Monday, April 4, 2011


By John McKee

55/60+ racers waiting to start
It was April 3rd, 2011 and the Redlands Criterium is on the SCNCA calendar. It is a big race that the 55s worked into a few years ago and now the 60s have their own category. Raced together and scored separately. Both categories were to be paid a total of $225 for 4 places. The showing was around 35 plus or minus a few. Not that great considering the showing in Brea for the Roger Millikan Criterium  sold out at 75. Redlands is harder to get to but half the number is troubling. We will see if we come back in 2012. The weather was overcast and a little cool but quite comfortable compared to the weather that some of us raced in during February. The pro stage race was going on up and through Sunday and helped create a exciting atmosphere. The women pros started their road race about 60 minutes after the finish of the 55/60+ criterium race. The organizers do a great job with a fun feel to the whole event. The course is somewhat technical with turn one at 120 degrees and a downhill slalom after that. 2 quick corners coming off the downhill and you head back uphill to the start/finish. Bike handling does come into play on this course and the uphill section isn't that steep or hard but will wear on you especially the larger fellas.
The 55/60+ race was to start at 7:55 am and last 40 minutes. After a few words from SCNCA official Greg Alden the group was off. It was expected that the first 5 laps would be blistering but they weren't that hard. Hard enough that a few riders fell off the back. UCC was there with almost a full squad and started to animate the race early. Mike Mueller, John Wagenaar, Robert Willcox and Alex Collins of UCC and Kenny Fuller in his National Championship jersey(60+ criterium ) started the fireworks early with shots over the bow but nothing seemed  too threating or got that far away. The 55+ national criterium champion from Minnesota had talked about racing but didn't like his form at the SDSR and didn't show. It looked like a pre race stragery of UCC was too get Mike Mueller off the front a decent distance and Kal Szkalak jumped across the gap and off they go like at San Marcos last year. Mike Birditt was watching for this closely and when Kal jumped to do just this, Mike was right on him and Kal shut it down quickly. There was a lot of churning in the field even though this course made movement up through the pack more difficult. Swami's sprinters Mike Birditt and Dale Luedtke were somewhat naked but had strongman Gary Shuey to muscle the field to their team benefit. Santa Clarita Velo was also light with 2 riders and Velo Allegro didn't have their full squad there with 3. UCC definitely had the 55+ field out numbered. John Rubcic also of UCC was doing his first 60+ race of the year. John won the Redlands criterium in 2010 and was rather anxious about getting back into action after taking the early part of the season off.
Mueller in solo effort
Hensler & Mueller
A little over half way through the race Mike Mueller went off the front again and stayed there for over 2 laps. Kal tried again to get across but was quickly covered my Mike Birditt and that was shut down with Mueller still out there. Mike was then joined by Steve Hensler. This was a dangerous move as Steve is riding quite strongly this year. Mike Birditt had Gary Shuey go to the front and not just pull but pull with near max pressure. It took several laps and I believe that Kenny Fuller also lent a hand at the end of the chase and the twosome for reeled back in.
Kal & Mike after twosome
The minutes and laps were now counting down and a 2 place cash prime was announced. I didn't hear the amounts but it turned out to be $170 for 1st and $25 for 2nd. John Wagenaar of UCC lead a small group around the course and toward the finish line. Glenn Baldwin(60+) who looked in good form was on his wheel and jumped the small group and got the big prize. That has to be the biggest cash prime in the history of 55/60+ racing. John W. didn't even get the $25 2nd place prize money. Oh well. Nice try.
Double prime sprint
The last major move off the front teamed up Gary Shuey and Alex Collins. They weren't far off but Kenny Fuller saw this as an opportunity. He jumped on the right side of the pack right after the start/finish line. John Rubcic was right on him. John knew that Kenny was by far the most dangerous 60+ rider in the race as he would be in any 60+ race in the country. Mike Birditt jumped onto JR. Between turn one and two the 5 riders were together and JR was gassed. He used all his strength just to stay on Kenny. Kenny wasn't too happy that John didn't pull through but he was doing all he could to hang on. Once together this very strong group couldn't get it together. At first Alex thought this was the move to the end but no one else felt the same and it fell apart quickly. It seemed Swami's had an advantage here but they were playing it conversative. Maybe not Scott Walker conservative but conservative none the less.
Late action being lead by 60+ Natz champ
With less than 5 laps to go it was obvious that a bunch sprint was going to decide the race. Advantage Swami's in 55+ and UCC in 60+. That is if JR still had that magic snap in his legs. No one knew including himself. Pretty darn sure about that.
The last lap came and UCC started to set up a classic leadout train. Between the start/finish line and turn one Mike Mueller went to the front to lead the team around. John Rubcic was on Mike and Mike Birditt jumped on JR. Birditt is super hot nowadays and was riding his new 2011 Cannondale with the Swami's paint scheme. It is 4 pounds lighter than his former bike and much stiffer as well. Look out!

