Friday, March 30, 2007

SERC #2, Chickasaw, Columbia, TN, Race Report

The Tennessee Bellas were out in force for the SERC #2 race at Chickasaw Trace Park in Columbia, TN, on Sunday, March 25. Three Bellas hit the trail in three categories, and the formidable cheering section kept the faith throughout the hot race day temps.


Angela Brown started with the first wave of one-lap Beginner Women racers at 9:00 am. Despite losing her chain twice because of a bike mechanical, she turned in a 00:60:47 lap on the 9-mile loop to take 6th place (revised to 6th from 7th because of a junior participant, according to Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Jennifer Moorehead challenged the Sport Women with a 4th place win in two laps on the 9-mile course. Jennifer’s lap times were 00:52:70 and 00:53:99, respectively.
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Sandy Kern started in the heat of the day with the Pro/Expert Women. After a strong start, a bike mechanical kept Sandy from completing the third lap of her race.
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Additional results can be found at


The day was peppered with crashes off of a hill at the beginning of the course (thank goodness our Bellas made it safely through). One accident appeared to be serious. The rider was taken by air to Vanderbilt medical and is doing fine now with what appears to be no lasting damage.

Here is a crash photo from another race and some additional course notes from Dustin Greer, who is currently the #1 ranked semi-pro XC racer and a big Bella supporter.

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“It was a humid 87 degrees today when the Pro/Expert wave went off at 12:30. The trail was loose and the powder was deep in some areas. A lot of riders were complaining of chainsuck during their pre-ride on Saturday as they couldn't keep enough lube on their chains to combat the dust.”

“The course was almost exactly the same course used last year. One section was rerouted...that was the downhill that overlooked the dump, which has been moved farther into the woods. Also the finish climb was moved from the pavement into the grass on the left side of the road. The loop was just over 9 miles long. It began with a long drag in the grass that lead to a dirt road and onto a long pavement stretch, which by the way, will not be used next year. At the end of the pavement comes the famous (or infamous whichever way you look at it) steep downhill to the lower field and into the singletrack. The singletrack is rocky for the first mile, including one steep climb covered with rocks. Some of the rocks were removed making the climb much easier. After this section comes the River Trail which is flat and really fast. The Ravine Loop then takes you into a slalom section through a bamboo forest before you climb up to Rick's Trail which descends back down the hill. Then its into the Trail of Tears which features all the climbing with the worst being the last climb up to the dump. The new downhill takes you into the final section called the Black Hills Trail. These last two miles are rough and fast. There is a little climb that takes you back out to the start/finish. It's an uphill in the grass for the last 400 meters to the finish line.”

Great Job Bellas!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Velo Bella Womens Track Clinic Report

From Emily Fronheiser

The track clinic March 17-18 was a huge success! Fourteen beginners were there to learn about the track life, and most of them came away certified to race on the track (with some more track time, of course). The day started out with everyone getting fit up to their bikes. Then, Cathy gave a great description of the track, history of Dick Lane Velodrome, and explained the differences between a track bike and a "regular" bike.

Once we were all informed on the etiquette of riding on the track, she set us loose to do a few laps on our own. There was a lot of screaming and pounding hearts on the first lap or two, but most of the beginners caught on quickly. Personally, I was so excited after the first lap that I had to come down off the track and get a drink and calm down. Then, I went back out and did three more laps...and came back down to get a drink. My husband got a good laugh out of this when I told him.

Cathy split us into groups, one with Amy and one with Melissa (but which one is which??). We did a few follow the leader exercises where we rode all over the track just to get comfortable with the places where you can speed up or slow down. The next drill was to demonstrate the differences in riding on the various parts of the track (sprinter's lane, stayers line, rail, turns, etc). We rode four wide across the track and did a sort of paceline where the top rider fell behind to go to the inside lane while the other three moved up the track. It's amazing the differences between the sprinter's lane and the rail. It really taught us a good lesson.

Next, it was on to 200 meter sprints. In groups of 4, we rode a neutral lap and then took off at the 200 meter line. This was my absolute favorite part of the day. It was so exhilarating! The Italian Pursuit was fun, too, but it was hard to pace ourselves for all four people to keep up.

After lunch, we did some pacelining drills and then finished up the day with a Scratch Race. The two groups got to race within themselves. The first group was pretty even until the end, when Kelly shot past the pack and I followed. I finally got past her on Turns 3 and 4, and managed to win the race! I've never had so much fun in my life!

The second group was a different story! Sarah led out in the 2nd or 3rd lap and stayed out front until the end. There was a great sprint between a couple of the others for 2nd place, though.

All in all, we had a great day, and some of the participants had enough in their legs to train on Sunday, too, to get a little more track time in. I, on the other hand, was a little sore from Saturday and had a long drive home. I can't wait for the next time I can get down there to ride again! It's amazing how much more fun riding can be when you're doing it where you're supposed to be!

