Tuesday, February 12, 2013


By John McKee

Being in a hospital bed is about the last place any of us want to be but the week prior the ever popular Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium one of our racing brothers found himself in one. Our friend raced on Sunday and found himself in a hospital bed on Tuesday without any knowledge of what was wrong other than a lot of pain. Frightening of course but this story has a happy ending. A regular 1950s romantic comedy. They always had a happy ending though our friend certainly wasn't happy on Tuesday. More of this later. Lol. Maybe some of you will actually finish my story.

Roger Millikan
The Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium scheduled for Feb. 10, 2013 was in for some changes this year for a couple of reasons. Velo Avanti use to take the lead in producing the race with Ed Keck doing a LOT of the leg work. They and he decided to throw in the towel. They left the job up to Canyon Velo. Alex Collins was a major player in starting this club many years ago. Alex brought in UC Cyclery on the permit with tie ins to money for purses and primes. Of course they were forsaking the Paramount race they USE to get on the permit and provide money. Lol. Alex got his employer Morgan Gold to provide $1,500 toward the 55/60+ race. $1,000 for the 55s and $500 for the 60s. What I would like to see in the future is someone like Morgan Gold put money in a pot for a race series. Maybe 5 to 10 races within the SCNCA calendar that counted toward the points winners and leaders. Brad House use to do something like this. It was good for the racers and good for the promoters that got the special boost of being selected for this race series.
OK, back to RMMC. The course was changed about 8 or 9 years ago to the easterly course. Very popular. A little more dicey. More of a power climb on leg 3. Fun course as long as you stayed upright. The 55/60+ guys had a great safety record there. In 2011 there was the lapping of the rider at turn 3 on the last lap that was a major fiasco(no one went down) but other than that the 55/60s did well there. The problem in 2013 was a indoor gun range and gun shop on Berry St. Now Berry was on the race route but the street was NOT completely closed down to traffic in either direction BUT the shop owner as I understand it complained to the city of Brea and they encouraged the race promoter to move the race over to where the race was for years as the St. Valentines Day Massacre. The old course has a church near by that gets their panties in a twist if you park near their place so racers were encouraged to park on the old new course. If you know what I mean. Right. Lol.
Sign ups for 2013 weren't restricted to 75  though they should have been. The maximum field you can have with cat 5s allowed is 75. Not 100 and definitely not 150 like at CBR. I didn't get a final count this year. The 2 prior years and nearly so 3 years ago was a sellout. This was the highest payout ever or a tie actually with the Paramount race. As you all should know the Paramount race is 55 and 60+ friendly. I wonder why that is. I guess some of you were afraid your dog would get into some trouble while you were gone and stayed away from Roger Millikan. See pics below.
Bad boys 1 and 2

