Psimet Racing News
Last weekend a few of us PSIMET gals (me, Cathy Frampton and Kelli Richter) plus one former PSIMET and current Vanderkitten, Jeannie Kuhajek, hit the road for Iowa to tackle Snake Alley, Melon City and Quad Cities. We hit the road early enough on Friday that we had time to go for a ride once we got to Burlington. The weather was perfect (too bad it didn’t last) and we had a chance to see some of the men’s road race. We spied the PSIMET jersey of Nick Pomella in the mix which we ended up seeing the next couple days at the pointy end of the men’s cat5 races. A really long wait for unimpressive food at the Drake finished off our day.
Saturday started out cold and wet. Cathy and I did the 2/3 race in the morning in pouring rain and thunder. As all us girls huddled shivering under an awning awaiting the start the official came over and said “Dump some air out of your tires. Everyone.” Yes sir. I debated even racing the Psimet carbons in the rain but honestly they felt perfect. Braking was solid and wheels were sure footed. I probably raced on 75 pounds in my Vittoria tubs. For some reason, despite the cold and drenching rain plus surfing through rivers on the descent, this was the most fun I’ve ever had here. I never do well at this race but it is always a lot of fun. Cathy had a better result but she got tamed by the snake a bit this day. It dried up in the afternoon for the W123 which I was happy to not race. Kelli and Jeannie tore it up finishing 6th and 7th respectively.
Sunday was Melon City. We all raced the afternoon W123 race. Another course I struggle with due to how deep I have to dig on the hill. I seem to crest the top at the back or within reach of the field then have to dig even deeper to bridge that gap but don’t quite have it. After 3 hot laps I popped. I decided to make it a solid training day and rode hard until the field lapped me in the last ¼ of the race. By then the pace had slowed or I figured out how to ride the hill with less energy and had no issues staying with the field. Hmm. Yes I’d say my lack of climbing ability is in large part in my head. I slid off the back for the finish so I would not get in the way and finished solidly 2nd to last. Sigh. Cathy opted to not race Melon as it has always been bad luck for her. Kelli once again rode amazingly and smart, not getting carried away chasing everything and kept her eye on the biggest threats. She finished 4th in a sprint finish, coming within a spokes width of 3rd.
Monday is by far one of my favorite courses. The chicken cage, some call it, due to all the chicken wire they use to keep stray people/children/dogs from colliding with the racers and vice versa. It is flat and fast and has 8 turns. It is notoriously slippery in the wet but we got very lucky and the rain held off. I was super pumped for the morning 2/3 race and tried to race smart. I stayed near the front and avoided a number of crashes. At one point I sorta started a move up/hey maybe I’ll attack move just as someone else attacked so I got on it but it fizzled. Nothing got away. I set myself up for the sprint finish but with the effort needed to position myself I didn’t have what I needed for the last ¼ lap+sprint. Finished 7th and in the money. Next up was the 123 race. Feeling tired and not really in the mood to race again I toed the lined half hearted and went for a fun and fast cruise. Kelli was holding good position and spent a little time off the front and finished 7th. The pace was much higher than the morning race which kept it much smoother and there were fewer crashes. Cathy had a so-so day as she struggled with not feeling her normal mojo on Monday so I have a feeling she’s looking for redemption over the next couple weekends. So, with a little extra money in our pockets we capped off a fun weekend of racing with a stop at Culvers to gorge on burgers and ice cream. After all, that’s the whole reason for racing bikes, right?
By Katie Isermann
Last week I was nervous as my legs seemed to take longer to recover from the 3 races in Champaign-Urbana then I expected but as the weekend drew nearer I got excited to race in Chicago as you don’t get this opportunity very often. And when I found out two of my teammates would be joining me I got even more excited! Cathy, Leah, and I toed the line for the women’s open just before noon at Monsters of Midway on Saturday under partly sunny skies and cooler weather than I hoped as I had arm and leg warmers on. The open race wasn’t too exciting, there were some attacks but nothing stuck, which is normally how Monsters goes, you can see the whole course on this flat rectangle so you never have “out of sight out mind”. The last few laps were pretty slow until Cady Chintis of Les Petites Victoires got on the front during the last lap. But on the back side of the course the group mushroomed and Leah and I got boxed in the middle of the group. Cathy was near the front and pulled off 7th out 24 women. It was nice to have a larger talented field of women racing! We didn’t have any stellar results in this race but we all learned something and that’s still a victory in our books!
