Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ronde Ohop QA - Lee Smith (Womens Edition)


While the Ronde Ohop has been a predominately male affair a few brave women have lined up as well. Lee Smith deserves some kind of frequent flyer miles and definitely knows the Ronde Ohop.

PruDog: What was the biggest difference between the first and second time you raced the Ronde Ohop?

Lee: The first year I did the Ronde Ohop I was a cat4 racing in the women’s 1-2-3 field, and we only had the loop that consists of ½ dirt + ½ pavement. We raced mixed in with one of the men’s fields, because the women’s field was so small. The second year (last year), we had a nice loop of highway before hitting the dirt+pavement loop, and that was fun, plus we got a great warm-up in. That year the women also raced with the men, because there were only 2 of us. The winner got a fabulous trophy made of pavé (cobblestone). I’ve heard that this year we will do the paved highway section twice (reverse direction from last year, and *no*, it is not the same as the KRRR course – it’s not hard!), and a couple of fewer laps on the dirt section . This is a really fun race, so hopefully the women will turn out in force so that we get to race separately.

P: Everyone asks me (as the promoter) to describe the dirt sections and the Mur de Mashel. How would you describe the dirt sections and the Mur?

L: The dirt sections and the Mur are totally non-technical. You don’t need to be a mountain biker or a cyclocross racer to ride these sections on your road bike (although you will want to run wider tires than normal, and at lower pressure than normal). The “mur” (wall) is very short, and not very steep – it’s easily ride-able by everyone. Then it’s on to flat, fast, wide dirt+gravel that is just plain fun (if a little bumpy at times – one more good reason to run wider tires).

P: The Ronde seems especially intimidating to women yet you’ve done it twice. What brings you back and why do you think women racers should do it?

L: 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, but I’ve heard that this year there is neutral support . I would encourage any women who are looking to have fun, and to try something different, to turn out for the Ronde Ohop!

P: If you could give someone who has never ridden it before one piece of advice before their first ride what would it be?

L: My advice would be to follow the promoter’s guidance about wider tires, and to lower your tire pressure. Last year I lowered my tire pressure below what I would normally ride on the road, but then found after the race that a bunch of the men used even lower tire pressure (in the 80-90 psi range). I’m going to give that a try this year, if for no other reason than comfort in the bumpy sections.

About the Ronde Ohop
The 2011 Herriott Sports Performance Ronde Ohop power by ByrneInvent is August 21, 2011 and is the final round of the 2011 Washington Cup.

The Ronde Ohop is a Belgian style Kermesse race that covers a 6 mile paved circuit 2-4 times (depending on the category) before finishing with 10 laps of the Mashel-Nisqually Loop. The loop features 1 mile for paved road and 1.25 miles hard pack dirt.

Road or Cyclocross bikes can be used but 25-28c road or file tread tires are recommended (neutral wheel support is provided by FSA).

For more info visit the Ronde Ohop Website at http://www.dirtymoose.com/2010ohop/index.htm

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