By John McKee
|Gary Shuey soloing in for 55+ win|
It's January 29th, 2011 and time for the SCNCA racing calendar to start it's group racing. The entire calendar is full of races and The Poor College Kids Road Race was to be the first. This would be the 2nd year that this event has included a 55/60+ race. Pre race sign ups were at 23 55s and 16 60s. Pretty good numbers. Don't know exactly how many lined up. Somewhere between 45 and 65. I know that is a wide range but the whole day was chaotic ESPECIALLY the finish and we will go into that in great detail later in the story.
The start of race was delayed several times from its intended start time of 2:45 pm. The course was 34 miles and our race was to be one lap. There was about 2,000 feet of climbing in the lap. There was one major hill about 4 or 5 miles from the start finish line. Going out the steepest the hill got was around 4 or 5 %. The "far side" of the hill was steeper with a max of 9%.The course continued slightly downhill until the turnaround. The area is beautiful with a lot of wineries in the area including Fess Parker's(Davey, Davey Crockett, king of the wild frontier[Sorry couldn't resist. I was always glued to the TV to watch the Disney TV show and Davey Crockett in the 50s. Loved the episode with Davey going up against Mike Fink and the river boat pirates]). There were lots of cars(how much had their drivers had to drink) for a country road plus some small buses and limos with drunk passengers. The paving was very spotty with lots of pot holes. Gary Shuey hit most of them. All in all it was a fun course assuming you make it back alive and everyone did. Pretty darn dangerous overall considering.The maximum speed for everyone was going to be between 40 and 50 mph.
The 55s and 60s finally got off shortly after 3 pm. The high temp was to be around 58 and the weather turning cold. A lot of guys just had a jersey and shorts. I was more prepared for the weather than anyone out there. I don't like to ride cold.
The racing started off rather mild and started to pick up going up toward the first peak. The first selection was made here. Gary Shuey treated the whole thing like a Sunday morning spin ride except he never gets out of his big ring. Climbs everything in his big ring. Gary stayed comfortably in the middle of the pack. There was a little action at the front but nothing to write home about. A new guy in a non team green jersey was at the front giving it a lot of effort. Looked pretty strong but I knew he was new to racing. Didn't have the slightly idea on how to pin a number to his jersey. He thinks the holes in the number are to be used to pin to the jersey. LOL.
The numbers were flapping away in the wind. I knew this was someone to stay away from. Al Shorts hit someone's rear tire going downhill and his bike almost went sideways but Al used his bike handling skills to control his bike. That could have been very ugly at the speed we were going.
There were some tall plastic cones in the middle of the road to signify the turnaround. It was a little confusing. There was one of those poor college kids there but he seemed disinterested in the whole process but we figured it out and got turned around. As usual the guys in the front that got around easily bombed it and made it hard for the rest of us to catch back on but before long we were all together again. The pace was pretty fast going back considering it was slightly uphill. The draft in the middle of the pack was pretty good though. 4 riders tried a go of it off the front. Started with 2 and was joined by another twosome. Steve Bernede was one of them. The pace really picked up then. Those 4 guys were doing good. The speed got really high just before the catch and I was giving it near max effort to keep my place which was near the first 1/3 of the group. Alex Collins and Al Shorts were doing a lot of work at the front.
The final selection was coming on the final climb. The climb was about 1 and 1/2 miles and got up to a max of 9% as mentioned in the course detail. Everyone pretty much stayed together at first but the hill started to take a toll on the lesser climbers. Gary Shuey was brought to the front by Kim Bleth. Gary was told when you see the windmill to go like hell. The windmill was at the beginning of the climb. Kim was pacing Gary up the hill near the other leaders like Mike Birditt, Kal Szkalak and Ricky Shorts. Kim was the road captain of Swami's and gave a direct order for Gary to GO! Gary hit it and everyone just looked at him like what??? How do you go that fast. The road is uphill.
Gary hit the top of the hill solo and was going to have to time trial it back to the line if he was going to win. If he got caught, Swami's would still have Mike Birditt to contest for the win. Gary buried himself with a maximum effort. If the downhill leveled out a little bit, Gary would get out of the saddle to pick the speed back up.
Back at the ranch things weren't going to good. There was a bad crash at the finish line between 2 riders. One got up fairly quickly but the other rider didn't. He needed medical attention and he was right at the finish line.
The 55/60+ racers were going to come in soon. The officials decided to move the finish line back toward the racers. They drew a white line in the road at the makeshift finish line and got as many officials there to check numbers. The problem was the riders were to going to finish at 40+ mph. Don't know if Eric Smith had a hand held camera but he was there off to the side. The officials sent the poor college kids up the road to yell at the racers about the finish line and a sign that said 200 on it to indicate that there were 200 meters to go. The motor ref tried to tell everyone that the finish had been changed. Hard to communicate at that speed. The downed rider was being carted off in an ambulance about the time one of the college kids came up to one of the officials. The officials thought about going back to the original finish line. The official told the kid that if you see us running back toward the old line, don't hold up the makeshift 200 meter sign. About this time here comes the finish group. The officials had no choose then to hold to the "new" finish line and do the best they could. Didn't matter for 1st place because Gary Shuey did a great job and held everyone off for the win! Really good ride by Gary. Gary was easing up at the end and still had 7 seconds on the chase pack. The chase pack was a little broken up. In the front group was Kal Szkakak, Mike Birditt, Fred Hoblit, Bob Wright(60+) and Ricky Shorts. Mike thought that the waving sign was the finish line and really hit it. Mike was the first person by there but that sign said 200 on it meaning 200 meters to go. Kal hit it then and Mike wasn't exactly sure what was going on but tried to get back on it. Kal nosed out Mike by less than 1/2 a wheel for 2nd place. Mike was 3rd although the results showed Mike to be 2nd and Kal 3rd. You can see in the photo that this is clearly wrong. Fred Hoblit was 4th in 55+ with Bob Wright doing a marvelous ride and finishing with the strongest of the strong. Bob won the 60+ category. Ricky Shorts was next for 5th in 55+. Ricky is riding good.
|1st finish group- Szkalak, Birditt, Hoblit, Wright, and R. Shorts|
|2nd finish chase group- Green Guy, Bob Wilcox, Kirk Freeman and James Morehouse|