Tuesday, August 21, 2012


By John McKee

I hardly know where to start this story. As most of you know I crashed at CBR on June 10th(there is a vid below taken by Mike McKinney. Be warned..it's not pretty) and haven't written until  the Brentwood race. I started back racing at Brentwood and got dropped early there so I entered the Ladera Ranch race on Aug. 12th and low and behold I end up on the pavement again. Damn! What a season. Ladera is a narrow treacherous course and I hit a pedal down going fast and leaning too much at turn 3 and there I went. I didn't break any bones but lost lots of skin and was way discouraged. It looked like a good race after my crash but I wasn't in it. Just leaking blood here and there. There was another crash on the last lap at the last turn which is one of 3 narrow sections. The lead pack caught 2 lapped riders at the exact worst time and Dale Luedtke hit a curb and flew into a hay bale. Dale was OK but pissed that the chief referee didn't pull the lapped riders before the last lap particularly on this course which is so narrow. A wider course like Ontario can accommodate lapped riders much easier but at Ladera. No way. Many of the neighbors don't like us there anyway so it is doubtful this race will be back. The course is crafty and fun in a way but still treacherous. Mark "Larx 3" Hoffenberg(you will have to see "Bourne Legacy" to get this nickname) won besting break partner Wayne Stetina at the finish.John Rubcic won the 60+ race in a pack sprint.
OK, back to Ontario. I wasn't thinking of racing Ontario #6 after Ladera. One of my knees was very stiff and I was "down". Got a decent ride on the road on Wed. and then rode at the track on Thursday evening with Mike Birditt and others. After the training Mike asked if I was going to do Ontario and I said there was a 10 percent chance. Mike reply was "You'd better". This was Mike's own way of encouraging me to get back out there. I did some sprints on Friday and my top end was decent and then did 50 miles on Sat. morning. Most of that with Monty and felt better. I was locked on to going out to Ontario. I had told my oldest daughter during the week when she saw my wounds on Facebook that I would have to be crazy to race again the next week. Oh well. What a liar! Trisha doesn't read my blog anyway. Lol. I think getting out there and getting a positive race experience under my belt was just what the doctor ordered. Where better than Ontario. I can do the GP course in my sleep. I have done at least 4 races a year there for the last 12 years.
The weather has been hot and steamy in Socal and the last Ontario is traditionally hot. Our race starts at 7: 35 am so that is much better than being in the afternoon. I talked my wife into going. The last 3 races which were DNF with 2 crashes, she wasn't there. June 10th she was in Colo. and had to fly home that day to help me. I needed a change in the way I do things.
60+ Paramount trio- Pettus, McKee & Miller
There was a good turnout for the last race at Ontario but it could have been bigger. Some riders are burned out. Some are focused on Natz. Some are injured. Some are afraid of crashing and I seem to be an expert at that lately but I say to that "Don't get on your bike if you are afraid to crash. It can happen at any time and at any place." A lot of 60s don't like racing with 55s. Lots of reasons. 40 riders did show up. 28 55s and 12 60s though Doug Knox is actually 60+ but enters the 55+ category. The Ontario race series points competition would finish up at #6. Dale Luedtke had the 55+ cat locked up but Leo "Monty" Pettus(some people don't know that Leo and Monty are the same person) had a slim lead over David Lang in 60+. Most of the teams were short handed. Danny Nicolette was the sole rider from the super strong Sho Air team. Spy Swami's would have Mike Birditt(Mike raced at the track until 10 pm the night before in SD) and Rick Swanson backing up Dale. Velo Allegro and Santa Clarita Velo were light on riders as was UC Cyclery. Citrus Valley Velo, Paramount and So Cal Velo had 4 each. Paramount would have its 60+ trifecta in action again. Monty is riding super right now. He got a personal best the day before on our training ride in the Intergiro sprint at 1240 watts on his Power Tap. Howard has been doing very good all season. My form would be tested because I didn't know what to expect.
