By John McKee
55/60+ racing had been in full stride by the time of the Paramount GP/SCNCA Championship but since then we have had a pretty major drop off of interest and entries. One of the situations is the collapse of the Citrus Valley Velo racing team. CVV had been a bright spot in the 55/60+ peleton being the only team to try and match up against the powerful UC Cyclery/JW Flooring racing team. Due to injuries, loss of interest, burn out, and probably more than I know of most of the racers are no shows nowadays. Hopefully some of the guys will get the bug again, heal up their injuries and get back out there. We really need numbers at certain critical events through the rest of the season. The one bright spot from their club is Steve "Ironman" Borer. He is there week in and week out.
Sunday June 21st saw the San Pedro Grand Prix taking place. It was orginally on the schedule with the Glendale race the same day. Brad House the promoter of the SPGP was trying to work things out for the 55/60+ racers and I really appreciate his concerns to give us opportunities to race and have the other benefits that top of the line races have like a purse, on line reg without a late fee late into the week, race winner jersey(I have to smile here a little. I have seen low priced jerseys before but...Lol. It was something with the name of the event and winner on it. So cool!), and some decent primes(Sports Splash is not one of them).
The Glendale race was rescheduled for Aug. 30th so SPGP was solo on the calendar. The race had to deal with Father's Day but the 55/60+ started at 9:30 am so really no problem there.
Plenty of time later in the day to spend with the fam.
There were 23 or 24 55s that came to the line at 9:30. 9 60s came up which was disappointing but the malaise and injuries have hit the 60s hard. John Rubcic broke 2 bones in his hand the Sunday before in a fun sprint before getting home from a mountain bike/cyclo cross ride. John's foot came out of the pedal and down he went. John says he can ride now but can't grip his bars that well to sprint. No known time table for a return. Paul Springer is still having trouble with his shoulder which is a shame. Paul had great form at the time of his injury at Ontario.
The race at San Pedro is on an interesting and very tough course. It is 1.1 miles long with a 50 Ft. power climb every lap. Maybe that doesn't sound that great but the pro race at Nevada City had a 100 Ft. climb in 1.3 miles and that was considered difficult for the pros. Lance won it solo. The San Pedro course is actually almost always on as far as effort required. You start out toward the ocean and into the wind, make a 180 right turn onto a very narrow road which starts the power climb. Once you crest the top you finally get a downhill but have to scrub most of that speed because you have another 180 right turn with smooth bricks at the bottom which made traction a bit of a problem on top of everything else. After the last 180 turn you have 600 meters to the finish line slightly uphill into an ocean breeze. There is very little time to "rest" on this course. It keeps taking it to you!
The race started off like fire crackers on a Chinese New Year. Kal typically likes to heat things up just to give the race a little flavor. Lol. Some 60s were shelled right away. I was struggling a little and saw how far I was from the front and how many riders were ahead of me. Howard Miller came by me and gave me some incentive to move up. By the time the race hit the top of the hill for the 2nd time the pace slowed and allowed me to move up. I kept an eye on the 400 numbers series as that was the 60s while the 55s had a 300 number series.
There were a lot of attacks but one that looked like it might stick took place about 1/3 the way through the race. Good mix of riders- Mitch Weinstock, Richard Stahlberg, Ricky Shorts and new to 55 racing Stan Appel. They worked it but somehow it didn't make it. They never got very far away but kept the pace of the race high. This race was hard. I was at my limit most of the race. Once this break got caught the effort level subsided a bit but another jump by Kal Szkalak put the hurt back on everyone and especially the chasers like Al Shorts, Howard Miller, Tom Reilly and Stan Appel. Kal never got very far away but no one could completely close the gap. Kal reminded me of Thurlow Rodgers who likes to go out in front and just hurt everyone in 45+. Thurlow can be just 20 meters off the front and he just keeps grinding it out. I have to give Kal a lot of credit. He is very strong. I just sat in and saw all the 60s move behind me. I knew Bruce Steele has been riding very strong in 60+ and had just won the SCNCA at the Paramount race but this course didn't quite fit his riding style and his motivation is a little down right now. This course requires power, speed, climbing ability (short power climbs), bike handling skills, and a long sprint. Its no wonder that some 55s and 60s were off the back.
With 5 laps to go Kal finally got reeled back in. The pace again slowed and I saw some 55s come by me but no 60s. William Carvin did get by me half way through the race but dropped back during the "Kal chase". The last 3 laps were at a pretty good pace but the lap times were off from 15 to 30 seconds per one of the officials. The pace gave Tom Reilly an idea and he took off with about 1 lap to go. Bell lap. Nervous time. I got on Rick Swanson's wheel figuring that was a good wheel to come in. Lost it at the top but no 60s seemed to be near me. At least a dozen 55s were ahead of me and working for position. Tom Reilly was still away but Dale Luedtke wasn't worried figuring that Tom would be reeled in before the finish.
He was caught but it was close. Not quite like the pro races where someone is away for 50 miles and gets caught with 200 meters to go but I am sure the feeling of disappointment was similar for Tom. Dale came ripping toward the finish line and passed Tom with 2 cones to go(50 meters or less) winning the race pumping his arm before the line (vid of finish included). Kal was still tired from his solo effort and faded a bit toward the finish . Stan Apple got 2nd place in an outstanding first appearance in 55+ racing. Al Shorts came in 3rd in another strong outing.
In 60+ racing I came at the tail end of a line of 55s but one of the guys quit his effort so I had to make my way toward the finish line solo but Bruce was a bit behind so first place to John McKee. Bruce Steele was 2nd with Mario Seri placing 3rd. All the placing will be added when the complete results show up on the SCNCA website (I didn't get a complete list from Eric Smith at the event like I usually do).
This was a very tough and hard fought race. Perfect for me tuning up for Natz. George Chester mentioned that we averaged over 300 watts on his power meter for the 40 minutes. Thats sounds a little high but good job by everyone that came out. We need a great turnout for Manhattan Beach or our options next year may start drying up.
Thanks to guys like Nick Forte, Pags and Michael Edwards who always come out even when the results aren't always there. Hope to see many more of you next week at the MBGP. Thats all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
55+ Finish List
60+ Finish List