This past weekend Sirena, Rip Nicholson (MOB women's racing teammate of Sirena's), and I went to Knoxville, TN to do the Tomato Head Omnium. First off let me say I picked the race due to the name. The omnium was three crits in two days...two Saturday and one Sunday. That is my kind of omnium with short/fast racing. We left Friday night after I got off work. A four hour drive turned into a 6-hr nightmare. We got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic just into TN around Gatlinburg. Rip had some old rugby teammates and they let us stay in their insanely nice house in Knoxville. So we showed up on their doorstep at midnight. Bad thing is that Sirena and Rip had to race at 7AM Saturday morning. Rough beginning but it got better.
The first crit was in Chilhowee Park, which is a lot like Dixie but it has 7 or so corners in 4/10 of a mile. It was technical and had one small hill. The women's cat4 race started at 7AM (remember we are doing two crits Saturday thus the early start time). Sirena caught her pedal with five laps to go in a corner and had a ridiculous save. Rip won the race and Sirena would have been second but got a flat on the last lap (DNF)! My race was a lot of fun and very technical. I am not the best at corners and that got me. There were 20+ cat5 men. There was a local race team named Bike Zoo that had at least 5 riders in each race and they worked me and the rest of the pack to death. After about three-four laps there was a group of 6 of us that broke away. The bad thing was 4 of the group were Bike Zoo riders (Mitch where are you?). They would attack one after the other and one got away. I held on and finished 5th. We averaged 23mph.
Crit #2 was a rainfest. The course was in downtown Knowville (Old Town) and in an industrial area. It was ~.7 of a mile and had a LONG gradual uphill finish that was at least 300 meters. Sirena and Rip's race started at 12:30 and it was pouring. Rip was sitting pretty for the omnium and Sirena and Rip worker well together. Rip hung on and got second. Sirena had the best sprint I have seen her do and caught a lady at the line for 4th (I think). For my race the rain let up and was a drizzle to start and then it stopped. The course was wet and nasty. I had around 20 riders again. Bike Zoo dominated the race and a group of three got away. I did everything I could and pulled them back. On the last lap one got away and I was with a group of four (3 Bike Zoo). I sprinted up the entire hill and caught one at the line for a photo finish and I got 3rd! I finally podiumed at a crit/race not named Dixie.
Crit #3 was in Maryville, TN. The rain went away and sunshine appeared. The course was in downtown and was .6 of a mile. It had numerous left-hand turns with one short, nasty hill that followed a 90-degree turn. Sirena and Rip rode well in the Women's 4s. Rip won the race and Sirena finished 4th. Again, Sirena had a mechanical and got another flat rear tire. Oh yeah, Sirena won a prime...a tire! Tough weekend of mechanicals for Sirena but she had fun.
My race (yes the 5s) had 20+ racers and Bike Zoo had about 19 of them (kidding, only 6). The race was very fast from the gun and within 2 laps the field was down to five leaders (3 Bike Zoo) with the winner from the junior race (17 y/o) and myself. The Bike Zoo guys attacked again but when that one guy got away and reeled him in. I won a prime...a water bottle and a gel. After that I knew I had nothing for the win but held on with the group. The last lap was really fast and I caught my pedal on the last turn and had to pull up. I got fifth.
Overall, I finished 4th in the omnium. Rip won the women 4s and Sirena got 4th. Good weekend and I highly recommend it next year.