Thursday, May 3, 2012


By John McKee

Santa Clarita Velo has developed a reputation for producing good cycling races. On Saturday they always bring us the tough Devils Punchbowl out in hell and gone. On Sunday they produce the Chuck Pontius Criterium in Santa Clarita/Valencia. A new upscale community that reminds me of Irvine. The criterium is set like almost all crits in an industrial park. The crit is on a 4 corner course that is very wide with a small riser prior to the last corner. The downside to the course is the very rough pavement before and after the start finish line. I thought Barrio Logan would always take the cake for the roughest pavement but Chuck Pontius has decided to dual it out for this dubious honor. The turnout was fairly standard at 37 finishers compared to other Pontius races over the last 5 years except for the 2010 bubble when we had 48. That was the "Wacky" and "Shooter" affair if anyone remembers that. Who would have thought that "Wacky" would morph into the "perfect" candidate for president. Of course that was her term for herself. The voters weren't that excited and chose others over her like Mitt "Swiss bank account" Romney, Herman "666... no that's 999" Cain,  Rick "I can't remember" Perry or even Rick "anti contraception" Santorum. "Shooter" wisely stayed out of the 2012 race but did move a few streets down from where my daughter lived in AZ. One of these people will square off against the "Marx channeling demon" later this year in the general election.
John "Rick Perry" McKee is checking something out but can't remember what

Ricky Shorts is at the line meditating

Oh yea. There was a bike race in Santa Clarita. Right. 37 racers. 25 of them 55. 12 60s. Anybody want to comment on why the 60s have fallen off the last few years. The field had some very strong riders and the winner of both the 55 and 60+ races wasn't a given before the race like it is sometimes. The 55+ field had Mark Hoffenberg, Lee Romans, Ricky Shorts, Chris Black, Kal Szkalak, Dale Luedtke,  and Cyril Hunte. The 55+ field was missing Mike "Oh my aching back" Birditt and Mike "I do one event a year" Gourley. Both riders would have made for additional firepower to an already strong field. The defending champion from the prior year and I bet 95% of you wouldn't know that Tom Reilly won last year on a late solo breakaway. The 60+ field was light but strong with Mike Marotta, John Rubcic, the Paramount trifecta, Don Kimper and Mike Fleming.
What kind of race would this be. Mark Hoffenberg has shown to be one of the strongest 55s we have seen in a while and he would have a lot to say about the type of race this would be.  Mark would be racing without any teammates.
Mike Marotta is checking out his competition. He should actually be looking behind him. The "Rocket" is lurking
Steve Borer is going so fast at the front  he is just a blur- photo courtesy of Maki Yamizaki

Rino B. of the host team lining it out early in the race

Chris Black is leading Mark Hoffenberg and Doug Knox early in the blistering start of the Chuck Pontius Criterium- Photo courtesy of Peter Carlson
The Paramount trifecta in chase of 60+ racer Mike Marotta who was chasing the guys in the picture above(Black, Hoffy, Knox, etc.)- photo courtesy of Peter Carlson
The race started on time for 40 minutes of racing and it didn't take long to figure out that the racing was going to be a barn burner. Fast from the get go. I mean real fast. The 1st 5 miles was done at 25.9 mph with a max of 31.9 mph somewhere in there. Hoffy, Chris Black, Pedro "Club less" Ordaz, Fred Hoblit, Kal Szkalak, Doug Knox and Ricky Shorts were very active among others. It took about 11 and 1/2 minutes to do the 1st 5 miles and then everyone was so tired that it was time for a short fiesta but not much of one. The next 5 miles were done at 25.5 mph with a max of 31.2 mph for myself. The numbers are from my Garmin 500. There was a small break group that formed early and was joined by another small group but they weren't that far away and all  got chased down.
The 4 break riders have been left by Chris Black- Pedro(wheel only), Tom, Ricky and Doug
Somewhere before half way through the race a small group formed off the front. Chris Black, Tom Reilly, and Ricky Shorts got together somehow and started working it. Pedro Ordaz and Doug Knox joined them at some point and there were 5. The 2 major 55+ teams in the race were Velo Allegro and the host team of Santa Clarita Velo each with a rider in the break so no chase there. The mix was right. After several laps together, Chris Black decided to venture off on his own. This was bold thinking. There was about 10 or so laps to go. Doug tried to get onto Chris but trailed a short distance for about a lap but fell back to the other 3. Ricky thought that the riders left could tempo it and catch back on to Chris but no. Wrong thinking. Chris was riding strong and the collective fire power of the remaining riders seem to dissipate a bit. John "Chaser supreme" Roest all but chased this group down by himself. John did 90% of the work over 8 laps.  The 4 riders were caught. Ricky was quite frustrated. Pedro tried some kind of solo thing but that was doomed. When I saw the 4 riders I thought everyone was back but Chris was still out there. I don't know what everyone else was thinking but Mark Hoffenberg knew he was out there as must have Velo Allegro and Santa Clarita Velo because their riders had just come back and knew Chris was away.
The lap card countdown started at 7 laps to go. Chris was riding at what was said to be a 8 second gap. Upon review of the last 5 laps of the race on video, the gap was more than that(12 secs with 2 laps to go/10.5 with 1 to go). Usually Ralph Elliot makes a bigger deal about someone being away and he did mention it because I heard it on the video but I didn't hear it during the race. Chris was 55+ so it didn't directly affect the 60+ race but certainly did affect the race in general that included the 60+ racers. The laps are counting down and guess who is at the front of the pack and working hard to chase Chris. John Roest, of course! John wasn't making much headway and I didn't see much out of the 2 largest teams in 55+.
The race came down to 2 laps to go. Chris is still looking very good off the front but could be seen on the long straight aways. Our races can often be deceiving because riders get lapped all the time and seeing someone ahead doesn't always mean someone is away. On the back side of the course Mark Hoffenberg hits it real hard. I mean lung searing leg burning type effort. I assumed he was trying to get away from the pack early on well before the sprint would start. Actually Mark was trying to get everyone close to Chris Black and then let the teams take over that would be leading out their own riders and ramping up the speed. Mark hoped that once Chris was caught he could then sprint for the win vs 2nd place. The problem with Mark's idea was once his effort stopped and that was at the start/finish line with one lap to go the pace slowed way down. No one would go to the front and pull. No team work was apparent. I would call this "jungle ball". Every man for himself. I had been riding very near the front and had been on my teammate's wheel, Monty Pettus. Once the pace slowed the front was swarmed and I didn't come out well. Howard Miller, John Rubcic, Steve Borer were able to get themselves in great position near Mike Marotta. I got buried. Monty did a little better than I. 55+ racers Mark Hoffenberg, Cyril "Club less too" Hunte, Ricky Shorts, Lee Romans were able to position themselves in good position on the last lap for the final sprint.
The pace picked up on the final lap on the backside about half  way to the next to the last corner. The effort between turn 3 and 4 is near an all out effort going into the rise. Mike Marotta had gone to the front to pull and showed amazing sustained power to the line.
Chris Black crossed the line with a well deserved win. Nice job, Chris. The pack rounded the corner with the finish line in sight. A slight downhill sprint to the line. 2nd place was available for 55+ but the win in 60+ was still in play. John Rubcic made short work of that and was the 1st person across the line. Mike Marotta having pulled for a while came in 2nd overall in the bunch and the 2nd 60+ rider. 60+ riders kicked butt here. Mark Hoffenberg followed in for 2nd in 55+. Cyril Hunte on his dated racing machine finished 3rd. His best finish in 55+ racing. Nice job, Cyril. Monty Pettus was the next 60+ rider across for the last podium spot.
The race was quite hard and lively. The overall pace was 25.5 mph with the race getting to or above 30 mph 12 times. The Santa Clarita Velo did another nice job in producing this race. I always look forward to it. Complete results are below as are finish photos and podium photos. The video is courtesy of Maki Yamizaki. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Chris Black winning in a solo breakaway- Photo courtesy of Peter Carlson

