Yes, Jamaica has a Tour, and up until this year's edition, only men have ridden the Tour. This year, some crazy females decided to enter the tour with the men with the goal of completing the entire thing. I say"CRAZY" because, from the viewpoint of the Jamaican public, this was a preposterous idea indeed!!! What, women, on their bikes, with the men? All those miles?
The idea seemed even more implausible because it did not come from me, Iona the Olympian, who the Jamaican public is used to by now as not being a "normal" Jamaican female anyway. Which, from my standpoint, was a good thing that the idea was born of non-Olympic type females, regular fun loving individuals who like to ride their bikes, run or do triathlons as a partof their normal life of work and family.
Anyway, the news spread like wildfire...TV interviews, radio broadcasts, sponsorship for the female team to be trained, guided nutritionally, have support...basically all the things that are done in prep for a stage race that are taken for granted in other countries where the sport is much more developped for women.
In addition to my participation on the team, a teammate (or two) was invited to join. So the women's team was comprised of 4 Jamaicans, 1 German who resides in Jamaica and 2 Americans in Andrea and Tina as the guest riders. We all rode in Colavita colours.
The tour went well - the major highlight being that the local girls finished the epic toughest stage, one Spur Tree climb that came at the end of 80 miles in the blazing sun that was 8 miles long and up to 17 percent grades.......
There were some great moments:
-Jamaican public realizing that women can do this thang
- Jamaican male peloton (not the Americans and Argentineans that were competing, they already know girls can ride) waking up to the fact that some women can kick it better than they ever dreamed
- Being able to chill on the beach after stages with preferred icy beverage on hand
-Eating Jerk Chicken from the side of the road
We had a great time, the local girls did a fantastic job organizing the support details for the race and we even got to have our husbands with us racing in the race on other teams.
Until next year!!!!