Saturday, July 5, 2014

2014 SCNCA MASTERS CRITERIUM CHAMPIONSHIPS @ ONTARIO

By John McKee

The criterium championships and the other championships move around to different venues and in 2013 the criterium championships moved to Ontario. Those that race often see Ontario on the schedule at least 5 times through the year. I use to venture off there at least 4 times a year and sometimes every event that was raced there. In 2014 Ray Moreno choose to have a 50/55+ race rather than a 55/60+ and then a 50+ race. That left myself and the rest of the 60+ racers out in the cold. Such was the dynamic of categories within our district this year.

French bulldog taking in the event.
Your in...your out... maybe next year we will be in again. There is talk that for a race to get Socal points the event will have to include all categories that get Socal points. In any event I hadn't been to Ontario since last August when a cat 5 rider took myself and David Lang down 3 weeks before I was going to do the national championship. Broken collarbone so that was out. Funny how I didn't even think about that when I got to the venue this year. It was warming up fast as it always does during the summer in Ontario. A lot of small talk before the race. We didn't have to do any heavy lifting this year as far as lobbying. Last year the 55s and 60s were to race together and be scored separately but the racers rallied. We got Eric Smith to allow us to use the same time space and still race separately. The 60s just started a few minutes after the 55s. No big deal but separate races. Why we can't do that at other times is beyond me. Small fields would make separate fields awkward and passing one group would make for less than challenging circumstances but this year the field sizes were pretty close. 35 for 55 and 27 for 60. Plus the 60s kicked butt on the 55s as far as average speed. I don't understand this but it was true this year.
The fields lined up this year with that eager anticipation and anxiety sitting in every racer. The 55s were off 1st at 8: 20 am on June 21st, 2014. One odd note was that the 2013 champions didn't enter this years event. I don't know why but no defending champions. There are many new 60s this year as most of you know so the 60+ category was loaded with lot of really good riders and this years race proved that.
Pretty min pin at the venue. He was
 with a group that was cheering for the Mexican national soccer team. They got real excited when Mexico scored the 1st goal against the Netherlands. The goal wasn't enough for the Mexican team but John Roest was very happy since he is from Holland. A big fan of their soccer team!
The 60s started like we should have about 2 minutes after the 55s. The early pace was brisk but not killer. Dale Luedtke didn't do an early flyer like we had been seeing him do. This was a championship race so he probably decided to hold some chestnuts back for later in the race. There were a few quick moves that were covered. No big deal. There was one move of a few riders that included Mike Birditt. I was on Rick Swanson and he created a gap so I didn't wait for anybody behind me to jump across the gap. I just went. Of course everyone else was on my wheel. I could see when I got close to the small group that they were looking at one another waiting for someone else to pull the group to the promised land. I got close and free wheeled and someone countered but not really hard. I was a little gassed but got with the program. There was no major slowing at any time during the race. It was lively. Harder than in 2013.
At some point after this Mr. John Roest went off the front. This is John's speciality. John is strong and loves to try to start a break or even try and hold everyone else off. John hasn't raced since LA Circuit when a SBW rider trying to look behind himself moved off line and into John. John crashed and hasn't raced since then. You wouldn't know he hadn't raced because he looked really strong on this day.
John got about 100 meters out in front of everyone. John rides for Swami's and everyone knows Swami's is loaded in this category. The strongest 60+ squad in the country without a doubt. They were the big favorite to win the championship in Ontario.
What happened next is rather interesting and this is why you have to play the game because you never know what exactly is going to happen. Rick Lilliberg decided to take a flyer himself and see if he could reach "Big John". He did get there. Rick is riding really well this year at 67. Before the race my teammate Monty Pettus told me if the race came down to a field sprint that Rick would help Paramount get to the front. I was taken back because Rick is riding really well and he could do quite well on his own. I told Monty that I was surprised but if it came down to that, I would get on Rick's wheel and Monty could follow me and we could see where that would take us. Scratch that. Rick was going to try to turn things upset down with this move and make hard decisions for the Swami's team.