Bad boy # 3

Bad boy #4 - He doesn't look like he has any shame
Oh yes. Bike racing. I do that. Canyon Velo put the 55/60+ racers in a prime spot at 9:35 am. The elite women plus the juniors and cat 5s went before us as they should. Smallest fields 1st. Promoters hand book 101 though the women can complain VERY loud so the squeaky wheel usually gets better treatment.
The 55/60+ racers were called to the line from the holding area. I got cut off by a rambunctious racer in a unnamed kit. Ricky Shorts said "Wow. The race hasn't even started".
Just so no one forgets what the race title is about, Roger Millikan was a long time rider and racer and member of Velo Avanti though he was a member of Paramount many years ago. I think I mentioned this before that he use to date Monty Pettus's wife before they married. While Monty was racing in Pacific Grove Roger was racing Diane though Monty won out in the end
Leo (Monty) Pettus 5th in line here at the 1975 Pacific Grove Buterfly Criterium
when he started concentrating on the important stuff. Roger passed away several years ago after a bout with cancer. This race is given Roger's name and raced in his honor.
At the line we were told we had 40 minutes to race and we were off with the 1st lap neutral. The not so usual suspects went flying around like Bob Mosier(Bob unfortunately crashed later and broke his collarbone after driving down from Mailbu with his 11 year old daughter. Wish you the best, Bob), Brad House, John Roest and Bob Pelkofer(designed flyer for Rokform). The pace was brisk once the race was on but not near as hard as at Red Trolley. Maybe its the course. RT is definitely harder.
There was a crash at Roger Millikan. It was behind me so I didn't see it. I heard from 4 to 10 riders were in it. Bob Mosier took the worst injuries though Rick Carerra found out later that he has a fracture in his shoulder besides all the road rash. There were some close calls for some riders that avoided going down. Mike Birditt had to squeeze between a downed rider and the curb and got by him but bulldozed another rider and hurt his shoulder. He couldn't believe that he hit someone that hard and didn't go down on the ground. Track skills. Brad House ran over someone's rear wheel and went airborne. Came down on the tip of his saddle that went funky. Brad fought that the rest of the race. Some of the downed riders got back into the race and some just threw in the towel. This happened right near the start finish line. No one knows what caused it. I heard it behind me and knew right away what happened. That sound is unmistakable.
There were a great number of primes. Some for $20 and some for a water bottle full of something. I never understood what Ralph was saying. Racers will sprint for anything though. Doesn't matter.
Mike Bird cooling his jets after killing another prime- $50 GC from UC Cyclery- Photo courtesy of Maki Yamazaki
Once the pretenders got caught  the main players were thinking of bringing out the their big guns. Like Ron Burgundy's in the movie "Anchorman". He thought his arms were big. HA! The pace of the race was pretty high though it didn't feel hard except for some hard chases. The pressure really got put on. I went deep several times to stay in good position. Once I felt I couldn't keep it up, the pace slowed. I guess everyone else or most everyone else was hurting. KK could eat a plate of spaghetti on his bike while we were racing. He did 28 mph for an hour record at the track.
The primes came and went and we were all together. Mark Hoffenberg was playing a waiting game and reacting to moves rather than starting them except for one break attempt early with Jay Wolkoff. They were going good but a hungry field brought them back. I guess I can reveal now Mark is the person that was in the hospital bed. Undetected kidney stones that were giving him major pain. He was feeling better Sunday morning and decided to race with us.
Mark isn't looking too happy after having to go to the hospital not knowing the pain he was having was from kidney stones. This was Tues. 2/5/13. He was released later in the day.

Mark is killing it here late in the race after coming out of the hospital bed 5 days before. Photo courtesy of TruCycling
There were a number of people chasing down the breaks and one of them was to my surprise Cyril "Parachute" Hunte. Cyril was on fire. I told him before the race that this course was good for him as compared to Red Trolley and that was true. Cyril was on fire!
Cyril Hunte leading a chase midway through the race- Photo courtesy of Maki Yamazaki

Bob Pelkofer made a solo move hoping someone would join him like at Red Trolley the last 2 years. The Red Trolley course must fit Bob well. He loves it there. Bob move didn't work but not for the lack of trying.
Pelky giving it a go late in the race. He was chased down by unknown assailants- photo courtesy of Maki Yamazaki

 Later in the race Keith Ketterer made his move on the outside near the start finish line. Mark Hoffenberg was ever attentive and jumped after him with Steve Hensler on his wheel. They soon connected with KK to make it a threesome. This was the right combination of teams needed to cause major blocking in the peleton or at least to not be chased. 1/3 the riders were on these teams. Breakaway from Cancer, Rokform, and UC Cyclery. One lap after the 3 were together UCC rider Mike McConnell slipped away right near Ralph's famous announcing shack. Mike got some looks but no one chased. Mike was able to link up with the 3 other breaking riders.

There they go- Ketterer, Hoffenberg and Hensler- Photo courtesy of Maki Yamazaki

Mike McConnell adds himself to the group-that is Mike 2nd in line- Photo courtesy of Maki Yamazaki
The front is loaded with blocking team members- Photo courtesy of Maki Yamazaki
The pack was in a quandry now. Who is left to chase. Swami's threw Gene Poyorena out there to chase and kept the pace up for a short time but made no headway to the 4 riders ahead. This point in the race is difficult. If you chase earlier you can recover and get yourself set up for the sprint finish. If you chase late, you may not have time to recover for the sprint. Riders like Cyril, Birdy and Ricky that might chase earlier were not going to chase now. Rokform had now a double duty. Block for Mark ahead and set up the sprint finish for Danny Nicolette. There has to be a fine line there since Mark and the 3 other riders weren't that far ahead.
The foursome that were breaking became two. A foursome is considered a near perfect combination  in golf groupings but I guess the foursome didn't work out ahead of the pack. Steve Hensler and Mike McConnell(I keep wanting to write Mitch but that is that stiff Republican from Kentucky) dropped off of Mark and KK. KK actually attacked them between turn one and turn two and Mark and KK were away. Steve and Mike then hovered in between the two leaders and the pack. Kind of in no man's land. Not far enough away to actually have a chance of finishing away but not so close that someone closes them out.
KK and Hoffy killing it- Photo courtesy of Maki Yamazaki

