Monday, April 12, 2010

60+ Men's Cyclo Vets 2010 Ominium

By Guest Writer George Chester

Another great edition of the San Diego Cyclo-Vets Omnium. What a great course and the only stage race left for us 55+-60+ yr olds. The 1st highlight of the 3 days was Hylton Murphy out and breaking our legs once again. The second was the honor of getting to race with a great champion and sportsman, Kenny Fuller. Lastly the opportunity to share this great sport with many old friends, knowing we won’t have too many more opportunities.

Day one opened up at dawn, literally, with the Fiesta Island TT. I wish I was more familiar with their history, as this was the Championship weekend for all Grand Masters 65 –90+, and they are all great champions and inspirations to all of us. Link Lindquist at 80+ riding at 19.5 mph, Robert Bergen, 85+ riding at 19.16 and the Grand Champion at 90+, Gordy Shields riding the course. I was personally sent off at 6:44am with Kenny Fuller starting 1:30 behind. My goal to keep from being passed which I just managed by a second or two. Kenny won the TT at a blistering 27.16 mph. We offered to take him out for ice cream and Crispy Creams after, which he certainly deserved after such a great ride, but his lovely wife overruled us and so an every more fit and trim Mr. Fuller would once again ride us off his wheel in the following days. I put in as good a TT as I believe I have in me, avg somewhere around 300watts @ 25 mph, only to see that Bruce Steele had spanked me by half a minute and finished second to Kenny by about a minute. Great ride. Less than a minute behind me, but doing it on his road bike was Jim Morehouse coming all the way from Nevada. No question he was on form and may well have slotted in between Bruce and myself if he were on a TT bike. Hylton was signed in but did not make the start or all of us save Kenny would have almost assuredly dropped a spot. The stage was set for a three-way fight to the wire between myself, Bruce and Jim, with all of us having a front row seat to watch a display of heart and raw power by Hylton and Kenny.

Day two arrived breezy and freezing cold at 4000’ for the road race. Everyone who knows him was very happy to see Hylton on the line with us, and his old buddy and one of our best Johnny “Rocket” Rubic, who was officiating, came over and gave us a warm welcome. Great to see Hylton but you can’t expect too much form after all he has been through these last couple of year. Wrong! Carrying at least 30lbs over his old race weight, we roll out of the parking lot and I do 40 seconds at 450 watts, drafting towards the middle back of the pack. At two minutes after the start I record the high speed of the race, 45.5 mph. In the next couple minutes I work my way up to the front next to Bruce and as I look up the road I see the lead car and Ref with two riders more than a quarter mile up the road. I ask Bruce who it is and he replies Hylton and Kenny. Apparently Hylton drilled it out of the parking lot. Like watching Cancellara ride off the front we are now racing for second and possibly third. While sitting at the start staging area, one of the guys asked Kenny if he would start a half hour behind us, to which someone else quickly retorted, Naw that would be embarrassing. (He’d still catch and pass us) But what a treat to see Hylton, just like always ride off the front. There’s the train, it leaves the station at 7:30 am, right on schedule, jump on if you can or just stand on the platform and watch it disappear in the distance. Worried about all the crashes we are having and with some new and less-experienced riders charging up and down the group, Bruce lit it up on the rollers during the first half of the course, thanks. I hope I pitched in and did my share, and I saw Jim Morehouse, Jean Louis Villiot and Herb Johnson, (65+ winner and 2nd overall) working to establish a chase, but in all honesty we didn’t have enough depth and I know most of the guys were doing great just to be there. We turned the corner and Herb attacked pushing a monster gear, chased by Jean Louis, Jim, myself and Bruce. Sorry, I’m sure I have omitted a couple but I don’t look back during these moments, knowing the race is in front of me and soon I will have to give it everything to not buckle under the pain and relenting pace being set by Herb, Jean Louis and Jim. The opener on the hill was an attack of just under a minute at 17+mph, (400+ watts). After that we settled into a leisurely pace up a five and a half percent grade at just under 14 mph avg., (350 watt avg). Bruce almost held to the summit, but just slipped off. Climb number two saw us averaging 14 mph at a more sedate 310 watts on a shallower 4% grade, but the top short kick of 6%, felt like a wall and 11 mph and 350 watts was my max sprint, and not enough to hold Jim, Jean Louis and Herb. I settled in to TT mode, as the carrot was still very much in sight and reachable if they slacked the pace at all. A glance back showed Bruce a similar distance to me. Hoping he could get to me, but afraid to let the slim lead of the front two grow, (remember Kenny and Hylton are gone), we were all in TT mode hoping to catch the one in front and afraid of blowing. Nothing changed in the final climb, lap one. Just under twenty minutes we were averaging 14+ mph including the dips, and 11 mph on the 6% avg gradients. We finished the first lap, 22+ miles, 2000’ climbing with an average speed just over 20 mph. This sceanario held all the way thru to the final climb on the second/last lap when I finally caught Hylton. 3 years of very little riding, weighing over 200 lbs, I anticipated he might come back to us on the climbs. Most of us wouldn’t even have rated the cheap seats after all that, but it isn’t the first time I have underestimated that great champion, (and was soundly whipped during the lesson) I mistakenly thought our positions were fixed, and I had a good enough gap I could ride in with Hylton and talk about old times, and we are still doing over 9 mph after two hours, so we aren’t dog’n it. ‘ Nother mistake, don’t underestimated our State Crit Champion. You don’t get those jersey’s by giving up. Mid- conversation Bruce comes flying by in full attack, I say something best not printed here, Hylton says, “I think you better go now”. I doesn’t get any better than this. Bruce, Dan Wulbert, (65+ and 2nd riding a great race) and I take turns and ride towards the finish. All of us tired and spent, Bruce graciously says he doesn’t intend to contest me for 4th and we can all take it easy to the finish, when I believe Dan looks back and says someone is closing fast on us. I don’t even have to look back, I know it Hylton and drop the hammer, (what’s left of it). I know Hylton will never quit and it makes the race all the more special. Kenny 1st, Jim Morehouse 2nd, Jean Louis 3rd, myself 4th, Bruce 5th and Hylton. Overall now re-shuffled, Kenny, Jim, Bruce and me.

