Monday, June 27, 2011


By John McKee

It was the 50th year of the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix which started in 1962. SBW founder Ted Ernst started the race. Nice story about this in the Daily Breeze newspaper -
In 1962 Kenny Fuller traded in a paper route back when newspapers were delivered by bicycle for bike racing. Kenny's first major event was the 1st MBGP in 1962. Kenny has stayed with bike racing and in those 50 years has amassed 7 world titles, 42 national titles and over 750 wins and the holder of the world record in the one hour time trial on the track in 55+. Astonishing record. Of course. Another article in the Daily Breeze about Kenny-
Kenny Fuller and his wife Pam relaxing after the race in the VIP tent. They are enjoying a nice serving of salad. Lol. Pam is looking a lot better here. Days before she had laser treatment on her face and she looked like someone took a 2 by 4 to her.
Kenny Fuller is still dishing it out nowadays. Not as often as he use to. The run of the mill local criteriums don't strike his fancy any more but he does like the big events like- natz, worlds and of course MBGP. The 55 and 60+ racers are always on the "clock" here as the SBW promoter and president of the SCNCA watches to see that all categories that are in the event are well attended. One year and I think that was 2008 that the women 3/4 took our place in the lineup but struck out with their numbers. Ever since the 55/60+ racers have had great turnouts. I believe this year we had between 60 and 65 sign ups. Not all finished. Thank you to all you guys that signed up. Your why we will continue to race at MBGP and else where. Great job! I want to also thank Eric Smith for giving us a second chance and keeping us in this awesome event.
The South Bay Wheelmen have always produced this event since it started and always do a great job and this year was no different other than it was a significant anniversary-50. The winners jersey was way cool. Yellow with a very nice but subtle design. Capo made. High quality. Looks great. The course has had a good number of crashes over the years and everyone talks about the final turn which Ralph Elliot the Southland's best bike race announcer calls the "Chevron Spin". It is a little tricky but no one crashes on it. It is always on the top of the course or after coming out of the turn. The cat 4 race traditionally has crashes and this year was no different. They piled up 25 or so coming into the finish line. It took quite a while to move everyone off the course and off to the local hospitals. This moved the 55/60+ start time back. There was a crash in the cat 3 race before the 55/60+ race and of the 5 guys that went down 3 were my teammates from Paramount. Not a very good start for the day for Paramount. None of the guys were hurt badly.
By the time rolled around for the start of the 55/60+ race it was 9:30 am. 45 minutes late. Our race was reduced 5 minutes to 35 minutes. We lined up with all of the strongest riders in 55+ and 60+ in the race. Kal and Alex from UC Cyclery were not here but everyone else was. The 55+ field had Keith Ketterer and Malcolm Hill from Breakaway For Cancer. Paul Rodiguez and Mike Mueller from UCC were at MBGP with Mike having just won the previous weeks SPGP. Swami's was there with a different strategy. No breaks with Paul R. or Mike M. unless Mike Birditt was in it. UCC's counter strategy was no go in breaks with Mike B. Pretty simple. The breakaway guys were going to try and do just that. KK and Malcolm would work with whoever thinking that they probably would be able to win the sprint. Fred Hoblit of Santa Clarita Velo has had good form and has a long sprint and would be looking to ride to his abilities.
In 60+ Kenny Fuller would like to go in  a break. John Rubcic of UCC was going to shadow Kenny and hope for a bunch sprint and come off Kenny at the end like he usually does. New 60+ racing sensation Mike Marotta hasn't done all the races but always does well in the ones he does and hasn't lost a crit he has done this year. He has a very long sprint and works with that premise. Monty Pettus and John McKee of Paramount were looking to come off a good wheel and sprint at the end. Bob Wright of Santa Clarita Velo and Fred Nicolet of SDBC are riding well in 60+ and could be factors in the race.
The riders were off with 35 minutes of racing. The early action was frenetic. Hard! Fast! KK, Malcolm Hill, Kim Bleth, Mike Mueller, Steve Bernede and Kenny Fuller were working and making the pace reasonable fast to very fast. At the end of the first lap 60+ racer Mario Seri lost control of his bike near the inside barrier after coming out of the "Chevron Spin". There are different stories as to what happened like clipping a pedal or his wheel locked up. Don't know but he lost control of his bike and he fish tailed and went down. Al Shorts was right behind him and went over the top and did a face plant into the orange wrought iron fence. I was on the outside and saw this and it freaked me out for a moment. I just tried to put it out of my mind and continued to race. The next time around the pack got the slow down because an ambulance was there picking up Al. Al was taken to a local hospital and got stitches in his lip, checked out and released. Hope Al is feeling better after what looked very ugly.
