Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Date line: April 19, 2009 Torrance CA

As reported by this cub reporter

Leo Longo

The day was beautiful. The sky was blue and the hopes were high. Racers started showing up early and in plenty of time to check in. And it was a good thing as registration, although everyone was able to pick up numbers in time to race, went slowly and this reporter stood in line, even though he had pre-reged, for 15 minutes. Warm up time on the trainer was not going to be long enough. But that turned out to not be an issue as the temperature was rising faster than the racers anticipation.

As I stood in line, I struck up a conversation with one of the iron men of racer, Michael Fleming. We talked about the importance of keeping racing in perspective and not letting it run our lives. As we talked, he told me he was just out to have fun on this day because he was recovering from double hernia surgery from just a couple of weeks ago. DOUBLE HERNIA SURGERY. I now understand perspective much better.

As we waited our turn to go to the line, Michael and Bruce Steele were trash talking and I knew from their ‘friendly’ conversation that this was going to be one fun race. As we rolled to the line, after our warm up lap, I counted the field size to be 16 with 5 SBW riders including Chuck Watson, Steve Whitsitt and Bruce Steele. Great. This race was going to be either 1) a friendly stroll for 40 minutes, or 2) an all out, leave nothing behind, forget all you knew about tempo riding, puck at the end, hard a$$ race.

The ref was happy with his instructions and we were off. Michael goes to the front and rides like an old pro, 20 MPH. I pull up along side him and we chat for a bit. I decided that if I was going to have any chance at the end, I needed to set a fast pace so I ramped it up to 25 and led for the next 5 laps. By then I was a little tired and pulled off to take a breather. Now it was Bruce’s turn. He lead us around for a couple of laps with the pace staying over 25. Then Steve Borer made a Herculean effort and ramped it up to 30 MPH for half a lap. That put a little sting into everyone’s legs and no one really wanted to go fast for another lap. Then it was my turn again for a couple of laps. Then Steve Whitsitt set a couple of fast laps. Then it was Richard Stahlberg’s turn. You get the idea. No stroll in the park today. Now everyone was winded and we cruised around for several laps with just about everyone taking a turn at the front. The pace remained pretty high, given the size of the field. It’s not easy riding is a small group. First, there’s no where to hide and if there are a couple of strong men in the group taking monster pulls and you get caught out in the wind, you run the risk of getting separated and maybe losing contact.

Steve Borer must get bored riding in the pack because he went again and this time got it up to something around 32 and held it for almost a full lap. But again, nothing doin’. Everyone was all over him, especially SBW. They were not about to let anyone get away.

By now I could see the writing on the wall. With so many strong riders in the group, no one was going to get free. The only strategy left was to ride hard and try to tire them out enough to equalize the final sprint. The course was rather short with our lap times just about 1 minute. This gave me a good idea of when to try to get away late in the race. One note at this point: there were no primes so no mid race sprinting to help tire out the group.

Somewhere around 25 minutes into the race I went to the front again and lead for another 5 laps or so, holding the pace around 26. I didn’t know if I was doing any damage but I had to try no matter how deep I had to go.

I sat up and went to the middle of the group to catch my breath. Then with 4 laps to go, approx 2 miles, I launched my attack. I got a little jump but Bruce was on me like an old saddle bag. We were clear by about 3 bike lengths, but again I knew this was not going to be the winning move. I sat up again, waiting for the SBW train to come together. Status quo for the next two laps although the pace did not drop like in most races. It stayed at cruising speed which meant that SBW had it right. With just over 1 lap to go, SBW was lined up at the front with Richard Stahlberg, myself and Michael Fleming close on their heals. Yes, that Michael Fleming. The one with the DOUBLE HERHIA SURGERY. On the back stretch SBW really showed what they can do as they pushed the pace to over 30 and there was no real chance of anyone getting around them. Around turn 3 and headed to turn 4 there’s just not enough time to get a really good run on the front and the finishing order was pretty much decided. It was going to be someone from SBW, but I thought I might be able to get around a couple riders. I don’t know who went into the last turn first, but I do know that Steve Whitsitt dragged a pedal and everyone one behind him was going to need another pair of shorts if they planned on doing another race. Everyone goes wide coming out of turn 4 just in case Steve ended up showing us his best effort at a triple lutz jump, but he’s an experience rider and kept it upright. It was a hard sprint to the finish line.

The big finish: Chuck Watson noses out Steve Whitsitt with Michael Fleming, yes that Michael Fleming, the one who keeps racing in perspective coming in third, Richard Stahlberg 4th, Edgardo Potes 5th and Leo Longo 6th. No money for 1st thru 6th, but my 6th place was good for a Hammer Nutrition worth $30. I’ve never received more than $20 for a 6th place finish so I was pretty happy.

It was a good race. Average speed was right at 25 MPH. No one went down and everyone rode well. It’s truly an honor to ride with such great riders.

Here’s the finishing order by age category.

1 Richard Stahlberg Ironfly
2 Edgardo Potes Peninsula Cycle Club
3 Leo Longo Citrus Valley Velo
4 Raphael Gomez Cycles Veloce
5 Steven Borer Citrus Valley Velo

1 Charles (Chuck) Watson South Bay Wheelmen
2 Stephen Whitsitt South Bay Wheelmen
3 Michael Fleming Coates /On Deck Foundation
4 Bruce Steele South Bay Wheelmen
5 Matthew James Unattached
6 William Carvin Unattached
7 Jim Roebuck Southern California Velo
8 Cary Alpert South Bay Wheelmen
9 Barnett Feigenbaum Ironfly
10 C Kevin Post South Bay Wheelmen
11 Mike Piper PCC

Bonus report:
I don’t have much to say here but I did do the 45+. The field was a little larger, maybe 35 riders total, with only 22 finishing. Michael Fleming and William Carvin started but did not finish. I missed it if anyone else started. The pace in this race was 2 MPH higher than the 55/60 which means the average speed was approx 27. For the first 10 laps I don’t think I saw the south end of 30. Really. It was that fast. After things settled down a little, I did work my way to the front a couple of times but found the middle of the pack more to my liking. A group of 3 riders did get clear with approx 6 laps to go with 3 more joining them with 3 laps to go. I was not one of them. I was content to finish the race comfortably towards the back, finishing 18th.

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