Greenville, SC Training Series Race Reports

From Jamie France

Saturday, 3 March – For my first-ever road race, I had Cathy Boland show me the ropes. She came and stayed at Chez France in Clemson the night before, and we went up to Greenville together on Saturday morning. The day was bright and windy. We met up with Natasha Cowie at the starting line. We were three Bella jerseys in a sea of BMW, Bianchi, Defeet, and Cheerwine. There were over 50 women, all categories, 1 thru 4 racing together. The course is 35 miles (5 laps around a 7 mile relatively flat loop). The rollout was nice & ladylike due to a Marine unit that was road marching on the course in front of us. Once we got past them, I managed to hang with the pack for the first loop plus 2 miles into the 2nd loop. I got dropped on a small hill and just couldn’t recover. So I did the rest of the race (26 miles) alone, head down, fighting the wind which had picked up and was really blowing hard. I heard later that it was gusting to 35 mph! It was brutal without the protection of the pack. But I was proud that I finished… and I wasn’t last! I really can’t report much on the race since I was only in the mix for 9 miles. Cathy and Natasha finished well. They later told me about a crash in the last lap – luckily neither of them got taken down in it. Overall it was a good experience. I decided to go back the following weekend for more.
Cathy was so supportive of my first race! When we got back to my house, she planned and cooked us dinner. Her husband, Gerard, had arrived by then. We had a nice evening and then rode my local roads the next day before Cathy & Gerard returned home to Andrews, NC. It was a fabulous weekend!
Sunday, 11 March -- I did my second road race without any teammates, but on the same course. The weather was better than the previous weekend -- relatively low winds. This time there was about 30 women, again all categories racing together. Same teams in attendance. There was nothing ladylike about the start. The gals in front were off the front attacking hard from the get-go. We were strung out in a single file sprint for about a mile before we could catch the leader and form a pack. The course marshal was cruising on his motorcycle and watching us closely. He DQ’d two women early in the race for crossing the double-yellow line. They didn’t drop out, but kept racing. That caused a lot of chitter-chatter in the pack, and some of these girls from different teams weren’t so nice to each other. I tried to tune-out all their negativity. My only goal was to do better than I had the previous race, but at this point I thought to myself “there is no way I can last more than 9 miles at this pace!” However, I dug deep and hung in there for 2 laps. That same hill I got dropped on in last weekend’s race sunk me again just after completing lap 2. Yep, I got dropped at the same place. But there was no way I was going to give up. After cresting the hill, I fought my hardest to maintain the small gap between me and the pack. Then I got rescued! The guy’s race lapped me! They came up around me, I got tucked into their cradle and they basically pulled me up to the women. So I finished lap 3 firmly enveloped again in the women’s pack. Two miles later, that same hill sunk me again and I just had no power left to close the gap on my own. I cruised to the finish line alone… but again, I wasn’t last! Other women had gotten shelled before I did. I had hung in for 23 miles this time! Woo Hoo! Where’s my next race?? I’m ready!

Jamie and Cathy still smiling after the race - must be all the Jittery Joe's coffee they were selling near the finish line.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pro Southeastern Bella Natasha Cowie takes 6th at Reddick!

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Tennessee's very own Natasha Cowie placed 6th in the first race of the 2007 South Eastern Regional Championship Series in Reddick, Florida, on March 11.

Natasha, who mopped up the course with the guys and finished 1st at the Columbia Cyclocross in January (see previous blog entry for photo), came out strong on a challenging course. We look forward to seeing her results this season!

Here's a course description of Reddick from Dustin Greer:
"The course was typical Razorback style: lots of twisty singletrack, tons of roots, and many, many dips and drops to give the trail a roller coaster feel. The flier was a misprint and all classes did the same 10.5 mile loop. The loop was very similar to the course used for the 12 Hours of Razorback just three weeks ago. It began with a grassy field start. The start line allowed riders to start 15-wide, but you had to funnel down to 2-wide in 50 yards which made things interesting and forced more than a couple of riders to do some bush-whacking. There was a narrow, off-camber hill just a minute into the course, which proved to stack up several of the classes. Then came a BMX-type section, followed by a longer gradual climb that took riders to the top of a hill overlooking the whole Reddick mining area. Then came probably the nastiest descent in the park. If you survived it, you were rewarded with fast singletrack for two miles before a little bit slower, more technical section came up. It featured some really tight, rocky turns in an area I have never ridden before in my six previous trips here. The famous Triple Dipper section comes with about 3.5 or 4 miles to go. It is more like the 7-dipper now after some additions. A lot of the trail was covered with some sort of oak leaves which were as slick as ice. It is known as the "Florida Ice." Most of the corners were slippery, but they all had two or three inches of exposed dirt/sand at the top of the berm that supplied some traction if you could stay up there. There was a lot of carnage on the slick leaves during Saturday's practice. Overall, it was one of the hardest, most physically demanding courses I have ever ridden."


Pro/Expert Women

1. Carolyn Van Vurst

2. Kym Flynn

3. Jamie Dinkins


6. Natasha Cowie

7. Philicia Marion

8. Shannon Morrison