If you like reading short blog posts, we apologize in advance. The Fyxation Open Omnium has just wrapped up and it's time to put pen to paper or fingers to keys or whatever, and write the final two race reports from the Fyxation Open Omnium. Here is the long version of the Lake Bluff Criterium and a bit of a background on our small but growing event.
This Fyxation Open started 3 years ago when the team at the Prairie State Cycling Series/Intelligentsia Cup reached out to us to see if we'd like to partner by putting on a fixed gear criterium race during the final stage of their crit racing series. We were given about a month to plan for the event things went perfectly. The turnout was a bit small and we only had one 30 minute race that included both men and women but we laid the foundation for the future for the Fyxation Open.
Now in it's third year, the Fyxation Open is now the largest fixed gear criterium in the Midwest and with 4 races in Wisconsin and Illinois, is the only fixed gear Omnium as well. Fixed gear street racing has taken off the last few years with larger events such as the now global Red Hook Crit and the West Coast based Wolfpack Hustle series. What originally started as a few fixed gear riders looking to race in something other than an alleycat, has turned into a very competitive race discipline that includes former messengers, world track champions and everything in between.
Because of our unique partnership with the Tour of America's Dairyland in Wisconsin and the Intelligentsia Cup in Illinois, our race was able to take advantage of the existing infrastructure and professional management of these well organized events. This included use of their existing race courses, pace cars/motorcycles, announcers, race staff to update Omnium results, manage registration, organize race primes, live web streaming with professional announcers covering the race and most importantly the full coverage and support of USA Cycling.
This is sort of a big deal. While most fixed gear crit races are unsanctioned and in other parts of the country USA Cycling is looking to grow their numbers, here in the Midwest USA Cycling officials have been working with the Fyxation Open from the beginning. This means that all of our riders get the full benefits that USA Cycling provides its members and events. All Fyxation Open riders are covered by USA Cycling race insurance in case of any incidents during our race. This and our insistence on doing pre-race bike checks for all competitors has created a safe, fun and highly competitive series that includes pro riders, Cat 2/3 riders and riders from some of the best fixed gear teams in the country.
This year's Fyxation Open was bigger and better than ever. After two exciting events held in Milwaukee in June, riders headed to Chicago to compete in the final two races in the Fyxation Open Omnium and to take home the title.
Lake Bluff Criterium - Lake Bluff, IL
Lake Bluff is a very nice suburb north of Chicago and not where you'd expect to see a fixed gear criterium race. With that said, it was a great venue for the 3rd leg of the Fyxation Open Omnium. The course is fast, technical and winds riders through a mix of quaint city streets and lush suburban lanes lined with million dollar homes and wine and cheese race parties to cheer on the riders. Thousands of spectators were on hand even though it was 95 and humid and there was a threat of a classic Midwest thunderstorm in the afternoon.
First up were the ladies. While we didn't have the best turnout for the women's race, many of the competitors from the Milwaukee events were on hand and with the Omnium competition close, riders lined up to race. Series points leader Ash Duban lined up for a 3rd time on a borrowed Fyxation Eastside which she had used to win the previous two Omnium races up in Milwaukee. As we like to say, steel is real and talent it talent!
Racing was fast and competitive and a group of 5 women that included Duban, Beth Franklin from Minnesota, Chelsea Matias from Brooklyn, Becca Schepps of Boulder, CO and Tianna Johnson from Minnesota battled it out. The course started off with a long straightaway but then turned off the main street with a technical chicane and then entered the side streets with a tricky section that included a challenging right turn followed by two tight left turns onto skinny neighborhood lanes. Beth Franklin was finally able to reach the top spot on the podium with a strong race followed by Chelsea Mattias in 2nd and Becca Schepps coming in at 3rd.
Up next were the men. The group of riders that showed up for the men's Fyxation Open included former world ranked track riders and competitors from all over the country and the world. The first two races of the Fyxation Open Omnium in Milwaukee got the attention of the other crit racers and the field knew they were in for a competitive race. Omnium leaders Nate Labecki from Milwaukee, Josh Tyrell from Montreal and Emile Abraham from Atlanta, GA were all on hand for the event.
The race got off to a quick start and after a little excitement at the start courtesy of Addison Zawada, the men took off into the streets of Lake Bluff. The Omnium leaders quick formed a lead group that included Josh Tyrell, Nate Labecki, Emile Abraham and first time Fyxation Open competitor Sebastian Salinas from Colombia.
Sebastian showed up at our tent about an hour before the race to see if we had a bike he could ride for the fixed crit. Sebastian was in town for the Intelligentsia Cup series and had just competed in the Cat 2/3 event. Unfortunately we didn't have many bikes at the Chicago races but we did bring the green Zipcar branded Eastside that Emile had used to win the previous race at the Downer Classic in Milwaukee. With a little help from the Fyxation brothers rusty Spanish, we were able to get him set up for the race and he was on his way on the green machine.
The race was fast and competitive as riders from the lead group took turns up front. The riders rounded the corner for the final straightaway and the final sprint was amazing. Omnium leader Nate Labecki led the charge and it appeared that was about to have his second win in the Fyxation Omnium when Sebastian and Emile accelerated into the finish with the three of them neck and neck. In a final push both Sebastian and Emile crossed the finish line and both thrust their arms in the air in victory thinking they had each won the race. The officials huddled and needed to go the camera feed to see who won the final sprint. After reviewing the tape Sebastian's final lunge put him across the finish line first by what seemed like less than an inch. Thankfully Sebastian was wearing a GoPro and he put together this great video edit so you can see for yourself what the race and final sprint looked like.
Screen Shot From Sebastian's GoPro Video
Sebastian took first, Emile a very close second and Josh Tyrell got third place. This was the most exciting finish in Fyxation Open history and definitely set the stage for the fourth and final race the next day in downtown Chicago. Immediately after our race finished the Women's Pro race began and within 15 minutes the storm that had been threatening all day let loose. Riders and spectators had to take shelter from the rain and lightning and eventually the Women's and Men's pro races were cancelled. This was to be the first day that the Intelligentsia Cup races were live streamed on the web and the only two events to get airtime were the Fyxation Open races.
Huge thanks go out to all the riders, all the fans, the Town of Lake Bluff, the Intelligentsia Cup and our friends at the Bike Lane Chicago that drove up and checked every competitor's bike before the race. We're not sure if the Fyxation Open will return to Lake Bluff next year but if does, riders will be in for a treat.
Full race results: http://www.fyxationopen.com/results/
Lake Bluff Photo Gallery: http://www.fyxationopen.com/lake-bluff/
Kevin Dillard From Demoncats Photo Gallery: http://www.facebook.com
Sebastian's GoPro Edit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJjRIOPM1C0&feature=youtu.be