Back in January the Velocity blog highlighted the then upcoming winter/spring Kermesse race series. The 2012 series wraps up August 18, 2012 with the Ronde Ohop 2012.
Kermesse races are often described as a cyclocross-road race hybrid, but that’s not quite right: Kermesses are a circuit race (in which the course is a loop longer than that of a criterium, but shorter than that of most road races), with a mix of paved and dirt sections. Although the winter/spring kermesse races and the final installment on August 18 cover some of the same ground, the upcoming race has propoprtionally more road and less dirt. Race Organizer Michael Pruitt promises that August 18 will be a hot (temperature-wise) day, which means it could be the only dry road-ish race this year. If August 18 turns out to have June-uary-like weather, I’m sure Mike will enjoy responding to your weather-related complaints.
Depending on the race category, the Ronde Ohop covers 2 to 4 laps of a 6-mile Eatonville loop circuit (all paved), followed by 10 laps of the Mashel Loop (the Mashel Loop is 1 mile road, 1.25 mile dirt):
Just as the two winter/spring kermesse races offer an alternative to the early season time trial ritual, the Ronde Ohop offers a transition to cyclocross season or simply as a way to book-end the road race season with a Belgian/Roubaix-inspired alternative.
Never raced before but want to give it a go? Perfect. Yes, you should definitely get your Ohop on, but race organizer Michael Pruitt advises that you pre-register because the beginner category (aka categories 4 and 5) sold out last year.
Race organizer Pruitt recommends a road bike with 25c tires this time around since there is a long straightaway and a bit more paved road than the winter/spring races. Neutral wheel support is provided by FSA.
Lee Smith, a woman who has competed in several Ronde Ohops describes why she keeps coming back for more:
“The Ronde Ohop is in a very pretty, quiet area. It starts with two loops of nice, barely trafficked highway, where the race is like a real road race. Then the fun begins, with multiple loops of the dirt + park pavement section, where everything spreads out and it becomes more like an off-road race. Everything is low-key, and everyone has fun. There is nothing at all sketchy about the dirt sections, and I have never heard of anyone crashing in this race. At worst, there are some flat tires. I would encourage any women who are looking to have fun, and to try something different, to turn out for the Ronde Ohop!”
Kermesse races are challenging but not technical. Riders use road or cyclocross bikes and are advised to run 25c or 28c road tires at 80-90 psi.
Randy Salamon has this bike handling advice:
“Ride soft. Let the bike float over the pavé. Sit back, hands on the tops arms loose, KEEP PEDALING!!!!, and keep your freaking head up! You have to pay attention or your race will go sideways real quick. Other than that, I would say 25-28c tires with 80-90psi, eat your Wheaties and be ready for some fun.”
Michael Pruitt’s recommendations for a successful kermesse:
“These courses are definitely hard, but not in the way most people think of bike races. I would say they have more in common with marathons – everyone starts together but eventually the race breaks into small groups. This intimidates a lot of people. In fact, this is what makes it accessible. Unlike a traditional bike race, you don’t need to be as fast as the main field. You will find a group with similar ability. Unlike a ‘cross race you aren’t on your own either; it definitely pays to ride together. It’s a type of race that seems intimidating, but is actually more accessible for the average rider than either ‘cross or road. There just isn’t the history yet for riders to have a framework of understanding.”
Let the trash-talking begin: Byron @ Bike Hugger regrets to inform other Ohop racers that he will not be on hand to dominate this year the way he did last year.