By John McKee
It's Easter Sunday April 4th, 2010 and Ontario had the second of its race series. It's later in the year of course than the first one but it is still pretty cold at 7 am. Upper 40s and it wasn't bad when we raced but standing around afterward it was frigging cold with a blustery wind coming up. The pre reg numbers weren't very good but by the time we lined up there were 45 racers. Don Kimper and Steve Honine even though they pre reged weren't there because some bonehead told them the time had changed to the afternoon and they believed it. Doh! Check the latest flyer. It would have to have the updated time schedule.
22 60s and 23 55s were there and ready to rock and roll. The group rolled out at around 7:40 am. Everyone but Loren Stephens. Loren clipped a cone and fell down. Sanda Timbal barely missed him and didn't go down as well. Loren got up and chased. He had to put in a pretty good chase too because Kal Szkalak of UC Cyclery/JW Flooring started the ball rolling with a good effort. Kal wanted to make the race hard for everyone and he and his teammate Dale Luedtke were but 2 of those that made the race harder and more interesting. Alex Collins, Phil Richards, Mike Birditt and Monty Pettus also put in efforts to pick up the slack. Eventhough the pace was pretty good there were still lulls in the action and there were a few posers that would filter into the front ranks. There was a new 60+ guy in a white jersey and a SC Velo guy with a paunch that I knew would crack when the pressure got put on. The SC Velo guy ran out of gas so bad at the end that Carlos Cruz almost ran into him and had to brake to avoid contact. Know your place and go places you are known and can handle.
As is usually the case the primes are very light at Ontario. I don't even pay attention to what they are but the series points prime always seem to bring some life to the pack. Once everyone hears that the pace slows. Energy conversation. The pace of course picks up as the line draws near. Not actually sure who won both the 55 and 60+ primes. Phil Richards was sprinting so I assume he knew no 60+ guy was ahead of him.
No clear group of riders got any distance on the pack during the race. Some of the 55s are selective with who they break with. Wrong combo for whatever reason and they shut it down. There was one break that did get away and it included Kal Szkalak of UCC, Phil Richards of CVV, and Mike Birditt of Swami's. They were working it pretty good and got a decent gap. Wiford Czulak of Amgen thought this looked dangerous and tried to come across. Wilford is a very strong all around rider. Wiford got 2/3 the way there and it looked like he stalled out but he got his second wind and made it to the other 3. Phil was the only 60+ rider in the group and had the most to win. He would be guaranteed a victory if they could stay away. The other 3 would have to sprint for the win in 55+. Mark Planellas of SC Velo worked hard to pull back the foursome. Kal decided to throw in the towel with Wilford there. Kal has a chance sprinting against anyone but he figured UC Cyclery/JW Flooring had a better chance at a win with both him and Dale Luedtke sprinting for home. Both were comfortable sprinting in a bunch and Dale has a long sprint and can take it home from pretty far out.
Once the foursome got caught there were less than 4 laps to go. The jockeying was too start without anyone or team willing to give themselves up. The pace still wasn't bad until the last lap and then it was dreadful. The group got tighter and more anxious. Everyone was looking to UCC and Kal and Dale. Wiford, Mike Birditt and Monty Pettus were marking them closely. With 3 corners to go someone took Tim Marquez's front wheel out and he slammed the pavement. He got skinned up but no broken bones. No one else went down. I didn't see it so it was behind me.
From the 3rd to the last corner to the last corner is when the race always heats up but not this race. This was the slowest lead in I have seen here in a while. The last corner is a sling shot but no one took advantage of it. Finally Mike Birditt jumped the field and started the sprint. He lead it out and was looking pretty good coming toward the line but Dale and Wiford were coming in hard and fast and low and behold 60+ racer Monty Pettus was also tearing it up coming home. Monty is looking stronger every week and right now on a flat course can challenge any 60+ racer in the country and that includes John Rubcic. John is also riding well so it would be quite a show to see both of them go at it. Monty topped out at over 37 mph in both the 55/60+ and the 50+ race that he finished 4th and passed 10 or so racers coming toward the line. Don't know what numbers Dale Luedtke had. Dale doesn't use a power meter, heart monitor or even a speedometer when he races and only uses his heart monitor when he does intervals in training.
All 3 of these guys got by Mike meaning Mike was 3rd in 55+ and Monty was 1st in 60+. Dale edged Wilord to take 1st place in 55+. 4th place went to a surprisingly fast Wayne Rosenkrantz in 55+. Loren Stephens put the bad start behind him and put in a blistering sprint and passed a lot of riders coming in 2nd in 60+. John Edwards of UCC placed 3rd in 60+ with Mike Fleming placing a respectable 4th. Placings to 12 places are below:
That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!