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 4 break riders have been left by Chris Black- Pedro(wheel only), Tom, Ricky and Doug|
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)|
|1||3814||Chris Black||Morgan Stanley /Specialized||14|
|2||45461||Mark Hoffenberg||Sho-air/Rock 'n Road||11|
|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|
|25||16360||Fred Hoblit||Santa Clarita Velo||0|
|Chuck Pontius (Rank 1.0)|
|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|