Thursday, September 13, 2012


By John McKee

This is the 2nd year that Masters National Championships have been in Bend, Or. The area is quite nice and the 1st year was a success though the criterium courses(2 of them) came under attack from the riders that raced them. The course for the 35 to 55s was downtown and a boring rectangle that had a rather narrow 3rd leg that looked dangerous and I heard it was dangerous. USAC designed a new course and it looked from the side lines to be pretty cool. The low down from the riders was that many of the corners were rough and the area where there was a chicane had many crashes throughout Saturday, Sept. 8th, 2012. The 55-59 age group was to go off at 11:45 am. Many riders from Socal were in attendance. Swami's, Sho Air, Breakaway From Cancer, and UC Cyclery had many riders ready to race. Malcolm Hill was returning for Breakaway From Cancer after a great race in 2011 where he placed 2nd from a 2 man break. Malcolm had former pro Wayne Stetina to back him and help as he could.
Kal Szkalak and Danny Nicolette
Mark Hoffenberg has been the strongest rider this year in 55+ in Socal with his teammate Danny Nicolette showing really good form late in the race season. Kind of a Kenny Fuller approach. Build your form though the year and peak at the end of the race season and hit Natz in top form and with your lowest weight.
In the background you can see Mike Mueller, Malcolm Hill and Rick Swanson
I assumed and saw it early in the race how the teams were going to race. Sho Air was going to rip it early and build speed and encourage other top riders to do the same. It looked like that was working as I saw the riders go by. Lap after lap. Swami's approach was there standard. Dale Luedtke to sit in the back and save energy. Mike Birditt was to cruise near the front and still sit in. Rick Swanson was to sit in and see what he could do. UC Cyclery had a good group of riders with the assumed goal to get and keep Kal Szkalak near the front. Kal didn't race at all at the end of the season so I had no idea what kind of form he would have.

This is pic is out of order but too lazy to move it...ONE TO GO..ONE TO GO
 Malcolm Hill was active at and near the front as well early in the race. There was one crash about 7 or 8 laps into the race. There was about 6 to 8 riders down including Dale Luedtke. Dale wasn't hurt bad and rode back to the officials tent for a restart. Riders got 2 free laps up to 9 laps to go. Dale got going again. Mike Birditt got caught out by the crash and had to chase back on with another rider. Mike made it back but seemed a little gun shy when he got back.

Aubrey Gordon second from the front. Mike Birditt rounding wide
 There were some minor break attempts but most of them were twosomes and solo riders and none of the riders got very far away. There were too many good riders available and willing to chase.
Riders started to fall off the pace and in the end 16 riders left the race as DNF(Did Not Finish). 5 of them were from Socal. It was hard out there. Never got an accurate assessment of the pace or average speed from the riders but it did look fast.

Mark Hoffenberg making it hard...again??
I believe the race was 40K or 25 miles and the peleton did it in 55:50 which is 26.8 mph. That is fast for this course. About 1 mph faster than our fastest races in Socal. That's why 16 riders couldn't keep up and I assume a few of the 16 were a result of the crash.

The race hit the 9 to go and everyone was together. Chris Black would go to the front and push as hard as he could to keep the pace up like he would do when he raced with us in Socal. Chris is from Nor Cal. Chris would use what looked like a 53 x 11 on the flats. A real gear masher.

Hoffy near the front again
It didn't look like any of the favorites were going to try and jump for glory in the last number of laps. At least where I was standing. The pace looked fast. Lined out most of the time. A few respites but not many. Mouths open and tongues hanging out. It was hard staying near the front because many of the top riders had the same idea. Can't sprint for glory unless you are in good position. Mike Birditt was moving up a little but still hanging back. Mark, Danny, Malcolm all seemed to be working it near the front. Race favorite per the new USAC race predictor was Aubrey Gordon. Aubrey doesn't look as cut and fit as some of the racers like Malcolm or the "new" Mark Hoffenberg but has shown great results this year and for many years.

Danny Nicolette on Aubrey Gordon's wheel

 The bell like came and it was chaos out there. Chris Black was drilling it. Danny Nicolette and Mark Caldwell were "vying" for Aubrey Gordon's wheel. Hoffy had to engage in some kind of circus act the last half of the lap to get himself near the front.
Hoffy followed by Malcolm Hill

Coming into the last corner it's Aubrey Gordon with Hoffy right there. Who had the best sprint or maybe enough juice left to unlease one's best effort. They are flying toward the finish line on one of the main downtown streets. Dave Towle the famous announcer was giving his best sprint description. Gordon, Hoffenberg.... Hoffenberg, Gordon... who would it be. They have a small gap to 3rd and 4th. IT'S GORDON by half a wheel. Mark gave it his best shot but the "doughboy" pulled it off with his vicious and fast sprint. 

Wayne Stetina leading the pack

 Wow! What a race. The USAC race predictor got it right. Aubrey Gordon 1st and Mark Hoffenberg 2nd. Mark rode his heart out and gave it everything he had . Silver at the National level is something to be quite proud of with this kind of a field and the speed they were doing. There are no more silvers then there are gold medals.

