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Hammer Down in Flanders (Guest Post)

Pam! Let’s put the hammer down!

Let this be your cheer, your mantra, your slogan, your driving force in your next bike race or in whatever kind of racing you do. (Note Pam! is not someone’s name, but more like bam! or wham!)

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig gives an exciting play-by-play of how she raced in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, aka Tour of Flanders, bike race last weekend. The Dane came in third, but she’s a winner in her heart. She loves the race, the fans, the energy of big-time pro cycling in Belgium. At the critical moment in the race, she and her breakaway companions saw they had the lead, but the main group was closing in fast. At that moment: “Pam! Let’s put the hammer down!” so the break could stay away.

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The Tour of Flanders featured women’s and men’s races, with huge crowds lining the roads because: Belgium. Cycling is the most popular sport in the country. The women raced 157 km, and the men raced 265 km.  However, both women and men raced over the same famous short steep climbs like the Kanarieberg,  the Oude Kwaremont, the Paterberg. These hills brutalize the legs with uneven cobblestones and gradients from 8% to 22%. And the winner often comes from the leading groups over these climbs.

I’ve watched many post-race interviews with cyclists (men and women) who say milk toasty things like, “I felt strong, the team was great, I’m happy to win” in their I’m-too-cool-and-accustomed-to-winning monotone. Not so for Cecilie, who puts us on the bike next to her in the race: the effort, the anticipation, split-second decisions in the breakaway, the exhaustion. And most important: THE JOY OF RACING.

Unfortunately, some in the male-dominated cycling media christened this video “hilarious.” It seems like a bit of a put-down. Because it’s funny when women show excitement and emotion? Because she didn’t listen to the media-training about not moving around and using her hands? Because she laughs? Come on, boys, bike racing is fun! I prefer adjectives like “fantastic” or “awesome” for her race re-cap.

Cecilie inspires me, and I hope she inspires you.  Her compatriots in New York feel the joy, too.  @DenmarkinNY re-tweeted the video with: “May you live every day with the same confidence and enthusiasm as Danish cyclist Cecilia Uttrup Ludwig!”

For more about Cecilie and her path to pro cycling,  check out Rouleur’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig – conveyor belt to success.

Mary Reynolds splits her time between Berlin and Tucson, and blogs with her partner at

3 thoughts on “Hammer Down in Flanders (Guest Post)

  1. The word “delight” is often modified with the word “girlish”. I think that’s wonderful! We should maintain our capacity for unabashed delight as long as we can—forever ideally!!

  2. AHMAYZING!!!! I adore this woman. What a beautiful reminder of the joy of cycling.

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