Tuesday, June 14, 2011


By John McKee

It was Sunday June 12th, 2011 and time for the Ontario Airport Criterium and another 55/60+ race. This race is always produced by Pacific Sunset Velo like the races we do off of Archibald and Cedar. Usually this race is not part of the Ontario race series but I think Ray Moreno decided to make the Airport race part of the series to get a few more riders since the event was going up against CBR in Dominguez Hills. Attendance was light as our race had just 23 total riders lining up to contest this race. Swami's and SDBC had the largest team showing with 3 each.

Swami's dynamic trio- Mike Birditt, Gary Shuey, & Rick Swanson @ Ontario Airport Criterium
Everyone was off around 7:40 am. The riders were evenly split for the most part with 11 55+ finishers and 10 60s. Steve Hensler blew the lets do a parade lap and get the feel for the course thing. Steve took off like a rocket from the movie "October Sky". Mike Birditt, Phil Richards and myself got on him and he kept it up for 4 laps. Phil did pull through once but then decided to pull off the pressure and I was behind Phil. I was feeling the heat and decided to stay behind Phil. I was coming off a week of not feeling that good and the training was spotty. Mike stayed on Steve and the 2 remaining Swami riders Gary Shuey and Rick Swanson went to the front to "pace".  Mike and Steve weren't very far off and Steve Cahill went across and that stampeded the "herd" like in the movie "Red River". My favorite John Wayne film though I am not the biggest fan of his I do enjoy a lot of his pictures and Monty Cliff and Walter Brennan are really good in the film.
OK, we are all back together after the first 5 laps. The middle of the race and not a lot happened. Swami's would work it up a bit especially for the Ontario Series points. Dale Luedtke has a commanding lead there but Swami's didn't want anyone else to get points so Rick took Mike Birditt to near the line the get the 55+ points. I followed them to bag some 60+ points but I freewheeled it 10 feet from the line and David Lang came by me out of the saddle to pip me at the line. Serves me right for being so lazy. There was a little action for primes of popcorn and socks but it was pretty hard to hear what Ralph Elliot was telling us.
After that everyone really calmed down. The 8 lap card came up and no more free laps for a flat. Mike Marotta came out of a slumber and decided he wanted to stay right at the front. I kind of wanted Mike's wheel but Mike Birditt was glued to that and that was fine. Mike Birdditt's wheel is always a good one but Don Denegal of Velo Allegro wanted it really really bad and never got more than 12 inches away from it so I just got on his wheel. Steve Borer pretty much lead us around and around the last number of laps. Phil Richards might have come forward to help out.
With 5 laps to go Steve Hensler decided to give it a solo effort for glory but after about 1/2 a lap Steve Cahill and Rick Swanson chased him down and he went back into the pack. The last few laps Swami's went to the front and did the pacing work. Gary Shuey was on duty for the bell lap. Marotta was on Gary followed by Birditt, Denegal and myself. There are only 3 corners in this fairly flat loop but once you turn the 2nd corner it is slightly downhill and one can ramp up a pretty good speed. The race is too the last corner because there is almost no distance left once you turn the last corner.
Once Gary Shuey turned corner 2 he bent off to the right meaning I am done. That is when Mike Marotta struck. Mike Birditt was waiting for this and didn't plan on getting caught out with his pants down like at Roger Millikan earlier this year. Mike B. was all over Mike M. and Steve Cahill was somewhere nearby and jumped on Mike B. Don Denegal sat up to my amazement. By the time I figured out the situation the threesome was speeding away and I had no chance of catching them. I went into a funk/stupor and never shook it off. The 3 guys were gone but the pack had to race in and Steve Hensler went to the front to get things going.
55+ podium group- Steve Cahill, Mike Birditt, & Rick Swanson

Mike Marotta was going good but Mike Birditt felt he was slowing going into the last corner and both Birditt and Steve Cahill got by Marotta for 1/2 in 55+. Mike Marotta won the 60+ category. Rick Swanson came out of the pack to finish 4th overall and 3rd in 55+. Steve Hensler was the next in. In 60+ David Lang came across the line for 2nd place followed in  60+ by Mike Fleming, myself and Jim Swigart.
Complete results below. Not exactly a super exciting race but no one got hurt and we got another chance to race which I think we sometimes take for granted. No other area of the country has the opportunities for racers our age that there are in Southern California. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Ontario Airport Criterium  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 47255 Michael Birditt Swami's Cycling Club 14
2 204724 Steve Cahill Celo Pacific 11
3 34753 Rick Swanson Swami's Cycling Club 10
4 15874 Steve Hensler Team Redlands 9
5 61504 Andrzej Fidelus Ranchos Cycling Club 8
6 277180 John Roest Rock N' Road Cyclery 7
7 93812 Donald Denegal 6
8 245777 Steven Borer ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 5
9 66553 John Sinz Canyon Velo 4
10 167453 Bob Estupinan Citrus Valley Velo 3
11 44197 Gary Shuey Swami's Cycling Club 2

Ontario Airport Criterium  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 72880 mike marotta Action Sports/Simply Fit 14
2 107852 David Lang DARE 11
3 129293 Michael Fleming South Bay Wheelmen 10
4 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 9
5 228631 James Swigart ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 8
6 195498 Donald Kimper ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 7
7 238828 Phillip Richards Citrus Valley Velo 6
8 50498 Richard Rodriguez Pacific Sunset Velo/Pac Sun Velo 5
9 45763 Robert Paganini Pasadena Athletic Assoc (PAA) 4
10 45342 Domenick Forte Pasadena Athletic Assoc (PAA) 3

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