Leesville Gap Road Race
July 1, 2007 · Print This Article
W 1/2/3 Sunny, 85-90 degrees
This was my first race after almost a month off. Life just got in the way-a new job, crazy schedule, family stuff, car accident ….you know, all that stuff life throws at you. I didn’t know the course at all, never having raced it before but I heard many stories about the crappy roads, gravel sections, nasty climb and flat, windy section that goes on forever. Great!! I managed to crawl out of bed after a lousy night’s sleep anyway, at the crazy hour of 4:40 AM.
The field was small, (15 I think) but there was some power on the line, Jane Despas, Molly Van Houleing (sp), Pat Ross, Jen Joynt, and Ashley Zimmerman among them. I was mentally prepared to suffer.
The pace started out mellow enough, even stopping for a pee break after 35 min or so. Soon we crossed over Hwy 20 and hit the rough road section with the rollers. I stayed within the front three here so I could kind of pick my line through the pot holes. We were moving at a decent pace thru all this. As we got closer & closer to the start of the main climb I moved to the front and tried to set the pace. I ended up cresting the top of the climb 3rd with Jen Joynt & Pat Ross off the front. Behind me with a little bit of a gap were Zimmerman, Despas and then Van H., int that order and all spread out a bit.
The decent is definitely rough but turned out to be much better than I feared. Zimmerman and I teamed up, we could see Joynt & Ross ahead of us. We knew it was going to be in our best interest to have Despas catch us, which she & Van H. both did as the terrain flattened out. Molly had no reason to work since Jen Joynt is her teammate and was up ahead. Jane & I began trading pulls, with Zimmerman coming in every now & then. Soon each of us started playing this game so our efficiency wasn’t great. Plus, Molly was doing what she could to disrupt our chase. What was frustrating was that Joynt & Ross were dangling about 500-750m in front of us.
To keep this report from being too damn long, I cut to the chase – we caught them (Ross & Joynt) at the feed zone hill but then they actually got away again, not much but gapped us off a tiny bit. We hit the next, shorter climb and Molly & Jane picked up the pace. They gapped me a little and I dropped Zimmerman. The decent from there was a blast! Wicked fast, open and really fun. When I hit the bottom Van H and Despas were just one good effort away from me. I saw that Despas was driving the pace so I knew I had my work cut out for me.
I told myself, “don’t blow your wad here, you can reel them in slowly..don’t panic, stay within yourself.” Soon I caught them and soon after that we caught Joynt & Ross. Now we were in the windy, long flat section of the course. No one really wanted to work. There was a little bit of an effort to get organized but it wasn’t working. After about 7 miles of this Ashley Zimmerman caught us. So now we were six again.
I had a headache (hydration related?) and no idea how much further we had. I had no computer, nothing to go but time. Jen Joynt attacked, I waited for someone else to make a move as I knew she couldn’t stay away. We regrouped quickly. Then Van H. attacked, once again short lived, we regrouped. At this point in time, I took an assessment. I felt really good. I felt like the people to beat were Despas and Van H. but Zimmerman is a good sprinter so don’t discount her. I’d worked a fair amount in this race so I sat on the back and saved energy.
After a bit Van H. attacked and Despas jumped, I didn’t react right away as I wanted someone esle to. BIG MISTAKE! (Remember, I just said they were the two to watch…hello brain? ) After a slight hesitation I went with Pat Ross helping me in the chase but then we hit the final stretch of gravel (which was long) and got stuck behind a group of men. By this time it was too late, the two of them were gone.
We hit the 1km sign and everyone slowed down, no one wanted to lead. You could see the finish line ahead and the road was as flat as a pancake. I figured Zimmerman was the sprinter of the bunch so I got myself behind her. At the 200m sign we were barely moving, just crawling along. Jen Joynt jumped, Zimmerman on her wheel with me in tow. We came across the line, neck & neck, all three of us throwing our bikes. Jen had 3rd as she was just ahead of Ashley & I but I thought I nudged out Zimmerman. Evidently not, as they gave me 5th place. Pat Ross finished 6th. Up ahead Despas out sprinted Van H to the line for the win.
I thought the course was much more fun than I expected. It wasn’t as hot today as some years which helped. Other Bellas racing today were Andi Mackie who won her age group, Julie Porter – don’t know how her day went and also Mo (Meredith) racing in the 4’s. I didn’t see her afterwards either so not sure how her race went. I missed Marian- she must’ve had something come up as I know she was planning to come.
Thanks for reading. I hope Fremont went well for everyone
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