La Crosse Omnium “race”

Rolling KK course

3 Race Omnium Recap

La Crosse Omnium Virtual Race Report

5/5/21-5/7/21

La Crosse Omnium went to a virtual event for 2021 with three routes listed, permitted and registration through Bike Reg. The three routes available to ride any day in May of 2021. 

The three routes have supplied links to Strava segments, but I haven’t seen any way to download GXP files that can be added to my Stages Dash and allow an easy way to know exactly where the course starts and finishes and the roads used. 

Last minute planning to fit the event in at the beginning of May for me so I can have the rest of May for boat work and launching. 

May 5, 2021                            

Drive down to La Crosse, leaving Mpls about 11 A.M. and arriving La Crosse about 3 P.M. Book a Holiday Inn, downtown La Crosse via the app and then locate the hotel and check in. 

Unload two bikes, road bike and crit bike. Hoping to be able to use the crit bike and FFWD wheels but realizing that the grades for these events are not doable with a 50/32. The road bike has a 39/29 smallest gear set. (At least the Bliss Hill TT and the Rolling KK TT) 

About 4 P.M. and enough time to car drive the Bliss Hill and the Rolling KK routes to confirm which bike I will use, the Pinarello with the Zipp 404’s and the small gearing. 

The Rolling KK route is a bit confusing. The Bliss Hill is only about two miles from my current hotel, easy to ride to it Thursday A.M. I will need to drive to the Rolling KK route, about 15 miles from my hotel. 

Back to the hotel Wed evening. A quick walk around town looking for dinner without a lot of success. Found a Vietnamese takeout place. Back to the hotel to “enjoy” my choice. Spent some more time trying to determine the start and finish of Rolling KK, placed a request on the FB site back got no reply. (Their previous suggestion about Strava view to get GXP files didn’t work for me.) Learning a lot about how to better run a virtual event like have definite starts and finishes that can be found by Google and replying quickly to messages posted. 

Watched some cable movies and did some reading and then lights out. 

May 6, 2021

Thursday morning, slept in until 8 or so. Lounged around bed catching up with emails and social media. Breakfast? Walked around the hotel a bit, not any better luck finding food. Hopped in the car and located a grocery store. The room at least has a microwave and a refrigerator for me to use. Bought enough for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for the rest of my stay, leaving Friday A.M. to drive back into MN for the 3rd stage of the Omnium, humm, interesting they couldn’t find another route in WI? 

Back to the hotel, breaky, get bike ready, find weather appropriate kit, pump tires and ride to the start of the hill TT, only about 2 miles from the hotel. Did a few more miles of warm up and the started the climb to Grand Dad Park overlook at the top of a large bluff overlooking La Crosse and the Mississippi River. Into the 29-tooth cog immediately on the climb wondering if I can make the entire climb with this grade. Lucky, the grade eased some after about half a kilometer, so my confidence came back. Not a fast climb, just steady and consistent. There is a sharp right turn about halfway up at a bar, Alpine Bar, made that turn and then the grades got easier. Finished with gas left in the tank for the second of today’s ride. Now, back down, the road up is a narrow two-way traffic road with lots of switchbacks, not much of a shoulder and pavement that is rough. Going down was casual and on the brakes watching for cars from behind and below. No incident, easy ride back to the hotel. 

I thought I would have time for a longer break but clouds were blowing in and the temps were not improving from the mornings 50 degrees so food and reload for the drive to the next “race”. I still have no clear idea of the start, finish and which direction to ride. What I do know is no matter what I will need to do the route out and back to get back to my car. I’m alone so no team rides. Driving to the start, light rain on the windshield and the wind is up, roads are wet. I start at my best guess for the official start and determine where I need to turn around. By now the rain has stopped, the sun is out, and the wind is up so the roads are now all dry, one plus to my favor. Unfortunately, my turn back road/finish is at the top of a long, steep downhill and the wind is a bit crazy, so I miss seeing the road and ride all the way down the hill and eventually turn around at what I definitely know is past the real finish by about 4 kilometers. 

Time to turn around and head back the direction I originally thought would be the correct path. Oh, and then there is that long, steep downhill I struggled with in the wind, now I get to struggle up it in the 29 cog. Not with speed but I make the climb and keep riding, the wind that disappeared for a while is now back and so are the clouds. Luckily, I added a light jacket to my kit for this ride planning that I might get wet. Glad I did, no rain while riding but the temp was cool enough to warrant an added layer. 

