Despite COVID and crashes, Homer cyclist finishes women’s Tour de France

Otto I. Eovaldi
Kristen Faulkner continues inspite of injuries during Phase 3 (Reims to Epernay) of the Tour de France Femmes on July 26, 2022. (Photograph courtesy of Kristen Faulkner)

The Tour de France is arguably aggressive cycling’s most well-known race. The men’s tour is an pretty much month-lengthy function that winds through the French countryside every July.

Nevertheless, most people today may not be as acquainted with the women’s tour. That’s mainly because this yr was the very first time in in excess of three many years that gals have competed.

Although the men’s Tour de France is a a number of-7 days celebration with more than 21 stages, the women’s course is scaled down in comparison, with eight legs levels.

Homer-grown bike owner Kristen Faulkner, who participated in her initial Tour de France final month, thinks there are quite a few explanations for that.

“I feel the organizers however have kind of this standard mentality in Europe, that women simply cannot do as a lot as adult men,” she stated. “I feel the 2nd issue is the funds that are demanded in the upfront financial investment. And proper now they are not inclined to spend so much in women’s cycling right until they know that there is actually people keen to observe it.”

Faulkner 1st viewed as skilled biking even though functioning in New York Metropolis as a enterprise capitalist.

Despite the fact that she was athletic, she stated biking was not on her radar. The then 23-year-outdated experienced just finished higher education at Harvard, in which she majored in computer system science. Whilst in college, she broke data for rowing and held the school’s greatest time for indoor rowing in her body weight class.

Before that, Faulkner stated her biking expertise was limited to riding her bike down the Homer Spit just after swim follow to enable her family with housekeeping get the job done, a lot more than a decade ago. Her mother and father, John and Sara Faulkner very own and operate Lands Ends Vacation resort, a yr-spherical resort and cafe at the idea of the Homer Spit.

It wasn’t until she took a course on cycling in New York City in 2016 that she fell in like with the competitive sport for equally its personal and staff parts.

“Cycling is both of those a race and also a activity,” Faulkner said. “You have the outcome of drafting, which is when you ride ideal driving your teammate, and you are capable to conserve electricity, mainly because you are not in the wind the full time. And so groups use this dynamic. If you are the sprinter, your teammate will go correct in entrance of you, and variety of journey in front of you until finally the finish, and then at the very last moment sprint close to them. And so that teamwork performs a large job in how riders race.”

20-9-year-aged Faulkner states she experienced higher hopes going into the Tour de France last month. The French race is just one of three significant stage races that make up what’s identified as “The Grand Tour,” which she’s hoping to entire. Faulkner presently competed in one particular, the Giro Rosa d’Italia, productively in early July.

During the Giro Rosa, she said she received two out of the 10 stages and also obtained to dress in the coveted polka-dot jersey. It is offered to the strongest climber in the race, acknowledged as “The Queen of the Mountain.” But then, just ahead of the Tour de France, Faulkner got unwell.

“[The Giro Rosa] was a person of my ideal races all calendar year,” she explained. “I was just genuinely excited heading into the Tour de France, [thinking] I might basically have a shot once more on the podium or even profitable. And then the day immediately after the Giro, I arrived residence and I analyzed constructive for COVID. And I had COVID for the next 11 or 12 times. I examined detrimental the incredibly previous working day that I was authorized to test negative and be equipped to race for the tour.”

But COVID was not the only problem, she explained.

“So there had been three crashes that happened right in front of me and there was really no way I could prevent them,” she stated. “There were truly big piles of crashes. And I have a lot of street rash on my legs and I hit my elbow and so it was definitely really hard on my physique. I basically didn’t know if I was gonna be capable to end the race.”

But she did finish.

Faulkner says she’s hopeful for two impending phase races later this summertime and for the Globe Biking Championships in September.

Faulkner explained she designs on racing in future year’s Tour and hopes to make it to the podium this time. She explained she’s hopeful for the long run of women in the activity and wishes more folks to take part in cycling.

“I just inspire extra folks to get on bikes,” Faulkner stated. “I imagine it’s a seriously great type of exercising. It is fun. It’s sustainable transportation. And I’d really like to see far more girls on bikes. It’s a really male-dominated activity. And if we can get more females on bikes, I assume we can help more women’s sports in general.”

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