Monday, June 28, 2010


By John McKee

It was June 27th, 2010 and the Mahattan Beach Grand Prix was scheduled. The 55/60+ race was set to go off at 8:45 am. 53 riders turned out which was slightly more than the 47 last year. Good showing of riders eventhough the pre registration started very slow. Thank you again to Eric Smith of SBW, promoter of MBGP and president of the SCNCA for giving the 55/60+ group one of the 8 racing slots in this big event.
The powerful UC Cyclery team showed up in force and was ready to rock and roll. Was there going to be enough co operation among the other smaller teams to counter balance the numbers that UCC was throwing out there in the 55+ category. It wasn't just the numbers but the quality of riders. All the riders were strong but had different levels of experience with Kal Szkalak and Dale Luedtke having the most on the local criterium circuit. The field was going to have to look to guys like Vito Czulak, Al and Ricky Shorts, Mike Birditt, Steve Cahill and Gary Shuey. Keith Ketterer couldn't make it having an opportunity to almost exclusive use of the Dom Hills track for some testing with his coach, Roger Young. KK is pointing toward elite Natz in the madison.
The 60+ category was wide open with no team having more than 2 riders from one team. UCC had the defending champion in John Rubcic who won the 2009 MBGP in 60+ with the "claw" on his arm. John had a broken bone in his hand. Monty Pettus of Paramount beat JR several years ago in 55+ and must be considered a major factor in the race even though he is coming off a bad crash at the SCNCA track championship. Monty is joined by his on form teammate, John McKee. Mike Fleming, George Chester and Bruce Steele are also riding strong in 60+.
After some pre race banter at the line with race announcer Ralph Elliot in his leopard ensemble, the riders were off. The race was very fast the first 3 laps. Kal Szkalak took upon himself to start the race off with a bang. There were times when the race was lined out. No moving up. Just hanging on. I knew the pace had to slow down and it did. This meant break attempts were going to happen and no group was going to form without UCC. Mark Helvie and Mitch Weinstock were very active with Mitch looking especially sharp.
The first break was a 5 pack including Kal, Alex Collins, Gary Shuey, Steve Cahill, and Mike Mueller. 2 of the members of this break group were from UCC but some how it fell apart after 2 laps. The pace was pretty fast at times with a number of riders lending a hand at setting pace and chasing down the group. The next break attempt also included 2 UCC riders in the name of Mark Helvie and Mitch Weinstock. The 3rd member was Mike Birditt and that meant one thing. Jams off. Remember Dick Lane use to announce roller skating from the Olympic Auditorium besides the wrestling in the 1960s. Whenever the breaking team with a skater off the front had run its course and passed all the opposing team members it could, the team captain would put their hands on their hips indicating jams off. Mitch and Mark threw in the towel on this one and put their hands on their hips. They didn't want to take Mike to the finish line with the way he is sprinting. Kal Szkalak tried to get across and make it 3 UCC riders but Vito Czulak covered this. Mike was controlled and neutralized and Kal was covered so everyone was back together.
Their were many primes which are always given to the first rider across the line whichever category they were. Since the 55s are younger and usually stronger, they take almost all the "stuff" given away. With the help of SBW team member Steve Whitsitt the race had a 60+ only $50 prime. It turned out to be one of the fastest laps of the race. UCC was lining up for John Rubcic. Bruce Steele was right on John and looking to contest the prime. I was hoping the pace would slow down for me to go up to JR but it didn't so Mr. Rubcic with his sun glasses stuck in his helmet rather than over his eyes took the cash. This was half way through the race.
The second half of the race seemed to go by very fast. There was a constant churning of riders but about 30 minutes into the race the overall pace was taking a toll. Kal also tried a solo effort but Gary Shuey put in a chase and it got down to a bunch with 5 laps to go. Dan Crain of Paramount rolled off the front with 3 laps to go and Mitch Weinstock joined him. It wasn't long before Mark Helive made it 2 UCC riders and it was game on. The M & M boys. Makes me think of 1961 and M & M stood for Mantle and Maris. Roger Maris hit 61 home runs that year breaking Babe Ruth's record. Dan lacks some experience and fell off the group and it was up to Mitch and Mark to pull it home for a UCC victory. It was up to everyone else to prevent this. The pace really picked up with 2 laps to go with most riders single file. Mark was burying himself in the effort to launch Mitch on to a solo victory. Could this work? With few laps to go like at San Pedro the stronger riders are reluctant to chase hard and then have nothing for the finish. Let someone else do the chasing but who was that going to be?
