Wednesday, July 27, 2011


By John McKee

It was quite a weekend for climbers with the Sisquoc RR and the San Marcos Criterium on Saturday and Sunday. Most racers did one or the other but there were a few "fanatics" like myself that did both. I have already written about the Sisquoc RR so here is the story about the San Marcos Criterium held on July 24th, 2011. The SMC is held on the campus of San Marcos State University. The course has developed quite a reputation and rightfully so. It is hard. A 1.7 mile circuit with 5 sides and 3 of them are up. The 4th leg has the power climb but what makes the ride so difficult is once you make it to the top of the power climb and turn right for home your winded and its still unhill. Modest yes but you have no speed after the power climb and it feels like your wheels are stuck in tar. It's at least 350 meters to the start/finish line. Most of the downhill is in leg one after a quick right from the start/finish line but you have to waste a lot of that energy braking going into a right turn. You don't want to over cook that one and go into the cones. Leg 2 is slightly downhill and very fast. Leg 3 after and a 45 degree turn and a roll over bricks is slightly uphill and leads into the power climb. Wow. I get tired just writing about this monster of a course.
The rep of the race and the fact that there was a crash last year may have held down the entries in 60+ but not in 55+. UC Cyclery/JW Flooring was there in force with their A team and most of their A team had fresh legs. Swami's was there but all of their A riders had ridden the Sisquoc RR the day before and worse had to drive so far to get to and from the venue. In 60+ there were only 6 racers that showed for the race. Bob Wright and myself are locked in a Socal Cup points race which he forged to a decent lead after the Sisquoc RR. We were lined up in 60+ along with Fred Nicolet, David Lang and Don Kimper as contenders though this wouldn't be David favorite course.
30 riders in all showed up at the line at 7:45 am. There were a few pre reg no shows. The race went off and the early pace was brisk but everything that moved out front was covered. The 1st 3 or 4 laps were hard but everyone was together. Mike Mueller and Paul Rodiguez were sitting back waiting for the right moment. Both are riding very well right now and Mike was in the winning break the previous year with Kal Szkalak. Kal lined up this year again and this was his 2nd race back after his crash at Ontario. Kal did well at Sisquoc. Better than I thought was possible but Kal is super motivated as all of you know. Glad to have Kal back. For sure!
The first decisive move would come on a prime lap which would be no surprise. 4 laps in and Ralph Elliott announces a $50 prime at a local bike shop. Gary Shuey of Swami's is leading the field in with Mike Birditt on his wheel. UCC is watching carefully looking to catch Swami's in some oxygen debt sprinting for the prime. Mike tells Gary to go for it when they get to 100 meters of the line. Gary wins the prime and UCC goes. There were a few gaps because of the prime sprint and  Paul Rodiguez and Mark Helvie go! Mike Birditt has no problem jumping aboard. Might have been a little harder for Gary but he also got aboard the the lead train as did Fred Hoblit and Steve Hensler and also UCC's Mike Mueller. Mike M. tilted the race to UCC.
Once the dart for freedom settled down after a couple of laps, Mike Birditt suggested that everyone work together to get a decent gap on the field before everyone attacks each other. All the top riders were in the group anyway except for  a few other UCC strongmen like Kal and Mark Huffman. They couldn't chase so this group was "Bound for Glory".
In 60+ action Bob Wright and myself were usually fairly close to the front and I felt good I was hanging in there since I got dropped the previous year. Fred Nicolet and Don Kimper were also hanging in there well. The lead break group worked together except that Mark Helvie and Fred Hoblit hung back and wouldn't pull. Mark was saving himself for later. For sure. Fred must have felt out numbered.
A mini break formed later and included Mark Huffman, Bob Willcox  of UCC and Mark Dufour of SDBC.
Kal Szkalak joined it a little later as the small group was less than 100 meters from the rest of peleton. Bob Wright made his move for 1st place in 60+ by coming across the gap at the hardest point which was the last leg to the start/finish line. Bob made it and wouldn't be challenged after that in his category.
Up front UCC would be able to take advantage of their numbers over Swami's and they also had fresher legs. None of the 3 UCC riders were at Sisquoc the day before but Gary, Mike, Steve and Fred had been. Paul Rodiguez jumped with 3 laps to go. Solo effort. Steve and Gary were working the front trying to keep Paul within reach. On the next to the last lap Gary Shuey hit it hard going up the power climb but this only helped UCC as Mark Helvie jumped across the gap to Paul. 2 UCC riders now in front.
On the last lap Mike Mueller hit it hard going into turn 4 just before the power climb. Mike Birditt covers this and counters going up the hill. At the top Mike Birditt is pretty gassed and Mike Mueller jumps off of him toward Paul and Mark. In the end it is a UCC trifecta. Paul Rodiguez is the winner. Mark Helvie is 2nd and Mike Mueller is 3rd. Mike Birditt came around Fred Hoblit for 4th with Fred taking 5th followed in by Steve Hensler and Gary Shuey. The next mini group came in with Bob Wright as mentioned earlier. Bob Wright 1st place in 60+.  Fred Nicolet had shown some energy near the end of the race with a solo effort to reach the mini group ahead but died and looked like he was going back, back, back and he's gone(the baseball background in me coming out). No he rebounds off the wall and makes a comeback.
The main field was lead to the power climb on the last lap by Rick Swanson who was trying to set up Dale Luedtke. Steve Borer was on Rick and I came charging up the hill but I was gassed at the top and Fred came by and looked super strong coming home besting Dale across the line. I asked Fred later what got into him and he said he thought I was on his wheel. No Fred. This is not my course. Barrio Logan Si. San Marcos No! At least I didn't get dropped and finished 3rd in 60+ but lost more Socal points to Bob Wright.
Good hard race and a good course. Pretty good showing actually. In 55+ that is. Not 60+. Complete results below. No photos were taken. Sorry. I wish there were. That's all for now! Train hard and race safe!

San Marcos Criterium  (Rank 1.5)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 39024 Bob Wright Santa Clarita Velo 21
2 26089 Fred Nicolet ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 17
3 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 15
4 271696 Bruce Coffey SJBC 13
5 195498 Donald Kimper ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 12
6 107852 David Lang DARE 10

San Marcos Criterium  (Rank 1.5)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 58847 Paul Rodriguez UC Cyclery/JW Floors 21
2 15760 Mark Helvie UC Cyclery/JW Floors 17
3 46688 Michael Mueller UC Cyclery/JW Floors 15
4 47255 Michael Birditt Swami's Cycling Club 13
5 16360 Fred Hoblit Santa Clarita Velo 12
6 15874 Steve Hensler Team Redlands 10
7 44197 Gary Shuey Swami's Cycling Club 9
8 59572 Mark Huffman UC Cyclery/JW Floors 7
9 54522 Kalman Szkalak UC Cyclery/JW Floors 6
10 69952 Robert Willcox UC Cyclery/JW Floors 4
11 250331 Peter Dufour ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 3
12 47262 Dale Luedtke Swami's Cycling Club 2
13 61193 john wagenaar UC Cyclery/JW Floors 0
14 1254 Mark Ainslie Ranchos Cycling Club 0
15 325878 Lamont Loy Swami's Cycling Club 0
16 338398 Bernie Bogard 0
17 18156 Craig Jones Velo Avanti Cycling Team 0
18 245777 Steven Borer ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 0
19 23055 Reed Mayne Swami's Cycling Club 0
20 34753 Rick Swanson Swami's Cycling Club 0
21 178495 Steve Diamond Swami's Cycling Club 0
22 46255 Alex Collins UC Cyclery/JW Floors  

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