Monday, April 11, 2011


By John McKee

The 2nd De Vlees Huis Road Race was scheduled for Saturday April 9th 2011 and there was a category for 55 and 60+ racers. There was a scheduling conflict in 2010 with the Torrance Criterium so the attendance wasn't that great but in 2011 the race had an open date. The location is 15 miles outside of Bakersfield on Hwy 58 which goes to Lake Isabella. I was quite surprised when I got on the course to see that there are many beautiful spots along the way with a river along the course and under the parts of the road way. No oil wells. Open space and ranch land though I didn't see any cattle. The course is 29 miles for one lap and gains 2400 ft. in that lap. No grade is over 8 or 9 present. There is some pretty rugged looking terrain just north of us. The course takes you into a valley at the second turnaround where you can see the river. Lots of water this time of year.  I forgot to put my road cluster on and did it in my crit cluster which is 11/21 and didn't have a problem. Great looking and challenging course. Of course road racers love it but bigger riders with lots of sustained power can do it well. The 55/60+ group was to do one lap. The start time was 8:20 am.
55+ Podium- Benner, Shuey, Mueller, Baron & Birditt
21 55+ racers and 11 60+ racers lined up. It was quite cold Saturday morning. Upper 30s to low 40s but with sunshine the air temp was going to rise quickly. There was a cold front that came into the southland on Friday and brought snow flurries to the Grapevine which most Socal riders had to travel through to get to Bakersfield. The highest point is 4,000 ft and there were snow flakes when I went through about 3 pm on Friday. When Bruce and Teresa Steele went through a few hours later it was snowing harder. When Mike Birditt tried to drive through around 8 to 9 pm there was more snow and traffic accidents. The north bound lanes that Mike had to drive on were closed down to one lane. The CHP had contemplated closing it completely down because of the accidents but kept it open. Mike didn't get to my room in Bakersfield until around 11 pm. Luckily it didn't rain Sat. morning. It was cold but would warm up and be a decent day for a bike race.
Map and Profile of De Vlees Huis Road Race course
The racers were off on time. You start down the steepest part of the course going out which means you have to climb it coming back and then it's 200 meters to the finish line. Going out there were a lot of bad spots in the pavement but after a couple of miles the pavement was actually good. Good thing when you are flying downhill and cornering downhill.
Everyone stayed together going out except Mike Birditt of Swami's. He went off the front by himself. No one paid much attention to him since there was over 2,000 ft. of climbing left. Maybe he could hook up with a mini break group?
As the road started to tip up more a few of riders went off the back including myself. The first climb is the longest and about the length of the climb in Bakersfield at the championship course. At the top of the climb and the turnaround there was 4 riders off the front and 2 major chase groups. I formed a group with Mike Crystal and Al Shorts to ride in for the crumbs. There were a few riders behind us.
Mike Birditt was caught before the end of the first climb and Bob Wilcox of UCC was giving it his all to catch him. Right behind him was David Brenner of Wolfpack. Wolfpack?? They have a all black kit and are from Solana Beach. Mike Mueller of UCC was behind him and the rest of the field was really strung out.  The lead group at the turnaround had Gary Shuey, Mike  Mueller, Richard (Skid lid) Barron, and Kim Bleuth. Behind were 2 pods of riders with a mix of 55 and 60+. Further on the course Gary Shuey hit it hard and dropped....Kim Bleuth. Oh no! Another Swami's rider. 
I could see the small groups going the opposite direction twice because there were 2 turnarounds. I could see Gary, Mike and Richard together with Kim looking stressed a little behind. Then the other 2 pods. Kim finally came back to the main chase group and there was no other movement throughout the race. The course going out to the 2nd turnaround has been described as "rolling" but that was not what I call "rolling". A little harder than that. Lol.
