Monday, September 17, 2012


By John McKee

I am going to write about the 2012 65-69 National Championship Criterium race because that was the race I was in but will give credit to all the Socal riders that I can that podiumed on Sunday Sept. 9th, 2012. I must digress a bit. My first National Criterium Championship was in Bakersfield in 2002 in 55-59. Very hard and fast race in blistering hot weather. I finished 26th out of 50 or so starters and next to my soon to be friend and sometimes mentor Bob Barney. That was hard. I didn't come back to Natz until I turned 60 with Fritz Tomasello. Fritz and I were born in the same year and it was also the same birth year of John Elgart. I remember in amazement seeing John Elgart solo to victory in the criterium at a Penn. motor raceway. Went off the front with one other rider who helped him and then was shed or shredded would be a better word.  Neither myself, Fritz, Steve Whitsitt, or Mike Duck finished on the podium with Fritz finishing the best.
65-65 criterium riders 10 meters from the line before the race

 I got the bug to train harder and race more and come back and do better. The next 2 years I finished 6th which was one off the podium and I thought I was within the 5 best riders but always missed the right aggressive move that would have put me where I needed to be. When I turned 63 then 64 I finished in the top 10 but never on the podium. John Elgart kept winning. Kenny finally beat JE in the criterium in Indiana when John was 64.

4 riders were called to the line- Bruce Steele, Don Kimper, myself and John Elgart the defending champ
Everyone is called to the line and Dave Towle counts down to the start

 Turning 65 was a boom to me but also the realization that John Elgart would always be there. We are the same age...right! I had a good year and raced without accidents or crashes in 2011. I came into Natz strong and hopeful. I wanted on the podium but really wanted to win and put on that jersey. The 2011 criterium was on a very technical and narrow course in the NW Crossing area of Bend, Or. Only small fields could race it. I didn't really like the course initially but got used to it by riding it often before the race. I rode a good race and finished near John Elgart's real wheel for a silver medal. I was pleased. My best effort. I had a chance to win but wasn't fast enough or aggressive enough to jump John before the last corner. Here comes 2012 and  my season started well. Racing with Monty Pettus, Howard Miller and John Sinz was fun. My season was set back on June 10th when I hit a cone at a CBR race and flipped on my shoulder and broke my collarbone. I came back and crashed again at Ladera Ranch in mid August when I hit my pedal down. No broken bones but lost a lot of skin.

Well known announcer Dave Towle(on the left) in the booth with his trail mix

I did the last races of the year at Ontario, Carson and Dom Hills and did ok but didn't feel like I did early in the season. My top end was good in workouts but the overall strength wasn't there. I had been fixated on Nationals since my second place finish in 2011. I wanted to come back and win. All my feedback from sources were that John Elgart was riding good as I assumed he would be. I didn't know of any major masters stars aging up in 2012. 2013 would be different with John Rubcic and Kenny Fuller moving into the 65-69 ranks.
Early action in the back of the pack
 I arrived at Bend, Or. early having thought I would do the road race as well but without the volume of training, the climbing nature of the course and the altitude I decided to bag the road race and just concentrate on the criterium. I got to Bend on Monday Labor Day and was met at the airport by my friend, Bruce Steele. Thanks, Bruce! Bruce, Monty and myself rented a house just a couple of miles from the criterium course and very close to downtown as well. Very nice.
Early action with Loren "Michigan" Simons leading the way
I started riding the criterium course on Tues. and sprinted the finish after riding the TT course with Monty. I got a better feel for the course and the finish Wed. and the rest of the week. My best practice sprints  were with Monty. There was almost never any wind. Great conditions. The weather was beautiful in Bend. Low to mid 80s during the day and low to mid 40s at night. Very dry though. Our house and the crit course was around 3,600 ft. I understand the road race course got to 6,500 ft..
I woke up on Sunday Sept. 9th and the wind was blowing harder than it had any day I had been in Oregon. Bummer. Rode over to the course to warm up and saw the wind was blowing against the riders coming toward the finish line.
Again....early action
 I warmed up around the local high school where the finish of the TT and the road race was last year. Everything in the N/W Crossing area is top notch. Great area. We lined up to race around 11:15 am. They called 4 riders to the line and besides John Elgart they had to be based on the race predictor that USAC has. They had predicted myself to win and Don Kimper and Bruce Steele to do well. Bruce, Don, myself and last year's winner, John Elgart were called to the line.

