Ladies Ras na mBan 2007, Kilcullen
All Swords CC ladies arrived in Kilcullen on a sunny Friday evening for the first stage of the three day race. All the ladies, Louise, Kama, Nikki, Norah and myself were rearing to go, full of carbs and sugar. Coleen, who was wearing the Irish colours, was to be missed on the team. Quick chat, sign on, warm up and we were ready to go. The pace was neutralised through the town of Kilcullen (really had no choice as the place was chokka full of cars!!) for the start of a 48k criterium. A fast pace from the start with lots of attacks from the front. All Swords Ladies finished in the bunch.
Up early on Saturday morning for a quick warm up before the 64k stage with a hill finish. A nice steady pace, with lots of attacking, mainly from Irish ladies. We all felt very comfortable in the group. The route has a few hills in it, but nothing too harsh. The race took a sharp left and finished at the top of a sprint hill. Unfortunately there was gravel in the middle of the road at the junction, two ladies hit the ground, narrowly avoided by others. All Swords ladies crossed the line with the bunch. I got stuck behind the crash and arrived in 40 seconds behind them. Lots of help and cheering on from Louise’s mum and Norah’s fiancé, Aubrey.
We all scrubbed up well (removed all chain oil and flies from face, arms and legs!) for the team dinner on the Saturday night. This was a great night with different stories about the stages and the route, as we ate even more pasta. We were about to find out that suffering would take on a new level on the Sunday morning.
The final stage was a 92k slightly more hilly route. We had three laps of a 24k lap with 2 big (massive!!) hills on each lap, so that was 6 hills to get over. The adrenaline was pumping by the time we got to the first hill, I lost contact towards the top, with a few others, we caught the main bunch by the time we had reached the main road. Lost contact again over the hills on the second lap, finished the stage with Kama. Louise stuck with the bunch and finished just behind the leaders. Nikki and Norah finished just behind Kama and I.
A huge thank you for our manager Pat Halpin, who provided us with sound advice, a smile and a welcome protein shake at the end of every finish line. He who shall not be named, helping out another team, offered us cans of coke after the race, making up for the fact that the Swords ladies had been abandoned (yet again) in their time of need. This year, he had an assistant, to cope with the pressure. The overall winner of the ladies three day was Marit Huismann, of the Noord Holland team. The best of the Irish was Kate Rudd in 6th place.
Swords CC Ladies Ras na mBan Team 2007
Riders: Louise Harliwich, Norah Daly, Nikki Veale, Kama Rowse (not in above photo) , Bernie McNally
Manager: Pat Halpin
Mechanic: David Molloy
Thanks to everyone for all their help and support during this years Ras. It was much appreciated. The team had a very good Ras this year, and hope to do even better next year!
PS, I did not actually come last (for once!!), as posted on irishcycling.com. I actually finished just behind Kama on stage 3, approx 15 mins behind the leaders, not an hour and 15 mins as posted.