Monday, August 6, 2012


By John McKee

Right shoulder looks a little swollen-lol
It was August 5th, 2012 and time for the Brentwood GP. $300 on the line for both 55 and 60+ racers. It has been a while since I have written but it has been since June 10th, 2012 that I have raced. I broke my collarbone bone in a season changing split second. I felt so lame laying there on the ground after I did an endo on my bike and really lame when I figured out I most likely could have prevented this collusion with orange cones and traffic barriers. I went into a catatonic balled up state for a while and had writer's block. I couldn't even write about the race on June 10th. I wanted to but nothing came out. As fractures go, this was rather mild compared to some of the injuries I have heard from many of you. I accept that these things happen on occasion in our sport. I still was totally bummed about this. I was going to do track Natz as well as road Natz but the first was out. Still going to Bend to try and better a second place finish in the 65-69 criterium. I would like to give a special thank you to Dale Luedtke Sr. who helped me right after my crash. Dale Sr. was stationed at Kaneohe Marine Base at the same time as my father in the late 50s. Thank you, Dale Sr. for your kind attention helping me after the crash!
This gal crashed like me-Think Ludtke Sr helping
Brentwood has become a popular event on the calendar. The host team LaGrange and their promoter do a great job. Lots of vendors. Interesting but hard course. A bit dangerous for sure though with all the turns. The one thing I must call the promoter on are the event jerseys. They give out 3 for the entire day and 2 of those go to categories that have the right to buy the "Bear" jersey. Why bother. Give one to every winner that can't buy a "Bear" jersey or forget it.
Brentwood was the elite SCNCA championship but not the masters championship which was the Paramount Criterium on July 15th. The Paramount Criterium had a record number of entries at 695 so bicycle racing seems to be surging back in Southern Cal. There were 43 pre registered 55/60+ racers at Brentwood but over 60 showed up at the line at 8:55am. Mark Hoffenberg was there with his 2 teammates Dan Nicolette and Bob Pelkoffer. Mark had to be talked into racing by Mike Birditt on Friday. He was worried about crashing going into the final month of prep for Nationals at Bend, Or. Mark and his teammates decided to go as hard as they could and make the race as fast as they could from the start. Staying out in front would be the safest place if you were strong enough to do this. Mark and his mates are plenty strong. I have seen big impacts in the 55/60+ races from riders that have turned 55 before but Hoffy would be # 1 in the last 12 years in the SCNCA. Kal, Dale Luedtke, David Bernhardt, John Rubcic and Mike Birditt would be up there in the list.
The race was off about 9:00 am with a bang. The pace was quite fast with the first turn close. The turn is almost a 180 and then a little uphill and then down with a quick turn to the left. The guys in the middle and back had to brake to a very slow speed and then ramp it up going uphill at this turn and the next one at the bottom of the course. Very hard. The speeds we started going were pretty crazy and I was feeling out of it. I couldn't get the feeling of getting in the flow. I started breathing hard. I had been training all along. Even 2 days after my crash I was on my computrainer but nothing is quite like riding fast in a group. The second lap felt harder and then on the uphill at the bottom of the course, Don Denegal's rear wheel locked up and everyone had to slow down to go around and that really strung things out. After 2 laps the speed and pressure were as tough as at the start. I knew I couldn't keep this up. I threw in the towel at about 10 minutes in and 3 laps. Quit and rode off the course. First time I have done that in 12 years of racing crits. Others had already gone off the back and others were slowly coming off. Mostly 60+ riders but some 55s as well. Never seen such an attrition rate. Things did settle down a bit after about 15 minutes. Pelky of Sho Air went off the front. Hoffy and Nick set a pace at the front. They were in the driver's seat now. Their teammate was ahead and is a very strong rider. H & N decided to let solo riders attack off the front and try and chase their teammate. They wouldn't chase that rider and bring everyone with them. If the rider caught Pelky then Sho Air still had a good chance for their team to win. If not, the rider had spent a lot of energy for nothing. Pelky wasn't that far away but no one could catch him until 2 laps to go. It all came back together.
The field chasing Pelky- Don Davidson is in the lead with Hoffy and Kal following
The field had really been whittled down to about 30 in the main pack. There were other riders off the back all around the course. 9 60+ riders were still left. It was nervous time. Tricky course with lots of turns at the bottom of the course. Hoffy and Nick were sure to stay at the front pushing it and trying to stay out of harms way. With one lap to go 60+ racer Mike Marotta was lurking near the front and started to push the pace going into the last series of turns. Nicolette went back to the front with Hoffy on his wheel. The next to the last turn is downhill and a right hander. You can see it in the above photo.
Cyril Hunte came into this corner a little hot chasing Mike Marotta's wheel. Cyril went wide to his left toward Kal Szkalak's front wheel. Kal put on his brakes to avoid a crash. Mike Birditt put on his brakes because he was behind Kal. Behind him all hell broke loose on the curb side. John Rubcic took the corner too hot as well and lost his rear end(per John) and went down. Howard Miller, Kirk Freeman and Rod Mallory went down. There may have been 1 or 2 more. No one was hurt badly, thankfully. I have 2 photos right after this happened. Steve Bernede rode over Rubcic's rear wheel and his front wheel came off the ground but he stayed upright.
Things are ramped up on the last lap- Dan Nicolette is leading the way

The 2nd in the series of pics of the last lap going into the hill- Steve Bernede is leading. Look in the upper left portion of the picture and you can see riders down.
Coming up the hill Dan Nicolette was leading with Hoffy on his wheel lined up by Mike Marotta, Ricky Shorts, Cyril Hunte and Steve Hensler. There was a little gap to Al Shorts, Kal, Birdy, and Don Denegal(Don got himself back in the race after the earlier problem). There was another little gap to the remainder of the pack lead by Steve Bernede(Steve is focused on climbing right now and is doing 5 to 6 hour training rides at GMR) and John Waganear(John says he isn't training much but is getting better results this year as a 60+ racer than he ever got as a 55+ racer).
Once the front group were on level ground and heading for the finish line, Mike Marotta started his sprint from pretty far out. Hoffy had been thinking of doing the same but Mike started so Mark got on his wheel for about 15 pedal strokes and started his own sprint. Mark has that extra speed that not many guys have. He smoked it for the win! Mike Marotta hung on as the next rider across the line and the 1st 60+ rider. John Rubcic and Howard Miller weren't there to contest. They were sitting on there butts back on the curb. Ricky held his position to take 2nd place in the 55+ race. Cyril Hunte came across the line for 3rd place. Cyril was followed in by Kal, Birdy, Steve Hensler, A. Shorts, and Don Denegal. John Wagnear came around Steve Bernede at the end for 2nd place in 60+. Steve was 3rd. Jon "Roady" Miller was 4th followed in by Richard Stahlberg, Steve Borer and Don Davidson(Don looked very strong out there). Don was the last 60+ racer to finish in the lead pack.
It was tough out there. A lot tougher than I was ready for. Good turnout of racers. Sorry to see a crash occurred on our race. Mark Hoffenberg's power meter showed around 280 average watts for the race with the average speed a little less than 25 mph. 280 watts is a lot. Not many guys can do that and explains why so many riders couldn't even stay on the pace. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
The 2012 Brentwood GP 55+ winner- Mark Hoffenberg

The 2012 Brentwood GP 55+ winner-Mike Marotta
55+ results

60+ results

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