After the groups made the last turn for home it was all downhill except for the finish uphill kick. The front group was working together coming back and Richard Barron said he wouldn't contest the finish. Up to Gary and Mike to fight for the win in 55+. Coming into the last short hill Gary decided to hit it hard going up the hill. Mike sat on and when it leveled out and there was 200 meters to go, Mike turned on his jets and finished several bike lengths ahead. Gary was 2nd and Richard was 3rd.
The 2nd group came in with Socal points heavyweights Mike Birditt and Kal Szkalak. Also were 4 60+ riders to decide on their podium finish. Mike Marota(60+) of the host squad  Action Sports took it up the left side with David Benner on his tail. Bob Wilcox lead another string up the right side with Birditt on his wheel and Kal right behind him. Mike Marota and Bob tailed off and Mike Birditt got on David Benner. Once the course leveled out Kal clicked up his gears and started his sprint and Mike jumped on him. There was a hole to the left of Kal that he started to close but Mike made a statement and Kal leveled out and Mike sprinted by and finished a half a bike length ahead of Kal.
Mike Marota hung on for first place in 60+. Mike showed how strong he was at Roger Millikan and this was his backyard and he knew the course well. A win here was no surprise. Glenn Baldwin rode a great race and was 2nd in 60+ with Phil Richards taking 3rd and George Chester getting 4th in his first race of the year.
The promoters and his club did a great job with this event. Registration which was at the promoters front lawn the evening before was smooth. He also had food for anyone that wanted it. Packet pick up and same days were still possible the morning of the race. The course was well laid out with signs and volunteers that knew where and how to direct you. There were even some cool Flanders flags out on the course. There was a snafu with payout for 60+. Don't know if that ever got squared away. No good photo of the 60+ podium because the winner from the host team didn't show. Bad form. All in all a great event that should be ridden by more riders.
Going to finish with a short story. The winner isn't always the person that comes across the line in first place. It may even be the guy that comes across in last place. I am referring to John Sinz. John finished a tough course and was happy to be out there. 5 years ago John weighed 240 lbs and had a heart attack. Of course he survived and turned his life around and got on a much better diet and started riding his bike again. He weighs 195 now is looking to get back to his former racing weight of 180. Good job, John and keep coming out. It isn't always about finishing ahead of everyone. It's way cool to be part of the racing peleton. Fun and motivating that nothing else will do. Complete results below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Vleeshuis Road Race  (Rank 2.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 46688 Michael Mueller UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 28
2 44197 Gary Shuey Swami's Cycling Club 22
3 2734 Richard Barron Southern California Velo 20
4 47255 Michael Birditt Swami's Cycling Club 18
5 54522 Kalman Szkalak UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 16
6 274212 David Benner Wolf Pack Cycling 14
7 69952 Robert Willcox UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 12
8 162650 Jim Parkhurst Team Simple Green/Bike Religion 10
9 187845 Henry Pfister Action Sports/Simply Fit 8
10 49191 Kim Bleth Swami's Cycling Club 6
11 46255 Alex Collins UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 4
12 206734 John Huber Velo Avanti Cycling Team 2
13 52251 Ricky Shorts Velo Allegro 0
14 247382 Richard Gentili Citrus Valley Velo 0
15 1254 Mark Ainslie Ranchos Cycling Club 0
16 49110 Rino Barbagiovanni Santa Clarita Velo 0
17 277180 John Roest Rock N' Road Cyclery 0
18 230085 Albert Shorts Velo Allegro 0
19 177958 Kevin Ryan The TEAM - SoCalCross 0
20 Tom Ackerley 0
21 66553 John Sinz Canyon Velo 0

Vleeshuis Road Race  (Rank 2.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 72880 Mike Marotta Action Sports/Simply Fit 28
2 45047 Glenn Baldwin SLO Nexus-Gym One 22
3 238828 Phillip Richards Citrus Valley Velo 20
4 196820 George Chester LIVESTRONG Army KC / Midwest Cancer Care 18
5 48760 John Rubcic UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 16
6 39024 Bob Wright Santa Clarita Velo 14
7 236498 Bruce Steele South Bay Wheelmen 12
8 269972 Fred Haim Herbalife LaGrange 10
9 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 8
10 8283 Michael Crystal METALMTN Cycling 6
11 189814 Leo Longo South Bay Wheelmen 4

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