Thursday, April 25, 2013


By John McKee

The LA Circuit race is produced by Brad House and Back on Track Productions. Brad was one of the early promoters to come on board for a combined 55/60+ race with both categories getting pay checks. The 1st one was held in 2006. I looked at the finish lists for that year and actually looked at all the finish lists for the years since and I can see how many riders have come and gone. Robert Paganini, Mike Fleming and myself are the only ones that did that race and did 2013 and that includes the 55+ category.  2009 was a banner year for 60+ racers with 23 entries. More than 55s. It was depressing to see the turnout in 2013. 22 55s which wasn't bad but only 9 60s. LAC is held on the same weekend as Sea Otter so that makes it tough. Sea Otter has a awesome 55+ series of races but no separate category for any age older though there are many racers over 60 that do participate.  Brad has put his race up against Redlands in the past so he wouldn't have to go up against Sea Otter and that is also tough but he would get some sponsors back. Damn if you do and damn if you don't.
I have always liked the LAC race. I wish more riders felt the same. The 7 am start time does hurt and Brad is willing to move that in the future. I also say thanks to all the riders that did show up, Brad House, all the sponsors, and the Bahati Fountain that co produced the race and received some of the proceeds for its worthwhile causes. Large strong fields are what is needed to help riders compete at the national level. Finding the answer to what makes an event fun is elusive. I will say this and this may ruffle some feathers but I think we get spoiled in Socal with so many events to chose from. That holds much more true to 55s then 60s though I prefer breaks in the schedule anyway. 60s are left out of quality events like Dana Point. 9 riders at LAC doesn't help matters trying to get in or back in events like Dana Point. I want to race as a 60+ racer there so BAD!
OK, lets get to the racing part of LAC. The story is fairly short this year. Breakaway from Cancer Masters team targeted LAC and Malcolm Hill and Keith Ketterer showed up to make the 55/60+ field a lot stronger. To match those 2 strongmen the 55 field would have Mike Birditt of Swami's, Mike McConnell and Alex Collins of UC Cyclery, and Rod Mallory of the Bahati Foundation team. The 55 field was loaded with sprinters but they count on others to chase, break and the like. In 60+ Kal Szkalak was there to match up against myself, John Roest and Don Kimper.
2011 photo of Keith Ketterer and Malcolm Hill. Photo courtesy of John McKee.
The weather was good for 7 am. Arm warmers feft good but weren't needed. We all lined up to get the officials latest words of wisdom. Always good stuff if you want to know what is happening in your race. Nothing earth shaking like in 2009 when there was filming at the last turnaround and we got this terrible late turnaround. Awful but none of that in 2013. We were off but not really off. No one wanted to push early. Someone finally got the pace up and it didn't take long to find out which Breakaway from Cancer Masters rider was up for major play. It was Keith Ketterer. Keith crashed in a training ride March 2nd. Nothing broken but he hurt his left hand. Bled quite a bit(he wasn't wearing gloves. He wears them all the time NOW.) He is starting to get good feeling back in his hand. His legs are still hummingbird fast. I came up next to KK and I am spinning maybe 90 to 95 and he is effortlessly spinning 100 to 110. Track training!
There were a few early efforts at jumping the pace or maybe starting a break but they were all chased and neutralized. We came back by the start/finish line the 1st time all together. The course is 4 miles long. After the 1st lap things did heat up. KK jumped the group and Fred Hoblit and Alex Collins jumped aboard. Fred and Alex stayed with it for a little less than a lap. I am pretty sure Fred didn't want to help KK get too far from his teammate Mike Birditt. KK attacked his break partners and went solo. The last few laps were basically KK vs everyone else. Keith as you should already know set a world record in 2012 in the hour record on the track for 55-59. He already had broken the hour record several years ago in 50-54.

