Sunday, May 17, 2009

Excitement at Ontario! 5-17-2009

By Richard Pollock

Riding the short course at Ontario is generally not exciting. Four corners making up a .7 mile rectangle, with a relatively short sprint from the last corner. What’s the big deal? Well, last week at Brea, I got pretty frustrated with the UCC spanking we all got. Myself included. So after grumbling and stewing all week, I had decided that today would be the time for a counter attack against the “Non-Evil” Empire (as Dale called it), to try and get back on solid ego-ground. Now I have to say, that I have a blast at every race, win (not very often), or lose (pretty regular)! Racing is racing and nothing gets the heart rate up or the blood flowing like a spirited race effort.

My plan today was to “go” at some point. Later would be better than sooner as being out there for a long time causes you to run out of “Fun Tickets” and usually BEFORE the big show. So with 30 riders leaving the line for the start, I try to roll up to speed pretty quick to check out the crowd. Let’s get it going right now and see what happens. After half a lap, the pace is pretty decent and all the usual faces are near the front. The very first part of the race is a little fuzzy as it happened pretty quick, but I remember sort of rolling off again at about 9 minutes in and getting a small gap. When Kal came by me in a manor that indicated we were now on our own, I knew it was “Game-On”. If Kal is trying to get away, his team will for sure try to keep him away. The bad news was, we were only 9 minutes into 40 minutes of racing, meaning…this was gonna hurt!

So we build a decent gap and are working really well together. Hopefully his teammates of Dale Ludke, Mitch Weinstock (last week’s winner), and John Rubcic are working with my teammates Dick Gentili, Steve Borer, Paul Springer, and Steve Mera to neutralize the attacks that are sure to be happening. At one point the group closed on us to a distance where I thought it was over, but it’s at times like that you really need to keep up the effort, not cash in. We did and the gap grew again. However, the distance to bridge became do-able and within a few laps, someone was catching us. He was definitely having to work for it and in a bit, PAA’s Tom Reilly was with us. And he was going good too! He did his share and now the work was split into thirds.

A prime bell is rung and it’s for 3 series (that would be Ontario series) points. Kal tells me he has to “Defend” the points and he’s going to sprint. I’m leading the series by 1 point over Dale (Kal’s teammate), who is in the pack behind us. Kal has no points in the series, but his teammate needs for ME to NOT win them. If I sprint it out with Kal, we’ll both use a ton of effort and that could blow the break apart, smashing the fruits of our labor like so many watermelons on the road. I was in a tight spot boys! I said, “Take your freakin’ points!” I was concentrating on the final race finish. If our break gets caught, Dale will trash us in the sprint anyway. Bird in the hand and all that.

A short while later, I check our gap and there’s two more riders attempting to bridge. I didn’t look long or too hard as we were still motorin’ pretty decent. They were closing and one rider was a UCC rider and he was bigger than the guy he was following. So that means it wouldn’t be Rubcic and there were no 60+ riders in the break anyway. Mitch is not really a big guy either. Not small, but not so big like….Dale. Insert expletive here! I immediately tell Kal that there’s no f-ing way I’m draggin’ Dale to the sprint for the next 15 minutes. Not that I could do anything really but keep going as hard as I/we could. Crap. The good news was that the other rider was Steve Bernede and he has a long history of throwin’ it all out there and workin’ hard. So we now have 5 guys sharing the load. One not putting out too big an effort, lest he tire himself out for later efforts. With about maybe 10 minutes to go, Tom starts to fade slightly and I think we’re going to lose him. He later said he got a cramp in his side, but it soon went away and he was back on board.

We worked together well till about one and half laps to go. I think laps were in the 2:10 range and at this point we all began to posture ever so slightly and on the last lap we rode Tom like Zorro, meaning, nobody pulled through! Coming onto the back straight on the final lap, we could see the pack at the other end of the straightaway. The teams had shut down the efforts of all.

Nobody came through to relieve Tom on the last lap except Steve once maybe. Down the back straight you need to get your poop in a pile for the sprint. Meaning the short straight between turns three and four is really too late to get yourself where you have to be. Tom and Steve are at the front and Dale is right behind and to the outside waiting to fire the cannon. Meanwhile Kal is fading back so that he can jump prior to the rest of us and come by at speed instead of allowing us to react to a “Jump” by jumping right next to us. Not a sophisticated move, but very functional.

So, for a guy like me wanting to win the sprint against the current two best sprinters, I’m in a tight spot boys! If I fade back to Kal, Dale goes and he’s gone. If I wait behind Dale and he doesn’t go first, Kal will come flyin’ by with a gap that will be tough to close through two corners and a short sprint. So approaching the third corner and in the .6 seconds that I’m mentally flipping a coin, Kal goes flyin’ up the inside with great speed! I jump to match and have to go way wide to go around Dale, Steve and Tom. Too far, too late, too wiped from the 30+ minute break effort. Dale has a huge jump at his disposal and dispatches with me well before the line and Kal as well who had a gap on me. Not the finish I had hoped for, but it was over nonetheless!

Meanwhile, back on the reservation, Ricky Shorts (Velo Allegro), Paul Springer (CVV), and Ironfly’s Richard Stalhberg were making efforts to get away from the group, the most persistent being Stahlberg. A quick unrelated note here, the Ironfly kits are the probably the coolest I’ve ever seen!! But all efforts were abandoned or neutralized. Yet another interesting note about the course. Over the 30+ minutes we were out there, I took my turn at the front at every location on the course. The stretch from the last corner to the Start/Finish line was the hardest. It seemed to have an invisible upward gradient and crowned at the line. Maybe everybody else knew this, but if not, after a while and getting stuck on the front there with today’s wind, that was quite a surprise to me.

After crossing the line we five rolled through and at turn one I did a U-turn to watch the rest of the group throw down a huge sprint. Out of the last corner, they were all over the road with Rubcic doing the business! First in the 60plus! Now I was about 150 meters away and looking into the sun, so I couldn’t make out riders or jerseys. But all of a sudden, a rider goes totally sideways taking out the rider to his right! They go down at max speed and I mean in a heap! From my vantage point it looks ugly and up close it probably looked worse. A rider comes rolling through and yells to me that it was one of my teammates. It was Paul Springer and John Mckee. On the ground, but getting up. Whew! Damaged bikes, wheels and flesh. The usual for a bike crash but thankfully rare in our races.

So what happened? Why? It happened because Paul was pulling on his handlebars as hard as he could and thrashing to beat everyone else. He jerked the bike right off the ground and the wheel went sideways. He took out John and scared the shit out of everybody else! No doubt about it, it was undesirable and unfortunate. They both walked away and will be back soon. My thought is John much sooner than Paul who will need some shoulder Xrays to confirm what everyone else has already assumed. There will be no lecture here, but just a simple “Keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up” as they say. Be safe so we can all race next weekend.

1. Dale Ludke
2. Kal Szkalak
3. Richard Pollock
4. Steve Bernede
5. Tom Reilly
6. Ricky Shorts
7. Mitch Weinstock
8. Raphael Gomez
9. Wayne Rosenkrantz
10. Peter Dufour
11. Richard Stahlberg
12. Richard Gentili
13. Steve Mera
14. Steve Borer
15. Joe Mastro

1. John Rubcic
2. Loren Stevens
3. Mike Flemming
4. Paul Springer
5. John Mckee
6. Bruce Steele
7. Jim Roebuck
8. Daniel Cain
9. Mario Seri
10. Domenick Forte
11. Robert Paganini
12. Richard Rodriquez
13. Barnett Feigenbaum
14. Ernie Hoffer

No comments:

Post a Comment