Wednesday, April 4, 2012


By John McKee

Buelton, California is a good distance from most of Southern California but is quiet a beautiful area. There are wineries galore in the area. The idea of a criterium to showcase the town and bring people in came forth and presto... the new Avenue of Flags Criterium for 2012. The date was set for March 31, 2012. A Saturday which is harder to travel to because of Friday and early morning Saturday traffic. Sign ups were a little slow this year but hopefully if the event can keep going should build in the future(Got word from the promoter that it WILL be back next year).
Start of the Ave of the Flags Criterium 2012- 1st edition
There was a bit of a controversy before hand because the 55/60+ racers were thrown in with the women cat 4s. All racing at the same time. This kept down the attendance a little but didn't prove to be a problem during the race. 15 55s and only 5 60s showed up to contest the race. Spy/Swami's was the only major 55+ team to show with 4 riders. Paramount had 3 riders in 55 and 60.
Things took a little longer to get going and though the 55/60+ was scheduled for 7:35 am the race didn't start until 7:50 am. The race was off on a L shaped course with a mini power climb before the last turn which was a wide 180. The course length was .7 miles. Quiet fun and challenging. The 55/60+ racers started first and 20 seconds later the 6 cat 4 women started. There was a motor referee on the course to help with matters such as passing lapped riders. Spy/Swami's kicked it up a notch at the beginning and strung things out and dropped a few riders right away. After 4 or 5 laps I was starting to hurt. Mike Birditt and Rick Swanson had been doing the pace work. The pace eased off a bit and I got my sea legs for this course. Once you got the feel for the corners, it made things easier.
Mike Gourley of Santa Clarita Velo was there and racing for the 1st time since a crash at Ontario in 2011. Nice to see Mike back racing. Mike is strong and proved to be a counter anchor to Spy/Swami's along with his teammate John Luke. There were a few unknown faces from local clubs and some of the northern area of the SCNCA. Kim Bleth of Spy/Swami's was the designated hard charger for their squad. Kim would usually attack on the mini power hill and create a gap. He was always brought back to the pack by a concerted effort from all but Spy/Swami's.
The payout was to be $400 for both 55s and 60s but proved to be short of that. The primes were to be merchandise only but there was one prime and that was a bottle of wine but a good one(like in "Police Squad" when the mayor is explaining to Frank Drebbin(Leslie Nielsen) that the Shakespearean actors he shot in the park were "good ones"). Mike(sprint and look)Birditt did his usual super powered sprint for the line and then looks around and see what damage he has done and whether he needs to kick it in again. His teammate Dale Luedtke thought about going for it and sprinted by me within a gnat's eye lash of myself and my bike going about twice the speed. Lol. Mike got the prime and a small group of 4 including Birditt formed but were chased down quickly. A rider in a plain blue jersey by the name of Rick Adams from CoreTechs Cycling Team did a lot of work chasing during the day. He should race with us more.
Everyone is all back together now and about 12 minutes left in the 40 minute race. Kim Bleth did another attack. Same place as the times before and was joined by Doug Knox. Doug is 60+ but was racing 55+ because he doesn't like a separate categories racing together. You will have to talk to him as to why. Doug did most of the work the first lap together and then Kim dropped him. Oh well.
Kim kept his heart rate at 168 and kept going. Not far from the pack but far enough to make bridging very difficult. John Luke came to the front and chatted with his teammate Mike Gourley and said he would work to bring Kim close. The idea was for Mike to then bridge across. Birditt was figuring on this and was ready to go with him. Dale said later if you went, I was going to go too. John Luke couldn't bring Kim quiet close enough. Rick Adams was also chasing. Every time they made a dent, Kim would pull back away. It came down to the last lap and was a fore gone conclusion that Kim was going to win and win he did! Nice win for Kim Bleth of Spy/Swami's. The field was now racing for 2nd place in 55+ and 1st place in 60+.
Monty Pettus went to the front to set the pace on the last lap. Monty and I had agreed that he would help me on Sat. and I would help him on Sunday. Raphael Gomez was marking Monty and I through the race but the pace got to him and he fell back in the pack. Mike Birditt was up front waiting for the right moment. Mike Gourley was going to contest Mike and a rejuvenated Dale Luedtke. Monty Pettus gave way somewhere on the power climb before the last 180 turn. The flyer says there is 800 meters after the last turn to the finish line but it didn't seem quiet that long. It was slightly downhill and fast. Mike Gourley led it out and Birditt jumped at some point along with his teammate Dale. Birditt won the field sprint with Luedtke next and then Gourley. John Luke followed in along with the next finisher Alex Collins. First race back for Alex after injuring his neck at Murietta in a crash.
The 60+ race was pretty much a fore gone conclusion. I came by Monty about 100 meters from the end for the win in 60+. Monty was 2nd and Raphael was 3rd. The ageless one Robert Paganini was 4th and Raphael's brother Vincent was 5th.
As mentioned the payouts were short of the $400 but each placer got a nice bottle of wine so the total value of the payout was around $400. Great event and course. Mark this one down on your calendar for next year. Fun for all. Full results below the podium pictures. All pictures courtesy of Diane Pettus. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

55+ podium- Luedtke, Bleth, & Birditt- Spy/Swami's sweep!

60+ podium- McKee & Pettus
Avenue of Flags Criterium  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 49191 Kim Bleth Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 14
2 47255 Michael Birditt Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 11
3 47262 Dale Luedtke Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 10
4 13802 Michael Gourley 9
5 21803 John Luke Santa Clarita Velo 8
6 46255 Alex Collins UC Cyclery/JW Floors 7
7 48510 John Schaupp Team Bicycle Trip/Symantec 6
8 45010 Rick Adams CoreTechs Cycling Team 5
9 341568 Owen Thomas 4
10 189931 Kasey Haws Team Redlands 3
11 177958 Kevin Ryan METALMTN Cycling 2
12 45552 Douglas Knox Time Factory Team 1
13 66553 John Sinz OCW/Paramount Racing 0
Avenue of Flags Criterium  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 14
2 219074 Leo Pettus Paramount Racing 11
3 3793 Raphael Gomez Rage Cycling 10
4 45763 Robert Paganini PAA/REMAX 9
5 3794 Vicente Gomez Rage Cycling 8

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