Rick sat on John for a bit to catch his breath after the effort to get up to John. After that they traded pulls and were going quickly. A number of riders started to chase including Reid Moore. Monty Pettus put in a really hard effort. Swami's put up a major block. They were going all in with John Roest vs Rick Lilliberg. Maybe they should have kept them a little closer or maybe they were monitoring the distance the break group got away. The breakers were all in and really going for it. Both are strong and took near max pulls.
2/3s into the race Mike Birditt decided to make a solo effort to get across the gap. Mike is riding so well I am never surprised at what Mike can do. Mike got over half way to the twosome and ran out of gas. I think John should have been a little more aware of what was happening behind him and made Rick do all the pulling while Mike was trying to come aboard. When I saw Mike slow a bit and look around, I was surprised but knew he had thrown in the towel. Mike came back toward the group. Monty Pettus thought about teaming with Mike and trying to get there with the 2 of them and they might have made it but they were tentative. Kal Szkalak also tried to bridge the gap in short order with a big effort but also ran out of gas. That was the last I saw Kal.
We got within 5 laps to go and even though Mike and Monty weren't going to catch the break group, they were still away from the group by a short distance. Ricky Shorts made short work of this. We were all back together with our tongues hanging out and John Roest and Rick Lilliberg were going to decide who was the champion. "Big John" went to the whip the last 2 laps. He wasn't sure they were going to stay away plus the fact that John only knows one way to ride. All out! He is like the 2nd coming of Hylton Murphy. Hylton only knew one way to ride and that was all out. Teammates would tell him to hold back at the start. Save your strength for later. Hylton would agree. Yup! That's what Hylton was going to do. Yeah right. When the gun went off, Hylton was off. Full chortle. All in! Hylton couldn't help himself. LOL! John rides in a similar manner.
John also figured that he would try and ride Rick off his wheel with his strength. It almost worked. John was going good but Rick hung on and when they got to the last corner John was pulling 100%. John gave it everything he had but Rick came around at the end and won by a bike length. Rick Lilliberg won the 60+ category when he turned 60 at the Paramount race for the championship in 2007. 7 years later Rick does it again. I say that is real good riding and quite an achievement. Rick didn't even race for a couple of those years in there and when he did come back he didn't get much in the way of results. Can't say that on this day.
2007 60+ championship podium. Fleming 2, Lilliberg 1 and McKee 3.
The rest of the riders weren't that far behind but were behind. Rick Swanson took the last lap most of the way. Rick looked strong but was riding in support. The one right turn came up and Reid Moore took over. Not sure what Reid was thinking here. Maybe he thought Kal was somewhere around. He wasn't. Reid took the group  past the next left. The pace was fast. Monty was right behind Reid and when Reid peeled off Monty was a little surprised and wasn't sure what to do. He decided to hold to a fast pace vs trying to go for it from there or trying to drop back. We came to the last corner lined up. Monty and 3 Swami's guys. Dale, Mike Marotta and Mike Birditt. I was right behind Mike Birditt. When the 3 Swami's riders went to the whip, Monty threw in the towel. I was out of gas and couldn't stay near Birditt. I just tried to limp in to the finish. Mike Birditt rolled across for 3rd followed in by Dale Luedtke and Mike Marotta. Leo Longo, Howard Miller and Wayne Rosenkrantz came by me and finished in that order 6, 7 and 8. The average speed of the pack was a robust 25.5 mph while the breakers averaged over 26. The breakers got close to the 55s so they weren't even going as fast as the 60s. Amazing actually! This tells you how lively the 60+ race was.
In the 55+ race Mark Hoffenberg was planning to hang in the pack and save energy for the 50+ race. He wanted to be able to help his teammate Robert Swigart. When the group came to the last lap, the Rokform team came to the front and Henry Schnepf gave Mark an excellent lead out. Mark doesn't need much help since he is so fast anyway. Mark was 1st, Brad Jones was 2nd and Mike Okano was 3rd.
55+ podium- Brad Jones 2, Mark Hoffenberg 1 & Mike Okano 3.


