Wednesday, April 4, 2012


By Leo Longo

The night before the Torrance Crit, I was lying in my bed, listening to the rain. I live just 2 miles from the race venue, and given it was raining, I was not looking forward to racing in the rain. But by morning, the rain was gone and there was nothing in the skies but sunshine and wind. Lots of wind. This race venue can be windy in the afternoon, as those who live in the area are very well aware. But to have this kind of wind in the morning is not typical.
As a member of the host club, I arrived at the course early. Everything was a buzz. Volunteers were everywhere and registration was humming. Course marshals were plenty and we, The Bike Palace, were ready to put on a great event. (Shameless plug for my club)
There is a great side road available to warm up on, and thus no need for a trainer. As I rolled back and forth on this road, the wind continued to strengthen. The course is a 6 corner affair, with the finishing stretch into the wind. There is a chicane just after the start/finish, with a short leg to turn three. Then a short section to turn four. The next leg is almost 1/2 mile long and down wind. This stretch can be pretty fast, especially entering turn five. At this turn, you transition from the down wind section to, basically, a cross wind section. The wind will catch your front wheel if you're running deep v's, and I saw many a lead rider (in the later races) come through this turn and over correct, almost going down. You really need to know this corner to get through it as full speed. And you need full speed because this leg is short, leading into the last turn. If you are first through the last turn with a 10 meter lead, there is a good chance you can hold off the field for the win.
So, the 55/60s are called to the line. I look around to see who is there. I count thirteen riders. Eight 55+ and five 60+. This is going to be both easy and hard. Easy in the sense that the numbers are low and hard because the numbers are low. If you gap on the up-wind leg, and the group putts down and attack, you could get dropped on the down wind leg and never recover.
The whistle is blown and off we go. The first lap is as expected. Everyone is still warming up their legs. Lap two sees Ricky Shorts attack. He gets a good lead, but it's into the wind. The group brings him back. The next couple laps are uneventful with a couple more riders testing their legs. No serious threats. Then we have a preem lap. On the back side, I see that no one is really setting up to make a go of it, so I went to the front and lead the group around turns five and six. I ramp it up and am watching the shadows coming from behind. The sun is still low enough that I can see a rider is catching me. I go a little harder and his shadow stops making up ground. Then he comes again and I start sprinting. He marks me but is not overtaking me. Then with just 20 meters left, my legs give out. (I'm still recovering from a late winter illness). The rider, Rodney Malloy, sees this and puts in another effort and overtakes me for the preem. Rats.
This was a really hard effort and everyone shuts down. All except Deogracias Asuncion, Dao to those who know him. Dao launches a vicious attack. No one follows. Two laps later, Dao has a half lap lead. So when I say he launched a vicious attack, I mean vicious.
This is the way it continued until approx 3 laps to go. At this point, John LaGrandeur goes after Dao. The reset of the field is just waiting for the last lap. This was evident by the pace. We were riding along at approx 15mph into the wind and just 20mph down wind. John catches Dao and they fight it out for the 55+ win, with Dao taking it. The reset of us are groupo compato going into the finishing straight. The sprint is clean with everyone respecting each other. Ricky wins the field sprint for third in the 55+s. I'm not sure of the finishing order of the rest of us, but Howard Miller was first in the 60+ with me close on his wheel for second, and Fred Haim just another bike length behind me for third. The results are up on SCNCA if you'd like to check out the rest of the results and categories.
All in all, a good race. We were racing for merchandise and I know there were comments about that. For second place in the 60+ I received two Schwalbe tires and an etched beer glass, similar to what Paramount does. Our glasses showed the race name and the placing. I think that was a pretty good deal.
Last year there was a very good turnout for our cat at this race, and the rest of the categories too. But like a couple of years ago, this year we were up against another crit. That explains the lower numbers. If we can get on the calendar with no other competition, I would expect a good turnout next year.
55+ podium- LaGrandeur, Asuncion & Shorts, R.

60+ podium- Longo, Miller(you need a up to date kit, Howard) & Haim
Torrance Criterium  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 50532 deogracias asuncion South Bay Wheelmen 14
2 302695 John LaGrandeur OTR Racing 11
3 52251 Ricky Shorts Velo Allegro 10
4 64439 Nelson Alaan Cal-Pacific Export Packers / LV 9
5 46255 Alex Collins UC Cyclery/JW Floors 8
6 107559 Rodney Malloy Velo Allegro 7
7 279093 Moshe Ovadya Velo Club LaGrange 6
8 49124 orlando hutcherson Major Motion Cycling Club 5
Torrance Criterium  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 49424 howard miller Paramount Racing 14
2 189814 Leo Longo Bike Palace 11
3 269972 Fred Haim Velo Club LaGrange 10
4 3793 Raphael Gomez Rage Cycling 9
5 301363 Mick Iwadare South Bay Wheelmen 8

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