28 Jul Krasna Lipa
In one word: chaotic. First off, my bike didn’t arrive from my flight from Girona. At that point it was out of my control and there was nothing I could do but call the airlines every morning and see if I can get an update. Luckily Rene knew the Swiss National team coach and they were gracious enough to let me use their spare bike until I finally got my bike back. Big shout out to the Swiss National Team for helping me out!!! My bike finally arrived in Prague halfway through the stage race and I was thankful to finally race on my own Bianchi!
My Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team teammates for this race were: Lucy Coldwell – Scottish strong woman, Carla Ryan – experienced Aussie, Molly Weaver – English posh, Gabriella Shaw – from ‘Yawrkshure’, Jane Barr – rad Scottish/Kiwi, and Amy Bradley – Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi.
The race wasn’t really about results for me. It was more of an experience and learning how to cope with adversity. The best result I had all week was get a top 5 in the field sprint, where I got 8th on Stage 3 which had a chaotic finish over Czech cobbles. Another chaotic instance was when I had THE worst leg cramping of my existence. By the end of the Stage 2 my quads, calves, toes, everything had a mind of it’s own, spasming and putting me in pain. I’m not sure if that was due to the weather or the excessive amounts of high caffeine CNP gels I thought would salvage my legs for the sprint finish – that plan clearly backfired as my legs rebelled against the caffeine. Another chaotic example is just the racing in general. The race being in Czech Republic had more Eastern European teams racing like the Czechs, Ukrainians, Russians, etc…and as you could guess they race and handle their bikes in a chaotic fashion. I had a girl from one the Czech teams somehow crash and hook into my rear wheel while I was taking a swig of my bottle, luckily it was in slow motion and I was able to slow down fast enough before she took out spokes!
Things off the bike were chaotic as well. We stayed in a boarding school, but I would call more of a prison. The food was of the same standard and wasn’t ideal for stage racing – slugs in peppers, boiled potatoes with every meal, and some kind of breaded and deep fried meat to supplement. There was no laundry machine, so we had the pleasure of hand washing our kits after each stage, then hang drying it by our windows. I also managed to drop my iPhone on cobbles and cracked my screen. One thing that did bring a little peace to each of us was the well working wi-fi – what a treat!
All in all, Krasna Lipa taught me to never take little things for granted – having my own bike, good food, good accommodations, a washer/dryer, and all the things in between that you would think are a normality but if it weren’t to be there you’d be devastated.
Big thanks to the Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team staff that worked just as hard if not harder than us racers along side us. Eoin Michael Martin Murphy(also known as Patrick, Shamus, Padrug, Patty, etc), our first time ever Irish mechanic had our bikes working to perfection everyday. Colin Baldwin(otherwise known as Mr. B) and Lucy Cocker had us covered in the feed zones and massaged a new set of legs into us every day. And our fearless leader Rene Groot kept us trucking forward day after day. We even managed to celebrate his birthday in Germany at midnight as we traveled back to the team house in Ronse, Belgium. I was kind enough to get him a Snicker bar to enjoy on our long trip back.