Bunch finish- Rubcic, Marotta, Hoffenberg, Hunte & Shorts, R.- Photo courtesy of Peter Carlson

Finishers- Hunte, Shorts, R., & Alaan- Photo courtesy of Peter Carlson

Luedtke and Romans fighting for 5th place in 55+- Photo courtesy of Peter Carlson
55+ podium at Chuck Pontius- Hoffenberg 2, Black 1, Hunte 3

60+ podium at Chuck Pontius- Miller 4, Pettus 3, Rubcic 1, Marotta 2, & McKee 5
Chuck Pontius  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 3814 Chris Black Morgan Stanley /Specialized 14
2 45461 Mark Hoffenberg Sho-air/Rock 'n Road 11
3 52086 cyril hunte
4 52251 Ricky Shorts Velo Allegro 9
5 64439 Nelson Alaan Cal-Pacific Export Packers / LV 8
6 110259 Lee Romans Velo Allegro 7
7 47262 Dale Luedtke Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 6
8 54522 KAL SZKALAK UC Cyclery/JW Floors 5
9 93812 Donald Denegal Velo Allegro 4
10 107559 rodney malloy Velo Allegro 3
11 177958 Kevin Ryan METALMTN Cycling 2
12 49110 Rino Barbagiovanni Santa Clarita Velo 1
13 1491 David Alva Santa Clarita Velo 0
14 12354 Kirk Freeman Santa Clarita Velo 0
15 45552 Douglas Knox Time Factory Team 0
16 178495 Steve Diamond Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 0
17 222764 thomas buescher South Bay Wheelmen 0
18 66553 John Sinz OCW/Paramount Racing 0
19 277180 John Roest Team CF-Club 0
20 155459 Thomas Reilly Santa Clarita Velo 0
21 9271 Pete Dern Velo Club LaGrange 0
22 271566 Alex Gonzalez Velo Allegro 0
23 288193 Ron Carlson METALMTN Cycling 0
24 55635 Pedro Ordaz
25 16360 Fred Hoblit Santa Clarita Velo 0
Chuck Pontius  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 48760 John Rubcic UC Cyclery/JW Floors 14
2 72880 mike marotta Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 11
3 219074 Leo Pettus Paramount Racing 10
4 49424 howard miller Paramount Racing 9
5 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 8
6 129293 Michael Fleming South Bay Wheelmen 7
7 195498 Donald Kimper UC Cyclery/JW Floors 6
8 61278 Mario Seri Velo Club LaGrange 5
9 3793 Raphael Gomez Rage Cycling 4
10 245777 Steven Borer UC Cyclery/JW Floors 3
11 203244 cary alpert South Bay Wheelmen 2
12 301372 Tom Herman South Bay Wheelmen 1

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