Kirk Freeman leading some of the early action at Ontario
The racers lined up at 7:35 am with Ed Keck giving everyone the instructions. John Rubcic was on the motor as a striped official in this race. Seems like John has a motor when he races as well. Just like Fabian Cancellera. Lol. The instructions were short and we were off. Without "Larx 3" hitting the gas from the start, the pace was gentlemanly. Just what I needed. It didn't take long though before riders started some action at the front. Kirk Freeman, Mark Planellas and John Roest did a lot of the work. Danny Nicolette was active but not as much as I thought we would see from him. Was there some kind of mutual team agreement going on that we didn't know about? "Quien sabe" as they say in Spanish(the one phrase that sticks with me from 9th grade Spanish).
Mike Birditt marking everything during the race
6 or so laps into the race and there are at least 6 guys off the front. Mike Marotta, Kirk Freeman and Mark Planellas were in the group. Mike was the only 60+ rider. Dan Nicolette took off in pursuit with Mike Birditt on his wheel. Dan couldn't seem to get across or he saw the group dissolving in a mess of riders. They disintegrated. Poof! Gone! That's when I thought we would have a bunch sprint unless "Nick" decided otherwise. I was just churning back to the front like I use to and feeling good. No major efforts. Keeping my heart rate in safe ground. Once I started doing well I started thinking about a placing. Yes!
I knew without being told that Mike would be working for his teammate Dale but in the race and you could see it the way he was racing. Mike found himself off the front with Mike McConnell late in the race but told Mike that he couldn't work with him. A number of riders were heating it up and of course Don Davidson would do his share of work and then some.
Felt good to get in the action safely- I love to race
The important series points prime sprint came up rather late in the race. I saw Monty moving up on the right side of the pack. David Lang was already at the front in anticipation of the sprint. Mike and Dale were doing there thing for the 55+ points. Monty went to the front nearing the line with David on his wheel. Monty tried to hold Dave off without going all out. David was going all in and got him at the line for the prime points bringing him within 4 points of the lead but he was in real oxygen debt and dropping like a rock after the sprint. Monty would have to finish ahead of David at the finish. Mike Marotta was lurking near the front most of the race with outstanding form. Mike is riding better now as a 60+ rider than when he was 55+. Go figure. Mike will be a force at Natz this year in 60-64.
I saw 5 laps to go and was thinking this was like old times but knew it would be tough at the end and I was pretty sure I couldn't hang with the best riders. At 4 laps to go Mike Birditt went to the front to try and keep the pace up. Good work. This is what teams need to do to keep things in order and safe but I don't often see it. There are certain riders that you see churning up to the front near the end and you know the pace isn't fast enough. I saw some of that but not that much at this Ontario race. The pace at the end was pretty darn fast. Mike kept it up through 2 to go. Mike took his foot off the gas and I don't know who went to the front but I got worried. When we turned the second time with 2 to go Don Davidson went to the front and set a very fast pace. As we turned for home for the bell lap, I was thinking I was hurting and wish we didn't have another one to go. As we got to the line the pace eased a bit and I got to catch my breath. Wow! Thank you! One to go! One to go as announcers always say.
I got on my teammate's wheel, Monty Pettus. It seemed that David Lang wanted it more than I did and I wasn't in the mood to fight with anyone for a wheel. We flew left around turn 2 and David's rear wheel skidded right and I was right there. Anxiety hit me for sure. David got control of his bike but set a bad tone for me for the finish.
With 3 corners to go Doug Knox set off on his standard shoot for the win from way out. Doug races 55+ nowadays because of a bad experience at a CBR race. Mike Birditt tried to close the gap but came up short. Danny Nicolette had more success and was able to get on Doug. This was a perfect launching pad for Dan. At some point Dan shed Doug and it was just Dan. Back with the mere mortals Mike Marotta was vying for the finish with Dale Luedtke. Cyril Hunte had come up on Dale leg near the end so Dale hit the turbo button.
