Project 5 Racing

Fox River Omnium, May 19-20, 2012

Jessica Prinner (ABD), Jeanne Kuhajek (Psi-met), and Cathy Frampton (Project 5)

What a fabulous race week-end in Chicago! Psi-Met partnered with Rythym Racing to put together two races – the flattish Elgin course on Saturday with the always exciting Fox River Grove Norge Ski Jump hilly course on Sunday.

Rolling up to the line for the Elgin race, the familiar butterflies were jumping around in my belly. Having spent last summer away from Chicago, and my few earlier races this year either not much to speak of (Leland, Hillsboro even less) or out of town (Joe Martin), this week-end really felt like the first races of the year for me. I was excited!

While I caught up with my familiar competitors – and oh, so strong and intimidating ones – I also noticed some of the faces that were new to me. The full contingent of Psi-Met racers was on the line, including Jeanne Kuhajek having recently arrived from New Zealand, and sprint demons, Leah Sanda and Katie Isermann. Great to see Stacy and Francine…. ok – enough of Romper Room (for those that remember that! Don’t have to explain it to the youngsters – just let it go.)

So the race starts off, easy enough for lap 1 with Psi-met, with almost half the field, taking control. But there is feisty blood in the women’s ranks, and Verdigris’ Erin Wolyzn shows it as we pass the start/finish line for lap 2 – she tears off the front. Psi-met responds and reels her in. But one attack is just a start for Erin – there she goes again! As she is reeled in, Jessica Prinner counter-attacks… a little. Just testing.

This pattern keeps up for a couple of laps until Jessica really does go – and Jeanne of Psi-met goes with her. I see it happening – on the slight rise on the backside of the course. Hhhhmmm…. what should I do?
What do I do? I watch them drift away. There were attempts to bridge – I even gave it a go for a bit. The Verdigris combo of Erin and June work together well trying to do something – but the ship has sailed. One/two positions are established.

At two to go, the energy in the field shifts – you can feel Psi-met lining themselves up for whatever it is they want to get done. I look around to see what’s what as we approach the little rise on the backside of the course. Psi-Met’s Kelli Richter tears off the left and gets a gap on the group. I think to myself, “is this Psi-met’s plan – to draw us out and use up our energy before that final sprint?” Stop thinking! Go go go…Now!!!

I get a gap on the field and am gaining on Kelli. I pass her at the start/finish as the bell rings for the final lap – can I hold out? It’s all me now – definitely don’t have to waste my energy on “thinking”! And I do hold out with a 3rd place finish.

On Sunday I arrive at Fox River Grove early enough to catch the latter half of the Women’s 4 race. I hear the announcer comment that Nan Doyal has been leading the race for the last few laps – Nan, the Nan I know? Vroommmm…. she flies by the start/finish. Comments from by-standers echo the announcer – they are in awe at how each lap she is consistently hammering it. Do you feel how the blood gets flowing as you see/hear this happening? So Nan wins! And – get this, she didn’t know she was in the lead! She was chasing, chasing, chasing to catch up – because she had dropped her chain the first lap and thought the whole race that there was a racer up the road! Well – it was her “phantom racer” that drove her so hard! Congrats, Nan – I might borrow your phantom racer for my race, too.

So me and my phantom racer friend head to the start line for Fox River Grove. The field is a bit smaller than yesterday – guess the hill scared them off?

Looking at the start line, a spectator needs to pay some attention to distinguish between the many red and black jerseys – Project 5, Psi-Met, and XXX well-represented. The Verdigris green is a refreshing change. And then there’s the ABD jersey of Jessica, calmly nestled in amongst the other colors not drawing too much attention.

Before the start, the refs ask – and we agree – to a one lap shorter race due to an impending lightening storm. So figuring only 6 or 7 times up the hill – ok. The whistle blows…
and Verdigris’ Erin Wolyzn is off! Whew – I’m tired, and stunned, just watching her out of the gates effort! As we crest the hill the first time, I am almost at the back of the pack. I recover on the way down. Next time up the hill, I gain a few spots – but I see the Jessica/Jeanne duo is starting to separate from the field.

The next time up, same thing, I gain a spot or two – all trending fairly good. With two to go, the horn blows to indicate omnium points to the first three to crest the hill. With Jessica and Jeanne having grabbed the first two spots, I put a push in and grab the final spot. The final time up the hill, everybody seems more aggressive – go figure! Two groups of three are ahead of me turning into the descent. I hammer away, passing 3 racers, but I do not catch that first group and roll across the finish behind them in 6th.

Fox River Grove was a race this year! I came expecting the field to split into a bunch of individual racers in their own time-trial like hell doing loops of the hill and recovering on the downhill – but no!!! Great fun!

Congratulations to Jeanne and Psi-met for winning the omnium!
Totally looking forward to racing against these ladies more often this year!

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