60+ podium- Roest 2, Lilliberg 1 & Birditt 3.
It was a good day of racing and the turnout was good. Not sure why so many turn out for this race and few others. We wouldn't have these categories unless racers supported them more than a few times a year. Congratulations to the two winners and all the podiums placers. Nice Going! That's all for now! Train hard and race safe!


Saturday, June 28, 2014

NEW EVENT BRINGS SMALL FIELDS BUT GREAT RACING @ GREAT PARK IN OC

By John McKee

There are events that click with racers and events that don't. Roger Millikan always brings out the crowds and the new race series The 805 Criterium has hit a cord but this one for whatever reason didn't seem to appeal to a large number of racers. There are Saturday MTB events but that usually is a separate crowd. This one is the Orange County Cycling Classic held at the Great Park in Orange County. This was the former El Toro Marine Base. They do a Thursday night race series. The basic course snakes around the runway. I have never done the Thursday night race so this course was completely new to me. The location is in between San Diego and LA so I thought this would be popular. Paramount back when we use to produce a race thought about moving their race here but they wanted $5k from us so we said No. The organizers of this event planned a 2 day ominium event with the final day bringing in a 1k dirt section to throw a wrinkle to what we normally do. It all sounded fun and different and kind of refreshing considering seeing how many times we do certain courses. The organizers tried to please everyone and had races for juniors through 55/60+. Something didn't click. I can't put my finger on it. The dirt portion may have stopped some people and you had to do both days of racing to win a cash prize. They did have very nice Simple Green kits to the Saturday podium placers though.
The Saturday race was on June 21st, 2014. The weather was great. A little overcast early but clearing and sunny and warm later. Not hot! Pretty darn nice for June. When I got to the venue I looked around and started asking about different people and got a lot of different reasons they weren't there. We have a number of 60s out with injuries like John Roest and Rino B. The turnout of 55s was low but 60s was really low. The race started with less than 30 riders on Saturday.
The guys that knew the course started hitting it early. I just stuck in the middle and followed and tried to not hit any cones that were everywhere marking the course. This wasn't AIPC. Another industrial park criterium. It wasn't a downtown thing either with people on the streets watching. The entire thing was around 2.5 miles and followed Thursday night's course exactly. I thought with the small field that a small group of elite riders might get away. There were a lot of attacks early on. Dale Luedtke did his usual early solo break. This is becoming a standard. I believe Dale does it to challenge himself and make himself a stronger rider in the long run. I think he is plenty strong enough right now. Definitely sharper than the last 2 years. Always great to see a rider come back from injury or illness and though they struggle, the Red Sea parts and away they go. Back on form! Rick Lilliberg falls into the same category. Rick is having a strong comeback year.
We were scheduled for 7 laps or 17.5 miles. A designated number of miles like the LA Circuit race. The race was pretty hard but not overpoweringly so. Robert Paginni who was the oldest rider by 10 years hung in there the whole race. That was pretty impressive. Robert was giving away 23 years to some where 5 years makes a big difference.

Lacking photographers at this event. This is the only photo of "The Man". Mr. Robert Paginni. There was a 2 hour wait for omium results. That's why all the long faces. Pags waited all that time and then didn't pick up his cash for 5th place.

"The Man" racing in France in the early 50s.
OK. The race was pretty intense in the early going. A number of riders gave it a go off the front. My previous race was Torrance and felt pretty good there. I didn't know what to expect at this race site. The 1st 3 laps were pretty hard but I felt fine. Stretched but within what I could do. I think everyone was aboard. Once we got into the 4th lap I knew I was good and just rode like I always do from there on out. Rockform was there in strength in 55. Swami's had Mike Birditt and Dale Luedtke in 60+ and there was Reid Moore of UCC and he is riding very good. Rick Lilliberg like I mentioned earlier is riding very well. There are always new 55s coming in that are very strong and we know David Fetah will always be there. I don't think he has missed an event. Mike Okano and Mike Hines are new very strong 55s but only show up once in a while. 
Into the 5th lap Mike Birditt and 5 other riders had a very small gap. Rick Lilliberg joined them and went right on by. Rick was riding out there solo but not getting anywhere and decided to pack it in and pull back. Soon after that he was nursing a flat and out of the race. Ed Marcelo flated as well earlier. Rick got a piece of glass in his tire. I wonder how old that original bottle was that the glass was from. Probably pretty old.
With the 6th lap in play I knew no one was going to be able to do anything but sprint from a bunch. I could see Dale moving up. The last lap came and Rokform was trying to bunch at the front. The pace was hardy but manageable. With 3 corners to go and quite a ways from the finish line Dale charged to the front and the pressure really got put on. I stayed behind John Bergman. John use to race for Paramount like a lot of racers but has been with a number of teams since. John aged up this year and is a track devotee. I knew to stay on his wheel. I don't know who took over for Dale. I have to assume that Bob Pelkofer took over at some point. The pressure keep on to the next corner. A few guys were gapped off the back. The distance from the next to last and the last corner is pretty short for this course and the pressure was taken off for a short moment while everyone up front sorted things out and took some deep breathes. The last corner was taken at pretty much full in saddle speed. The final sprint was down wind in the morning so it was very fast. 
Mark Hoffenberg won the field sprint in 55+ and Mike Birditt won it in 60+. Mike Hines was 2nd and Danny Nicolette was 3rd in 55+. Dale Luedtke got 2nd in 60+. I finished right behind John Bergman who was 8th in 55+ but gave me 3rd in 60+. Slightly longer race time wise for us and averaged a touch over 25 mph. 
60+ podium. Day 1. Luedtke 2, Birditt 1, and McKee 3. Getting the Simple Green bags and goodies inside was better than getting cash. Nice pod gift.

Day 1 55+ podium. Hines 2, Hoffy 1 & Nicolette 3. Mr. Hines looks happy. Hoffy..ho humm. Another 1st place.

