It's Sunday Jan. 22nd, 2012 and time for the 1st CBR race of the year and the 1st CBR race under the umbrella of the local USAC affiliate, the SCNCA. The 55/60+ racers had moved up the food chain in the off season and were going to start around 10 am. Awesome start time but as the winter progressed we got moved earlier and earlier until we ended up at 8:15 am. Better than the 7:35 am from last year. Since CBR was now a USA Cycling promoter a second license wasn't needed but Chris got creative and came up with the idea of the "Loyalty Club". For $50 you got a reduced fee at all the races. At 6 or 7 races it pays off. OK, I'm in. Chris and Vera produce good events so I don't have a problem with this.
I was surprised then to see what a large field the 55/60+ racers had. No Loyalty Club and no pre reg and the entry fee nears $40. Ontario had 48 racers for their 1st event and the Dom. Hills CBR event had 66! Wow!!! 9 short of a sell out. The large turnout was due to the 55s. The 55s are driving the field sizes. There were 19 60+ racers. Not sure why so many racers drop out when they get in their 60s. I say good job to all the 60s that came out and raced with younger riders.
There were cars and riders everywhere when I got to Dom. Hills around 7:10 am. Pretty long lines at reg but they moved pretty fast. I never feel like I have enough time to get ready for a race. By the time I got my number on I forgot about getting on my trainer and just started riding around. My stomach was killing me and my right leg wasn't feeling that great. I have had a short bout of sciatica this week and visited my chiro, Dr. Richard Olson earlier in the week. All week and this is the worst my leg has felt. Damn and a large field to fight. We got called to the line and there were riders everywhere. Damn. The race started a little late but once the gun went off it started fast. I still wasn't feeling that good and was in the back. Everyone seemed to be going fast and I was thinking "Mother of mercy...is this the end of Rico?". After a couple of laps I started feeling better physically and mentally. I started to get in the flow of the race. I have done this course so many times.
The pace was brisk early but not much happened. I just wanted to get the race over with. The standard blender action was going on with some snake moves, etc. A prime lap came up about half way through the race for a free entry. Gary Shuey of Spy-Swami's went for it and took the prime. Mark Hoffenberg countered off of Gary. Mark just aged up to 55 and was expected to make a big impact on this category. Mark has a long history of being a strong rider and his Sho Air/Rock n Road teammates are strong as well with just aged up Dan Nicolette and Henry Schnepf who is 57 in 2012.
Mark was soon joined by Mike Birditt and then John Luke of Santa Clarita Velo. We all know about Mike but John is new to us and just starting racing some last year. He gets the thumbs up by Mike Birditt for being a strong rider. Ricky Shorts of Velo Allegro made it 4. As I heard it, all the riders were taking pulls. The foursome was joined by Steve Cahill, Fred Hoblit and a party unknown at this time. Fred is also with Santa Clarita Velo so they had 2 members in the break group. The break group moved along but didn't make consistent headway. There were a lot of guys chipping away at the group. Surprisingly a number of 60+ riders started to act up and chase or maybe get across. Bruce Steele with Rich Stahlberg made a go of it. Monty Pettus and Doug Knox worked at the front for a bit.
With 3 laps to go the lead was quiet small. The breakers were getting ready to abandon ship. Steve Cahill didn't want to throw in the towel and pulled for most of the next to last lap. Wayne Rosenkrantz and Bruce Hartley of Pinnaclife were putting a lot of pressure on at the front of the peleton. Mike Birditt and Mark Hoffenberg were sitting in the break group waiting to get caught and assuming a bunch sprint.
This came true at the start/finish line with one lap to go. Everyone was all together. Who drove the pack after this is a little murky. The pace was good. Maybe even brisk but not fast going through turn one to three. By turn three Sho Air/Rock n Road had lined up their riders nearly perfect. Mike B. saw this and was thinking...uh oh! There was another solo rider ahead that was acting as a carrot(Lee Romans-Velo Allegro) but wasn't really a challenger. Sho Air was still lined up at turn four and after turning the corner slung Mark H. toward the finish line. Mike Birditt did what he could but wasn't making up any ground and Mark won the race. Mike was 2nd by 1 to 2 bike lengths. 3rd went to big man Bob Pellkofer. Bob only did 3 events last year but is a strong rider and rode a very good race. 3rd place showed originally as an unknown rider but that was because Bob waited to the last minute to get his license and his name didn't show up.
|Mike Birditt(left) finished 2nd and Mark Hoffenberg won the 55+ race at CBR #1 2012|
|Mike Marotta(left) 2, Monty Pettus 1, John McKee 3|
Last year's 60+ Socal Points winner Mike Marotta finished 8th overall and 2nd in 60+. Mike looked strong as usual. I finished somewhere around 12 overall and 3rd in 60+. Rich Stahlberg of Ironfly and Mike Fleming of SBW were 4 and 5 in 60+.
The riding was decent with no close calls that I saw. Great size field. 55+ racing has really come alive in 2012. There are still a couple of heavy hitters that haven't joined us yet. It will get faster and that usually means safer. The finish lists are on my new facebook page- 55/60+ Bike Racing. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe! The video below is courtesy of Lee Romans's girlfriend, Maki.