Ricky Shorts and Vito Czulak put in hard pulls to try and close the gap. With one and 1/2 laps to go the pace slowed. I was on Monty which was our team plan and I was getting worried we were getting buried. I pleaded with Monty to move up but he stayed on course. I had a choice to throw out our plan and move up on my own or stay the course. I decided to stay the course and stay on Monty. Thanks to Mark Planellas and Ken Burns of SC Velo who let me keep on Monty's wheel at a couple of spots.
Mark Helvie had decided to give everything he had to launch Mitch and gave his last pull with 2/3 of a lap to go. He was spent but gave a great team effort. The remaining team members had a very difficult balancing act trying to stay at the front and lining up for the sprint and not overtaking Mitch who was all or nothing now.
Taking the last corner at speed was critical to anyone's finish. There was 250 meters to go after the last 180 turn. UCC took the curve great with Mike Birditt in his SCNCA championship jersey too far back to sprint it out with them. The final lap was as perfect a team race as you can have. The pictures below are great and pretty much tell the story of the finish. The race pictures are courtesy of Jodi Borer.
Mitch won by a bike length with a one foot ruler deciding the placing between Paul Rodiguez, Kal Szkalak, and Dale Luedtke. Here is the call from Ralph Elliott "Looks like the champion is going to be hanging on MITCH WEINNNSSSTOCK!! Congratulations to Mitch Weinstock through all those laps of the break away. Holding on to the very end." Kal was 2nd by an eye lash with Dale 3rd and Paul 4th. The first non UCC rider was Steve Cahill followed in by Mike Birditt, Gary Shuey and Alex Collins.
The 60+ race was pretty much decided on the last curve. Mike Fleming was the first 60+ ride to go into the curve with John Rubcic taking the outside line. Monty Pettus with myself on his wheel dove into the inside line next to the fence. Monty took a great curve. Better than I could do. Monty passed both Mike and JR before coming out of the curve and then it was max speed home(you can see M in one of the sprint pics). I passed Mike after the curve and let it all out passing some 55s that had sat up. Monty set a personal best on his power tap at over 1200 watts in his sprint for home. He really wasn't contested. Monty Pettus the winner!
I came in less than a bike length behind JR for 3rd and the last podium spot. Carlos Cruz came on for 4th followed by Fleming, Steele, Chester and Gomez.
The video of the finish below is compliments of Alicia McKee. Nice work. Complete results below as well. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Manhattan Beach Grand Prix (Rank 2.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 219074 Leo Pettus Paramount Racing 28
2 48760 John Rubcic UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 22
3 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 20
4 48651 Carlos Cruz Canyon Velo 18
5 129293 Michael Fleming Coates Cyclery Cycling Club 16
6 236498 Bruce Steele South Bay Wheelmen 14
7 196820 George Chester LIVESTRONG Army KC / Midwest Cancer Care 12
8 3793 Raphael Gomez Cycles Veloce 10
9 50911 Richard Stahlberg Ironfly 8
10 246256 Daniel Crain Paramount Racing 6
11 195498 Donald Kimper ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 4
12 45763 Robert Paganini Pasadena Athletic Assoc (PAA) 2
13 50498 Richard Rodriguez Pacific Sunset Velo/Pac Sun Velo 0
14 171652 Stephen Whitsitt South Bay Wheelmen 0
15 305794 Robert Tompkins Arizona Masters Racing 0
Manhattan Beach Grand Prix (Rank 2.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 55591 Mitchell Weinstock UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 28
2 54522 Kalman Szkalak UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 22
3 47262 Dale Luedtke UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 20
4 58847 Paul Rodriguez UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 18
5 204724 Steve Cahill Moonlight Velo 16
6 47255 Michael Birditt Swami's Cycling Club 14
7 44197 Gary Shuey Citrus Valley Velo 12
8 46255 Alex Collins Canyon Velo 10
9 46688 Michael Mueller UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 8
10 230085 Albert Shorts Velo Allegro 6
11 202041 Mark Planellas Southern California Velo 4
12 276778 Witold Czulak Amgen-UBS Elite Masters 2
13 49424 Howard Miller Paramount Racing 0
14 61193 John Wagenaar UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 0
15 107559 Rodney Malloy Velo Allegro 0
16 245777 Steven Borer ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 0
17 142249 Richard Keegan ironfly 0
18 275439 Peter Boberg Platinum Performance Cycling Team 0
19 52251 Ricky Shorts Velo Allegro 0
20 34753 Rick Swanson Radsport Cycling Team 0
21 95649 Ken Burns Southern California Velo 0
22 155459 Thomas Reilly PAA / RE/MAX 0
23 271566 Alex Gonzalez Velo Allegro 0
24 23055 Reed Mayne Swami's Cycling Club 0
25 56643 Robert Shupper PAA / SIXTUMED p/b CARE FOR DIABETICS 0
26 47314 Gary Prideaux Lightning Velo 0
27 29477 James Reilly BikePalace/BackOnTrack 0
28 6082 Ben Cardenas CarreraPromo Bianchi Open Road 0
29 297255 Mitchell Odell Unattached 0
30 195876 Alain Levi South Bay Wheelmen 0
31 301372 Tom Herman South Bay Wheelmen 0
32 55635 Pedro Ordaz Unattached 0
33 15760 Mark Helvie UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 0

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