Keith Ketterer on his way to a world record. Photo courtesy of and with permission of Pat Benson.
Afterward Keith was nice enough to take photos with anyone that wanted like that Paramount guy. Photo courtesy of Pat Benson.
Mike Birditt was taking the the biggest effort at bringing KK back. In a bunch sprint Mike would be the likely winner. Mike would pull and tuck back in and recover and then go at it again. Even sprinter deluxe Cyril Hunte came to the front and took some pulls. Ron Mallory was up there as was Cleve Law. Are you starting to get the picture. Lol. Keith is up there with his hummingbird legs and no one or any group of riders can bring him back.
With the bell lap ringing, Fred Hoblit went to the front to give it one last very hard pull. A pull until you blow type effort. His teammate Mike Birditt was on his wheel. They got a gap but not without Mike McConnell. Fred dropped off and M and M floated in that no man's land between the pack and the race leader. One brave sole tried to get across the gap right after turn one. That was Phil Walters. Phil is 60+ and likes to race and then watch his son race later in the events. Phil actually got pretty close but ran out of stream and came back to the peleton. If  Phil had been able to grab a wheel, he would have won the 60+ category. The  final turn came and neither KK or M and M were going to get caught. Keith Ketterer was going to solo in the the 55+ win. Mike McConnell didn't really contest Mike Birditt for 2nd and took 3rd in 55+.
The pack was taking the last lap hot and cold. I tried to stay on Kal's wheel and thank you Ron Mallory for giving it up at one point. After the last turn though I wanted to stay on the left side of the course. The right side near the curb gets bunchy and is coned in near the finish line so there is danger ahead. I stay away from cones nowadays. Probably few of you remember last year but I tangled with one in Carson and lost. The left side is more open and fluid but you push a little more wind but that's ok.
The 1st person to jump was a new Big Orange rider by the name of Carey Downs. No one seemed to pay attention to Carey and he soon died. Deogracias Asuncion and his teammate at SBW Maron Cortez jumped but I held my position. When Nelson Alaan jumped is when I responded as did everyone else. The field sprint was ON! I stayed as close to Nelson as I could which wasn't super close but was going pretty good and passing a few riders like the SBW boys. Kal Szkalak broke out of the pack on the right side and sprinted for the line. Kal, Dale and Alex were close together but Kal got going the best and was the 1st across the line and the 1st 60+ racer. Nelson was 2nd in the bunch sprint for 4th in 55+. I was 3rd across the line and good enough for 2nd in 60+. Dale Luedtke and Alex Collins rounded out the last paying spots in 55+. 6 payouts for EACH category. Way good. $250 EACH!. Don Kimper was the last podium placer in 60+ and was followed across the line and were also paid and that was John Roest, Jim Swigart and Pags. Pags got a pay check! The oldest guy in the race by 10 years and he gets a pay check. For you 60+ guys that didn't show up....well there you go. The 1st 65 plus rider was myself. 6 of 9 60+ racers got paychecks!
The race was fun though not that fast this year. The pace was around 24.3 mph. There are 2 180 turns which slows the pace down but Rosena Ranch was around this speed and is A LOT harder. Thanks again to those that came out or at least raced this weekend like at Sea Otter. Some raced a TT in Santiago Canyon on Sat. where Leo Longo secured the overall season victory in 60+. Nice going, Leo. Full results for LAC are below. Come on you 60+ racers. Get off the couch, your tt bikes, your track bikes, and come out and race. Get out of your comfort zone and jazz up your life. The racing is safer then the training rides I here about where so many of you crash. Get out of a rut! That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
60+ podium- Kimper 3, Szkalak 1, McKee 2. Photo courtesy of Brad House.
55+ podium- McConnell 3, Ketterer 1, Birditt 2   

LA Circuit Race  (Rank 1.5)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 48434 Keith Ketterer Breakaway from Cancer Masters 21
2 47255 Michael Birditt SKLZ-Swami's Cycling Team 17
3 23303 Michael McConnell UC Cyclery/JW Floors 15
4 64439 Nelson Alaan Lightning Velo 13
5 47262 Dale Luedtke SKLZ-Swami's Cycling Team 12
6 46255 Alex Collins UC Cyclery/JW Floors 10
7 52086 Cyril Hunte Southern California Velo 9
8 93812 Donald Denegal Velo Allegro 7
9 50532 Deogracias Asuncion South Bay Wheelmen 6
10 25023 Jeffrey Moreton Rokform/Rock N' Road 4
11 107559 Rodney Malloy Bahati Foundation-CA 3
12 45582 Cleaveran Law Lightning Velo 2
13 271566 Alex Gonzalez Bahati Foundation p/b Major Motion Cycli 0
14 401879 Roger Nurnberger 0
15 72467 Marlon Cortez South Bay Wheelmen 0
16 156650 Malcolm Hill Breakaway from Cancer Masters 0
17 16360 Fred Hoblit Swami's Cycling Club 0
18 101454 Robert Morris Velo Allegro 0
19 282806 Ralph Rivas 0
20 9944 Carey Downs Big Orange Cycling 0
Total # of riders 22      
LA Circuit Race  (Rank 1.5)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 54522 Kalman Szkalak UC Cyclery/JW Floors 21
2 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 17
3 195498 Donald Kimper UC Cyclery/JW Floors 15
4 277180 John Roest Southern California Velo 13
5 228631 James Swigart ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 12
6 45763 Robert Paganini PAA/REMAX 10
7 129293 Michael Fleming South Bay Wheelmen 9
8 245777 Steven Borer UC Cyclery/JW Floors 7
9 257503 Philip Walters Encino Velo Cycling Club 6
Total # of riders 9      

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