With Saturday's race under our belt I showed up for Sunday's race and took a look at the dirt section. I rode it twice with Danny Nicolette. It was rougher than it looked the day before when I 1st saw the dirt section. I knew the stronger riders would put the pressure on here.
There were fewer riders on Sunday than before. Only those riders that finished and even a few 60s that raced on Saturday didn't come out. I think they had a one day pass from their wife. The 55/60+ group came to the line at 8:03 am vs 9:52 am from the day before. The group would do the same course as Saturday with the added bonus of the dirt section taking everyone away from the normal course. The dirt section was 1k long and then everyone did a 180 and turned into the wind. The 1st time through was harder than I thought it would be from the 2 trial runs. The faster speed made it rougher. My MTB riding came into play. Stayed in my drops with my elbowed bent and slightly off my saddle. Tried to soften the shock as best possible. I came out of the dirt and turned back like everyone else and was breathing pretty hard. I got on a wheel and hung on. Once we turned again with the wind at our back on the asphalt and it got easier. I knew I would be able to hang on through the rest of the 1st lap. We had been scheduled for 4 laps of the new course but they miscalculated the distance and the earlier race came in quicker than they thought so they added a lap to our race.
After the 1st lap we turned again onto the dirt. There were some soft spots which gave you a mini fish tail. The roughest part was at the end of the dirt section. The 2nd time through I made it around with the group. I looked around behind me and there were no other riders. The 1st time through dropped some riders. The 3rd time through was hard but again I hung on. Mike Okano was really trying to work things in his own terms using his own cycling strength. Reminded me of the last day of the 805 Criterium. Mike would team with a rider or two or just work it by himself. Mark Hoffenberg was doing the math in his head figuring what would happen in the overall ominium if Mike stayed away. The 2nd day's race was worth more points.
The 4th time through the dirt it was hard and I came out and turned back into the wind. I saw John Bergman not far ahead of me and I got out of the saddle and tried to close the gap. I hit a wall so to speak and Dale and another rider came by me. Dale didn't like the dirt but get him back on the pavement and off it goes. I went into oxygen debt and I was cooked. The rest of the field was chasing Mike Okano and the pressure was really on. The 5th time through and Mike kept a gap and no one could close it. Mike was able to keep a small lead to the finish to place 1st in 55+. Rokform and Bob Pelkofer took care of Mark and got him into position and he won the field sprint and 2nd in 55+. Michael Hines finished 3rd in 55+. Mike Birditt and Dale Luedtke rolled in the pack across the finish line to again finish 1/2 in 60+. I finished by myself for 3rd place in 60+. It was definitely different and amazingly safe considering the control over the bike but everyone spread out a little and the loose MRI water bottles that popped out weren't a problem. Mike Okano proved to be very strong as did Mike Hines. I understand that Mike is one of the stronger riders on the famous "Donut Ride" in the South Bay area.
The Ominium results were as Mark figured but was closer than he first thought. Mark 1st, Mike Okano 2nd and  Mike Hines 3rd in 55+. 60+  was Birditt 1, Luedtke 2 and McKee 3.
Day 2 60+ pod for finish and Omiuium. Mr. Birditt is holding a piece of the tarmac as a trophy. It was nice!

55+ Ominium results- Okano 2(lost by 1 omium point. Closer than Mark calculated in his head), Hoffy 1. (Mark looks happier today) & Mike "Mr. Donut" Hines 3(Mike, everyone gets a nickname at times in my stories).

Mark Hoffenberg holding court with his Rokform teammates- Mike McConnell, Bob Pelkofer and Rick Carrera. Rick raced on Saturday but not Sunday. Puzzling! I had to promise Bob that I would write a story but have had a really busy week.

I believe Mark is telling a joke to Pelky. Reminds me of a favorite joke of mind by Gary Larson. He wrote the "Far Side" but is retired like I am. Grandpa Shark is sitting in a rocking chair and baby Sharks are sitting around listening to his sage advice. There are plagues on the wall with heads of humans. Humans like to put heads of animals on the wall because they think they are great sportmen because they could kill an animal. Pathetic. Grandpa Shark tells him minion "Always always remember... a swimmer in the water is worth 2 on the beach".

This was a great opportunity to do a 2 day race. The course is fine. Plenty wide and safe. The dirt was fun. I know Dale didn't seem to like it but Mike Okano did. Local racing is going through a down cycle now. Not sure why. We seem to lose more racers than those that age into the 55 and 60+ categories. I think more 55s should attend 55/60+ races vs 50/55 ones. It is safer. I am not the only one that thinks this. Most of the 60s are behind you anyway. The ones that can mix it at the front are accomplished racers. Thanks to the organizers for including 55 and 60s in their event. It did take 2 hours to get ominium results and that was the fault of the organizers but that was the only glitch that I saw. Thanks to all the racers that did come out. It was especially important for the 60 crowd. We are teetering on extinction. To all the 55s, don't think your locked in either. Your numbers aren't that great. I see a lot of base sticking among 55s.  Sorry I didn't get the story out sooner but spent a couple of days with my wife in Long Beach for our 36th anniversary. Then I did volunteering at the track for Jr. Nationals. Bonus story at the end of results. Each days results are below but not Ominium. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
I volunteered at the track on June 26 and 27. I helped carry bikes and hold with Kurt Sato on the 26th and helped Jim Kloss with the gates on the 27th. Both guys are awesome track riders. There is a current world champion and record holder in this picture. Can you find this person? Her dad's name is Cliff.