The course was slightly downhill from the start/finish line and also downwind. All that speed could then be used to race up the one short power climb and then the first 180 which wasn't bad. The top stretch of the course was hard because it was into the wind and had one small climb which added to the lung stress. Over the hump and it was a little easier and fast to the last corner the infamous "Chevron Spin". They changed it a bit this year and made you go wider where it was a little narrower. After the turn it was 250 meters to the line per the sign.
Any time in the race that Birditt showed his face in a break group... Shutdown! One time he hid behind Steve Cahill who was coming across a short gap to a small break group. Once there....Shutdown! No group of riders got far away from the reach of the peleton. About a third of the way through the race I started to see more 60+ riders moving up and made me worry. I always try and stay near the front and watch for 60+ guys. Kenny and John Rubcic were always at the front. Of course. John hasn't raced much this year but is still riding and racing at a very high level. I have told JR this many times before but he should go to natz. After about 25 minutes the pace was taking its toll on some 60+ riders. Some were falling off the pace or moving back in the pack.
There were many great primes. 2 place primes and primes for both 55 and 60+ racers. This drove the race. Fast. Ease off OR keep it going for a break move. The last major and I guess the only major break move started with Malcolm Hill, Pedro Ordaz, Rick Swanson and Mark Helvie. They had been going for a prime and keep it going. This was with about 6 laps to go. Pedro dropped off pretty soon. Rick was next to be dropped. Warning bells should have then gone off to Swami's but Mike Birditt decided to take a siesta. He figured the break would be caught and let himself go back a ways to take a breather before the finish. In the mean time Kenny Fuller went off in chase. He was using his time trial strength to catch the 2 leaders and help make the break really work.
Up front Mark Helvie was having mechnical troubles. His deraileur cable broke and his rear cassette was stuck in the 12. He either had to be in a 42 x 12 or 53 x 12 and Mark felt it was hurting their speed. The first news of laps to go was a call for 4 laps to go. Mike Birditt is back in the middle of the pack on his siesta time and the bells go off. Wow. 4 to go! Mark and Malcolm were still away and Kenny was gaining on them. The pace was pretty steady. The 2 laps to go call came up and someone unknown went to the front and hit it hard. KK jumped right on it and many thought it was him leading the peleton including a teammate that was watching the race. Keith was just following the wheel of another rider. The group got very close to Kenny and you could see it was curtains for him. Not sure when Kenny finally got picked up. I thought he would be very tired but not Kenny. A regular energizer bunny he is. The second to last lap was pretty hard. I was at the front but some of the starch was missing from my body.
The bell lap came and Gary Shuey of Swami's was pulling big time to bring everything back together. Swami's had waited too long but could still pull it out if everything went right for them. Mike Birditt came out of his slumber but was still pretty damn far back. We turned the top corner and the race just got harder. In the last few years the pace would let up because no one wanted to give themselves up to set a faster pace or UCC was off in a break. Coming to the little hill Mike Birditt went by me on my left. The correct side to move up on because the right side was death into the wind. If the left side had been clogged, I don't know what he would have done. Once over the hill Mark Helvie was picked up but Malcolm was still ahead. The pace slowed a bit and there was a shuffle of activity. Malcolm was picked up and Fred Hoblit launched it. KK was right on this as was 60+ rider Mike Marotta. They turned the "Chevron Spin" with a little bit of a gap. Mike Birditt, Paul Rodriguez, Steve Bernede, Dale Luedtke, Kenny Fuller, and John Rubcic were closing in on them. JR was "all in" on the follow Kenny strategy.
Fred was taking it from too far out to win but it was good for KK and Marotta. Marotta finished 1st. KK was the 2nd person across the line but the 1st 55+ rider. Mike Birditt was the 2nd 55+ rider and about 1/2 a wheel behind KK and 10 ft short of winning but that's bike racing. The first person across the line NOT the rider that is going the fastest. Fred Hoblit hung on for a well deserved 3rd place and the last podium spot. In 55+ Fred was followed in by Paul Rodiguez, Steve Bernede, Dale Luedtke and Mike Mueller.