The pack taking the only left hander on the course
John Elgart 2 days before won the 65-69 road race and in the same day rode a tandem race that was 50% longer than the solo road race. John and his partner didn't win that one. Even JE doesn't win every race. Elgart's legs would be tired on Sunday but would it be enough to make a difference. Probably not.
Natz announcer Dave Towle counted us down and we were off. John Elgart lead it off and went very hard. Lined it out as this is about all this course will take on most of it. Very narrow and technical course with the last curve measured at 14 feet. USAC rules require a minimum width of 7 meters or almost 22 feet. All the entrances to the residential streets were well below 7 meters. Turn 5 was coming off a downhill stretch and difficult to take at speed. Racers that do a lot of criteriums and other experienced racers shouldn't have much of a problem but as we will see it was beyond the skill set of some riders.
Riding next to the roundabout

 Bruce Steele took over for John Elgart and the pace was good. Also setting pace was Ron LeBard and Loren "Michigan" Simons. I wasn't feeling that strong so chose to race more "Richard Meeker" style and definitely not "Mark Hoffenberg" style. I watched Richard Meeker win the 50-54 category and he was always 2 to 5 in the order of riders but I never saw him at the front. Maybe he was somewhere else on the course but never near the start/finish line where I watched the race.
The pressure is on with Ron LeBard leading. Followed by Elgart and myself.
The 65-69 criterium was to be 35 laps of the 1k course. 7 laps into the race Dale Harless went down by himself at turn 5. Don't know what happened. He was in the back of the pack. Dale couldn't get up and the on site medical team put a cervical collar on him and waited for an ambulance to come from Bend. Seemed like it took a very long time. We waited between 30 and 40 minutes to get Dale off the course. Hope he is ok.

LeBard leading going into turn 2. Ron later clipped a pedal hard here with me on his wheel. Had me worried!

 After the delay the riders were brought to the line again and because there were other races to go they shortened the race from what would have been 28 laps to go to 18! 10 laps gone! 2 riders had been off the back so they had to start a number of seconds later. The field was getting smaller. This year's field was smaller than 2011 and it was faster overall in 2011 because of that. There were lulls in the pace in 2012 because of the small field and riders like myself.
I pretty much stayed near John Elgart. Looking back I could have set some pace but I didn't want to go into oxygen debt when an attack might come from Elgart or Richard Shields. Richard attacked midway through the race in 2011 and Elgart let him go so I chased him down.
The race was quite uneventful as the laps counted down in 2012. Once we hit 9 laps to go there was to be NO FREE LAPS! Flat tire, mechanical, crash, etc. and you have to chase back on.
4 laps to go and a rider I hadn't seen all day came to the front to set pace. He was in a black and white kit that said Louisville on it. I was surprised to find out later that he is from Colo.

Turn one with Steele leading and Elgart following and then myself on JE. See a pattern here. Lol.

