Sunday, July 12, 2009

2009 60+ NATZ CRIT A PIECE OF CAKE?

By John McKee

How you' ll. Nothing like spending a week in the southeast United States to pick up some verbal color. I spent a week in Kentucky, Tenn., and Alabama. First off to race Natz in the criterium and then to travel to Grant, Alabama and visit family in a place I hadn't been in 52 years. Lets start with the race.
The 60+ Nationals were concluding with the criterium on July 3rd, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky at the famous Churchill Downs race track. Home of the Kentucky Derby. The course is a 1/2 mile oval on the infield of the track. Pretty fast course except going into the wind toward the start/finish line. The first 2 events(road race and time trial) were won handily by Kenny Fuller eariler in the week. Probably the biggest margins he has ever had so going into the criterium it was no secret who the favorite was. Ken Louder of Utah was the 2nd strongest contender having finished 2nd in the road race and 3rd in the TT. There were a few crit specialists in the mix with some road racers and time trialists not partaking. 27 riders signed up with 23 lining up at 2 pm on the 3rd. My race strategy was simple. Stay near Kenny Fuller. I had talked with Kenny prior to the race on a Saturday training ride and he invited/advised me to stay near him and go with him when he jumped the field which was as sure a thing as could be and would be no surprise to anyone out there that had the slightest awareness of what was going on.
The race was for distance rather than time which is what we do in Socal to make sure the promoter can get all the events completed. 22 miles to be done by the race winner whoever that would be. The race was off. I put myself right behind Kenny figuring that was the premium spot.
Ken Louder almost fell off his bike at the start and I thought that was a bad way to start and then I felt my right pedal resist the cleat on my right shoe. One side of the pedal had been hard to get into so I flipped my Speedplay pedal and inserted my cleat/shoe. Of course by then everyone but Ken Louder were in front of me and the pace was crazy fast. I had lost Kenny's wheel and had to work very hard to move up. I got up there and rode near Kenny but I couldn't get his wheel. Butch "The Glueman" Holt of North Carolina had attached himself to Kenny's wheel and he was locked on. Smart play as Butch finished 8th in the prior year. Butch had higher aspirations in mind in 2009.
Kenny sat in for about 8 laps but a 2 person effort at a break brought out the fight in Kenny Fuller. Kenny went off to catch the 2 and of course "The Glueman" was right there along with Ken Louder and myself. This was hard but Kenny didn't lead it so the effort was caught by the field. Everyone was stressed but together. The pace settled down again but of course the inevitable happened going against the wind. Smart play on Kenny's part. Jumping the field into the wind. Unless you were right on him you would have to close a gap into the wind which was pretty tough. Kenny was off with Holt, Louder and Dave "The Haybaler" Stephens. Dave had finished 9th in the prior year in the crit and was also looking to move up. Dave came into this year's event in good form with a 7th place finish in the road race and a podium 5th place finish in the time trial. A good finish here would put him 3rd in the overall standings for 60+ racers in 2009. Dave had more on his mind then just the race though. Dave is from North Carolina and has a farm. He had 200 50 pound bales of hale to load by hand when he got home. Dave must have a strong core and with his blond hair, definitely doesn't look anywhere near his age.
I wasn't napping but was slightly out of position and jumped hard to catch on but there was already a gap and I couldn't close it. Kenny was going hard. So much for my prior race plan. 4 guys gone. I was really discouraged but probably not as bad as the "The Haybaler". Dave had taken a pull in the break group and got over stressed and was dropped. Yikes! That hurt. "The Glueman" stayed right on Kenny's wheel(see pic to the left) and wouldn't pull through so he got "the lecture" in race protocol in a lead break group.
Lap after lap went by and the lead 3 were on their way to lapping the field. In the mean time a number of riders were doing kamikaze solo jumps. Impossible to cover them all because the pace was pretty high but none of the moves worked right now. Going toward the finish line which was into the wind the threesome had lapped the field. Kenny Fuller went around the right side of the pack and Ken Louder went up the left side. Kenny found an opening and jumped and I mean he jumped hard. I was amazed. I was in the middle of the pack at the time and no one in front of me even tried to get on his wheel. Ken Louder got caught up on left side and had to move around to find an opening. By the time he did Kenny Fuller was long gone and no one was catching him.