Day 3 and the final race is a Crit. Jim, Bruce and myself were not looking forward to this with all the needless crashes that this seasons crits have brought. The good news is Steve Borer was healed enough to come out and ride out the Crit. We didn’t expect to see him for another month or two. Please, look before you change lanes, and if your blocked your blocked, better luck next time. I’m certainly not perfect, but far too many people are hitting the ground, and it doesn’t really matter how we finish. It won’t change who we are or put us in the history books. Just being able to race is a gift at our age, Thank you Johnny McKee for all your hard work.
Jim, Bruce and myself go into the race with only a couple points separating us. Small field so you know, like the old days, (when we were 50 year old kids), a break will go off the front with Kenny Fuller and Hylton. Again, as Floyd said before his great TDF winning ride, the train leaves the station at 7:00am, “So grab a Coke and get your ticket if you want to come along”. We had already seen some nervous riding in the previous days RR. I don’t know the riders, but all I can say is, guys, nothing can happen once Hylton and Kenny are gone until we hit the climb. That’s what should make Road Races safer. Don’t charge up the gutters and through the fields for attacks or position, it makes no difference and on 30 + descents can send someone to the hospital. Back to the Crit. We roll off the start and Bruce, to try and make things safe, and racing like a champ drills it, taken over by Kenny, Hylton and again I hope and think I did my share. Sorry if I left someone out, I know Jim was also up front and attentive and we had Norm Kibble racing with us again. Three and a half minutes at 340+ watts, with two 500+ pulls for the opener. Leashes are still holding and the field is in tow. 5 minutes of rest at 22 mph while we catch our breath and then another attempt for the big dogs to snap the leash. Don’t remember who instigated it, Kenny, Hylton and Bruce were the three drivers. We jump from 23 to 29mph by doing 600+ watts for 20 seconds, and that was going up the hill! 2nd attack 2 minutes, 350 watt avg. 28mph avg. Leashes are still holding. Pag’s and the 70’s are still there, (great job), as I roll to the back of the pack marking Kenny, my eye fixed firmly on the train which is building up a head of steam. Bruce is riding up front near Hylton. I’m nervous being this far back, but know who the mover will be and what the move will be, I just don’t know when and if a can get on board. Four minutes and 2 laps pass at 21mph and then Kenny moves out to the gutter on the front straight and gets out of the saddle. It’s time to push all the chips into the center of the table. In 30 seconds we go from 23 mph to 34 mph averaging near 600watts. I didn’t see it but Hylton apparently initiated the move. I was about 10 lengths off Kenny’s wheel and at one point glanced back and saw a flash of yellow/orange 10+ lengths behind me which I knew had to be Bruce. Kenny consolidated with Hylton and I finally got on having now used my finishing sprint, totally blown. Hylton and Kenny then laid down two and a half more minutes at what had to be 400+ watts because I was turning 350 in the draft just hoping I could hang on. At the end of the 2nd time around I was recovered just enough to pull through and off for all of 10 seconds. To hold their pace I was pulling at over 450watts. At about this point I looked down and my computer said we had been racing for 18 minutes. I almost cried. That meant another 15 plus minutes and I couldn’t imagine sustaining this pace that long. I knew this move had me on the podium, but I also knew if I dropped off I would be so spent I would be eaten up in the bunch sprint. But the dice were already rollin’ on the table. Bruce, true to form almost made it over with a “Big Guy” who I suspect might have been Norm. Sorry if I’m wrong on that. With Kenny and Hylton driving I was only able to give the briefest of breaks to them when we came to a Prime lap. Hylton told me it was Kenny’s, and I told Hylton the last thing on my mind was Primes; I was just trying to hold their wheels. Hylton pulled long that lap so Kenny would have the Prime and when Kenny accelerated I was unable to help a tired Hylton close the gap. Kenny later apologized, which wasn’t necessary, as Hylton and I both knew it wasn’t an attack, just an acceleration we couldn’t hang on too. I believe we had 3 or 4 laps to go. We, Hylton mostly, chased Kenny for a lap and then settled in. Hylton said 2nd spot was mine, as he was not in the Omnium overall race and didn’t want to interfere. I told him he should have it because he did the work. He insisted. Thank you Hylton, your the class of the field in Heart. I hope Jim doesn’t feel badly about this, he raced an awesome race along with Bruce and I honestly feel in a way we are all tied for second behind Kenny. This will be one of my favorite race memories, because of the players. Thanks for the hard fast racing which gives it meaning, but also for the sportsmanship and friendship, which makes it unforgettable. Sorry, I don’t have all the results as of this writing, but the 60+ Crit was: Kenny Fuller, myself, Hylton, Jim Morehouse, and Bruce Steele. This re-shuffled the deck once again for the Omnium overall. Kenny Fuller 1st, myself 2nd, a very deserving Jim Morehouse 3rd and equal to us all Bruce Steele.

Thanks for the memories, George

1 comment:

  1. Hi George. Great write up of the race. Just for the record, not long after the three of you escaped, Bruce and I snapped the leash and held no man's land between you and the field the rest of the race. We didn't gain any time on you, to the best of my knowledge, but we gapped the field pretty good. I really enjoyed meeting you this weekend. I'm envious, as one of my goals this year is to be away with Kenny! There, I said it out loud.