Day One
Day 2

This has nothing to do with cycling but since its my blog and I write. Lol. The last time I was on the Marine Base was around 15 years ago. My dad wanted me to take him to a reunion dinner at the base. My dad was in WW II but got out afterward like most of the men. He stayed in the reserves. He did a number of things while out of the miltary. He was a painter at Terminal Island and sold Nash Ramblers in Santa Ana at one time as well. His reserve unit was out of Los Alamitos Naval Air Station. We got in a shooting match in Korea in 1950 and they called up the unit and sent them off to Korea in a big hurry. The dinner was a reunion of this unit. The event was pretty well attended. Wish I had taken pictures.
Jack Dean McKee during WW II

Friday, May 23, 2014

ONE YEAR MAKES A DIFFERENCE AT TORRANCE IN 60 + / LEGEND WINS 55+

By John McKee

What a difference a year makes. Last year Mike Birditt won the 55+ race and Dale Luedtke placed 6th. In 2014 both Mike and Dale are 60+ along with a number of other very strong riders making the 60+ category tougher than ever.
A real cutie at the race. Host team jacket there.
The weekend of May 17th/18th 2014 there were 2 competing blocks of races. In Bakersfield there was the well known Vlees Huis Ronde Road Race on Saturday and Bike Bakersfield Criterium on Sunday. In Torrance was the Torrance Criterium which was on Sunday. Not sure how long this race has been going but it at least goes back to 1980.
Lee Romans at Torrance in 1980. 35 years later and Lee is still racing there. I think he has learned how to pin his number on after all these years.
 The Torrance race is still on the well known Telo course. Much easier in the morning than it is in the afternoon but just to make things interesting on race day 2014 there was a decent breeze toward the finish line from the last corner. Tough sledding going toward turn 5 but fast coming home. One of the riders would get up to 38.2 mph at the finish. I wonder who that was. Lol. The race is produced and hosted by the Penisula Cycle Club.
31 riders signed up which wasn't bad and wasn't good. Only 4 55/60+ riders showed up at Bakersfield on Sunday and one of them was from Nor Cal. The scheduled race start time was 7:35 am in Torrance. Early start time. Everyone started off and Lothar "Blue Boy" Cramer didn't go to the whip but Kal Szkalak did. Kal started it. Kal is leading 60+ in Socal points but was racing 55+ this day. I know Kal would have a long explanation for this but I don't know what it is. Maybe he was thinking he could get away with Mike Birditt if they weren't racing against each other.
A number of riders went to the whip early in the race to either get things going or try and see if they could get away. Mike Birditt hit it early around turn 2 to 4 on a number of early laps. Nothing too serious but revving up those monster legs of his and putting them to good use. Bruce Hartley, David "I don't miss a race" Fetah and Dale Raymond gave it a go early on. Mike Birditt went to the block but Cyril Hunte and Lothar Cramer weren't having any of it and shut down the effort quickly.
Whenever Kal would jump, Mike Birditt would go after him. It wasn't the kind of jump that said "I want to get away and join you" but "everyone get aboard. Not today Kal". There was another nice move by 2 riders. Ricky Shorts, and an unknown assailant. Who was that masked man? After one half lap it was too much effort for Ricky so he dropped off. Mark Spivey of Stage One Racing lead the chase with David Fetah and "Blue Boy" on his wheel. Once the "Lone Ranger" was caught, David jumped with Dale Raymond and Mike Birditt coming aboard. After a few hundred meters Mike does his usual spin in the saddle and see what kind of damage was done. Well none actually. Kal brought the rest of the troops aboard.
A lot of good countering moves going on keeping the pace high. David "Shutdown" Fetah wasn't having any of it and would quickly discourage the efforts. "Blue Boy" was often on his wheel recording the action on his Go Pro. There were a lot of primes. Don't know what they were. It was very hard to hear Ralph "The Man on the Mike" Elliot spout out what the primes were for. A bell was rung so you knew there would be some action on the next lap. Even "Blue Boy" went for a prime and Kal countered off of it but Birditt and Fetah were right on it and everyone else upped the ante so no cigar here.
It was looking like nothing during the race was going to work but maybe something late like in the last 5 laps. It takes someone bold to try this because most riders would be shot for the finish but riders don't like to chase these efforts either and ruin their finish chances.