 He is a new rider and you can tell that from his license number which was 363xxx. His name is Drew Clark. He set a decent pace and since the laps were winding down, no one else wanted to shoot forward. Drew was followed in a lineup by Ron LeBard, John Elgart, myself and then Richard Shields. After we got the 3 to go Drew rounded turn 5 (remember this is the bad one) and Drew went down. Didn't look like he over cooked it. He went sliding and Ron LeBard went down with him. John Elgart was the next in line and also went down. After all the crashes I have done this year, I wasn't looking to go down again. I knew turn 5 was tricky and also knew with a right turn that the right side would be the bail out area. Everyone would be sliding to the left and into or near the left curb. When I saw all this I swerved to the right and missed Elgart sliding on the ground. Richard Shields who was behind me also piled into the group on the ground.
When all the dust settled there were 4 riders up and together. The few other remaining riders were gapped off by the crash. The 4 riders were Bruce Steele, Don Kimper, Loren "Michigan" Simons and myself. I sized this up quickly and the 3 Socal riders were going to be on the podium and I had a very good chance to win. Bad deal for the guys on the ground. 3 of the best riders were down but that is racing sometimes.
The 4 pack of riders rounded the last corner and were going to get 2 to go but as I looked down the street the chief ref/judge was waving his arms. Another neutral. Damn they figured that out fast. The lead rider that crashed could not get up so they stopped the race again. John Elgart had gotten up quickly and was chasing but if we hadn't gotten waved down, he wouldn't have caught us. Not with Bruce pegging it at the front which he would have done.
There was another long delay. Drew Clark also had a cervical collar put on and we waited another 30 to 40 minutes to start again. I also hope Drew was not seriously injured. How were the officials going to do the restart. I gave my 2 cents worth of opinion to the chief judge. The 4 guys that were away should start solo. No free laps inside 9 right. The 4 guys had a gap and shouldn't be penalized because a rider couldn't get up. The riders that went down and the other gapped riders shouldn't get to start with the lead riders. This is my opinion anyway as you can tell. The chief judge didn't agree with me and everyone except the riders off the back were going to start together and there was going to be 5 laps to go.
Off again. Bruce Steele did some pacing. This time Ron LeBard who had some pretty bad wounds on his arms was on John Elgart and I was following Ron. Going into one lap to go Richard Shields jumped to the front just like he did in 2011. Almost the same lineup as well except LeBard was between Elgart and myself. Rounding turn 2 we could see a rider laying in the street and someone waving their arms. Another crash. The guy was laying right in the middle of the street. I immediately took my foot off the gas. Looked like another delay. There was another guy there near the downed rider and he was waving riders by. Once by the downed rider the racers sped up and it looked like there was going to be a finish???? I was already way pissed and way back. This can't be. Coming to the line everyone was called off.
What had happened was 2 or 3 of the riders that were off the back were given a finish and were warming down. They got there wheels tangled and the rider from Bend, Or. that rides for a Southern Cal. team by the name of Win Team went down. The guy is a doctor and figured he broke his collarbone so he laid there. He was taken off the course much sooner than the other 2.
Now we all came to the line and the chief judge not really knowing what to do threw out a number for the restart. 2 to go? No one said anything so it was 2 to go. I just wanted to get this over with. All the anxiety and stress.
We got going again and this time I had Elgart's wheel. A few other guys wanted it and Ron LeBard wasn't one of them. He was on my wheel but anyway I wasn't giving Elgart's wheel up to anyone at this point. Earn your stripes. Put your time in grade. Place at the national level and you will get more respect from me.
The last lap came and Bruce Steele went to the whip. Bruce picked it up and John Elgart got his wheel. John was followed by myself and then Ron LeBard. Before the race Monty Pettus said I should take the "hole shot". Dive for the last corner but you had to be the first to the last corner.
I thought about that after we rounded turn 6 and coming to the roundabout. I hesitated like I often do and then felt I couldn't make it past Bruce. If I made it next to Elgart and Bruce went wide I would have the "man" trapped and would be the first to sprint for home but if Bruce turned next to the right curb I could be  chopped and crash or have to brake. Bruce did turn tight to the right corner. I didn't want to do either so I waited until we rounded the last corner. I had overlapped John Elgart's wheel to the left and he started his sprint. I started as well and felt good to begin with but about half way down toward the finish line Elgart was pulling away. John Elgart came across the line for another victory. Dave Towle saw it coming and was announcing Elgart as the 2012 National Champion as he crossed the line! I still don't like the judge's decision but in the end the strongest and fastest rider won. As they always say... there is next year!
I kept rolling to the line but not full gas and almost got pipped at the line by Ron LeBard but held on for 2nd place. I was further behind John this year. Ron  was 3rd. Jerry Shaffer was 4th, Loren Simons was 5th, Richard Shields 6th, Don Kimper was 7th and Bruce Steele was 8th.
The overall title in 65-69 was up for grabs and Shields and Steele tied at 38 points but since Richard beat Bruce in the last race, he won the glass for overall champion.
It was a really strange race with the course being so technical that it was beyond some riders ability to ride safely. My suggestion to USAC is to not turn right at turn 5 but go down one more street to NW Crossing and then turn right. NW Crossing is a slightly wider street and would be safer to turn into to. NW Crossing would take everyone to the roundabout and back to where we were. More homeowners would have to sign off on this idea.
Earlier in 70-74 action, Socal's Dan Wulbert placed 4th in the 70-74 criterium and took the overall in his category. Robert Paganini placed 3rd in 75-79. In the race that started after the 65-69 criterium, John Rubcic placed 2nd. John was in a 4 man break in 60-64 and lost the wheel of the eventually winner on the last lap. Good race by John. He will be moving up to 65-69 next year. Socal's Mike Marotta crashed at turn 5. He went over another rider that was down. Mike broke his collarbone and chipped a bone in his hip. Mike had a great season but this accident will put him off his bike for 3 or 4 months. Very sorry to hear this. Best wishes to a speedy recovery. Socal's Patricia Kimper won the women's 65-69 criterium. Nice going girl! Also long time Socal racer Cindy Morgan finished 2nd in a very close race in women 60-64. All the results are below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
John Rubcic on the podium in the 60-64 category with the winner where???

