aarschot, taste-testing Belgian waffles, Flemish monopoly games, euchre tournaments, and lots of reading and relaxing. Next, we race Festival Luxembourgeois Elsy Jacobs on May 1-3 before heading back to NorCal for the Tour of California!

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