Kal got another good effort going mid way through the race and got a good gap. Bruce Hartley put in a good effort to get everyone going after Kal. Once Bruce ran out of gas it was a mini chase effort. I think Kal just quit when he saw he wasn't gaining ground or no one came up to help him. There was almost always something going on to keep the pace up. There were lulls but for the most part for a smaller field there was a lot of action. Howard Miller went on a solo effort for 3/4 of a lap. Not sure what Howard was up to but he was caught and he was spent. You had better stay tight on the wheel in front of you or you were going to get passed but that's the way it always is in a race.
There was a group of about 6 guys that got going good with Birditt aboard. Dale Raymond was blocking and guess who decided to close it down. 3 guesses and the 1st 2 don't count. LOL. Old "long socks" himself and old really does come into play because I was the oldest rider in the race. I am usually covered by "The Ageless One" but he was in Bakersfield. One of 2 60+ racers. Mike Marotta won of course and I don't know if Pags stayed with the other 3 55/60+ riders but it would have been awesome if Pags could have won his category. Even if the fix was in. A lot of pro races have the fix in so to speak.
David "Ultra Man" Cranston of LaGrange went into the gutter a couple of times with 2 laps to go on a straight away and I really don't like seeing this when it isn't necessary and it wasn't. Dangerous move. Later in the lap he make Cyril "Wild Man" Hunte look like Mr. Smooth out there. Cyril is getting smoother out there with fewer "Cowboy" moves that can make a race dangerous like at Roger Millikan. I think most of us have seen the vid by now. A calmer Cyril is a good thing. He certainly is a strong and fast rider and doesn't need the extra "Cowboy" stuff. With 2 laps to go Tom "Flood" Gates came by me and tap me on the butt. I thought he was telling I moved in front of him but actually he was signalling for me to get on his wheel. He is a good wheel at the end of a race. He is like a major flood screaming toward the line.
OK. Bell lap. It will be over soon! All together. Bruce Hartley is out front. "Blue Boy" thought Bruce was having way too much fun and decided to take over. Oh Boy! I am out front. Maybe I can hold this to the line. Just joking! Lead out cannon fodder of course but someone has to do it. Ed Marcelo is the 1st person to come by Lothar. Kal soft pedals a little and Deo Asuncion moves in right behind Ed. Deo is in great position now. Ricky Shorts, Cyril and Tom Gates really heat it up between the next to last and last corner. They were overheated and couldn't take all that speed down the finishing stretch. They had to regroup and come out and sprint. Deo and Mike Birditt took a smarter and little slower line through the corner and cut tighter to the course and didn't have to trim any speed. Smart veteran moves. I am surprised that Tom took such a fast line but he was following Cyril and probably figured that Cyril had it all mapped out but we know that can be a bad move. Ricky Shorts quit. Cyril and Tom got going again. Birditt and Deo came into the middle in great position and waited a bit and then put in the message to the legs. Maximum power. In the movie "Ben Hur" our man Charlton was a slave and rowing in a Roman slave ship. They were going to attack another ship and the top speed that was beat out on the drum for the rowers in chains was "RAMMING SPEED". Charlton of course came out of that one smelling like a rose when he saved Alex Hawkins's life who was a high muckity muck in Rome. This lead to "The Man" getting in the chariot race. Stephen Boyd got his in that race but was so over the top smug in the movie that you couldn't feel sorry for him when he was suffering after his accident in the race. Oh yea I was writing about a local bike race. Back to it.
Birditt and Asuncion didn't panic when they rounded the corner and didn't start their sprint for a bit but finally hit "Ramming Speed" for sure and they definitely have that. Mike is ridiculous with the power and speed he has in his legs. Deo has great leg speed.
Mike Birditt is too fast for this picture. Deo bests Tom and Cyril. Close 1/2/3 in 55+. Dale is rolling in for 2nd in 60+. Photo courtesy of Maki Yamazaki.
Mike won the 60+ category easily while Deo just beat Tom Gates(2nd) and Cyril Hunte(3rd). Don Denegal just beat Mike Hines for 4th place and the last paying spot in 55+. Dale Luedtke got 2nd in 60+ and Mike Fleming bested myself for 3rd while I finished 4th.
There is a full video of the entire race from Lothar Cramer. You tube link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJXUGHmitBA&feature=youtu.be

There is a another vid of the finish on my 55/60 facebook page courtesy of Maki Yamazaki. Thanks to all that came out. The race speed was a little over 25 mph but this was a fast course. Complete results below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
55+ podium- Denegal 4, Gates 2, Asuncion 1 and Hunte 3.

60+ podium- McKee 4, Luedtke 2, Birditt 1 and Fleming 3.



