Monday, August 16, 2010


By John McKee

It was August 15th, 2010 and time for the 4th annual Ladera Ranch Grand Prix. The organizers at this event have done a great job putting a top flight event together for all of us racers. The vendor area was the biggest ever and it's always great to have a 55/60+ race with separate purses and a way cool winner's jersey for the winner of each category. The time of the year and the location always seem to keep the number of riders down but the course which can be a little tricky can also be fun compared to some of the flatter courses we do. The course is also fast with corners 2 and 3 being rather soft and can be taken near full tilt. The course finishes with a sprinter hill making the finale interesting with the finish line 345 meters from the last corner and all uphill.
Pre reg wasn't that good for this event but same days brought the number up to 29. One rider Carlos Cruz was attending to a downed rider from an earlier race and couldn't start. The numbers broke out with 21 55+ racers and only 8 60+. A number of maladies have hit the 60+ crowd and hopefully things will pick up in 2011 or we won't have the cat to race in any more. This could affect the 55+ race as the whole slot could be given to a bigger draw.
The 55/60+ race was scheduled for 8:50 am which is great compared to having to start at 7:30 am at most races. This gave everyone more time to get there and get warmed up. Monty Pettus brought his 1963 Cinelli rollers over to my car so we could warm up together. His rollers are more than a little loud and drew a protest from UCC's Kal Szkalak. Kal was going to protest to the chief referee but we were able to talk him out of it. Kal had other problems to deal with like being number 911.

All riders except Carlos Cruz were off near the proposed start time and Kal lead it out as usual. UCC had 1/3 the field in 55+ and all are strong riders. 3 of the 4 top Socal Point leaders are from the San Diego County based team. 2 of the top 3 Socal Point leaders are from Paramount and were present at LRGP. There was a lot of shadow boxing early on and Michael Mueller of UCC was looking to mix it up.
Michael jumped early on with Mike Birditt, Steve Cahill and Alex Collins. I was feeling very good and took off in chase with Steve Horine on my wheel. Al Shorts of Velo Allegro had the pack in chase as well with 3 UCC riders in tow and waiting to pounce to either come across the gap or close down the break entirely to get a better team mix in another break on a later lap. This is actually what happened. Another break effort was started by UCC's Paul Rodiguez with Rick Swanson in tow. Steve Cahill of Moonlight Velo was determined to get in whatever break there was and started to chase with Kal in tow.  Steve buried himself and caught the other 2 and now it was 4. The 4 worked together to get away. The main chasers were Al "The Enforcer" Shorts, Ricky Shorts and Ken Burns. I chased once just to help out from a plea from Al but Mitch Weinstock got on my wheel and soft pedaled it and created a gap and I was by myself so I said to myself "Forget it". No 60+ rider was up the road. After a few laps the 4 were "gone" and the pack was racing for 5th in 55+ but still had the winner to decide in 60+. The 4 worked together but I am pretty sure that Kal and Paul of UCC figured a way that Steve Cahill had to take his pull on the hill part making his pull  harder. He was putting in more watts per lap. After a while Paul and Kal started attacking the other 2 but both were able to hang on. With less than 2 laps to go Kal attacked hard again and Steve Cahill pulled him back in but in text book fashion Paul Rodiguez counter attacked and neither Steve or Rick could respond. Paul was able to solo the last lap by himself and win. Kal attacked later and was able to solo for 2nd. Rick bested Steve for the last podium spot in 55+.

The pack was motoring along in the last 4 laps with Alex Collins and Mike Marota doing the most work at the front. In fact Alex, Mike, Steve Horine and myself had a small gap on the pack with 2 laps to go but I couldn't light a fire under any one and the race came down to the last lap. I was third wheel behind Steve Hornine and Mike Marota and Mike Birditt came by me on my left and Dale came by me on my right. Mike invited me to get on his wheel but someone was tight on him. At turn one Monty came by me and I choose to not try and muscle in on his wheel and frustratingly saw him forge ahead on Al Shorts wheel. Al lead it around turn 2 and 3. Monty was on his wheel. Nearing turn 4 Mike Birditt decided to not wait any longer and went by Al. Dale wasn't far away playing his hand perfectly. Mike took it hard from the last corner up toward the finish line. Nearing the line Dale came around and took 5th easily. Mike was next with Ricky Shorts taking the next 55+ spot. Monty Pettus smoked it in for 1st in 60+. A little further back I put in what I thought was a good sprint effort but I can't make up 12 to 15 meters on Monty even on a sprinter hill. I took 2nd place in 60+. Raffy Gomez came in a little later to take the last podium spot in 60+.
The bike handling of everyone was very good with no close calls and it was a good hard fast race. The break group averaged almost 26 mph after they left the pack. The pack turned in over 25 mph which was fast for us but it is a fast course. I felt totally under control and strong during the race. Do they have a Natz do over button? LOL. Love to do that race over again with the same people, course and conditions.
The full results are below. Again thanks to the organizers for putting on a great event and hopefully will choose to put the 55 and 60s back in the race next year! I have to end my blog on a very sad note. Paramount member Dan Crain passed away on the same day that we raced. Dan was hammered by a SUV on Newport Coast Dr. in Newport Beach on Aug. 3rd which broke his back. Dan had several difficult surgeries to try and help him walk again but he passed away at the age of 65 on Sunday. Dan raced several events with us this year and did well. Tragic loss!! That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Ladera Ranch Grand Prix  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 58847 Paul Rodriguez UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 14
2 54522 Kalman Szkalak UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 11
3 34753 Rick Swanson Radsport Cycling Team 10
4 204724 Steve Cahill Moonlight Velo 9
5 47262 Dale Luedtke UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 8
6 47255 Michael Birditt Swami's Cycling Club 7
7 52251 Ricky Shorts Velo Allegro 6
8 46688 Michael Mueller UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 5
9 72880 Mike Marotta Simply Fit/Action Sports 4
10 202041 Mark Planellas Southern California Velo 3
11 46255 Alex Collins Canyon Velo 2
12 55591 Mitchell Weinstock UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 1
13 30596 Wayne Rosenkrantz Pinnaclife Racing Team 0
14 245777 Steven Borer ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 0
15 47314 Gary Prideaux Lightning Velo 0
16 222523 Rick Carrera Cycles Veloce 0
17 95649 Ken Burns Southern California Velo 0
18 195618 Stephen Horine UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 0
19 230085 Albert Shorts Velo Allegro 0
20 126351 Steve Bernede Unattached 0
21 50765 Richard Roberson UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 0
Ladera Ranch Grand Prix  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 219074 Leo Pettus Paramount Racing 14
2 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 11
3 3793 Raphael Gomez Cycles Veloce 10
4 45047 Glenn Baldwin SLO Nexus Cycling Club 9
5 195498 Donald Kimper ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 8
6 101582 William Carvin Unattached 7
7 129293 Michael Fleming Coates Cyclery Cycling Club 6

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