By John McKee
Chris Lotts is always saying "Show me the love", unlike Cuba Gooding Jr. who is always saying "Show me the money" in the movie "Jerry Maguire". Chris is talking about racers signing up for his CBR bicycle races and Febuary 21, 2010 CBR had its 2nd criterium of the 2010 season called the "Simple Green Criterium" in Carson, Ca. "Show me the love" amounts to the same thing as "Show me the money" in reality. Chris brought back the 55/60+ categories after a layoff from 2006. There is an added twist this year and that is the 60+ category has a separate BAR series along with the 55+ racers. Both racing at the same time but scored separately for the finish placings and BAR points out to 20 places. The racers are placed together for the prize money. Chris and life partner Vera are CBR and provide racing opportunities to the race community on many Sundays from Jan. to Sept. and all Tuesdays at El Dorado Park in Long Beach from March to August. They do a great job and I don't think they make much money at it although this year could be their breakthrough year. New riders are coming out of the wood work. Don't know why or how but for this race their were 132 pre registered category 5 racers. Is Lance bringing racers out again? Anyway, I say good for Chris and Vera.
The weather report was always on racers minds coming into the weekend of the "Simple Green Criterium" as their was also a race on Saturday in Imperial which had a 55/60+ category(Posted a story on this race already). Saturday turned out to be dry at race time and when everyone showed up on Sunday morning for the CBR race it was dry with no hint of rain in the near future. Phew! No one likes to race in the rain. When all the dust settled and the 55/60+ toed the line there were 43 registered racers. 18 60+ and 25 55+. Probably a dozen more than the first CBR event. Good showing and Chris seemed pleased and thanked everyone for showing the love though not enough love I guess to get a full pay out. Maybe next time. UC Cyclery/JW Flooring had 3 riders at the line vs. 10 the day before at Imperial. All the individual contenders were there in 55+ and all but one in 60+. The note able exception in 60+ was Paramount racer Monty Pettus. Monty won the 60+ category in the first round and was a no show. Monty had been racing late at the track the night before against the likes of Ricky Shorts and Keith Ketterer and this Sunday was his wedding anniversary. He had to choose... race or wife, wife or race, hmmm...... wife comes first!
The race time was set for 7:45 am and the race went off pretty near the scheduled time. 45 minutes of racing with a payout to the first 5 finishers no matter what their age. The first laps went by rather uneventfully but things were going to light up a bit because there were a number of aggressive riders that didn't what it to come to a bunch sprint finish which would favor UCC's major players in Kal Szkalak and Dale Luetdke. Kal and Dale only had one additional teammate and that was Reid Moore. Reid was there to help police the field but he would need plenty of help from the field to manage that. Oh by the way the race was being held counter clock wise. This is opposite the normal direction and the first time I actually did this course this direction. It was a fun diversion. The race had a number of break attempts, aggressive riding, etc. and these were the players that I saw- Phil Richards, Don Davidson, Don Denegal(Don raced track at the highest level in the 80s and raced against the powerful team from the USSR in the late 80s), Tom Reilly, Doug Knox, Kal, Richard Stahlberg and Steve Bernede. I believe Steve was the most aggressive rider and won 2 bottles of Australian red wine for his efforts on a prime lap. None of the break efforts through the race proved fruit full but with one lap to go there were 2 riders away. Not far but enough that the field couldn't ignore them. The 2 riders were Doug Knox and you guessed it Steve Bernede. At turn one UCC lieutenant Reid Moore went to the front to take a hard pull and try and ramp up the pace and bring back the 2 recalcitrant racers. Coming to turn 2 he hadn't pulled them back yet. Don't they know that Kal or Dale are suppose to win. They surely did but was this to be an upset. Like the USA beating Canada in hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympic games. The end of the hockey game between USA and Canada was so exciting and I am not a big hockey fan but damn. The Canadians were peppering the American goal with a minute and a half to go with shot after shot and goal tender Ryan Miller stopped them all. The pressure got even more intense when the Canadian team pulled their goalie and put one more attacker inside the blue line. It seemed like the cloak was counting down in slow motion. The break came when the Americans counter attacked and made a beautiful one handed shot to go up by 2 goals. 5-3 USA. The 2 teams could meet again in the final gold medal game. Stay tuned. That will be one highly watched game. So was this upset a sign of something similar in the 55/60+ bicycle race in Carson, Ca. Doug Knox didn't look all that fit to put it kindly but Steve Bernede is known as a strong rider and an opportunist. Don't know who was doing most of the work between them but I would surely guess it was Steve. Now that UCC played their only card they had to pull the break back and it didn't succeed. What next? At this point whoever would pull hard enough to close the gap would not be able to finish well. Or would the pack figure that after turn 3 the pace would be ramped up so high that the twosome would be swallowed up anyway.
Well Phil Richards decided to take things into his own hands and pull hard at the front. Now Phil rides for Citrus Valley Velo and is 60+ and both the break riders are 55+ but Phil felt compelled to go get them. The breakers were caught just before turn 3. Once everyone got to turn 3 the race exploded. Bye Phil but thanks for the memories. After turn 3 the slope is up and this day into the wind. It would take a very strong rider to lead everyone up this leg at a fast pace and Velo Allegro had just the man in Al Shorts. Al is major strong and was trying to set up his younger brother, Ricky.
Dale Luetdke knew on this course riding this direction he wanted to be first to the corner. Dale was lurking behind teammate Kal Szlalak. Ricky jumped the field going toward the final corner and got a gap. Ricky had his own plan and agenda. As mentioned earlier Ricky was at the track the night before racing against the likes of KK and Monty Pettus. When you hear the Beatles song "A Hard Day's Night" you think of someone out drinking, chasing girls, or both but not Ricky. He was at the track "working like a dog" but only a win today would make him "feel alright". Unfortunately Kal still has some of that Mr. Universe strength in his legs and pulled Dale up to Ricky. Howard Miller of Paramount wisely jumped onto Dale's wheel knowing a good wheel when he sees it. The lead out train caught Ricky before the turn and once Dale gets the mo going he can keep it up for a good distance. The new layout is shorter to the line from the last corner so when Dale made it to the last corner first it was a foregone conclusion who would win the race overall and the 55+ division. Kal was second, Don Denegal was 3rd, Ricky Shorts was 4th and Howard Miller was 5th.
In 60+ action Don Davidson positioned himself to perfection somewhere in the belly of the beast of 55+ racers and rode to victory in the 60+ category. Maybe Phil knew what he was doing after all. Don and Phil are teammates. Richard Stahlberg came into this event as the favorite in 60+ having placed second to Monty is the first CBR race and had a very good showing in Brea the week before. Paramount had Mike Duck shadow Richard through the race and I mean he was locked on. Coming into the last corner both Richard and Mike encountered a log jam and Mario Seri put on his brakes and his rear wheel skidded a bit. Didn't go down but slowed Richard and Mike. I was on the outside going up the hill and on Tim Marquez's wheel. I decided I would have to go around and make my way to the finish line on my own. I took the corner wide and there were a lot of riders ahead but started to make some head way. I saw Richard and Mike on my left and made a run at them. Didn't make it. Ran out of real estate. Richard Stahlberg was 2nd, Mike Duck was 3rd, I was 4th, Carlos Cruz was 5th, and Tim Marquez was 6th. Robert Paganini was 7th beating 11 riders a lot younger than himself.
Good hard race and a good showing. Thanks to all that came out and raced. It was fun! I only have placings to 10 in each category. I don't get my own finish sheet like at SCNCA races.
That' all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!