55+ Pod-Szkalak, Birditt & Shorts, R.
The pace was moderately fast. Kenny Fuller had himself in good position but a number of riders behind his rival JR. Between turn 2 and 3 I tried to move on Fred Nicolet but couldn't get around him. Fred is also 60+. Fred had a 8th place finish at the Imperial Criterium out of 9 racers but showing himself to be quite strong here. I should have used more energy at this point to move up but was a bit stressed and held off. After turn 3 Kal moved over the top of Mike Birditt to "cut in line" and get behind the UCC train. At some point John Wagenaar also got in the train with 4 UCC riders lined up. Perfect right. NOT! Mike Mueller ran out of gas after turn 4 and the train stalled. Mike Birditt saw this as an opportunity and jumped with a maximum effort. 100%. No holding back now. 2 corners to go but once around the last corner it is only 125 meters to the line. Mike was already going a lot faster than Kal once he went by him and Kal knew this was major trouble. All hell broke loose from here to the finish line. Every man for himself now. Kenny also jumped hard and when he went by JR, John was able to jump on his wheel. Kal got himself going but by the last turn Mike Birditt was all by himself. As Phil Liggett would say "He was absolutely superb!" The rest of the 55+ field was racing for 2nd now. Kal was able to muster enough speed to finish 2nd. Ricky Shorts after racing a rather quiet event showed his finishing speed for the last podium spot. Ricky was followed in by Collins, Hoblit and Hensler in 55+. Alex was bumped on his right side between the last 2 corners and leaned into Fred Nicolet. This happened right in front of me which was the 5th time this year some like this occurred right in my path.
60+ Pod- winner- Rubcic
John Rubcic came around Kenny for 1st in 60+ and another blue Redlands winner jersey. Kenny was 2nd with the last pod spot left between Fred and myself. Fred had to take the corner wide but you can hold more speed that way. I cut closer to the corner and got out of the saddle. Dale Luedtke was ahead of me and also had gotten out of the saddle. At the line I looked to my left and Fred was ahead of me for 3rd place. Nice finish after being bumped. Glenn Baldwin came in a couple of bike lengths behind me for 5th place in 60+.
This is a first quality event and the racing was hard and challenging. Full results are below. The photos are courtesy of Jodie Borer. Thank you, Jodie! There are more race photos at Ken Hill's photo site- That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Redlands Criterium  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 48760 John Rubcic UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 14
2 46765 Kenny Fuller Cycles Veloce 11
3 26089 Fred Nicolet ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 10
4 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 9
5 45047 Glenn Baldwin SLO Nexus-Gym One 8
6 3793 Raphael Gomez Rage Cycling 7
7 238828 Phillip Richards Citrus Valley Velo 6
8 243425 mark wisnosky ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 5
9 107852 David Lang DARE 4
10 101582 William Carvin 3
11 48278 Donald Davidson Citrus Valley Velo 2
Redlands Criterium  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 47255 Michael Birditt Swami's Cycling Club 14
2 54522 Kalman Szkalak UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 11
3 52251 Ricky Shorts Velo Allegro 10
4 46255 Alex Collins UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 9
5 16360 Fred Hoblit Santa Clarita Velo 8
6 15874 Steve Hensler Team Redlands 7
7 47262 Dale Luedtke Swami's Cycling Club 6
8 61193 John Wagenaar UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 5
9 107559 Rodney Malloy 4
10 206734 John Huber Velo Avanti Cycling Team 3
11 69952 Robert Willcox UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 2
12 230085 Albert Shorts Velo Allegro 1
13 245777 Steven Borer ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 0
14 167453 Bob Estupinan Citrus Valley Velo 0
15 177958 Kevin Ryan The TEAM - SoCalCross 0
16 Gary Shuuey 0
17 49110 Rino Barbagiovanni Santa Clarita Velo 0
18 46688 Michael Mueller UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 0
19 50765 Richard Roberson UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 0

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