Gene Poyorena pulls off in his attempted chase-Rokform setting up for a sprint finish- Photo courtesy of Maki Yamazaki
The 5 lap card came up and was announced by Ralph Elliot with his usual set up rig right there. His yellow and red board for results. You always know where to look for results. The speed wasn't fast but decent. Our average speed was going to be pretty high for this race. Kim Bleth and Jeff Moreton went out early for Rokform to set pace and try and keep Danny from being overwhelmed by a slow pace. Bill Ralph and especially Bob Pelkofer were going to handle their sprinter late in the race.
With 2 laps to go an independent guy with a black and white kit  that said Velo was at the front followed by Rokform. The distance to Mark and KK was constant and they were not going to be caught but the other 2 guys were going to sweep up by the sprint train. One lap to go and the 1st 4 riders in the pack were Rokform  followed by Cyril, Kal, myself and then Dale. Mike Birditt was moving up looking for a spot to move in. The pace was steady at turn one and turn two but going up the slight rise on the back stretch saw a dramatic increase in the speed. Rokform was kicking it up. Caught me a little by surprise and I gapped on Kal. Mike Birditt filled the space.
The lead 2 guys were much closer together than at Mothballs where KK got the jump on Hoffy and almost stayed away from him. Here Mark was watching him closely and was thinking he could out sprint him if they were in a two up sprint. KK pulled on the last lap knowing they had to stay strong or they would get swept up. Mark thought KK might attack going up the hill on the backstretch but he didn't. KK must have known then he was riding for 2nd. Mark and KK go back years and were teammates at one point in the past. Coming off the hospital bed to tame the best of the 55+ racers in the biggest purse of the season so far. Mark wasn't even feeling that good on Friday and didn't get on his bike until Saturday when he made the decision to race on Sunday as long as he was feeling OK in the morning. Mark was hoping to win this race and dedicate the win to his son Max, who passed away in October of 2012. Although Mark didn't discuss this with anyone-even to his teammates prior to the race, it was something that he simply committed to himself. Mark explained this in more detail to me in an email: "The memories of Max yelling for me on the sideline of this particular course are well ingrained in my mind. When I heard that they had moved this race back to the old course this year, it started getting emotional for me. I was pretty disappointed after landing in the hospital on Tuesday night. Obviously there was the unbelievable pain caused by the kidney stones but as the week progressed the realization that I wasn't going to race was emotional painful. Fortunately it all worked out. Maybe Max was just testing my fortitude."
Mark Hoffenberg with his son Max

In the pack the Rokform train was working pretty good on the last lap until turn 3 came and then Cyril Hunte jumped everyone on the right curb side. Now this made for a dicey situation. Going fast next to the right curb and having to make a right turn to sprint for home wasn't going to easy especially with another group taking a "smarter" line for the last corner. Cyril was jamming it early kind of like I use to see Dale Luedtke do. I saw Dale do it years ago at Dana Point in the 50+ crit champ. Lead at the last corner and rolled it to the line. Cyril had these thoughts in his mind. He was sprinting for glory! The only thing was it was for 3rd place which still isn't bad.
KK buried himself on the last lap so he and Mark could stay away. Photo courtesy of Ken Hill-Light &Shadows Photography

Cyril leading the field into the last corner. Can he hold on? Photo courtesy of Ken Hill- Light & Shadow Photography

