Monday, June 1, 2009


By John McKee

Sunday May 31st saw the SCNCA Masters Criterium Championship and the Paramount Grand Prix being one in the same. The race was held at the standard location in Rancho Dominguez with a finish line only used once before in 2007. Rancho Dominguez is the name for the area throwing back to the Spanish land grant days. It is close to the city of Dominguez Hills, Carson and Compton but not in any city limits. The area is serviced by the LA County Sheriff's Dept. and service they do, as the same patrol officer works the Paramount race every year. He has everything down and as long as you have the finish and registration where he wants, he is happy to be there. State championship jerseys would be available to winners of the masters categories starting at 30+ and ending in 60+.
My day started on the course a little after 5 am. Re-grooming the course after already cleaning up on Friday from dirt, dirt clods, gravel, rocks, glass, cardboard, pieces of metal, wood, and food wrappers. All that was left early Sunday morning were a few broken Corona Extra bottles. All the stuff from the OCW storage locker showed up for registration and the course to be set up. Pop ups, tables, cones, and a million and one other things. Some items are critical like waiver forms and that required a late night run to Kinko's after it was determined that 500 copies were going to be AWOL.
The event went off at 7:30 am with the women 35+/45+ category. I had heard a lot of belly aching out of the women about early start times, having to race together, this and that, but in the end a decent number of gals showed up and raced. Unfortunately, Hilary Crowley the 2007 champion crashed at turn 2 and held up the start of the men's 60+ race. Hilary seemed OK after a bit and the event went on. Hilary did a second race, but was feeling odd later and was taken to the hospital to get checked out by her buddie Diana Del Fante. I hope Hilary is ok.
There were 23 pre regs in 60+ with 28 showing up at the line. There were a number of no shows in 55 and 60+ for various reasons and some of you who entered knowing you weren't coming, I say thank you for that. My goal was 30 in 60+ and we fell short at the line, but had at least 30 registrations. The field was super strong. Equivalent or almost equivalent to the caliber of criterium nationals I have done the last 3 years in Penn. and Kent. We had a world champion, 30+time national champion, district champions and many podium district finishers.
The weather was overcast and cool. No rain like in some areas of the Southland. Pretty ideal conditions for a bike race. 40 minutes of near full throttle racing was ahead. At 8:25 am the race was on for 40 minutes. The 60+ racers were racing for $750. A record purse by a long way.
Paramount had its pre race strategy. Monty was going to mark Kenny Fuller and I was going to mark Phil Richards. I talked to Phil before the race and if you know Phil, he was as usual trash talking himself. I asked him if he was going to be aggressive out there and he said no. He was just going to sit in. Remember an old saying when we were kids. 'Liar liar pants on fire'. Well, Phil's pants were definitely SMOKIN'. Almost from the gun Phil was up to his old tricks. Phil definitely was the most aggressive rider in the race and didn't end up with much to show for it, but it wasn't for lack of trying.
Phil started the action early and Edge rider Ernie Hofer got on him to protect the Edge sprinters Loren Stephens and Joe Wells. I got on the effort as well, but being so early I just sat on. This move quickly failed. Phil tried again and I was again on him and Mike Crystal joined in. We worked it for a while but this effort was also reeled in. Jumpin' Jack(Phil)Flash was at it again and again I was on him but this time an SBW member joined us. Better mix because SBW had at least 3 shirts in the pack. The SBW member was Bruce Steele. I met Bruce about 4 years ago at this course at a CBR race. I talked to Bruce there and he told me he use to do a lot of mountain biking and wanted to try his hand at road racing. I am pretty sure I told him what I tell a lot of guys that want to give racing a try. Sit in, hang out at the back, watch and learn, and don't do anything crazy or heroic like you see on tv. Bruce learned and learned well. Bruce has become a consistent top finisher in 55 and 60+ racing, but what was to come has to bring to mind classic upsets in sports history. With the help of the Internet and ESPN I am going to mention 3. The first is "The Miracle on Ice". US amateurs beating a clearly professional team from the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics. The Americans had previously lost to the very strong Soviet team 10 to 3 but showed what hard training, teamwork, good coaching and enthusiasm can do for you. The whole thing was made into a pretty good movie with the title "The Miracle" with Kurt Russell playing the head coach of the team.
