This past Wednesday was Fleche-Wallonne. It was fun! I, personally, had a HUGE explosion on the second to last climb and got dropped, but Kirstin got 5th and Team USA was one of only two teams who actually raced their bikes today (T-Mobile being the other one).
It was actually pretty neat, after I got dropped, I had my very own motorcycle escort for the last 15km of the race. Spectators clapped and cheered me on. BUT, the best part of the race was the last climb to the finish. It is a famous climb in the town of Huy, Belgium, called the Mur de Huy. It is only 800 meters long, but VERY steep. VERY steep. And, that is where thousands of spectators are. Since we were finishing right before the men's race, the crowds were already in place.
After I got dropped and was suffering to make it up the second to last climb, I wondered how in the world I was going to make it up the Huy. I really hoped I wouldn't have to zig-zag up the climb to make it easier. But I knew my pride would NEVER let me make "Z's" up a climb. That's what wussies do. Then I hoped I wouldn't fall right off my bike because I was going so slowly. Then for sure I would have to walk. That would be the worst of all the possibilities because thousands of people would watch me walk up the hill in shame. So, I hoped for the best and believed in myself that I could make it up to the finish.
It turns out, that last climb was the best part of the entire race. The people were amazing. They were cheering, clapping and willing me on like I was in first place. THEN, something even better happened. I smiled at a group of men cheering for me and one ran out and gave me a huge push up the hill. His friend followed by running with me while pushing me up the hill. He then gave me a push big enough to actually make me laugh. It was awesome.
I made it to the finish no problem and was very proud of myself and the race. What a great experience!