Tuesday, April 19, 2011


By John McKee

55/60+ racers to the start line @ LACR
The LA Circuit Race was April 17th, 2011. 36 riders lined up to race the 55/60+ categories at the crack of dawn. 7 am start. It was tight getting there and getting ready to race at 7. There was one worker at registration and that made a tight schedule even tougher. Shorter warm up. The weather was quite warm for this time of year being in the low 60s. Few riders used arm warmers and almost no one used knee warmers. Some riders choose to not come because of the early start but this has been our cross to bear for years since we don't have large fields. The LA Circuit Race races distance and not time. The 55/60+ race was scheduled for 20 miles.
Mike Gourley solo
Most teams had trimmed squads except Velo Allegro. I am pretty sure they had a full group. Swami's has been dominant this year and would line up a very strong squad of 3. Santa Clarita Velo had a good showing of team members. UC Cyclery had a trimmed squad with 3. One quarter of what they had the prior Sunday at the Cyclo Vets Criterium.
The race started on time and saw Swami's Dale Luedtke take off up the left side. Dale woke everyone up right away and got the attention of the peleton. It was a harbinger of things to come. Swami's and Santa Clarita Velo would be very aggressive and Velo Allegro and UCC would be on the defensive. No sooner had Dale been caught that Mike Gourley hits it and goes solo. This is still on the first lap though each lap is 4 miles. Mike takes it hard after the first turn. I didn't think much of the move but guys started to chase hard and I was thinking...who is this guy that is holding off such a hard chase. As we got closer a light came on. It's Mike Gourley. The "Monster From Santa Clarita". No wonder. Mike was caught but the attempts at escape kept coming. The next move was by Kim Bleth of Swami's and Rino B. of Santa Clarita Velo. Nice try but didn't last long.
Glenn Baldwin, Dale Luedtke and Fred Hoblit
Steve Borer, Kim Bleth,& Rino Barbagiovanni
Kim Bleth jumps hard on the inside to fly solo
The most dangerous move yet included Dale Luedtke, Fred Hoblit, and Glenn Baldwin. The 3 worked together well with Glenn probably working the least but Glenn is 60+. The group started about 2 and 1/2 laps into the race. After one lap away Steve Hensler put in a hard pull and did some damage to the distance that the break group was away. Then Kal Szkalak jumped. He probably wasn't trying to bring them back but get across the gap to make the break group stronger and increase his chances of winning or at least finish ahead of Mike Birditt. Mike was right on his move as was just about everybody. That brought the break group even closer. After the last turn for home and the finish of the 4th lap, the break group was caught. Kim Bleth almost immediately countered off the left side and Steve Borer and Rino B. jumped aboard. They had a decent gap by the time they got to the start/finish line and the bell was rung for the final 4 mile lap. The group worked together for a little over 2 miles but coming opposite the start/finish line and less than 2 miles to go, Kim jumped hard on the inside. Kim caught Rino and Steve by surprise as he attacked from the back position. Kim was now off solo with Rino and Steve to try and work together and get home ahead of the pack or catch Kim if he faltered.
Back in the pack Mike Gourley was at the lead with Mike Birditt following and myself on Mike. Mike Gourley was setting a good tempo but not hard enough to chase down the break group which included his teammate. Mike Birditt also had a man in the break. UCC and Velo Allegro choose to sit back and wait and hope that the break would fall apart or get caught in a fast sprint or they were there to race for 4th place.
Kim Bleth's victory salute
Kim Bleth turned for home and could see the pack and certainly thought he had a chance to hold everyone off. He buried himself to one goal. Victory for himself and Swami's. The pack rounded the last corner and Mike Gourley was still in the front. Kal moved forward and I gave up Mike's wheel to him. I was still in 4th position but has we edged toward home Gourley kept a steady pace and guys started to move forward. Dale Luedtke started to move up on the right side with a number of riders moving up on the left. I was getting swarmed and frustrated as I now saw 4 or 5 60+ riders ahead of me plus countless 55s.
Further ahead Kim Bleth worked his magic and finished off the race with the great feeling of a solo victory salute! Great job by Kim! Another arrow out of the Swami's quiver.
Dale leading pack in with Alex Collins and Don Denegal close behind
Steve Borer and Rino were still trying to work home for 2nd and 3rd but just behind them Dale Luedtke was winding it up on the right side of the pack near the curb while on the other side Rod Mallory was heating it up with his Velo Allegro teammate Ricky Shorts on his wheel. Quite a bit late for VA if they were racing for 1st place. 2nd place was still possible. Mike Birditt had started his sprint and Kal came around to his left to try his hand for a podium spot. Alex Collins was in the pack but ready to pounce as was Monty Pettus(60+). As these guys started for home, holes opened up and I started my own move for home. Picking off riders and moving forward. Ricky came around his lead out man and was sprinting for home. Mike Birditt decided to jump for cover and got behind Ricky and Kal got back on Mike. Fred Hoblit was starting his sprint on the left side and David Lang(60+) was coming up the right side near the curb.
Dale in full flight with Al Shorts, Alex, Don D, Ricky, Steve Hensler and Mike B also putting max power to the pedals

With 150 meters to go Steve Borer and Rino B. were swallowed up. Nice try guys. Dale Luedtke was now in the lead with a full head of steam. The sprint was into the wind and after a downhill section the last 150 meters was a false flat. It was slightly uphill. Alex Collins was working off of Dale's wheel with Don Denegal of Velo Allegro tight on Alex. Don was about to pass his teammate Ricky who was in the wind. Mike Birditt left Ricky's wheel on the left and was sprinting in a way low position. I don't think even Mark "Racer Boy" Cavenish gets lower than Mike. What an aero position and with the power in his legs, no wonder he goes so fast. Steve Henlser was coming up on Ricky's wheel and Monty was not far away. I found a hole to the left of Fred Hoblit and got out of the saddle for max speed. I train hard for this. Might as well race what I train.