Back to the car, lucky it was still there parked along a deserted road in the middle of who knows where/countryside. 

Load up, grab a few pics and a drive back to the hotel. Unload, relax, catch up on reporting and some food. Tomorrow, check out and drive back to the MN side of the river and try and find the longer of the three Omnium rides. 

May 7, 2021

Friday, last day in La Crosse and last day to finish up the three ride/race Omnium. 

Check out time for the hotel is 11:00 A.M. Planning to be out by 10. Up at 8, relax and eat some of the store food I bought for breaky. The refrigerator in the room is really a freezer, no granola because all the soy milk I bought is frozen! Kind of fits the trend for last day or so. I’m on the 5th floor and even though I’ve only been gone a few days I have a lot of bike stuff to haul down to the car, a bunch of trips. At least I can acclimate to the “cool” and windy weather conditions. 

Strangely enough the La Crosse WI Omnium has one of the courses in Minnesota.  Really? There aren’t enough roads around La Crosse to find a 12-mile loop. Oh well, I need to go back to MN so, into the car and off to find the last of the three courses, a 12 to 13 mile long road course. This one at least was moderately easy to figure from the Strava files, at least the finish point. I found the finish intersection of two county roads and then drove the course backwards to find the small road intersection start line. Lucky that the start and finish are really close so easy to park the car at the finish, ride to the start a few miles and the up a major long climb. 

My hopes of being able to ride my race bike and real race wheels are dashed by another big climb and a lot of wind, 20-25 mph with temps in the high 40 F. I am even wondering about my 404’s on the front end. However, an idea comes to mind, put the race bikes front trainer wheel on instead of a front 404 and the front end windage is taken care of. Great idea in planning, execution, not so much. The wheel fits and spins easy, the tire is the same as one I’ve used on this bike before, brakes adjust ok. Kit up time, lots of layers, glad I brought extra ride kit prepping to cooler temps. 

Off riding and there is a slight whistle noise, crap. My old Pinarello was never designed for today’s recommended tire sizes. I’ve made some changes to the brakes to allow bigger tires, 700/25 but the fork is still an issue. The noise isn’t very noticeable so, annoying as it is, I continue to ride figuring by the time I get to the start I’ll know if this will work or not. 

Start time and my decision is made, slight noise is ok, better than lots of side windage from a 404 Zipp. Back immediately to the 29-tooth cog and a slow slog up to the top of the course. Now, out of the protection from the wind I’m out in the open and getting a lot of head/cross winds but the bike is doing well, and I am too except no HR reading. Crap, first right turn, stop and try and get the HR strap to start sending signals. This has happened before I usually just unclip the sensor from the strap and then reattach if and things work, not this time. After the right turn, now mostly a head wind but the terrain is just rolling, I’m ok with that. Another right turn and a stop to try and get HR again, this time a success. Now a left side cross wind alongside my freeway back to Minneapolis. I’m about 11.7 k into about a 20k ride and suddenly the brakes are full on and come to a controlled stop. Where is the team car when you need it? No spare bike? Oh yes, I have one in a car parked about 10k from my current location. Now what? 

Of course, it is the front wheel/tire. The air temp must have warmed slightly, and the tire grew and is now creating a friction brake with the U shape of the brake caliper. Like all pro riders, I reach into my saddle pack and pull out my multi tool. Off comes the front brake caliper with the hopes that the tire still has a tiny bit of room inside the fork. The bike gurus are in my corner because the wheel now turns again, with a little bit of noise still. 5k and my last right turn. Tail wind! Big down Hill! Rubbing Front Tire! Ineffective Rear Brake! Things are good. I slow and adjust the rear brake a bit tighter and hope I survive the downhill. Obviously, I did, I’m writing this account. No blow outs, no crashes, not a race time. At least the car has lunch food waiting. 

Load up time, clothes change out in the country and I’m back onto Interstate Highway 90 heading back towards home. 

I’ve had better “race” adventures and I’m sure I will have more and better to come. I have to keep reminding myself that I have the chance and ability to do what I just did for the last few days, most don’t have that chance so I should just relish that fact and enjoy what chances I have to feel fulfilled. 


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