Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ponce De Leon Couldn't Find it But....

By John McKee

Ponce De Leon is a legend in the folklore of the state of Florida. Ponce discovered Florida in 1513 and legend tells it that he was searching for the "Fountain of Youth". At least that is what is taught in the school systems there. I know I spent 3 years in grammar school there and heard all about Ponce De Leon and the legendary "Fountain of Youth". (Bonus insert- I played the swashbuckling, charming, and handsome hero of the Sunshine State in a school play at Fishweir Elementary School. I am pretty sure that in the play we are looking for that elusive fountain. I don't think we had our hearts in it though because all us kids wanted to be more mature and older. Little did we know that when we got "older" that we would want to be younger but to be historically correct we couldn't find it anyway.) We know of course that he didn't find it but I am not sure about a certain cyclist that is currently racing 60+. Kenny Fuller has always been a very successful cyclist and a former Olympian but it seems nowadays that he is getting better compared to riders his own age vs years ago. In a road race or time trial it isn't even a contest but lets tell the story of the Masters SCNCA Road Race Championship of 2009 for the 60+ category.
Pre registration went better than 2008 and there were 18 60s, 21 55s and 37 50s. The flyer made it look like we were all going to race together and be scored separately. Eric Smith let me know that like last year the 3 groups would race separately with 5 minutes in between start times. This is the second year in loveable Bakersfield. You can say a lot of things about Bakersfield but you have to admit that there are a lot of hotel/motel rooms. Not sure why but they are there. One thing they don't seem to have much of is grocery stores. After having dinner the night before the race at Frugatti's with Don & Trish Kimper, Steve Horine, John Rubcic, Steve & Jodie Borer, Bruce & Teresa Steele, Mark Huffman and new/old Paramount member Jim Morehouse I searched for a grocery store to get something to eat for Sat. morning. Side note-Jim rode for Paramount in the early 80s and needed a new team this year so decided to join Paramount again. Jim got to category 1 when he finished racing in the 80s but stopped racing and just rode his bike. In 2002 he was shot on a road in Nevada in the leg. Bummed he didn't ride again until he got the bug in 2007. He has lost 20 lbs and is riding and climbing great. The tougher the course the better for Jim. I did ask Jim if the long arm of the law found the culprit that shot him and his reply was "Unless you got shot and are bleeding to death on a casino floor, they don't much care".
OK, back to the search for the food store. I actually couldn't find one. I turned on Buck Owens Rd. and saw a karaoke lounge at the Best Western. Down the road at the Teaser Pleaser you could find "All nude all the time". A lot of options for entertainment but for food I had to settle for a Arco station.
Getting to the venue on Saturday morning from the directions isn't the easiest thing and I got a little lost but found my way there. I wasn't the only one as the Short brothers also had trouble. The weather was cool with some dark clouds around. Many racers didn't bring arm or knee warmers thinking of the traditional type of hot weather you would expect in Bakersfield in June. The women masters racers went off at 7:15 am including Trish Kimper and Teresa Steele. They had to race against the female version of Kenny Fuller. She is on the same club.
The 50s were off at 7:30 am, the 55s at 7:35 am and the 60s at 7:40 am. The count for the 60s grew to 21. Pretty good number considering the travel, time and expense for everyone. The 55s had a few more. Thanks to all you guys that showed up. 45 between the 55s and 60s in a road race at Bakersfield is a good showing. Remember, no pack winner, no race. Again Robert Paganini was the oldest starter for the day. Robert didn't finish last either. Way to go, Robert.
21 60+ riders started down the road at 7:40 am. A few miles of a fairly easy pace and former Australian pro rider Warren Keyser took off. Nobody knew who he was. He was wearing John Tzinberg's Bike Religion jersey. Kenny Fuller knew him from times past and knew what a good rider he was. Kenny also had done some tandem riding with Warren before. Since Kenny knew he was strong Kenny jumped. Probably earlier than Kenny wanted but the race was only 31 miles. Off they go.
John Rubcic is sitting back having trouble with an upset stomach. Bruce Steele is still a glow from his great ride at the Paramount race on 5/31 and didn't train much this week coming into the race. Bruce's motivation level was down a bit.
A little heat was put on and riders started breathing harder and a few guys were off the back. I guess this was a chase for Kenny but what chance did that have unless his compatriot wasn't very good and nobody knew until later that Warren was a good rider. Someone thought that he might live outside the SCNCA area because everyone was so unfamilar with him but no he lives in Huntington Beach. I now remember seeing him on some local OC training rides.
OK, the race starts up the hill. The grade starts gradual and just gets a little steeper as it goes along until it peaks out. This is Jim Morehouse territory. Kenny and Warren were long gone by now but 13 riders were still together. Jim set the pace up the hill. He kept looking around for some help but never looked like he was in much distress. No one else seemed to want to do much work. Most of us were just trying to hang on. I kept asking Don Kimper how much further we had to the top. The answer was always the wrong answer. The right answer would have been, its right around the corner but no... alas we had more to climb then my legs could take. About 3/4 the ways up a split occurred. 5 riders slowly rolled away. Morehouse, Rubcic, Close, Steele and Crystal. Mike is looking stronger every time I see him on his bike. The follow pack was myself, Baldwin, Kimper, DeVoss, Maciel and Crain. Cresting the top the distance between the 2 groups wasn't much but going over the top always gives the lead group an edge. They are going down while the chase group is going up. On the downhill there was one dangerous turn. A pretty sharp left turn that was wet from rain and had some dirt on it that turned to mud. Slick as could be. My rear tire skidded a bit but wasn't too bad. Dan Crain was behind me and skidded worse than I did and went into the dirt on the side of the asphalt. He saved himself from going down but lost some space to the 2nd chase group. Dan tryed to catch back up and crashed. Dan had some road rash but I heard later that he injuried his thumb. I had a pretty bad thumb injury at the Cyclo Vets Omnium in 2004. Not fun. Hopefully Dan's injury isn't too bad.
After the rest of the 2 chase groups came down there was about 300 meters or so between the 2 groups. The second chase group tried to work it but the distance seemed to stay the same and I think that the 1st chase group starting pulling away. Glen Baldwin and Gary DeVoss looked strong in the 2nd group. Jim Morehouse, John Rubcic and Mike Crystal were doing most of the work ahead.
As far as the lead two, Kenny peaked before Warren but waited for him so they could work together back to the barn. Coming back in the weather got nasty. Interminent showers with a pretty good headwind made things all the harder.
Kenny was able to drop Warren at some point before the finish for another SCNCA Masters Road Championship. Warren Keyser rolled in for 2nd. The first chase group turned toward home and at some point Jim Morehouse took a flyer and lead it out. Not surprisingly John Rubcic was able to overtake him for 3rd and the last podium spot. Jim was 4th with Mike Crystal locking up 5th with a solid ride. Steve Close was 6th with Bruce taking 7th.
The 2nd chase group saw Gary DeVoss take a flyer several miles from home and it looked like it was going to stick but Gary ran out of gas. Ben Maciel jumped the group coming in and was able to overtake Gary. Glen Baldwin pulled me in and Don Kimper accompanying his wife to the finish. Good event and the Kern County Wheelmen did a nice job promoting it.
The complete list of finishers was:
Thats all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

1 comment:

  1. BTW. I did get the number pinned on right before the Cat 4 race, despite the photo on my blog!