By John McKee
Ontario, California is something like Vancouver, Canada. A bustling city just below a beautiful mountain range. There is more snow in the mountains above Ontario then on Cypress Mountain the site of many 2010 Winter Olympic events near Vancouver. If you don't believe me, just look at the picture to the right. Boutique hotels, cyclist friendly roads, trees everywhere, and lush green lawns. Like its sister city Vancouver there was an athletic event on February 28th, 2010 in Ontario, Cal. (The picture to the right is courtesy fo Jim Swigart).
It was a SCNCA/USA Cycling sanctioned bicycle race called Ontario #1 - Dare to Race GP. Racers from all over Southern California gathered to challenge one another in 18 different categories. The biggest race of the day was the 55/60+ event scheduled to start at 7:35am. The stage race specialists were in Nevada for the Calville Stage Race but the criterium specialists and everyone else showed up this Sunday in Ontario. The 55/60+ was scheduled for 40 minutes and to start after the women category 4 finished. 14 year old Tara McCormick of Lightning Velo and sponsored by Cal Pacific Export Packers won this race handily going away.
There was a good but not great pre registration for the 55/60+ race. 22 60+ riders and 16 55+ racers signed up and paid their money. There were a few same day enteries but a few of the pre regs didn't make it because of illness like Monty Pettus of Paramount and Craig Jones of Velo Avanti. Most of the players in this type of race in both categories were present except for Kal Szkalak, Al and Ricky Shorts, & Mike Fleming.
About 40 actual racers came to the line including 3 women. Officials Ed Keck, John Rubcic, and Eric Smith were there among others to officiate and see that the race was fair, clean and fun! 7:35 am came and all the racers were off. There is always one or two riders that have trouble getting into their pedals and I was behind one of them but no worries. Plenty of racing time left to move around the peleton. There were a few new 55+ racers and they would add an unknown quality to the race.
Breaking away is the name of the game in all group racing and there would be a number of break attempts throughout this rather hard short race. Most Ontario events are quite surgie in nature with hard and easy moments but most of this race was ON! The overall race speed was 24.6 mph which doesn't sound that high but there are 7 corners a lap meaning the straight aways would be done between 26 and 27 mph consistently.
Dale Luedtke decided to see how his legs felt and jumped the field but everyone and I mean everyone jumped on this one. Dale soon gave up this idea but this would be the first of many attempts of riders to separate themselves from the field. The first major move that got away included Don Davidson and new teammate Gary Shuey both of Citrus Valley Velo. They were joined by Rick Swanson in his new kit with his new team Radsport Cycling Team. The 3 worked it but Rick decided to drop back while Don and Gary kept plugging away but before long they were brought back with the help of UC Cyclery/JW Flooring. Steve Horine and Mitch Weinstock of UCC were there to support UCC's powerhouse, Dale Luetdke.
A few primes came and went but you don't get much at Ontario so I don't think many in the pack were excited but Pedro Ordaz of an unknown team was very active. There was this consistent ebb and flow of racing action in the middle of the race that kept the pace high with few respites but no break group. One big ball of racers. With 10 to 15 minutes to go Pedro Ordaz jumped the field and held everyone off by himself. He didn't get very far away and no one seemed that concerned but the 4 lap to go card came up and he was still out there. 3 racers decided to bridge across and see if a small group could it make it stick to the finish line. Phil Richards of Citrus Valley Velo, Tom Reilly of PAA and Mitch Weinstock of UCC came aboard to make it a foursome. A foursome is a favorite grouping of gophers but 4 in a break group is also a good number to work with if all are committed to work hard and leave nothing in the bag. You have to want to use all 14 clubs. The maximum number of clubs that gophers are allowed to carry around. Mitch Weinstock was in a quandry because his teammate Dale Luedtke would be the favorite in a bunch sprint. Mitch would have to be certain he could win in this group or he could end up the goat. Not winning the race and making Dale sprint for 5th place. Mitch decided to go half hearted in the group. Not using all his clubs. Pedro Ordaz demonstrated he is very strong but he wasn't smooth and didn't have a good idea how to best work with everyone else. The group stayed away the last number of laps and were still away with one lap to go but weren't that far ahead. Maybe 50 to 70 meters. Phil Richards was trying to quarterback the group. Doing a real John Elway(He's retired. Maybe I mean Peyton Manning. Yea, that's it!). Tom Reilly is not new to break groups and trys to get away every race and knows what he is doing. As the last lap dwindled the group was still out there but Mitch's help dried up and the pace in the main group picked up thanks to Steve Borer of SDBC.
