Memorial Weekend Racing in Iowa – Women’s Races

The Psimet women tackled a huge challenge this past weekend: five races in three days at the Quad Cities Criterium weekend. The goal for the weekend was to push our limits, both physically and mentally, and to grow as a team. And we did just that and more.

Snake Alley W2/3 – By Leah Sanda

This is the 3rd time I’ve done this race and was reminded why I love it so much.  It’s just plain old fun.  Ripley’s Believe It Or Not titled Snake Alley “The Crookedest Street In The World”.   It’s steep, cobblestone (just the climb), covered with cheering spectators and has a screaming fast descent.  What’s not to love?

Three of us, me, Katie Isermann and Marne Smiley, elected to do the W23 race (6 laps) while the others did the W123 (12 laps).  Katie went hard from the gun getting the “hole shot” into the narrow snake.  As this was her first snake, the fast descent unnerved her and she lost positions on the descent.  I decided to be Steady Eddy and climb within myself and descend hard.  I was super impressed with how smooth and solid the PSIMET wheels felt on the cobbles and fast going down.  Though being a better descender than climber I’d lose spots up the hill then gain them back downhill.  I ended up finishing around mid-field which I was happy with.  Marne, registering day-of, started from the back (28th) and impressively moved up during the short race to finish 5th.  We were glad to be done early as the temps rose into the 90s for the W123s.

Snake Alley WPro1/2/3 – By Jeannie Kuhajek

Last year, Snake Alley was my first race in the US. Sleep-deprived and jet-lagged, my performance was a bit subpar. This year, allowing a bit more time to recover from travel paid off. I got off to a great start and led the field the first time up the climb.  The front of the field quickly whittled to five by the second climb and by about the fifth lap we were down to two, me and US National Masters Crit champion Debbie Milne (Absolute Racing). To add another level of challenge to the race, I completely underestimated the temperatures and not even halfway through, I was out of water and suffering miserably in the heat.

I think Debbie was suffering too—which isn’t unreasonable because she attacked every single time up the hill!—because the next lap, along the flat part of the course, I had my head down following Debbie’s wheel, trying to will my body temperature back down, we took a wrong turn off the course. I know. How do you take a wrong turn on a criterium course? Well, we did. Debbie was following the route of a couple of riders on the course in front of us. Turns out those riders were warming up and weren’t supposed to be on the course. They turned off onto a side road when they saw us coming. And we followed. Fortunately I realised immediately and turned around quickly. But the detour was enough to allow two riders to sneak in front and take the lead. Debbie took longer to turn around and she spent to rest of the race chasing, finishing 5th. I put in a big effort and caught the two new leaders before the next climb. One lap later we were back down to two and had a new riding companion, super talented young pro rider Kaitlin Antonneau (Exergy TWENTY 12). My body temperature was now through the roof. One lap to go, last climb up the hill, I tried to push it to drop Kaitlin but the heat prevailed at thwarting my effort. I back off at the top and let Kaitlin lead down the hill and along the flat. Coming into the last corner for the sprint, I was feeling confident about the win, but when Kaitlin jumped out of the corner to start the sprint, my overheated motor was slow to respond and she got a good gap on me. I made up ground in the finishing straight, but the deficit was too big. But second I will take on a course like that! Teammate Kelli enjoyed her first experience with the snake, finishing 14th and I suspect ready to come back next year for a top 10 result. Kim wasn’t feeling well and got off to a slow start. Her passion for the course prevailed and despite little cooperation from her body, she hung in there to finish an admirable 18th. The podium was Antonneau (1st), me (2nd) and Emma Bast (Speedfix, 3rd).

Melon City W2/3 – By Katie Isermann

Melon City Criterium is located in Weed Park, Muscatine, IA . This was my first weekend doing the Quad City races and I was really looking forward to the races and spending the whole weekend with my new teammates!  The Melon City course doesn’t have many turns but it has a sweeping downhill with a speed bump at the bottom, followed by an uphill climb—that’s a lot harder than it looks—and then an S-turn to take you to the finish, a 1-mile circuit.  I got 2 laps in before the race and felt comfortable going over the speed bump at speed.  This was the first race in a long time that I didn’t start on the line; I was in the 2nd row.  After the gun went off the pace increased quickly, and while I tried to move up towards the front of the pack I kept finding myself getting nervous going over the speed bump surround by others.  So I slowed every lap heading into the speed bump, which kept me chasing on the uphill every time.  This continued for about half the race.  Just when I was falling off the pack I see Sarah Rice from Spidermonkey yelling at me to get on her wheel and she would pull me up to the field and then she was dropping out of the race.  She helped me get to the field but I just didn’t stay close enough going over the speed bump again and fell off the field the next last lap.  The next lap I dropped my chain going up the hill.  Every lap after that I got more and more comfortable taking the speed bump at speed, peddling the whole downhill until shortly before the speed bump.  I was fine, as long as I was alone.  Cathy Frampton from Project Five caught up to me shortly after I dropped my chain and we road together for most of the race.  Some of us got lapped with one to go and since I was using this as a training weekend I fought hard even though I was off the back and passed 2 riders going up the final hill and 1 more just before the finish.  Not the race I was hoping for but I used it as a learning experience and in the W123 race later in the day I overcame my fear of the speed bump in a pack!  Kim was 9th and Jeannie was 3rd in the Melon City W 2/3.

