Wednesday, March 14, 2012


By Mark Hoffenberg

It promised to be a hard three days of racing, and in the end it certainly turned out that way. Friday set the stage with a 4.5 mile TT on a Euro style course. The first 2.5 miles was mostly flat, smooth road. Then after an right hand turn it headed uphill, and shortly thereafter the road turned to loose dirt and gravel, with quite a few turns, ruts and washboard. Not your everyday time trial! I made the decision to get there early to pre-ride the course after hearing that several riders had crashed last year. It turned out to be a wise decision as I was able to choose my lines and also realized that I needed to change my wheel choice. I opted for my Zipp race wheels with 100lbs pressure. There were some widely varied choices of equipment for this race with some optiing for full on TT gear and others riding their standard road bike. I dont have a TT bike, so I went for my road bike with a custom single clip on bar that I fabricated from a MTB bar. I ziptied it to my stem in McGyver fashion. Malcolm Hill blistered the coarse in 10:53 for the win, Hoffenberg 2nd @ 11:10 and Birditt third @ 11:21. I was pretty impressed with Birditt's TT since he used his standard road bike with low profile wheels, no clip on bars, and a standard helmet. Kim Bleth mentioned that he had started 30 seconds behind Mike and had almost caught him by the time they hit the dirt road, then Mike quickly disappeared from view as he ripped through the dirt section.. My pre race prediction was Malcolm in first, Mike Mueller second. I wasnt exactly sure  where either Mike or I would end up.

Saturday was the downtown criterium. This was a technical six turn course with some narrow sections exasperated by windy conditions and a 100 rider combined 45-55 field. The pace from the gun was fast and furious, with Amgen Breakaway from Cancer(BFC) squad doing a lot of the attacking. I chose to ride right at the front to avoid problems. I had no teammates, and Malcolm had eight from their 45 squad. Mike Birditt had a couple of teammates, and  UC Cyclery/JW Flooring had five or six guys. I felt a bit vulnerable. Eventually a break developed with Brett Clare (BFC) and Benny Parks. BFC, led by Thurlow contained the field. This actually worked out well for me because it kept Malcolm in check. The last couple of laps were hectic. BFC lined out their train. On the headwind backstretch I decided to sprint into the wind to  to pass the trains before the final two turns. It hurt, but paid dividends, as I was able to distance myself from my 55+ rivals for the win. Birditt passed Malcolm in the final sprint for second. The GC at the end of day 2 came down to a three person race for the top spot.

Hoffenberg 50 pts
Hill 49 pts
Birditt 46 pts

Sunday's circuit race would prove interesting. Malcolm, Birditt and I had all done the math in our heads. All Malcolm had to do was place ahead of me and he would have the win. Mike would need some luck or help from others to leapfrog both Malcolm and me. Henry and Danny came to help me on Sunday and that would prove to be a deciding factor in the outcome. The first few laps were very fast. Eventually Thurlow and Leibert escaped. I knew that would stick with a myriad of teammates thwarting chase efforts. The 55 racers were pretty passive in this race with the vast majority of the animation coming from the 45s. Henry and Danny saved their bullets for the last lap, with Danny keeping an eye on Mike and Henry keeping an eye on Malcolm. I patrolled the front to stay out of trouble  in the crosswinds. Henry ramped the pace on the hill, riding the right hand gutter, leaving just enough room for me and exposing most of the field to the strong crosswind. On the tailwind backstretch it got a bit hectic as expected. Henry used his last bit of gas stringing out the field before the final series of turns to the finish, leaving me in an ideal position, ahead of any 55+ rivals. Brett Clare and Dan Vogt battled for the field sprint with Dan taking it for 3rd place on the day(1st in the field sprint). I tucked in behind, a few riders back protecting my 55+ position for the win. Complete GC results are below.

Road Race top 3 results:

Final GC

Final GC podium- Birditt, Hoffenberg and Hill
Tour de Murrieta GC  (Rank 2.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 45461 Mark Hoffenberg Sho-air/Rock 'n Road 28
2 156650 Malcolm Hill Breakaway from Cancer Masters 22
3 47255 Michael Birditt Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 20
4 46688 Michael Mueller UC Cyclery/JW Floors 18
5 54522 Kalman Szkalak UC Cyclery/JW Floors 16
6 125061 Michael Hines UC Cyclery/JW Floors 14
7 204724 Steve Cahill Celo Pacific 12
8 1254 Mark Ainslie
9 270177 John Robertson BMC/Walmart 8
10 58847 Paul Rodriguez UC Cyclery/JW Floors 6
11 352540 Scotty Bohlman Jessup Auto Plaza p/b P.S. Cyclery 4
12 49191 Kim Bleth Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 2
13 193819 Chuck Thompson Polli Veloce 0
14 46255 Alex Collins UC Cyclery/JW Floors 0
15 48760 John Rubcic UC Cyclery/JW Floors 0
16 26090 Daniel Nicolette Sho-air/Rock 'n Road 0
17 61193 John Wagenaar UC Cyclery/JW Floors 0
18 247382 Richard Gentili Citrus Valley Velo 0
19 95649 Ken Burns Southern California Velo 0
20 34753 Rick Swanson Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 0
21 59805 Jean Villiot CA Pools /CFS Mortgage 0
22 198038 Scott Olson
23 27989 Richard Pfeiffer UC Cyclery/JW Floors 0

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