Birdy is staying tight to Nick with Kal right on Birdy- Photo courtesy of Ken Hill- Light & Shadows Photography
 Cyril was followed by Nicolette(he saw Cyril jam and got right on him), Birditt, Szkalak, Luedtke/Shorts and myself though I see there was a bit of a gap there. Don't know what I was thinking. Coming up the middle were Jay Wolkoff, Paul Rodiguez, Lee Romans and Kirk Freeman was setting up in the front of the other pack looking to take a sharper line past the corner which he did with some admiral skill.
Mike Birditt and Danny Nicolette came off Cyril and Mike took the bunch sprint for 3rd place. Danny 4th, Cyril 5th, Kal followed in for 1st in 60+, Luedtke for 6th in 55, Shorts for 7th in 55, Wolkoff 8th, Rodiguez 2nd for 60, Lee Romans for 9th, Kirk Freeman 3rd in 60+, Alex Collins 10th, myself 4th in 60, C. Jones 5th in 60, Huffman 6th in 60, Tim and Ira of Simple Green 11 and 12 in 55, Miller 7th in 60, Wagenaar 8th in 60, Roest 9th in 60, Mallory 13th in 55, Lilleberg 10th in 60. I wanted to write the placings out further than I usually do because of a camera malfunction. The complete finish list was worked out by the racers and officials. Guys, you had to not only let the official know who you finished behind or next to but you had to wait and see what was posted and make sure you were on it. Sorry to guys like Howard Miller that finished  7th in 60+ and Lee Romans that finished 9th in 55+. Both Paramount members. If you want a placing you have to hound the officials until you see your name. I can't tell them where everyone finished. I don't know.
The average speed that I had was 26 mph which was fast but I started my Garmin at the finish of the 1st neutral lap. That was faster than the 50+ race.
Strong finishes in other races were:
9- Mike McConnell
10-Lee Romans
17-Dan Swietlik
24-Rick Swanson
26-Brad House
28-John McKee
36-John Roest
26-Doug Knox-nice going Doug
Kal and Mitch were also in this race
The crash was the downside of the race and the camera problem. Other than that it was a good fast race. There is a mismatch of squads right now. Rokform in 55 and UC Cyclery in 60. Mark and Kal are killing it right now. Lets post a bull's eye on them and knock them down a peg or two. Just kidding guys! Thanks again to Alex Collins and Morgan Gold for the big money list. The last 3 photos were courtesy of Ken Hill. His website for some excellent action photos is www.public.fotki.com/quatre24. This was a great event. Nice job everyone!  That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Offical finish lists(not accurate but this is what it is-sorry guys)

Roger Millikan Crit  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 45461 Mark Hoffenberg Rokform/Rock N' Road 14
2 48434 Keith Ketterer Breakaway from Cancer Masters 11
3 47255 Michael Birditt SKLZ-Swami's Cycling Team 10
4 26090 Daniel Nicolette Rokform/Rock N' Road 9
5 52086 Cyril Hunte 8
6 47262 Dale Luedtke Swami's Cycling Club 7
7 52251 Ricky Shorts Bahati Foundation p/b Major Motion Cycli 6
8 38811 Jay Wolkoff Radsport Cycling Team 5
9 46255 Alex Collins UC Cyclery/JW Floors 4
10 404 Guido Quezada 3
11 255052 Ira Schaffer Team Simple Green/Bike Religion 2
12 258639 Timothy Meza Team Simple Green/Bike Religion 1
13 16837 Brad House Big Orange Cycling 0

Roger Millikan Crit  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 54522 Kalman Szkalak UC Cyclery/JW Floors 14
2 58847 Paul Rodriguez UC Cyclery/JW Floors 11
3 95 Kirk Freeman 10
4 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 9
5 18156 Craig Jones Velo Avanti Cycling Team 8
6 59572 Mark Huffman UC Cyclery/JW Floors 7
7 64127 Richard Lilleberg South Bay Wheelmen 6
8 245777 Steven Borer UC Cyclery/JW Floors 5
9 195498 Donald Kimper UC Cyclery/JW Floors 4
10 46648 Peter Banko Cycle U / Apex Racing 3
11 Rick Roberson 2
12 Ed Soloman 1
13 126351 Steve Bernede Team Werks 0
14 Lee Carpenter 0
15 50406 Michael Edwards Michelob Ultra - La Grange +21 0


  1. I do miss these races. One part of Cali I do miss. Nice to at least hear the race report. Butch

  2. Wish you were here to race with us, Butch. You could give Kal a run for the money when there is some. Chris doesn't like to give 60s anything nowadays.