Melon City Criterium WPro1/2/3 Race – By Kimberly Gialdini

“ Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success. “
– Stephen Covey

As things started to heat up again in the afternoon, temps hit in the 90’s. Race started with about 38 women.   Race started and we all pretty much stayed together.  There were some attacks and one of them created a good gap which I tried to bridge up to that was on the climb but I faded.  Marne and Kelli  made some  attacks early on too.   As the race moved on, the climb was dwindling down the field.  As I could see, it was Jeannie and I in the field in the latter half of the race.  With two laps to go, the announcers called out that they were taking away one lap and so the pace picked up. We flew down the descent. I was sitting in pretty good position and thought I could make even better position on the climb. When we hit the climb, I saw Jeannie ahead. I tried to get up into position as we all were fighting for it before the last right corner towards the top of the climb. Then suddenly a racer had crashed near the right hand corner. It startled me a bit. Then, I saw Jeannie safely make way to the finish and I pick up more speed and finished.  Jeannie took  9th and I took 11th.

Quad City Criterium W2/3 Race – By Marne Smiley

After battling the nearly 100 degree temperatures the day before we were all looking forward to taking a break from the heat. No exactly what we were hoping for, rain is what we got for our 9:40 start of the 2/3 race in the Mississippi river town of Rock Island. We decided that since and cobbled slick corners don’t really mix that the best pre-game plan was for everyone to find their comfort zone on the course and to keep it upright.  Of which we did neither. The rain fell gentle, but steady as we shot off the line. The group of 34 riders were often strung out on the course with Psimet team always at the front. The race revolved around a combination of skill and luck to stay upright. Kim was the first of the Psimet crew to go down about halfway through the 35-minute race, her shoulder taking the brunt of the crash and putting her on the sidelines for the rest of the race.

One lap to go. Jeanine and I covering the front group with Leah sticking in the pack while the peloton ramps it up for the finish.  The group is jittery. Crashes take down riders in almost every corner. Kelli and Katie ride cautious, staying out of the chaos of crashes. Three turns from the finish Jeanine hits the pavement skidding 15 feet. Two turns to go, another crash. I’m still with the lead group charging down the puddled pavement putting my CX skills to use taking ninth. Katie and Kelli stay upright finishing 18th and 20th respectively. Leah was one of the causalities in the last lap being taken out by another racer. She finished the race in 13th only to discover her shifter and brake lever were a dangling mess. And although a hard crash Jeanine got back on her bike to finish 14th.


Quad City Criterium WPro1/2/3 Race – By Kelli Richter

Famous last words: “whatever happens, go out with guns blazing!” I had this running through my head at the start of the Rock Island Pro1/2/3 race Monday afternoon, race number five of our three day weekend. The morning rained out my race, or at least it did in my head, not good. I needed to leave it all out there this time.

My goal was to stay up front, stay up front , and stay up front. Early on Marne was in a break with Jessie Prinner. They were off for a few solid laps.  After they were caught there was a little movement here and there and I was doing my best to stay on task.  I was about mid-pack on the right when I saw Marne and Jeannie move to the front of the group.  Heck Yah! I took the chance and sprinted off with 13 laps to go. Two corners later I had a split second of doubt- my only goal was to stay up front, and now I’ve tried to get away- Shoot.  Well, 2 corners turned into about 6 laps Solo! Spectators were yelling time splits, my teammates were blocking and I was trying not to blow up or pee my pants!  5 laps to go I was slowly caught, I moved right back to the front and ended up 19th in the field.  What a race!

Addendum by Jeannie: Marne flatted with 7 laps to go and after a bad push in from the pit, was unable to regain the bunch. In the last several laps, with Debbie Milne and Jessi Prinner safely up the road with first and second tied up, ISCorp rider Hayley Giddens escaped off the front. Kelli put in an awesome effort to shutdown Hayley’s attack and put me in position to contest third. The race and in fact the weekend had taken its toll and Kelli and I both faded towards the end, finishing x and 10th. Not our best result, but teamwork-wise, a stellar race and a definitely high point on which to end the weekend.