The second upset that pops out at me is Jack Fleck beating Ben Hogan in the 1955 US Open in a 18 hole playoff. Ben was one of the best golfers of all time and Jack Fleck was a total unknown. Jack tried his hand at small time pro golf after separating from the Navy after WWII. Jack was off shore at Utah Beach during the D Day invasion. No one gave Jack a chance but he won by 3 strokes in the Monday playoff at Olympic Club in San Francisco.
The third upset that also popped out at me was "The Miracle Mets". The New York Mets had been a total door mat in the National League since their inception and had finished the 1968 season in 9th place. In 1969 as of Aug. 13th the Mets were 9 and 1/2 games out of first place but came on to win the pennant and beat the Baltimore Orioles in 5 games in the World Series. The Mets roster included a friend of mind and former baseball teammate at Long Beach City College and Long Beach State College, Rod Gaspar. 2 years off the campus at LBSC and Rod was in on one of the greatest comebacks and upsets in sports history.
Now I don't want to go overboard about the place of masters bicycle racing and its importance in sports because to everyone else it doesn't mean much but to most of us it is a passion- stimulating, motivating, dangerous, very hard and fun all at the same time.
Now lets get back to the race itself and how all this background information ties in. The last you were told Richards, Steele and McKee were on a break. The clock was reading about 20 mins to go so the race was half way over. The biggest prime of the day was a teeth bleaching generously donated by Dr. William Langstaff. Bill is one of the best ago group time trialists around. The value of this prime is $600. I knew that Kenny Fuller wanted this and had won it every time it was available in the past and he was able to attend. In 2008 Kenny raced on Saturday in Louisville, Kent. in the afternoon so you wouldn't expect him to race Sunday morning in Southern Cal. Of course the Paramount President had to be there and also raced in Kent. but thats another story. Lol.
OK, the Paramount playbook was for me to be off the front with Phil Richards and Kenny would go for the bleaching prime and come across so strong that John Rubcic wouldn't be there. Kenny did go hard as expected and John Rubcic was left flat for a bit but John recovered and gave it a hard go to catch on to Kenny. Mike Crystal also tried to come across to the break group. I saw Kenny coming on the down hill and freewheeled waiting to jump on the express train. We all jumped on the express train and John Rubcic made it across as did Mike Crystal. On the third leg of the course which is uphill the power was put on and gapped all of us but John Rubcic. John stayed on his wheel through the finish line. Kenny won the prime but John was where he wanted to be. Bruce sporting his new Zipp 404 wheels with ceramic bearings got back on track and caught back on with Kenny and John.
Phil, Mike and myself were left to work together to try and catch back on or stay away from the pack. Several laps went by and everything stayed status quo. The second break stayed about the same distance away from the front group and the pack for a couple of laps but the front group started pulling away and the SBW team stopped the "no chase" rule. The second break group of Phil, myself and Mike were back in the pack. Up front Kenny and Bruce were trading pulls with Bruce taking the down hill sections and Kenny taking the harder uphill sections. John Rubcic was locked onto Kenny's wheel. John takes a lot of ribbing about his race tactics from parties on and off the course but he has his side. Kenny's best chance to win is to separate himself from John and then go into his tt mode. Since he is the fastest tt rider in the world in our age category who would be able to catch him. When would be the best time to jump John. After a pull at the front when John was stressed. If John doesn't take a pull then he has a chance to stay with Kenny and is the top sprinter in the country in 60+ so he would have a great chance to win if he can stay with Kenny. Bruce was just trying to stay with the 2 and taking a pull when he could thinking he was riding was 3rd place.
The pack had no more incentives so the pace slowed. With 3 laps to go another page of the Paramount playbook came into the race. New member and ultra distance rider Dan Crain was asked to go hard with 2 laps to go to make the race safer for everyone and make the others riders besides Monty and I chase. Dan got a little too excited and went with 3 laps to go and did a great job but he went too early and had little pop left for the last lap.
Up front on the last lap Kenny was going to gamble everything to make John go hard so he could ride his wheel early in the lap. Kenny let Bruce get a gap when Bruce was taking his pull on the downhill. Kenny has many titles under his belt already. Bruce saw that he had a gap and went for it. John was waiting until the moment that he could take it to the line hard and not "dry up" and let Kenny come around him but not wait so long that he couldn't catch Bruce. Oops! Miscalculation! John went after Bruce with 2 corners to go. It was too late. Bruce rolled across the line the 2009 SCNCA CHAMPION! Congratulations to Bruce. John came across the line soon after with Kenny sitting up for third and pointing to Bruce.