Post podium recreation 65-69- McKee, Elgart and Simon.
Dan Wulbert was 4th in the criterium. Notice how fit all the 70+ guys look. All younger racers take notice.

Robert Paganini- 3rd place on the right
Patricia Kimper wins the women's 65-69 category.

Socal's Cindy Morgan(2nd from the left) placed 2nd in women 60-64. The winner was Kristine Johnson(wife of the USAC president, Steve Johnson.

Men - Master - 60--64
Place Points NameCity, StateTime USAC #BibTeam
1250.14Wayne Watson   Denver, CO1:23:39 50623  130 Natural Grocers Cycling Team
2274.57John Rubcic   Hemet, CA1:23:41 48760  154 UC Cyclery/JW Floors/Sun Coast Velo
3299.00Thomas Officer   Litchfield, CT1:23:41 45751  118 Cycle Fitness Cycling Club

4323.43Brad Swope   Louisville, KY1:23:43 47984  156 Kentucky Flyers Cycling Inc

5347.86George Heagerty   San Antonio, TX1:23:53 72892  162 Geri Atrix

6372.29David Hixson   Knoxville, TN1:23:53 16327  141 Team Gran Fondo/Gran Fondo Racing

7396.72Ken Louder   Salt Lake City, UT1:23:54 179491  115 Velosport Racing

8421.15Gordon Paulson   Cottage Grove, WI1:23:54 176866  119 Trek Midwest Team
9445.58John Wagenaar   La Mesa, CA1:23:54 61193  157 UC Cyclery/JW Floors/Sun Coast Velo

10470.01Gregory Pautsch   Chippewa Falls, WI1:23:55 180532  163 Planet Bike

11494.44Michael Burdo   Kirkland, WA1:24:09 48373  135 Team Steam

12518.87Barry Messmer   Fort Collins, CO0:00:00 51850  149 Boulder Orthopedics
13543.30Steven Borer   San Diego, CA0:00:00 245777  160 UC Cyclery/JW Floors/Sun Coast Velo

14567.73Dale Allen   Bend, OR0:00:00 160097  159 

Kenny Fuller   Corona Del Mar, CA0:00:00 46765  109 Team Simple Green/Bike Religion/Cycles Veloce

Thomas Zoumaras   Kirksville, MO0:00:00 65996  158 Michelob Ultra - Big Shark Racing Team/Michelob Ultra - Big Shark Racing

James Thompson   Bonners Ferry0:00:00 188816  164 

Bob Guglielmelli   San Luis Obispo, CA0:00:00 14374  161 Central Coast Tire CCT

Douglas Lindsay   Truckee, CA0:00:00 21257  146 Truckee Bicycle Team

Douglas Knox   Santa Barbara, CA0:00:00 45552  165 Time Factory Team

Dwight Hibdon   Park City, UT0:00:00 16081  140 FFKR Architects Racing/Velosport Racing

Mike Marotta   Bakersfield, CA0:00:00 72880  116 Spy-Swami's Cycling Team/Swami's Cycling Club

Morgan Caldwell   Lafayette, CA0:00:00 55374  136 Morgan Stanley Cycling Team

Mike Ambrozewicz   Fair Oaks, CA0:00:00 358707  102 

Leo Pettus   Yorba Linda, CA0:00:00 219074  121 Paramount Racing/OCW/Paramount Racing

Men - Master - 65--69

Place Points NameCity, StateTime USAC #BibTeam
1299.78John Elgart   Sacramento, CA1:57:48 45071  75 Webcor/Alto Velo/Alto Velo Racing Club
2322.10John McKee   Westminster, CA1:57:49 180386  89 Paramount Racing/OCW/Paramount Racing
3344.42Ron LeBard   Grass Valley, CA1:57:49 125445  79 Victory Velo Racing

