It gets earlier every year. Too many races for the calendar to fill. The first Ontario Criterium series race had to be scheduled for Jan. 15, 2012. This time of year can be pretty cold in Ontario. I think many of you remember the race last year at Ontario in Feb. 37 degrees at race time. This year the temp was around 45. Not bad but still cold. The pre registration for the 55 and 60s was good at 38. 25 55s and 13 60s. We had some new riders age into 55. Nelson Alaan of Cal Pacfic, Rocky Bower of Socalcycling.com, Laszlo Lukacs, Bruce Hartley of Pinnaclife, and Dale Raymond of SC Velo. Steve Borer now of UC Cyclery is 60. Besides Steve UC Cyclery added Don Kimper and Steve Hensler to their arsenal of riders. Paramount's Howard Miller aged up to 60+ and was looking for a good finish in his first race in 60+ with myself and Monty Pettus.
We saw some nifty new kits out there. Velo Allegro, Santa Clarita Velo and Spy-Swami's all had some nice looking new dudes. Swami's had better get their name straight or they are going to collect Socal points under 2 different names like Paramount does every year. Swami's has a new major sponsor in Spy sunglasses. Spy made a special run of sunglasses in Swami's colors with the name Swami's printed on the inside of one of the arms. Really cool looking racing shades.
Rain looked like a small possibility but most of the forecasts showed rain for later in the day. The clouds looked dark but didn't shed any tears. The pre race prep seemed like I had just done it last week. Only been to Ontario to race over 40 times. I think I have the route down now. Lol. I hadn't used my Trek race bike since Natz last Sept. in Bend, Oregon. I was adjusting the seat cap just before this race. Forgot my Garmin needed charging. Blank. Oh well. It doesn't help one pedal. It was working Sat. when I checked it. Damn.
I saw so many familiar faces when I got to Ontario. It felt comfortable. I knew just about everyone. There were a few new faces in 55+ but none in 60+. The overall showing of riders was good but disappointing for 60+.
48 riders lined up at 7:35 am for the 55/60+ race. The women 3/4s raced before us and had a good field and no crashes. Good for them and good for us. Ray Moreno the promoter had us doing the 7 corner grand prix course. The course is popular and wide/safe. Ralph Elliot was in his booth announcing the race action with the officials. Ralph always does a good job and makes the event more fun for everyone.
The race was off. The first race jitters seem to dissipate at the first corner but I actually didn't feel totally comfortable until 2/3 the way through my second race. The pace seemed hardy in the 55/60+ race. I had no idea how I would feel. I felt totally within myself after doing Roger Young's motorpacing at the track the prior 2 weeks on Thurs. evenings. I dropped out of the motor game at 32+ mph in a 49 x 15(88 inches) gear. 25 to 28 felt ok at Ontario.
The first break attempt was done by Swami's Dale Luedtke. Dale was trying to rev up his engine and was joined in his effort by Bruce Hartley of Pinnaclife. They lasted less then a lap. Don Davidson was very active in the race. Don had been doing tris, biathlons, and runs. Don will mix in crits and road races. Don has a very ambitious schedule of racing. Nice to see guys with such enthusiasm for these activities at our age. Go Don!
The first prime of the day was for the coveted Ontario Series T shirt. Ricky Shorts thought he needed one and pulled it home. Then the race series points prime came and I finally saw Monty Pettus and David Lang. Monty likes to sumber early in a race and David does as well. Mike "Thunder Thighs" Birditt took the 55+ points and Monty took the 60+ points. Mike has been going through a very hard block of training and wasn't sure how he would do but I knew. Lol. You will too but later.
The race pace kept up nicely. There weren't a lot of break attempts. The high pace made it hard to stay away. I just hung near the front most of the time and on Ricky Shorts's wheel a lot. Ricky was always at the front. Steve Borer had decided to mark me and followed me through the entire race until 3 laps to go when he banged bikes with Alex Collins and fell back.
The 5 laps to go sign flipped over and we were all together. UC Cyclery seemed disorganized. Racing without a plan. Their race leader Kal Szkalak had injuried himself the prior week during a training ride and wasn't in attendance and will be out for a while. We miss the "Muscle Head". UCC still had Alex Collins and Steve Hensler. Swami's was going to work for closers Dale Luedtke and Mike "TT" Birditt. Paramount's goal in 60+ was a sweep of the podium with Monty, myself and Howard. Ricky Shorts was riding with but one teammate and Don Denegal seemed to be lacking some form this time of year. There were a lot of independents in the mix looking for a good finish.
Once the 1 lap to go card came up the pack was bearing down on 3 guys that were off the front. Not far away and it didn't look like they were a threat. I never got the names of the guys that were in that group(anyone want to help me out here). It was probably a good thing to give the peleton a carrot to ride too. Once the small group got caught though the pace slowed and there was some jostling. Unnerving for sure. I lost some position and looking to get on Dale but Bruce Hartley also wanted Dale's wheel. We both got moved off Dale and I was starting to feel buried. Steve Diamond of Swami's went to the front and started working for his team. The pace picked up. Gary Shuey of Swami's was next in line for his club. The pace was good. I was trying to move up on the right side of the pack.
|Dale Luedtke and Mike Birditt- Mike 1, Dale 2 in 55+|
|John McKee and Monty Pettus- Monty 1, John 2 in 60+|
The speed in the 55/60+ was a good 25.3 mph while the 50+ race which had 84 riders was 27.7. Good day of racing and a good start to the season. We need better participation in the 60+ category though. I know a lot of guys are fearful of crashing but from what I hear all the time of riders getting taken out on our roads, criteriums are pretty safe. NO CARS. Thanks to everyone that did come out and for those that didn't but were thinking about it, next time! Top 12 places are below for both cats. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
8-Seri(Mario was out for 5 months after his crash at MBGP last yr. Glad to have Mario back!)
9-Pags- Pags racing age is 76 and he did both 55/60+ and the 50+ race. Way to go, Robert!