Psimet Racing News
Some things never change, until they do. Spring Supercrit can usually be described as being a wide open course, that perplexingly ends up with a bunch of crashes that should never happen. It can also be described as having rough weather. The thing that changed for this year’s edition is the weather was pretty nice for an early April race in Illinois.
Supercrit is held on a car race track. It is a 1.8 mile road course that provides for some right and left turns and is pancake flat. Given that I had a whole 80 miles of outdoor riding this year, I appreciated the pancake flat part. What better way to start the race season on little training than to triple up and do three races? The first race was the 4/5 race. Usually the most “interesting” because it has a large spread of ability from the newest Cat 5 racers to the Cat 4 racers that will soon upgrade to Cat 3. This creates the inevitable situation that riders end up riding over their head and desperately hanging on. This inevitably causes their decision making to deteriorate. I had little expectations for the day. I finally took some time off from training after Cross season this year. After State Championships at Montrose, I didn’t touch a bike until January. January and February I rode about once a week in the PSIMET Computrainer Pstudio. Given some lingering injuries (and some new ones) I didn’t start training in earnest until March. All this is to say that I wouldn’t have been surprised if I blew up spectacularly and were pulled in any of the races.
The 4/5 race started uneventfully and thankfully stayed that way for most of the race. I think that early season races can get sketchy as people apparently forget over the winter how to ride in groups and lose bike handling skills while turning the pedals on a trainer. This can be the only explanation for bikes travelling 25mph apparently becoming unable to stay on a course that is designed for cars that travel significantly faster. The 4/5 race stayed relatively uneventful until the finishing sprint. Unfortunately it gobbled up my teammate Jeremy Ostrowski and the (in)famous Tien Ngyuen from xXx. I say infamous because this was Tien’s first race back after a spectacular crash at the Capentersville cyclocross race that left him with a broken collar bone. Tien has had a stretch of bad luck and I hope it turns around for him. I saw the resulting damage to his rear wheel, it didn’t fare nearly as well. Somebody let Tien know that I’ve got a guy that can probably help him out with that wheel. For me, I was happy to be able to move around in the pack and carry one some conversations during the race. I finished mid pack and didn’t get caught up in any mishaps. I’ll chalk that up for a small, early season victory. Teammate Andrew Lowe took second place and teammates Randall Swanson, Hall Songwriting, Adam Loete, Mast Sebo, John Guentz, Steve Hardman, Jeremy Ostrowski & Rob Haffey joined in.
Next up was the Master’s 4/5 race. This race is similar to the 4/5 race except most of the riders have a lot of years and miles on their legs. I think the misconception of Masters fields is that they are slower because they involve older riders. Nothing could be further from the truth. It just means these riders have been training longer and are a little more knowledgable in how and when to turn it up on the competition. Teammate Kurt Bentsen joined in for the fun for this race and spent a lot of time near the front. There actually ended up being two finishing sprints in this race. We received the “2” to go sign and on the next lap, not hearing a bell I saw that the “2” greeted us again. The end of the next lap, things got a little spicy and riders began full out sprinting for the line, only to be greeted by the bell and the “1” to go. The field had become pretty stretched out, but consolidated going in to turn 1. Wash, rinse, repeat and we had another, thankfully, uneventful sprint. Again, another mid pack finish with no mishaps. This race saw Rob Haffey, Kurt Bentsen, John Cline and Matt Sebo flying the PSIMET colors.
I also did the Cat 4 race. It was back to back with the Master’s 4/5 race which unfortunately got me to staging late as I needed some assistance shedding a bib number. Fortunately I saw some nice spacing on the inside lane in row 2. In true ‘Cross spirit, I took the space that was available and lined up behind my teammate Kurt Bentsen. This race was definitely different in that my legs were starting to protest the day’s effort. I kept managing to hang on one more lap until I’d made it with the pack into the last lap. I was at the back of the pack when three riders went down in front of me. I avoided the carnage but didn’t have the legs to latch back on. I rode solo the remainder of the lap and my not quitting was rewarded with passing five or six riders going to the line. Unfortunately, this was because they’d all gone down on the front stretch during the sprint. I did see a very classy move from South Chicago Wheelmen rider and USAC official Steve Fearhy during the race. I the middle of the race, Steve was taking the time to coach up a Junior rider that was in the field. I’m not sure what precipitated the impromptu lesson, but Steve’s tone was level and I even heard him make sure that the young rider understood. I’ve seen riders talk to others after a race, trying to coach somebody up. I’ve seen riders complain or get into verbal altercations because of a perceived slight on the bike. What I’ve never seen is a rider coaching someone up, on another team no less, during a race. Not in an angry, calling somebody out way but just trying to make the other rider better while a race is in progress. Again, very classy move and a hit tip to Steve and the South Chicago Wheelmen. We’d all be better off if this approach were more common. For me, I finished off the back at the tail end of the lead lap. Adam Lowe placed fifth with PSIMET riders Hal Stinespring, John Cline, Kurt Bentsen and Rob Haffey following behind.
All in all, a good day racing. No mishaps for me, three races in one day for the first time and getting to see a lot of people I haven’t seen for a while. I didn’t perform as well as I’d like, but it is early in the season and it was a solid start to the season for me.0
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?