It was June 19th, 2010 and time for the Ontario Airport Criterium. It has separate races for the 60+ and 55+ racers. 15 60+ riders and 23 55+ riders showed up with 2 60+ riders doing both races. Pags of course was one of them. The oldest guy out there and is still mixing it up with everyone and doing well too. This course isn't the easiest to get to so this was a pretty good showing. Earlier in the year the 60s were holding their own getting out the numbers but for lots of reasons the numbers have slimmed down. It's a shame at an event that gives us our own race. I always hear "why can't we have our own race". Here is the reason. You can do a cat 4 or some other grouping and get 4 to 5 times this number. Even if a club puts on a race, it's a chance to make money for the club to fund all the programs to make the club viable. Race time is valuable.
The airport course is a .7 mile 3 corner loop. The northern up leg is a false flat and feels like your tires and going through tar. After you turn the 2nd corner at the top it's the opposite and you feel like a pro reving up to 27/28 without much problem. Turn 3 is close to the finish line making doing a good corner on the last lap critical. I practiced doing it at speed before the race trying to get the right body lean to be able to pedal through at speed without problem. I want to say welcome back to Ernie Hoffer. It is his first race this year after his near deadly accident tangling with a car last Oct. The car wins every time and glad to see Ernie back after lots of surgeries.
The 60s went off promptly at 7:30 am for 40 minutes of racing. The pace was shared among a number of riders to keep things going. I liked to take a pull on the down stretch. More fun. Throughout the race George Chester would jump and the chase was on. I was able to get on George's wheel most every time and ride him out.
The first major move was done by Michael Edwards. Michael use to make moves like this all the time and is feeling better after his own training accident in March. He ripped a hole in his right arm after hitting the curb taking a sprint spin and the chain came off. The move at the airport race reminds me of a similar move that Michael made at the PAA race in the City of San Fernando in 2006. It was the SCNCA championship race and Michael was out there for a long time before he was caught. Bruce Steele didn't want to chase thinking it was cool that Michael was doing so well and left the chasing to people like myself and others. I put in some pulls on the down leg and kept an eye on the gap. Michael started to tire about 25 minutes into the race and Bruce jumped trying to get across the gap which he did but once he got to Michael he was pretty much cooked. I couldn't let Bruce get away and put in a little chase and got so close that everyone just gave up and it was all together again. I figured we were in for a "bunchie" but had to keep a close eye on George Chester. He always made his moves to the outside so I was looking to my left for George. Another move was made by "Joltin" Johnny Edwards who was taking a wide path around the course. Johnny had been off his bike for 3 weeks traveling and building a sun room at his home for his wife. JE put on 8 and 1/2 pounds and Johnny started to labor after a while and came back to the group without a chase. The last solo effort was done by Don Kimper actually without even trying. Don went out to pace and everyone else went on a fiesta. Don was out there for a few laps before he decided to join the peleton again. The 6 lap to go card came up and things really slowed down. We had a 23 mph pace earlier but average speed definitely slowed by the end. With one lap to go we were all together and George Chester made his patented move on the outside after turn one. JE tried to get on his wheel but was too tired. I saw this happening and went by JE and got right on George. George set a good hard pace going up and I was starting to hurt a little. Once he turned the 2nd corner he started to run out of steam but still kept up a good pace. George wanted to make a clean safe finish. Mike Fleming was right on my wheel.
I bidded my time and felt a resurgence of energy. I jumped by George coming into the last turn knowing the first person to make the turn would probably win. I timed it right and hit the corner just right pedaling through the corner. My mistake was evident once I got out of the saddle to finish it off and accelerate to the finish line. I was out of the saddle and in too low a gear and it was too late to shift so I tried to spin out of the saddle as best I could and hold off Mike Fleming who I could feel coming up on my right. It was close at the line but my bike throw might have made the difference. I won. Bruce Steele was 3rd and the ageless one was 4th. Great job, Pags!
The results were:
The 55+ race started right after the 60+ race. 23 55s and 2 60s lined up. Kudos to the SC Velo team for a great showing. Good job, guys. The action didn't look as hard as I have seen it in 55+. Rick Swanson looked strong out there with a solo effort away for a good number of laps. After 40 minutes of racing it was down to the last lap and boy did it heat up between turn 2 and 3. Michael Birditt, Dale Luedtke, Kal Szkalak and Wiford Czulak were mixing it up and going very fast on the down leg with a shallow angle coming into the last turn. Dale was first to the last corner and everyone took the turn way wide. Going almost all the way across the road making all of them come back to their right to come toward the finish line. Dale was first with Czulak 2nd and Birditt 3rd. Rick Swanson was 4th and a nice showing being away for so long. The complete results were: