The 2011 Wichita Omnium burned up the Great Plains and the base of the Flint Hills with a remarkable weekend of racing and fun. As many racers and their family members noted, Wichita races are as much about Mid-Western hospitality and a great social experience as it is racing. Racers triumphed over extreme heat and wind Friday to compete in a 14.77 kilometer Time Trial, 24 mile Road Race, and a .82 mile rolling terrain Criterium course.
The Time Trial went off well with Brian Mitchell- MH3 showed the field his TT skill as he hammered out a smokin’ time despite the wind to win his class. Sherry Shultz WH3, Rick Gore- MH2, James Watson-MH1 posted respectable times placing 1st in their classes. Cassie Mitchell- WH1 posted a time just slightly off the WH1 National Standard winning their class in the Kechi Time Trial. 35 mph south wind with gusts to 45mph and 100 degree heat made the north-south out and back course a challenge. With an elevation increase going out and incredible tail wind it was easy to over do the first half and under estimate the difficulty of the punishing wind after the turnaround. More than a few racers were struggling at the finish. Jake O’Connor did surprisingly well “off the couch” in his Shark “Tank” but did get bested by a girl and a Quad. A couple racers Mike Wagner and James Watson struggled with the turnaround. Wagner dug up a little grass getting off the course under pressure of another racer cutting close inside at the cone while Watson tried to turn to close to the cone with too much speed and had to abort to keep from tipping or going off road, resulting in a figure 8 chasing a corner marshal before getting back on track. John Barker suffered derailleur issues but managed to complete the race.
The Wichita Omnium returned to the Atlanta Road Race course which proved to be a hit despite the repeat of the extreme heat and wind. The 24 mile loop of rolling hills with a couple big climbs on the last 6 miles had racers cranking into the 30 + mph wind coming in the home stretch. The race started with a short straight shot to the edge of Atlanta with most racers still in a couple packs. But quickly spread out into smaller packs leaving some riding it out like a 24 mile TT. Brian Mitchell, Rafael Ibarra, and Drew Wills, traded the lead working together most of the first 18 miles. The 3 blasted across the finish line with times just under 1hr 20 minutes. It seemed the big hills and extreme wind separated the leaders on the last 6 mile finish stretch. Mitchell 1st, crossed the finish with an 1:18:53, Ibarra 2nd was 24 seconds behind and Wills 3rd, was another 8 behind Ibarra. David Swaim 4th, the leader out of the group of Military Veterans was alone, 5 minutes behind the leaders and 6 ahead of Mike Wagner and Rick Gore 1st place in MH2, who battled much of the 24 mile loop. Both up graded to the Force R this year and were obviously faster with Wagner 5th, edging out Gore 6th, with a 3 second lead. Jose Pulido 7th led in the 3rd group of racers. Jake O’Connor on a borrowed Schmicking redeemed himself at 8th followed by big Dave Nelson 9th, another Military Veteran rehabbing a shoulder injury. Next in was James Watson 1st place MH1. Riding a much slower pace than last year and obviously struggling in the heat and wind. In Sherry Shultz words, it was like “like riding with a blow dryer blowing in your face”. Sherry WH3 1st place, was just a couple minutes behind Watson and carefully avoiding the turtles on the road. Wayne Romero 2nd place MH1, was definitely feeling the blow dryer effect as he rolled in ahead of Military Veteran Steve Taylor who was also feeling the heat and gave the support crew a scare when he bailed out of his bike just past the finish to lay cramping on the hot asphalt until support staff got him to shade. But thanks to the support crew and roving SAG’s with lots of water, most other racers H1’s especially, in the 90 degree full sun survived without incident. Cassie Mitchell WH1 1st place, after a stellar TT on Friday struggled a bit with wind and hills to finish the 24 miles 2 minutes behind Taylor. Glen Fretz MH1 and a Military Veteran joked about his first ever handcycle race stating “the turtle passed me on the hill”, finished 3rd place in HC1 and rounded out the finisher of the Saturday RR. Vern Achenbach, a Military Veteran and MH3 racer who ran most of the race in the top 7, broke his chain on the big hill in the 6 mile stretch to the finish damaging the derailleur beyond repair. John Tutorino having difficulty with his chain ring derailleur could not make the hill climb and did not finish. Side note: Rumor has it Animal Rights groups were looking for Mitchell, Ibarra and Wills. They were suspect in the deaths of a few turtles that just could not get out of the way and were flipped to their backs by the draft as the 3 flew by.
Reactive Adaptations and Intrepid Equipment put on a handcycle clinic for WSI members and racers Saturday 1:30 to 3:00 PM.
Dinner Social for Racers, Volunteers and guests took place at Whiskey Creek in Old Town.
Sunday’s Criterium was technical. Despite 2 venue changes in 3 weeks and the last occurring the night before the Criteruim, many racers commented they really liked the course. With several switch-backs and rolling terrain laid out in the massive Hartman Arena parking and perimeter roads, racers sure did not get “bored” and there were long straights for many top H3 and H2 racers to demonstrate great speed . Race organizers were short on time and cones and so it was possible to get a bit off track. Organizer/Racer James Watson noted before the race that if anyone could get off course it would be him. He did twice.
Brian Mitchell 1st MH3, dominated the course in his usual style, running with the larger pack for a while before he, Rafael Ibarra 2nd MH3, and Drew Wills 3rd MH3, bumped things up a bit. With a few sprints, scrubbing off chasers at the corners with slower racers they eventually dropping the rest. Mitchell attacked and took the lead with Ibarra and Wills left to chase him. Ibarra scrubbed Wills off at corner 3 cutting close in to lap Watson just before the turn. Wills working to hang on had to swing a bit wide and cut hard. He slid his rear wheel into the curb and recovered without incident but remained in 3rd. Swaim and Achenbach pulled off 4th and 5th in the MH3 some distance behind the leaders. Rick Gore 1st Place MH2, bested Mike Wagner 6th MH3. Jake O’Connor pulled of 7th MH3 in his borrowed Schmicking with Jose Pulido 8th MH3, hot on his trail and Nelson David Nelson 9th MH3 close behind. Down a few laps and finishing next was James Watson 1st MH1 ahead of Steve Taylor 10th MH3. John Barker 2nd MH2, struggling with a combination sitting upright in the wind and riding a Criterium in a lean steer finished just ahead of WH3 1st Place Sherry Shultz followed by John Tutorino MH3. Cassie Mitchell 1st WH1, was the NASCAR equivalent of hitting and going over the wall. Cassie was rounding corner 3 when her body shifted to one side because of a loose strap and she tipped and went over the curb sideways decorating her with some serious road rash. Race support crew raced to her aid expecting her to be out of the race. No. Nothing was broken. She wanted back in the race. They brought her back over the curb and she finished just ahead of Wayne Romero 2nd MH1, MS Wheelchair KS Jenny Kreutzer 2nd WH3 and Glen Fretz MH1.
Following the Criterium racers, volunteers , guests gathered at Bubba’s BBQ for the Wichita Omnium Awards Dinner.
Time Trial Results:
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Road Race Results:
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Wichita Omnium Total Points Results:
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