2 known opportunists Steve Bernade of Simple Green and Doug Knox took off with another unknown assailant. The break group was caught, the pack was right there and it was chaos out there. The 3 new breakers were trying to sneak home unnoticed but it was time for Dale Luedtke to show his stuff. The movie "Ben Hur" was shown on the same day as the race on the best station on television TCM. The lead character in the film was played by Charleton Heston who was Judah Ben Hur. Ben Hur was betrayed by his friend Messala played by Stephen Boyd.
Ben Hur was sentenced to be a slave aboard a ship rowing and chained to his post. The slaves were wipped and rowed endlessly to move the ships around the seas. The most important use for the rowing was in battle. The ships ram each other at maximum speed if necessary. This action was practiced often to test and prepare the rowing slaves. There was a guy with this drum that would beat out the tempo of the rowing. The ship captain and fleet commander Quintus Arrius played by Jack Hawkins came down to see how the slaves would perform in battle conditions.
He instructed the overseer to start ramping up the pace of the rowing. The first move was to "Battle Speed". The drummer upped the beat and the rowers started rowing faster. Dale Luedtke started his "Battle Speed" with 3 corners to go. Bernade and his group were just ahead and Dale ramped it up to approach this group.
The next level of speed is called "Attack Speed". Ben Hur and his mates are commanded to up the ante and row even faster. Dale Luedtke came to Bernade's group and went to "Attack Speed". There was little room to the right but Dale saw the hole. He went for it surprising Steve Bernade and even Rick Swanson who was behind Dale. Rick figured if Dale could get through so could he. Steve Bernade was surprised but figured on jumping on Dale but at least 3 to 4 riders were right on Dale's tale and couldn't move right away. Besides Rick, Michael Birditt of Swami's Cycling Club, and Carlos Cruz of Canyon Velo and newly aged up 60+ racer. Carlos is the father of pro and former LA teammate Tony Cruz. Steve got his second wind and locked on to the group.
I was a bit behind also trying to move up the right side seeing my leadout man hopelessly stuck in the main group. I was on my own and had to block a lot of wind to move up. Coming into the last corner which is a bit of a slingshot Dale moved to maximum speed. Dale doesn't wait until the last minute. He likes to ramp up to maximum before the last corner if the sprint distance from there in is fairly short. In the movie the last order came to go to the final and fastest speed, "Ramming Speed". Ben Hur and everyone heard the beat of the drum and were rowing as fast as they could. They were really sucking wind. In this bicycle race Dale made "Ramming Speed" look easy and was first to the last corner. Once Dale gets to "Ramming Speed" and is first to the last corner you can turn out the lights, the party is over. Dale came across the line in 1st place. Michael Birditt was 2nd and Rick Swanson was 3rd. Carlos Cruz hung on to this group and was the first 60+ racer to come across the line.
Back a bit Loren Stephens, Raphael Gomez, John Edwards and myself were fairly close and all going for what they thought was 1st place in 60+. I had Raffy to my right and slightly ahead and in a line of racers, Loren was to my immediate left and John Edwards was to the far left. A 55+ racer came across the path of Loren and I and Loren had to swerve and I hestiated. Coming home I thought I might be able to pass both with my new Zipp 404 wheels (Here's a special shutout to Juan Martinez of CyclePro bicycle service who gave me a good deal on the wheels and glued the tires on. Juan also has 25 years experience building custom wheels. Juan's shop is in Lake Forest at 22706 Aspan, Ste 502) but alas no. I didn't even get out of the saddle. Doh! John Edwards thought he had a shot at all 3 but came up short. The 4 of us came across in this order-Loren, Raffy, myself and John Edwards.
As mentioned earlier the overall speed was 24.6 mph and it was a good hard fought race with no spills but a lot of thrills. Unfortunately in a succeeding race(50+) there was a crash and many 55/60+ racers(all doing it for training) were taken out including- George Chester, Pags, Don Kimper, Steve Horine, Jim Swigart and Steve Borer. Steve Borer took the worst of the damage with broken ribs, damaged shoulder, damaged finger tendon, road rash and a very sore hip. Steve is a very positive person and plans on recovering fully and racing with us again but maybe not in the 50+ category.
The 60+ finish was:
As of this time only a few places are known in 55+. The finish sheet that Eric Smith gave me was totally messed up. Eric messaged me this morning about the problem and he told me he was going to go over the video again to place all the 55+ racers. The placings I know about are:
I will expand the placing when available. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!