After this "The Haybaler" made what seemed like another fruitless solo jump but it was a strong move. Like I said earlier, Dave came in with good form. Dave got a little gap and used his time trialing ability to stay away. Louder did finally find an opening and I thought this was a good time to be on his wheel. Just as he started a move a rider in the middle quickly moved to the right blocking him causing Louder and myself to break. Somewhere in the process I got off Louder's wheel and there he goes. 2 other riders, William Stone and Thomas Lobdell both of Indiana were right on him. Lobdell finished 8th in the crit last year while Stone is new to the 60+ category. The threesome used Louder's strength to get up the road. They hooked up with Dave Stephens and you could see 6 spots gone with 5 of them on the podium because the race was getting short. Kenny Fuller just lapped the field for the 2nd time and went right on by. Dave "The Glueman" Holt got on Kenny again although he was a lap down to Kenny and one lap up on most everyone else.
There were a number of riders that couldn't keep up and were lapped many times. I think they should have been pulled because it was hard to figure who was where but all I knew was with 2 laps to go we were going to sprint for 7th place. I wasn't all that excited about that.
In the meantime Kenny Fuller rolled across the finish line having completed the 22 miles in 53:21 or about 24.7 mph. Some of it totally by himself. It was a piece of cake for Kenny but that didn't mean he got to eat cake after the race. You probably remember from the TV series "Seinfeld" one of the characters in the program was "The Soup Nazi". Well Kenny's significant other, Pam Mooney(soon to be Fuller) calls herself "The Food Nazi". She has been rough on Kenny totally changing his eating habits and slimming him down. Kenny has to sneak off to the bathroom to eat the good stuff like kids did when we were in high school trying to find a place to smoke. The day after the race it was Kenny's birthday so I understand he got a small piece of cake. Pam has been great for Kenny but this has only made things tougher for the rest of us.
After Kenny crossed the line, Ken Louder finished 2nd solo. Butch Holt since he was one lap up on everyone placed 3rd. There was a sprint for 4th between Stephens, Lobdell and Stone. "The Haybaler" won handily over the 2 hoosiers with Lobdell taking 5th and the last podium spot(There is a vid of the finish below).
The bunch sprint was for 7th and I can't say I was totally committed but 4 of us were pretty close at the finish with Horacio Ahumada of New York coming off a 4th place finish in the road race taking the sprint for 7th place. Jeff Morin of Conn. was 8th, Loren Simons of Michigan 9th and myself 10th. It was a good hard race and the strongest rider by a long shot won. This race was harder than the last 3 years and especially the last 2 years.
Louisville is a pretty nice place and my wife and I had a good time although after 2 6th places finishes the 2 prior years the 10th place did kind of sting. Drove down to Grant, Alabama afterward and saw an area I hadn't been in 52 years. What a change. There wasn't indoor plumbing in individual homes or farms in the mid 50s when I was here last but now everyone has pretty nice homes. Nice place now actually. Not a great place for a vegan like myself though. Animal products prevail. I made do and especially enjoyed visiting with my uncles Arnold and Donald Sanders, Aunt Earlene Sanders and cousins Charis Sanders and Delphine Veach. My fam from Alabama are actually all American blue bloods having decended from John Alden who came over on the Mayflower and helped established Pylmouth Rock, the first settlement in America from European folk. Thats all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Men - Master - 60-64
Place Points NameTimeLicenseBibTeam
190Kenny Fuller 53:21.0 46765 377 Simple Green/Cycles Veloce
285Ken Louder 53:27.3 179491 390 FFKR/SBO P/B Tour of Utah
380G Butch Holt 53:27.8 61823 380 Carolina Bicycle Company
475David Stevens 53:29.2 248476 410 Veloproject.com
570Thomas Lobdell 53:29.5 45607 389 Scarletfire/verizon Wireless
665William Stone 53:29.8 47749 411 Labor Power
760Horacio Ahumada 53:30.2 60985 360 Cafeteros Cycling
855Jeff Morin 53:30.3 239670 398 Mystic Velo
950Loren Simons 53:30.6 47936 407 West Mi Priority Health
1045John McKee 53:31.2 180386 396 Paramount Racing
1140David Fishel 53:38.5 58350 376 Mob Squad - U Build It
1238Robert Brust 53:39.0 60610 367 Unattached
1336Charles South 53:39.5 33532 408 3 RVs
1434George Liolios 53:41.0 45603 388 Rainbow Inks
1532Paul Mehlenbeck 53:41.7 47107 397 Badger Velo Club
1630Ed McAlister 54:10.1 273356 394 Greenville Spinners Racing Team
1728terry bork 54:11.4 279668 366 Unattached
1826Neil Sutcliffe 54:15.8 229527 412 Unattached
1924Alfredo Uribe 54:29.6 46024 416 Redline Racing/LTP
2022David Burnside 54:30.6 5597 368 GVCC-Pedallers
2120Prewitt Lane 54:34.2 20291 384 Clarksville Schwinn
DNS0Harold Baselice
249434 364 Unattached
DNS0Stephen Bennett
68855 365 Colobikelaw.com
DNS0Bill Cole
239860 370 Savannah Wheelmen
DNF0Walter Lay
20594 387 Team Louisville
DNF0Loren Stephens
234791 409 Edge Racing



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