60+ sprint unfolding- Monty leading by 2 bike lengths over David Lang(over Monty's shoulder) & myself(even with David)-20 meters to go
 Dale Luedtke wasn't going to be passed. Dale won the bunch sprint for 2nd place. Alex Collins was 3rd and the last podium spot. Mike Birditt was 4th with Ricky Shorts over taking his teammate Don Denegal for 5th and Don 6th. Al Shorts coming off knee surgery did well at 7th followed by Steve Hensler and Fred Hoblit. Fred prefers a fast lead up to the sprint and we certainly didn't have that. As aggressive as Santa Clarita Velo was they didn't have anything to show for it. The race just didn't work out for them. As poorly as Velo Allegro seem to ride with all their troops ended up pretty good with 5,6,7 & 10. Of course Swami's got 1,2 & 4.
In 60+ Monty Pettus hung on in the last 20 meters to win his 3rd LA Circuit Race in a row. I was smoking by the time I hit the line and placed 2nd about a bike length ahead of David Lang. I hit 36.3 mph. I thought Fred Hoblit might have been Bob Wright. They are both thin and look similar from behind though I know Bob is taller. I threw my bike to get by Bob but it was Fred so it didn't matter and don't know if I was ahead or not. Didn't matter. Great showing also for Paramount with 1 and 2 in 60+. Bob Wright did come across the line behind David for 4th. Bob was followed by Richard Stahlberg, Mike Fleming, John Edwards(John thought he placed way up in the placings and I was questioning later whether I was 2nd before the results came out but John was way off), Glenn Baldwin and Richard Rodriguez. There was a 60+ racer that pushed Mario Seri and almost knocked him down in the sprint. Someone on the other side of Mario pushed him back upright. Mario was plenty upset afterward and complained to the officials. I don't know the side of the story of the accused person. The officials relegated this person to last place.
The average speed of the race was around 25 mph which was 1.7 mph slower than the 45+ race but in that section going away from the start/finish area and toward the last turn we hit over 34 mph twice. Must have been during chases. In the 45+ they didn't get above 32 mph in the same section any time in the race. Below are the podiums and complete results. I want to thank the promoter Brad House and Back on Track Productions for including the 55s AND the 60s and paying cash to both categories. Much appreciated. Also thanks to Jodie Borer for the great action photographs. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
From left to right- Ricky Shorts, Dale Luedtke, Kim Bleth, Alex Collins(without his team colors) & Mike Birditt
60+ Podium- From left to right- John McKee, Monty Pettus & David Lang
LA Circuit Race  (Rank 1.5)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 219074 Leo Pettus Paramount Racing 21
2 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 17
3 107852 David Lang DARE 15
4 39024 Bob Wright Santa Clarita Velo 13
5 50911 Richard Stahlberg Ironfly 12
6 129293 Michael Fleming South Bay Wheelmen 10
7 46547 John Edwards UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 9
8 45047 Glenn Baldwin SLO Nexus-Gym One 7
9 50498 Richard Rodriguez Pacific Sunset Velo/Pac Sun Velo 6
10 257503 Philip Walters Encino Velo Cycling Club 4
11 61278 Mario Seri Herbalife LaGrange 3
12 45763 Robert Paganini Pasadena Athletic Assoc (PAA) 2
13 269972 Fred Haim Herbalife LaGrange 0
14 189814 Leo Longo South Bay Wheelmen 0
15 195498 Donald Kimper ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 0
16 203244 Cary Alpert South Bay Wheelmen 0
17 3793 Raphael Gomez Rage Cycling 0
LA Circuit Race  (Rank 1.5)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 49191 Kim Bleth Swami's Cycling Club 21
2 47262 Dale Luedtke Swami's Cycling Club 17
3 46255 Alex Collins UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 15
4 47255 Michael Birditt Swami's Cycling Club 13
5 52251 Ricky Shorts Velo Allegro 12
6 93812 Don Denegal EXPIRED LICENSE 10
7 230085 Albert Shorts Velo Allegro 9
8 15874 Steve Hensler Team Redlands 7
9 16360 Fred Hoblit Santa Clarita Velo 6
10 271566 Alex Gonzalez 4
11 222764 Thomas Buescher South Bay Wheelmen 3
12 54522 Kalman Szkalak UC Cyclery/JW Flooring 2
13 13802 Michael Gourley Santa Clarita Velo 0
14 245777 Steven Borer ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 0
15 49110 Rino Barbagiovanni Santa Clarita Velo 0
16 107559 Rodney Malloy 0
17 66553 John Sinz Canyon Velo 0
18 186482 Rick Skalak Santa Clarita Velo 0
19 301372 Tom Herman South Bay Wheelmen 0

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