In 60+ action John Rubcic played his cards perfectly from his master plan but opps.... John got by Kenny about 100 meters from the line but the new super star of 60+ Mike Marotta was the very 1st person to finish MBGP in 55/60+ and would be taking a well deserved winners jersey home with him. JR was 2nd and Kenny followed in. Monty Pettus and myself finished within a foot of each other at the line with Monty taking 4th. Everyone streamed safely in to finish off another addition of MBGP- 55/60+ style. Hard, fast, a little dicey and dangerous. Podium picks and complete results are below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

60+ podium with reigning natz champ Kenny Fuller in the 3rd place position. Mike Marotta at the top. John Rubcic was working the race and couldn't make the podium.
Fred Hoblit- 3rd place, Keith Ketterer- winner, & Mike Birditt- 2nd place
60+ winner Mike Marotta with 55+ winner Keith Ketterer
Manhattan Beach Grand Prix  (Rank 2.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 48434 Keith Ketterer Breakaway-UBS Elite Masters 28
2 47255 Michael Birditt Swami's Cycling Club 22
3 16360 Fred Hoblit Santa Clarita Velo 20
4 58847 Paul Rodriguez UC Cyclery/JW Floors 18
5 126351 Steve Bernede Team Werks 16
6 47262 Dale Luedtke Swami's Cycling Club 14
7 46688 Michael Mueller UC Cyclery/JW Floors 12
8 93812 Donald Denegal 10
9 52251 Ricky Shorts Velo Allegro 8
10 156650 Malcolm Hill Breakaway-UBS Elite Masters 6
11 52086 cyril hunte 4
12 50532 Deogracias Asuncion SBW 2
13 61193 john wagenaar UC Cyclery/JW Floors 0
14 204724 Steve Cahill Celo Pacific 0
15 206734 John Huber Velo Avanti Cycling Team 0
16 107559 rodney malloy 0
17 55635 Pedro Ordaz 0
18 44197 Gary Shuey Swami's Cycling Club 0
19 280155 Victor Miera FFKR Architects/ 0
20 49110 Rino Barbagiovanni Santa Clarita Velo 0
21 178495 Steve Diamond Swami's Cycling Club 0
22 271566 Alex Gonzalez 0
23 23055 Reed Mayne Swami's Cycling Club 0
24 34753 Rick Swanson Swami's Cycling Club 0
25 49191 Kim Bleth Swami's Cycling Club 0
26 245777 Steven Borer ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 0
27 222764 Thomas Buescher South Bay Wheelmen 0
28 222523 Rick Carrera Team Simple Green/Bike Religion 0
29 12354 Kirk Freeman Santa Clarita Velo 0
30 301372 Tom Herman South Bay Wheelmen 0
31 47314 gary prideaux Lightning Velo 0
32 6082 Ben Cardenas CarreraPromo/Competitive Edge 0
33 167453 bernard estupinan Citrus Valley Velo 0
34 50765 richard Roberson UC Cyclery/JW Floors 0
35 15760 Mark Helvie UC Cyclery/JW Floors 0
Manhattan Beach Grand Prix  (Rank 2.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 72880 mike marotta Action Sports/Simply Fit 28
2 48760 John Rubcic UC Cyclery/JW Floors 22
3 46765 Kenny Fuller Team Simple Green/Bike Religion 20
4 219074 Leo Pettus Paramount Racing 18
5 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 16
6 39024 Bob Wright Santa Clarita Velo 14
7 50911 Richard Stahlberg Ironfly 12
8 3793 raphael gomez Rage Cycling 10
9 107852 David Lang DARE 8
10 195498 Donald Kimper ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 6
11 45047 Glenn Baldwin SLO Nexus-Gym One 4
12 238828 Phillip Richards Citrus Valley Velo 2
13 189814 Leo Longo South Bay Wheelmen 0
14 188249 Cully White Pasadena Athletic Assoc (PAA) 0
15 101582 william carvin 0
16 170779 Edgardo Potes Bike Palace 0
17 236498 Bruce Steele South Bay Wheelmen 0
18 50498 Richard Rodriguez Pacific Sunset Velo/Pac Sun Velo 0

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