Friday, May 16, 2014

TRIFECTA OF RACING FOR 55/60+ IN BUELTON/LOMPOC AT 805 FIRESTONE

By John McKee

The 805 Firestone race series started in 2012 with one race and a lot of money for all the racers. Promoter Mike Hecker started with the deceptively difficult Ave. of the Flags course.  The turnout was modest for 55/60+ racers especially in 60+ but the entire event was a success. It looked like the 805 event was coming back in 2013 with the one race but Mike added an event on Sunday following the Ave. of the Flags race which was held on Saturday the prior year and was scheduled for Saturday for 2013 as well.
Mike added a criterium on Sunday in Lompoc with big money like he had for the Saturday Ave. of the Flags race. Both races were great and the area is fun to visit because of the wineries. For 2014 Mike added a afternoon/twilight series at a police/sheriff practice oval in Lompoc on Friday to make the 805 Firestone race series a 3 day affair. Awesome event for all racers. One mile track with some banking on the oval ends. Great course but at 2:40 pm on May 9, 2014 the winds were howling at 25 to 30 mph. Warm but not hot. The winds made the course super difficult for most riders but of course the stronger riders can show their stuff in these conditions.
The 55/60+ race was scheduled for 40 minutes and was the 2nd race of the day. A few trial laps and pretty hard ones at that 4 riders slipped away. All 55+ racers. One of the racers dropped off quickly and left Mark Hoffenberg, Chris Black and Randall Tinney. I knew Chris from other races and knew how strong he was but I didn't know Randall Tinney. Randall showed amazing strength through the 3 day event. We all know Mark and how strong he is.
The pack shredded a few riders. It was brutal out there. The break group was going an amazing speed. In the end Chris Black gave out first. Randall tried to sprint with Mark but Mark took the 55+ race. The 60+ race was decided in a sprint in the pack with speedster Ricky Shorts winning. Dale Luedtke took 2nd and Paul Rodiguez was 3rd.
Chris Black starts the break. You can see Mark Hoffenberg at the front and will pounce on Chris shortly.
Black, Hoffenberg and Tinney in break. Going very fast.

Field sprint. Bob Kubinski is the 1st 55+ racer placing 4th. Ricky Shorts bests Dale Luedtke for 1st in 60+.
The 1st day was very hard and uplifting for some and discouraging for others. At least the 2nd day of racing would be at 10 am in the morning and the wind wouldn't be blowing as hard.
The 2nd day of racing would be at the Ave. of the Flags course in Buelton. The start time was 10:05 am. There was a breeze that would be a cross wind for most of the course. It made a pretty hard course that became that much harder.
Ave of the Flags 55/60+ start. Official Greg Alden is giving instructions.
The race started and the 1st couple of laps were modest for this course but then things heated up. A fairly large break group formed and was joined by some of the stronger 55+ riders that could get across the gap like Mark Hoffenberg. One 60+ racer was in the break and that was Paul Rodiguez. Same as the prior year.
One thing that is always apparent when I am at races with riders outside of Socal. They don't corner as well as riders from Socal. As a general rule. We do more criteriums then anyone and fast corners are the norm. I see guys braking going into the corners and I think WTF. I had to add that. It is always worse at the national level and gets even worse with the older groups because they do fewer crits than anyone. That grand prix course in Bend, Or. in 2011 and 2012 was way over the skill set of a lot of the senior racers and we saw what happened there. It was carnage.

Break group on the Ave. of Flags course.

The defining picture above shows 7 helmets. 6 55s and 1 60(Paul Rodiguez). There was one rider in between and that was Steve Hensler. The pack kept pretty close until the last few laps. Kal Szkalak took a flyer but Monty Pettus got on him and pulled through but Kal didn't want to work with Monty. Kal is very particular about who he goes on a break with. Rick Swanson was pulling from behind anyway to close it down. Pack all together.
The break group finished in a sprint with Mark Hoffenberg winning the sprint. Randall Tinney was 2nd. Jonathan Laine of Truckee and the 3 ft.- It's the Law team was 3rd. Paul Rodiguez didn't need to sprint and rolled across for 1st in 60+. The pack sprinted it out and Ricky Shorts got 2nd in 60+ and Monty Pettus who was feeling good this day got 3rd. Monty didn't do the Friday race and was fresh.
Hoffy wins sprint from Randall.

Paul Rodiguez wins the 2nd stage in 60+.

