By John McKee
It's April 4th, 2010 and the 55/60+ group has already had one race in Ontario and now there's another race in Carson in the early afternoon. It is the CBR #4 in it's BAR series. I think it goes without saying that the field would be light and I already blogged and gave you the names of those that doubled up. Upon getting to the course in Carson there was a very strong wind blowing directly north. I was thinking that this would be toward the finish line but once I got to the registration area and saw that the races were going in a counter clockwise direction I knew this was going to be a hard race. It was a head wind after the last corner coming home.
Only 20 racers lined up to contest this race at 1:10 pm. The wind must have been at least 20+ mph. The 55s that lined up were mainly the very strongest and only 6 60+ racers were there and I had this sinking feeling that this race wasn't going to stay together and was I up to it. Yikes. I could have stayed at my daughter's house in Orange after the Ontario event and eaten my face silly and had Mimosas(orange juice and champagne). No! I had to go and shoot my mouth off about getting other 55/60+ racers out so naturally I had to come out. Was I in over my head. Would I get blown away so to speak. Only the strongest would survive. As the courses and the conditions get tougher the harder it is on the 60+ crowd. Some of the 55s don't quite get it yet but wait and add 5 to 8 years to you and see how it affects your performance. There is a lot more to staying competitive than just riding the bike. Enough with the soapbox.
The race was off with Wiford Czulak in the field. Wiford had floated the rumor that he wasn't in Carson to do the 55/60+ race but other races but when we lined up, he was there. Wiford is a large guy but his cycling strength for a 55+ racer is almost off the charts. The first couple of laps weren't bad and there was some jockeying but everyone was still together.
Around the 3rd lap there was a serious move and riders that saw what danger there was started to move across the gap or get left behind. This of course occurred going into the wind. The toughest time of course. I got across but was totally winded. Everything disintegrated at the front and things were back together but this just supported my theory that this was going was going to be a sufferfest.
On the uphill part of the course Richard Stahlberg shot off the front. Richard is riding very well right now and races like he is 55 and likes to stay right at the front. Richard is 60+ this year but his form is excellent and can mix it up with the 55s. Richard was off the front for less than a lap and another 60+ racer Doug Knox used his max reserve to catch up. About this time Don Denegal starts a move near the
start/finish line. I believe Don had been in the pit for a while with a mechanical/flat or something. Don't know how long he was out or whether he was attacking out of the pit or coming off the back of the pack. Ricky Shorts was right on this and shortly there after Kal Szkalak also jumped on this move. Since we had just gone by the start/finish area we were into the wind and the race was at its hardest. Riders saw this as the time to make the move and the strongest 55s jumped into action which included Wiford Cruzak, Dale Luedtke, Mike Birditt, and Steve Cahill. Doug had fallen off the pace and was coming back to the main field.
Wiford, Mike, and Steve shot by Richard and Richard was able to lock on. Now there is 3 guys in front. 5 guys are in the first chase group. The main field which I am part of has shrunk to 6 guys. Al Shorts tried his best to pull the main field back into the main action up front but slowly you could see the 5 pack ride off ahead and finally made contact the the 3 leaders. It was then 8 riders in front with one of them a 60+ rider. All Richard had to do was hang on and he would win his race. The other 7 had to battle it out.
In the main field that I was in included Al Shorts, Rod Mallory, Doug Knox, William Carvin, and Reed Moore. The 55s and myself did the most of the pulling with Al doing the most. Up front there were 2 Swami's and 2 UC Cyclery/JW Flooring riders with the the speedy Wiford Czulak of Amgen and Don Denegal of Major Motion. Mike Birditt decided to do what he could help his teammate Steve Cahill have a good finish. Steve is strong but raw out there. Mike has mucho experience and knowledge. Mike told Steve to sit in and do nothing! Mike would ride tempo when necessary and he did for the last 4 laps of the race. Coming up the hill for the last time with one corner to go Richard Stahlberg had a go to give everyone a boost. No skin off his nose. He had his race in the bag. About this time Wiford flats. Yikes! Bad timing. Kal called to Dale to jump and Dale did eventhough he thought this was a little premature. As you know from my posts Dale can bring home the bacon from pretty far out and today was no exception. Dale came smoking in for his second win of the day and Kal was 2nd. Steve Cahill nosed out Don Denegal for 3rd with Don 4th. Here is where it gets dicey as to who placed where. My best guess is- Ricky Shorts 5th, Mike Birditt 6th and Wiford Czulak 7th. Richard Stahlberg was of course the winner of the 60+ category.
In the main field Al Shorts carried us to near the end and Doug Knox jumped the field on the inside and no one could respond quickly enough. I think most of us had one thing on our mind and that was to get this thing over with. It was hard out there and surely we got a great workout. Doug Knox was the 2nd place 60+ finisher. I was 3rd. Reed Moore was the first 55+ finisher in our group and the rest of the guys dribbled in. Glad it was over.
Thanks to all that made it out to Carson to do the 55/60+ race. I know it was a tough day to come and race in the afternoon and I especially thank those racers that doubled up at Ontario and Carson and to the few 60+ racers that were in difficult circumstances in Carson but gave it a go. Hats off to you. I was actually glad I raced the double and enjoyed the total experience but boy was I hungry! Food and drink awaited me in Orange. Oh it tasted good! I also made my granddaughter's 7th birthday party. Happy birthday to you, Sydney Conine! That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!