Danny Nicolette following Chris Black's wheel

 Robert Downs of Madison, Wi was 3rd with Mark's teammate at Sho Air Danny Nicolette finishing a very respectable 4th place. Danny didn't even know after the race that he was getting a medal or that he would be on the podium. He seemed disappointed afterward but perked up when he got this news. The last podium spot went to Glenn Schneider of Florida. Locals Kal Szkalak placed 8th, Mike Birditt finally moved up on the last lap and placed 12th. Daniel Swietlik  of Hollywood, Ca. was a real revelation in the race. Dan had been a mid pack finisher in the Socal circuit when he raced but had the race of his life and showed great potential with a 17th place finish at Nationals. Good job, Dan. I know we will see you a lot more in Socal next year.
Mark Huffman was 21 and Mike Mueller was 22. Mark says maybe he likes criteriums after all. Of course Mark is moving into the 60+ category next year with Kal and Pablo also of UC Cyclery. They are going to be killer. Rick Swanson was 24th and Alex Collins was 28th. Finishing with this crowd was doing quite good. Great race. There was a bad crash in the 55-59 race as there would be through the day like in the 35+ category. That was brutal. Socal riders Jamie  Paolinetti won the 45-49 category and Orange County's and Coffee Crew's Richard Meeker won the 50-54 category. Richard was first to the last corner. He wrote a very good story published in Cycling Illustrated. The one thing he didn't mention as I saw it was how close he was to crashing out coming out of the last corner. Richard was flying into the last corner free wheeling it. It looks like he may not get control of his bike before he hit the barrier on the other side of the street. Richard did get control of his bike but had to scrub some speed and I wasn't sure he could hold on but he did. Great win and the last for Socal in the criterium. 55 2nd, 60 2nd, 65 2nd, 70 4th and 75 3rd. Not bad but each of those riders would have loved to have moved up a slot or two. I know that for a fact since I was one of them. More on that in a later story. Full results below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

1145.73Aubrey Gordon   Reading, PA55:50:00 45388  222 Liberty Cycle
2154.91Mark Hoffenberg   Santa Rosa Ca55:50:00 45461  228 Sho-air/Rock 'n Road/Team Velosport Club
3164.09Robert Downs   Madison, WI55:50:00 9947  185 Planet Bike
4173.27Daniel Nicolette   Los Alamitos, CA55:50:00 26090  239 Sho-air/Rock 'n Road/Team Velosport Club

5182.45Glenn Schneider   Lake Worth, FL55:51:00 31697  247 GS Palm Beach

6191.63Charles Holbrook   Oconomowoc, WI55:51:00 16496  229 Lakes Area Physical Therapy/LAPT CC

7200.81Kevin Willitts   S Lake Tahoe, CA55:51:00 192774  259 Team Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada/Team Bicycles Plus

8209.99Kalman Szkalak   Capistrano Beach, CA55:51:00 54522  254 UC Cyclery/JW Floors/Sun Coast Velo

9219.17Mark Sommers   Washington, DC55:51:00 149858  274 Clean Currents p/b Beyer Kia/DC Velo Limited

10228.35Bill Crum   Eagle, ID55:51:00 52372  265 Boise Cycling Club

11237.53Stan Urban   San Rafael, CA55:51:00 178098  210 Morgan Stanley /Specialized/Morgan Stanley Cycling Team

12246.71Michael Birditt   Escondido, CA55:52:00 47255  261 Spy-Swami's Cycling Team/Swami's Cycling Club

13255.89Christofer deHahn   Belchertown, MA55:52:00 334414  266 Northampton Cycling Club

14265.07Charles Townsend   Mendota Heights, MN55:52:00 46011  366 Bianchi/Grand Performance/St Paul Bicycle Racing Club

15274.25Mark Caldwell   Moraga, CA55:52:00 40039  216 Morgan Stanley /Specialized/Morgan Stanley Cycling Team

16283.43Steve Matson   Tacoma, WA55:52:00 171544  270 Old Town Bicycle (OTB)

17292.61Daniel Swietlik   Hollywood, CA55:53:00 60602  209 OTR Racing

18301.79Thomas Gates   Franklin, TN55:53:00 45364  220 MOAB Masters Racing/Moab/Middle Tennessee Velo

19310.97Robert Pinkerton   Denver, CO55:53:00 81796  272 Natural Grocers Cycling Team

20320.15Jonathan Sek   San Jose, CA55:53:00 45922  249 SJBC/San Jose Bicycle Club

21329.33Mark Huffman   Encinitas, CA55:54:00 59572  191 UC Cyclery/JW Floors/Sun Coast Velo

22338.51Michael Mueller   El Cajon, CA55:54:00 46688  238 UC Cyclery/JW Floors/Sun Coast Velo

23347.69Michael Newsome   Westminster, CO55:54:00 50692  204 Boulder Orthopedics

24356.87Rick Swanson   Corona, CA55:55:00 34753  275 Spy-Swami's Cycling Team/Swami's Cycling Club

25366.05Tom Hackleman   Tacoma, WA55:55:00 58115  223 Old Town Bicycle (OTB)

26375.23Dirk Cowley   Salt Lake City, UT55:56:00 7974  218 Velosport Racing

27384.41Chris Black   San Luis Obispo, CA55:56:00 3814  262 Morgan Stanley /Specialized/Morgan Stanley Cycling Team

28393.59Alex Collins   Orange, CA55:57:00 46255  183 UC Cyclery/JW Floors/Sun Coast Velo

29402.77Tom Potter   Browns Point, WA55:57:00 206784  244 Olympia Orthopaedic Associates Cycling T/CBC Racing

30411.95Craig Hammond   Mercer Island, WA55:58:00 264726  224 Bay Cycling/

31421.13Joseph Brubaker   Saltlakecity, UT55:58:00 303618  181 Ski Utah Cycling Team/Utah Premier-Ski Utah Cycling Team

32430.31Geoffrey Baynes   Olivenhain, CA55:59:00 48257  175 Celo Pacific

33439.49Jim Gentes   Soquel, CA56:00:00 13042  186 

34448.67Malcolm Hill   Westlake Village, CA56:02:00 156650  227 Breakaway from Cancer Masters

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