Wednesday, March 21, 2007

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.


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