Leah and Cathy then road home to get some more miles in while I tried to stay loose as I was going to race the women’s 3/4 race an hour and half later. As I got to the line I noticed how large our field was, over 40 starters! I was happy to get a call up, as I had earned Illinois Cup points last week in Urbana, so I could have a clean start. The pace stayed up in this race and at one point early in the race I found myself near the back of the pack and attacked hard and got a gap and stayed a way for just over half a lap. A little while later Ellen Ryan of xXx attacked and got a way, I tried to bridge to her and had a few girls with me. After a little over a lap we closed the gap and the field was back together but this strong attack broke the group up. The pace stayed up and didn’t slow as it did in the women’s open. After turn 2 on the last lap Annie Byrne of Half Acre jumped on the front and the pace increased as the group was single file. Ashley Korol of Bicycle Heaven was on Annie’s wheel and I got on Ashley’s wheel, a good place to be as she won the women’s open earlier in the day. Ashley took off right after we rounded the last corner and I tried with everything I had to stay on her wheel but it slowly got further and further away. I am coming back from a hip injury that still isn’t 100% and sprinting from that last corner took a lot of me and I wasn’t able to hold, Ellen pasted me few meters before the finish. I was happy to have my first podium of the year and 2 races were I was starting to feel like my old self!
An omnium. Sounds so final. All encompassing.
An omnium is a multi-stage race where a racer can earn points in each race that will count towards the overall placement. So what makes an omnium different than a stage race? A stage race’s winner is determined based on overall time – not points.
Why have an onmium?
Back when I started racing in the Chicago area I happened upon the ABD Fall Fling series of races. They had 4 races over 2 weekends including a circuit/road race, 2 crits, and a time trial. I quickly learned that having an overall score and earning points was a lot of fun. The next year I learned it could be strategic and really allow a bit of what people refer to as “team tactics”.
Just about every rider/racer who learns that early on they don’t have the talent needed to trounce the field right out of the gate almost looks for some sort of identity for themselves. Pack fodder has that nice derogatory ring to it, but the romantic amongst us start to think of themselves as a “domestique”. Since they have no hope of winning anything overall they would like to believe that they can sacrifice themselves at some point during a race for the greater good of their overall racer for their team.
In general you get about 0.2 chances per race around here when just racing crits. It just isn’t a factor in the lower categories at all when the form can vary immensely just across the same category on the same team. Not true in an omnium – even a short one.
Calculating points, overall standings, etc is what racing an omnium is all about. It’s what makes it more than just a couple of races back to back. I learned this back then and brought it to light on my own races last year when I introduced the Fox River Omnium.
Many know the story about how I came to run the Fox River Grove Criterium. The existing promoter for the race (going into it’s 4th year I believe) simply dropped the permits on it claiming a lack of sponsor interest. The Fox River Grove Criterium is a relatively short course that includes as it’s main feature a STEEP but semi-short 3 grade climb at the beginning of each lap. How steep? Steep enough that on the other side is one of the country’s oldest ski jump. Yup – the agony of defeat kind of ski jump
There aren’t climbs like that around here. It’s nice enough that a few key pro racers that are within a few states tend to come by and race it when it’s on. This wasn’t a parking lot crit that was disappearing, this was a race with an actual unique draw. I felt that it needed to be saved.
After a while I reflected on the race. Honestly it’s not the kind of race I would race in myself. I am too fat…err…I’m more of a “sprinter”. I also realized that this race, while unique, seemed to only draw out those “climbers” that only came out for this race. Many of the racers who come out every weekend just didn’t come out. They knew their skills were better suited to sitting in a pack for 40 minutes and then sprinting – or as I like to call it – they prefer the “Chicago Power Test”.
While I knew I couldn’t and didn’t want to change the fundamental nature of Fox River Grove I knew I needed to create some reason for these racers to be interested in at least giving it a shot. Anyone who has raced the Fall Fling or even the Chicago Cyclocross Cup (heck even the 2 or 3 that really race for the Illinois Cup) knows that it’s really difficult to not go out to a race when you have a decent standing in the points as a part of the overall. So it was time to add a race to Fox River Grove and to start an omnium over the two races. One day we will also add a TT making a true mix.
The new race had to be completely the opposite of FRG. It needed to be relatively flat. It also needed to be the kind of race that I personally love when it comes to flat crits: It needed to be slightly technical. A course that was run a few years back (2008 or so) in Elgin came to mind. After digging up the old route, reversing the direction, cutting a section out (all things I had told myself the first time I raced it that I would have done it that way if I were to have done it) and approaching the city – we had a 2 race series.
Never content to do what others do I also had to mess with the scoring. You need to pay attention to it. In most omniums it is pretty apparent after the first race that there are probably only 1-3 people still in the running for the overall. I didn’t want that. I wanted the first day to be the flat crit (Elgin) and the points structured in such a way that a sprinter who is good at doing the Chicago Power Test would have enough points to feel like they could at least save their overall with a solid race the next day at FRG, and that a climber could still be in the running when they look to shine on the second day.
So what do you win? Bragging rights. If you win this omnium for your category then you are most likely the best racer this area has across the array of courses we do here. If you’re a Cat 4 or 5 – you need to go get your upgrade. Off-Season team trades should be based off of everyone’s points totals from this omnium. Oh…and you get a jersey. You’re the “GC” winner….you’re the stage winner….
…..and you helped support a (of course biased opinion) great series of races here in Chicago.
There is still time to register and to learn just what omnium style racing is all about: Register Here0