Dan Nicolette finished 25 meters ahead of everyone for the win in 55+ and the first place paycheck. The payout is for one finish list while the riders(55+ and 60+) are separated for Socal points. The promoter Ray Moreno is the last promoter that I know that still does this. Hopefully this will change next year.
Even with the turbo charge in Dale's bike, Mike Marotta was the next rider across the line followed by Demi Hechanova(best race of his life that I know of) and Monty Pettus.
Overall podium- Pettus 5, Marotta 2, Nicolette 1, Luedtke 3 and Hunte sitting in for Demi Hechanova 4
It was a good pretty hard race. The average speed was 25.9 mph which was faster than 2/26 at 25.45 and 4/3 at 25.7. I didn't have a great finish but passed my friend and foe Mike Fleming coming home. I had my sights on my teammate Howard Miller next and was gaining on him but ran out of room. I finished 5th behind Howard in 60+ and a bunch of 55s. It was fun and exhilarating to finish rolling. Yes! My top end speed was 35.8 mph which was better than I did 2/26 but fell short of a top end of 36.6 on 4/3.
 We were missing some riders but it was still fun. Always fun to do the last race at Ontario. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe! Series podiums and full results below.
55+ Ontario Series winners podium- Birditt 2, Luedtke 1, Hunte 3
60+ Ontario Series Winners- Lang 2, Pettus 1, & Miller 3
                                               Video finish of the Ontario #6 race.

        Video of my crash at CBR on June 10th. This isn't pretty. Look out for those cones Mac!
Summers End GP  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 26090 Daniel Nicolette Sho-air/Rock 'n Road 14
2 47262 Dale Luedtke Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 11
3 15625 Demi Hechanova Southern California Velo 10
4 52086 cyril hunte 9
5 36299 Dan Valentin Citrus Valley Velo 8
6 64439 Nelson Alaan Cal-Pacific Export Packers / LV 7
7 266002 Laszlo Lukacs 6
8 46255 alex collins UC Cyclery/JW Floors 5
9 58799 John Ward Citrus Valley Velo 4
10 155459 Thomas Reilly Santa Clarita Velo 3
11 202041 mark planellas Southern California Velo 2
12 34753 Rick Swanson Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 1
13 66553 John Sinz OCW/Paramount Racing 0
14 126668 Joey Valdivia UC Cyclery/JW Floors 0
15 277180 John Roest Team CF-Club 0
16 167453 bob estupinan Citrus Valley Velo 0
17 47314 gary prideaux Lightning Velo 0
18 12354 Kirk Freeman Santa Clarita Velo 0
19 9271 Pete Dern Velo Club LaGrange 0
20 52251 Ricky Shorts Velo Allegro 0
21 95649 Ken Burns Southern California Velo 0
22 23303 Michael McConnell UC Cyclery/JW Floors 0
23 187428 Michael Evans 0
24 47255 Michael Birditt Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 0
25 177283 Eugene Poyorena Santa Clarita Velo 0
26 45552 Douglas Knox Time Factory Team 0
27 148853 Dale Raymond Southern California Velo 0
28 236421 Sven Amundsen Team Redlands 0
Summers End GP  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 72880 Mike Marotta Spy-Swami's Cycling Team 14
2 219074 Leo Pettus Paramount Racing 11
3 107852 David Lang DARE 10
4 49424 howard miller Paramount Racing 9
5 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 8
6 129293 Michael Fleming South Bay Wheelmen 7
7 245777 Steven Borer UC Cyclery/JW Floors 6
8 64127 Richard Lilleberg South Bay Wheelmen 5
9 45763 Robert Paganini PAA/REMAX 4
10 99906 Michael McKinney Pinnaclife Racing Team 3
11 48278 Donald Davidson Citrus Valley Velo 2
12 50406 Michael Edwards Velo Club LaGrange 1

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