4366.74Jerry Shafer   Seattle, WA1:57:49 54693  91 Slalom Consulting Racing

5389.06Loren Simons   St Johns, MI1:57:49 47936  83 Team Priority Health

6411.38Richard Shields   Fremont, CA1:57:50 140693  56 Hammer Nutrition/Team Hammer Nutrition

7433.70Donald Kimper   Solana Beach, CA1:57:50 195498  78 UC Cyclery/JW Floors/Sun Coast Velo

8456.02Bruce Steele   Redondo Beach, CA1:57:50 236498  58 South Bay Wheelmen

9478.34Robert Fernandez   Mount Pleasant, SC1:57:50 58378  77 Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Regional/Cleveland Clinic Sports Health - RGF pb

10500.66Gary Simmons   Layton, UT1:57:51 199407  57 Bountiful Mazda Cycling Team

11522.98Danny Pierce   Aspen, CO1:57:52 357836  53 

12545.30Frank Sahlman   Olympic Valley, CA1:57:53 350176  55 

13567.62Donald Coker   Bend, OR1:59:49 50869  88 WIN-TEAM RACING/Win-Team Racing

14589.94Michael McKinney   Huntington Beach, CA1:59:50 99906  90 Pinnaclife Racing Team/Radsport Cycling Team

P Fred Storti   Stillwater, MN0:00:00 59577  84 St Paul Bicycle Racing Club

Gary Westerfield   Orange, CA0:00:00 48245  87 Cycles Veloce

Whitney Fanning   Waco, TX0:00:00 89401  76 Bicycles Outback p/b Jubilee Mitsubishi

Jack Kelso   Pleasanton, CA0:00:00 202171  50 Hammer Nutrition/Team Hammer Nutrition

Robert Phillips   Baltimore, MD0:00:00 45795  80 Annapolis Bicycle Racing Team

Drew Clark   Erie, CO0:00:00 363986  74 Louisville Velo Club/ Team Louisville Cyclery

Dale Harless   Bellevue, WA0:00:00 57571  47 Cycle U

Men - Master - 70-74

Place Points NameCity, StateTime USAC #BibTeam
1500.76Michael Patterson   Old Lyme, CT57:45:00 180955  28 
2511.91Leonard Pettyjohn   Boulder, CO57:45:00 235722  40 Boulder Orthopedics
3523.06Lavon Wiseman   Sioux Falls57:45:00 251647  35 

4534.21Daniel Wulbert   Cardiff, CA57:46:00 46904  36 UC Cyclery/JW Floors/Sun Coast Velo

5545.36S Durward Higgins   Chattanooga, TN57:46:00 46705  22 Scenic City Velo

6556.51Fran Scannell   Englewood, CO58:47:00 51612  29 Schwab Cycles Racing Team

7567.66William Fallis   San Mateo, CA58:52:00 45315  37 Peninsula Velo Racing/Peninsula Velo Cycling Club

8578.81Michael Freeman   Martinez, CA0:00:00 12357  62 Team Hammer Nutrition

9589.96Joseph Kapp   La Quinta , CA0:00:00 194019  24 

Scott Tucker   Golden, CO0:00:00 71040  32 Schwab Cycles Racing Team

Dan Taylor   Alamo, CA0:00:00 306272  31 Taleo Racing/Lamorinda Cycling Club

Thomas Neary   New Meadows, ID0:00:00 280339  27 Treasure Coast Cycling Association

William Chambers   Park City, UT0:00:00 297698  20 

Edward Camarena   Yorba Linda, CA0:00:00 99513  18 Veloce Santiago

Jim Turner   Menlo Park, CA0:00:00 63449  33 Webcor/Alto Velo/Alto Velo Racing Club

Men - Master - 75--79

Place Points NameCity, StateTime USAC #BibTeam
1441.89Frederic Schmid   Waco, TX57:59:00 109257  14 
2489.16William Meyers   Oak Creek, CO58:14:00 53368  Schwab Cycles Racing Team
3536.43Robert Paganini   Los Angeles, CA58:29:00 45763  63 PAA/REMAX

4583.70Larry Slotta   Alta, WY58:44:00 66507  15 

Nikola Farats   Santa Rosa, CA0:00:00 384510  

Richard Reynolds   Tucson, AZ0:00:00 186922  12 Summit Velo

James Sadilek   Carson City, NV0:00:00 243469  73 Alta Alpina Cycling Club

Franz Hammer   Oro Valley, AZ0:00:00 45423  Team Green Choice/Team RPM/Airpark Bikes

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