Ricky Shorts wins field sprint for 60+. Pettus and Szkalak follow in.
55+ finishers- Laine 3, Hoffenberg 1 and Tinney 2.
60+ finishers- Pettus 3, Rodiguez 1 and Shorts 2.
Another hard day of racing was wrapped up. Now it was time for relaxing or maybe some wine tasting. Monty Pettus and his wife Diana hosted Rick and Karen Swanson and myself and my wife Alicia(the photographer) at Demetria Vineyard Winery in Los Olivos. 
Ate a picnic lunch while tasting wine. Some really good stuff but of course it was expensive. I throw up my hands. Whatever my wife thinks is good and wants to buy is alright with me. I like white like Karen Swanson. My wife likes red.
We were going to have a group dinner at the Firestone restaurant near the Sat. race course which would be packed with racers this weekend but it was closed for kitchen renovations. I think that was bad timing. 
The 3rd day of racing would be a get away day. Race and get away home or maybe do more wine tasting like Monty. The 55 and 60+ categories were close for the ominium so there was more at stack then just the day's results. The 55 cat had Mark Hoffenberg ahead but Randall Tinney was 2nd and close. No one knew what Randall had in store. He told his wife Lola "Blue Hair" Tinney he was going all out. Finish 1st or last. That was the goal. 
55/60+ racers line up in Lompoc for the last day of racing.
Sunday's race was on a flat bumpy course through the streets of Lompoc. Lots of corners and some wind. Mostly a cross wind. The race started out reasonable. Rick "Caboose" Lilliberg went to the front to start things off and after a turn at the front went back to the very back of the pack. He likes it back there.
Randall "Go for It" Tinney is breaking away.
3 laps into the race Randall Tinney made his move. A lot of riders make a solo move and maybe it starts something with other riders joining that person but usually they fade out and come back to the pack. Not Randall. He was on a mission. Win or Die! ALL IN! Jeff Moreton went to the front to control the break distance but Randall was going good. Jeff should have gotten out of the saddle and closed the distance while it was short or gotten so close that the rider would get discouraged or another rider would take over and close out the break. 
Randall became a "carrot" and kept the pace of the race quite high. This was the easiest of the days of racing but it was still very hard. This course fit me better and I was feeling more comfortable out there. 
Mark Hoffenberg's Rokform squad kept trying to bring Randall "The Carrot" Tinney back with Jeff Moreton and Mike McConnell. Mark even went to the front and went full gas but no luck. I didn't see much help from other sources. 
There was a Ominium points sprint midway through the race and Mark wanted to be sure and win this and he had to get it if Randall was to stay away. In 60+ action Ricky Shorts had a small lead over Paul Rodiguez. When the sprint lap came the pressure was really on in the 2nd half of the lap. Fast. Paul took the 60 sprint and Randall took the 55 sprint because he was away but Hoffy took the bunch sprint in 55 which gave him 2nd place ominium points. 
After the points sprint the pressure really got put on by the Rokform squad but the seconds of distance to Randall kept going up! 21 seconds. 25 seconds. Then 30 seconds. It looked like a lost cause for Mark but he could still win the overall. The 5 lap to go sign came up and things got harder out there. There were a few lulls but it seemed to get faster. With 1 and 1/2 laps to go it got even faster. Rick Lilliberg said riders were dropping off and he had to maneuver around to stay in contact with the peleton.

One lap to go! One lap to go! Hoffy is REALLY putting the pressure on.
Mark Hoffenberg was at the front really putting the pressure on. Everyone was lined out. Hoffy was really taking a chance trying to catch Tinney. Mark finally took the pressure off to catch his breath for the field sprint. He conceded to Randall Tinney. The last lap except for a few brief moments was smoking. With 3 corners to go I got chopped by a non Socal rider. Naturally. Had to brake and lost my chance to stay near my teammate Monty Pettus. 
Back at the front between 2 corners to go and the last corner it was into the wind. Everyone kind collected themselves and then shot for the last corner to give it everything they had for the finish. While everyone was doing this Mr. Tinney finally was able to relax and put his arms up in triumph. A great effort. Randall said he was in so much pain that he was seeing stars and stuff!
And the stage winner is Randall Tinney! Great job!!
The pack rounded the corner and sprinted for home knowing all the pain was going to go away soon!  Mark Hoffenberg came across the line first like you wouldn't know that would happen. Mark got 2nd in the stage and won the overall in 55+ by 1 point. It was very close.
Hoffy takes field sprint over Chris Black.


Rodiguez takes the 60+ sprint over Szkalak.
 
Bunch sprint from a different perpective. Photo courtesy of Lola Tinney.

Chris Black rolled across right behind Mark for 3rd place in the stage. In 60+ action Paul Rodiuguez put his stamp on the race and won the field sprint and the ominium. Kal took 2nd in the stage and Ricky Shorts took 3rd in the stage.
It was another tough hard stage but was easier than the prior 2 days. Great hard racing with no crashes!
Great job by everyone in the races especially the Socal riders since they are so smooth and I include Chris Black in our group. 

Last days 55 finishers- Fetah 5, Tinney 1, Hoffenberg 2 and Laine 4. Photo courtesy of Lola Tinney.

Last days 60 finishers- Pettus 5, Shorts 2, Rodiguez 1, Szkalak 3 and Luedtke 4.
Pags gets flowers because he is the oldest racer by 10 years at 78! Robert is the best! Notice Hoffy ride below with its oval chainrings. Photo courtesy of Lola Tinney.
3rd place in the ominium in 55+ went to Chris Black and 3rd place in 60+ went to Kal Szkalak with Ricky Shorts taking 2nd.
It was a great 3 days of racing minus the wind but nature is what it is. Thanks to promoter Mike Hecker for keeping the 55s AND the 60s in his awesome event. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!