Date July 11, 2013
Posted by Tim Akers
Brie Walle is a member of our amazing Customer Support crew at Yakima. However the truly amazing thing about Brie is that she is also a pro cyclist with Optum Pro Cycling and recently became a member of the US National Team that competed in the Giro Rosa, a prestigious stage race.
We had a chance to meet up with Brie to learn about her experiences with the US National team and racing in Italy.
How was racing as a part of the US National Team?
In one word “amazing”. We quickly worked well together as a well-oiled machined and executed our plan to work for Mara [Mara Abbott, Brie's teammate who won the Giro Rosa]. Outside of racing, we all get along very well and have a fun time.
How is racing in Europe different than racing in the US?
More aggressive and faster with bigger field size. Lots of elbows, hips and handlebars bumping and more risky maneuvers in the pack. 19 teams were selected to race with about 9 different nationalities represented. We had about 140 riders start the race. The roads in Europe are smaller, there are more obstacles that keep you on your toes. Examples would be: “road furniture” (medians in the road, causing the field to split and re-unit), cobble stones, pot-holes, spectators, curvy roads through the city. Most importantly, every team is fighting it out to get a stage win and win the Giro Rosa. Since the event is super prestigious, there is a lot more pressure and drive to win it. I loved it!
How was it racing on the same squad with people you typically race against here in the States?
It’s different because we all race for different trade-teams in the United States, so we’re used to being direct competitors. However, as a National team unit, we race together for a common goal. Once we get back on the plane to go home, we go back to being friendly rivals!
Can you give us any insights on to what racing the Giro Rosa is like off the bike? Hotels, food, transfers, and so on?
Well- it’s pretty much non-stop. We started in Naples and ended in Milan- a typical day would be race 3-4 hours (depending on stage), recover quickly at the team car, pack up and transfer to the next location (usually 1-5 hour transfers), check in the hotel, shower, eat, massages/recovery, team meeting and got to bed. Rinse and repeat! We stayed what is sometimes referred to as “race hotels” with a majority of the other teams who were at the Giro Rosa. We ate the same foods: usually pasta, riso (rice) with red sauce, salads, protein and dessert. We really don’t have time for anything else in the day ( no time to go out and go sightseeing).
How did you unwind between stages?
Wipe my legs off, wear some compression tights, EAT and drink recover foods, put my feet off….and text my partner to let her know that I’m ok after each stage. Friends and fam back home get worried when they don’t hear from me after stages, so many of us send a quick note. In the transfer car, we had a team vehicle that we named the “hot-box” since it was super hot in there…..and we blasted amazing dance music.
What was your favorite off the bike moment during the Giro Rosa?
Walking up to the front stage before every race to sign in as a team- it’s amazing the amount of support and appreciation spectators have for cycling (and even women’s cycling) over in Europe. The Italians especially have a deep-embedded appreciation for the sport and specially the Giro Rosa. It’s a historical and critical race that many spectators attend and really celebrate- many folks wear pink shirts and clothing to represent.
How about your favorite on the bike moment?
When my job was over for the stage, sitting up for a bit to soak in the nature around us. As a domestique or “work horse” , we would work hard up to the climb to protect Mara and put her in good position for the climbs. After this point, there is a moment to just dial it back and tempo/recover up the rest of the climb. On the way you get to really appreciate the gorgeous scenery and folks cheer for you along the way. Some folks offer words of encouragement (in Italian) and others offer food and water. I don’t speak Italian, but you’d often here “vai regazze…vai vai vai!”= go ladies! Go go go!