It got a little messy in the pack with everyone trying to get in good position. Monty came around the last corner and lead it out. Loren Stephens was on his wheel. There is a little less than 200 meters to the line but it is a false flat and not easy. Monty said it felt like 800 meters. I got boxed in the pack behind a road/time trialist who made me put on my brakes at the last corner making a good finish impossible. I didn't have good legs anyway. Loren came around Monty to win the field sprint. Monty rolled in with Joe Wells following, Mike Fleming, Mike Crystal, Mike Barnes and myself rounded out the top 10. Complete results below and 2 vids of the finishes.
The Paramount GP was a great success overall. 692 entries-should be 3rd for the year in Socal after Dana Point and MBGP. The biggest purses in history in 55+ and 60+ in the country. I would dare say the largest field ever in 50+ at 74 racers in the country. Senior masters racing is really cooking in Socal. I want to take a bit to thank a number of people that helped make this a great event. The Paramount club came through with great support as volunteers. Thank you teammates. Category sponsorship was awesome. UCC/JW Flooring came through with 2 cat sponsorships and additional compensation to get on the race permit. Paramount put 100 % of this back into the race for the racers. Edge Racing also came through with compensation to get on the race permit and a cat sponsorship. All of this was put back into the race for the racers. Rick Swanson of Progressive Fastening Systems put in a cat sponsorship even though he was going to be in Italy watching the Giro at the time of our race. Richard Pollack of Mule Motorcycles put in a cat sponsorship and unfortunately was sick and couldn't make the race. Additional cat sponsors were Jax Bicycle Centers and Paramount VP Curt Dosier of Knobbe Marten Intellectual Property Law. I put in a cat sponsorship as well. Feathers Brakes threw in a set of $400 brakes weighing 199 grams. The Orange County Wheelmen were good for a double sponsorship for the men 1/2/3 race . THANK YOU ALL CAT SPONSORS!
The officials crew was great with SCNCA President Eric Smith heading up the crew that included Greg Alden and our own John Rubcic. Ralph Elliott of MGE Racing did another great job of announcing the event. Ralph likes what is is doing and loves to tell stories. He was thinking back to 1968 when he did the Tour of Paramount. Monty Pettus was a member of Paramount back then.
Special feedback from Eric Smith president of SCNCA "First, I think everything went extremely well. Big fields, except for the crash in the women’s race, everything went off like clockwork, and registration was awesome!"
The president of UCC/JW Flooring Joey Valdivia had this to say "Hello. What a great day of racing for Southern California. Please send our thanks to all the members that worked so hard to put on a perfect race. The races were on time and with all the preems, very aggressive. I’m sure all the participants got their fill of racing today."
Thanks to all the participates and volunteers. It was fun. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

SCNCA Masters Crit Championships (Rank 3.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 236498 Bruce Steele South Bay Wheelmen 42
2 48760 John Rubcic UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 33
3 46765 Kenny Fuller Cycles Veloce 30
4 234791 Loren Stephens EDGE Racing 27
5 219074 Leo Pettus Paramount Racing 24
6 48252 Joseph Wells EDGE Racing 21
7 129293 Michael Fleming Coates /On Deck Foundation 18
8 8283 Michael Crystal CA Pools Racing 15
9 220804 Michael Barnes Rock Solid Cycling 12
10 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 9
11 171652 Stephen Whitsitt South Bay Wheelmen 6
12 58170 Sydney Duck Unattached 3
13 238828 Phillip Richards Citrus Valley Velo 0
14 50498 Richard Rodriguez Nytro Racing 0
15 101582 William Carvin Unattached 0
16 144111 Robert Carter San Diego Cyclo Vets 0
17 61278 Mario Seri Kahala LaGrange 0
18 115793 Jim Roebuck Southern California Velo 0
19 203244 Cary Alpert South Bay Wheelmen 0
20 45763 Robert Paganini Pasadena Athletic Assoc (PAA) 0
21 266647 Allen Kizuka Velo Allegro 0
22 246256 Daniel Crain Paramount Racing 0
23 275832 Benjamin Maciel Citrus Valley Velo 0
24 223119 C Kevin Post South Bay Wheelmen 0
25 45342 Domenick Forte PAA / RE/MAX 0
26 57726 Ernest Hoffer EDGE Racing 0
27 281976 Michael OConnor Unattached 0

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