Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Cozy Little Race at Ontario Airport

By Steve Borer

Morning at the SCNCA Junior Criterium Championships for the 55+/60+ crowd dawned with lots of dark clouds, drizzle, wind, cold, airplanes and…no riders. Well, not exactly no riders, but just about no riders. To be exact, pre-registration for the 55s consisted of one rider – me – and the 60s had four. Driving to the airport course I told Jodi that I might even get a decent finish today considering the pre-registration numbers, though I secretly knew I would be, to quote Bill Tippets, “poaching a top finish.” But I knew I had properly prepared for the 7 a.m. start by having a massive spaghetti dinner, including spumoni, with family at world famous Vince’s Spaghetti just twelve hours earlier. Bring it on, boys, because I was ready for a poached top finish.

Warm-up consisted of talking to Kal about the lack of racers, watching commercial jets passing just inches overhead on approach to Ontario International Airport and riding my bike. When Ralph called the 55/60 racers to the start line the group approached. I pulled up next to Rino Barbagiovanni and he said “if you work with me maybe I can get a top three finish.” I thought this guy apparently thinks I’m Mule or he forgot his glasses or something because the only top three finish I’ve ever had was in a 55+ cross race that had only three riders. I thought maybe the 55s had only three racers, so I looked to my right to check out the crowd. I saw several 55s right next to me, but then I realized what I saw were Kal’s biceps, which are big enough for several riders. So, in fact, the 55s had three racers. The 60s had seven, meaning a grand total of ten racers were going to ride in the wind, cold and drizzle for 40 fun-filled minutes.

Ramon blew the whistle and we’re off. Apparently Kal felt threatened by the competition because he hauled ass through turn one and up the first straightaway. I rode right on his wheel but as we came through turn two he suddenly backed off. So much for trying to get away. He must’ve figured that with me on his wheel and without any teammates he was toast.

For those of you who have not raced the airport course you don’t know what you’re missing on a dark, cold, windy and wet day. The first straightaway is slightly uphill with a cross-wind, over fairly poor asphalt, complimented by a speed bump. A speed bump on a bike race course? You’ve got to be kidding! No kidding, it was right there on every lap.

Shortly after Kal backed off he took off again. This time only Rino went with him and they opened up a gap, then a big gap, then a huge gap. Then it dawned on me; Kal wanted to see how fast he and Rino could lap the field on the .7 mile course. And lap the field they did. By now the rest of us were riding together (sans Michael Edwards, whose gray locks blowing in the wind were slowing him down) and us 55s watched as the 60s battled it out. At the end, that crafty little Pags was brilliant; he openly professed to simply wanting to finish while in reality he was setting up a sprint finish. And sprint he did, right past the dumbfounded (and soon-to-be third place) Ernie Hoffer. What a sight.

See you all at San Pedro.

Masters 55+ Results

1. Kal Szkalak UC Cyclery/JW Flooring
2. Rino Barbagiovanni Santa Clarita Velo
3. Steve Borer Citrus Valley Velo

Masters 60+ Results

1. Richard Rodriquez Nytro Racing
2. Robert Paganini Pasadena Athletic Association (PAA)
3. Ernest Hoffer EDGE Racing
4. Michael Edwards EDGE Racing
5. Domenick Forte PAA/RE/MAX

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