Friday, July 26, 2013


By John McKee

The last time we were at Ontario it was the Masters Championship and there was a great turnout. Especially in 55+. July 21, 2013 and the turnout of 55 and 60+ racers was down quite a bit. I guess some are tired of Ontario while a few like Mike Birditt(racing) and Monty Pettus(volunteering) were at SCNCA track championship at the Stub Hub Center(formerly known as ADT) in Carson, Ca. 16 55 racers showed up compared to 44 at the championship the prior race at Ontario. In 60+ there were 15 vs the 29 at the championship so obviously the 55s dropped out at a greater rate than the 60s. The weather was overcast with a hint of rain though it was July. It felt humid and the warm up felt like you were in a sauna on the trainer. There were no wives there that I could see. We use to see lots of wives at Ontario but they put the snooze back in practice and all decided to pass on our race.
The start of the Ontario race. Photo courtesy of Richard Ahn
We came to the line at the new 2013 time of 8:05 am. Not bad and definitely better than the 7:35 am of years past. Not sure why some of the juniors get to race after us though but maybe to split the 55/60 race and the 50+ race. In years past we use to do the 55, 50 and 45 in a row and many of us did all 3 including myself. Oh those were the days. LOL! I believe Pags use to do that as well and he was in his late 60s at the time.
We went off without a jackrabbit start or racer. We went pretty easy for a little over a lap and then Brad House and John Roest went to the whip and rolled off the front. They got a gap and I was thinking of the last 55/60+ race in Carson and JR and Bob Pellkofer got away early and lapped the field. JR is 60 and I didn't figure this was a good thing at Ontario so I jumped by Rick Swanson who is John Roest's teammate. I got out of the saddle and went hard to try and reach the twosome and maybe get aboard a ship leaving  port.
Kal seemed to be sleeping. I got 2/3 the way there and hit the red line. Ran out of gas! I just maintained my speed then waiting for the pack to catch me. Bruce Hartley flew by me and I thought wow he is going good but he also ran out of gas the pack was right on his heels anyway. The result of all this was a narrowing of the gap to the twosome and they threw in the towel. I had to hide in the pack and get my heartrate down.
Considering the lack of star power in the field the race was pretty lively and hard or so it seemed to me. I had just got back from a vacation in Lone Tree, Colo. and did some mountain biking there but lost some of my sharpness that I had at the last Ontario race but was fresh.

Please excuse the blatant inclusion of family pictures in my race story. I need an excuse for not doing that well at Ontario. From L to R- my wife Alicia, grandson Jonathan and myself

My Son in Law Robert Woolley II, my daughter Amanda Woolley,  my wife Alicia, and Jonathan
Got feet in the Platte River

Jonathan with his buddy Nemo   

Jonathan's dad's off road motorcycle needed washing. Amanda is the Star Wars fan(shirt)

Jonathan in his backyard with a Florida Gator shirt(I am the Gator fan)

I was looking at my heart rate and it was pretty high which confirmed my freshness but I knew I wouldn't be sharp and have the snap I needed at the end or at least thought that. We kept riding around and around and around. I was surprised at the pace considering the field size but was able to get my heart rate down. 
Mike "sub racer" McConnell(Did you know Mike use to race 2 man subs in the ocean near Disney World in Florida. Mike was the 'cyclist' and the other person was the driver.) was always looking for an opportunity to get away with a small group of riders and was watchful at the front.
The primes came and went with none of them resulting in a break group. The prime came for Ontario points. Mike Birditt is the leader in 55+ but wasn't there so Cyril Hunte decided to go for it. John Roest was the leader in 60+ so I got on his wheel because I was 3rd in the 60+ category. Fred Hoblit hit it early and got the pace up with a long way to go. 4 corners to go to be precise. I was wondering whether I could keep this up but the pace hung there at a manageable level. Coming toward the line Cyril was in the lead and no 55 was going to contest him. JR was 2nd and since I was on his wheel I came around him but with a minimum of effort. I knew a counter might come and this has been a pivotal part of the race in the past. Cyril got the 55 points and I got the 60 points. JR waved to Cyril to go. JR came by me as did a few other riders but I got in the train. I didn't want it the leave the depot without me. The pace was kept up for a while and I was hurting a little but the pressure was lightened up. I needed to get my heart rate down again but there weren't many lulls in the remainder of the race. 5 laps to go came and the standard cards came up. I always listen for Ralph and what he has to say when we come by. He always mentioned the laps to go and I heard him say 5 laps to go and saw the card. I felt somewhat relieved that at least at this race I would know when the race was going to end unlike at Lompoc.
I think everyone knew this was going to be a bunch sprint except maybe the "sub racer". He hit it hard with 2 to go and I was on his wheel. He flicked his arm to signal for someone else to pull though. He looked under his arm to see who was behind him and saw me shaking my head no. No use killing myself pulling everyone else around to the bell lap. Mike is strong and kept the pace up for quite a while.

We had a shark in our midst and didn't know it
 The bell lap came I looked for Kal's wheel. There was another guy in an Alliance jersey that also wanted Kal's wheel and I didn't know who it was. He was a "little" wider than I am so I had no chance getting the wheel. The rider was Gibby "Shark" Hatton. This was one of his 1st races in 55+ though he is 57 this year. From now on I will know that his wheel is also a good one. I filtered backward and saw John Roest and Howard Miller ahead of me. Both 60+ racers though Howard is a teammate of mine. I definitely wanted JR though. JR and I are very close in Socal Cup points and he is the leader as mentioned earlier in the Ontario series points. We rounded the last corner and it was very crowded with 55s everywhere. Fred Hoblit had done a leadout and was dying. I came inside him and knew it was going to be tight but I wasn't going to use my brakes or even stop pedaling. Bruce Hartley said he cut me some slack on my other side. I rode in the wave of 55s and knew many would be dying. I saw JR on my right and in front of me. Howard was ahead of me and more directly so. Kal Szkalak was way ahead with the "Shark".
Gibby Hatton took the race in 55+ and the overall win since Ontario only pays out with an overall purse. Kal was the 2nd rider across the line and the 1st 60+ rider. Gibby came back later and placed 2nd in the 50+ category.
An old racing picture that posted to my 55/60 bike racing facebook page with Gibby Hatton on the left.
Dale Luedtke loves the Ontario course and came across for 2nd in 55+ followed in by Ricky Shorts and Cyril Hunte. All 55+. I started my sprint on the left side to get around the standard cadre of dying 55+ racers. I saw I was gaining on JR and kept the pressure on the pedals while out of the saddle. I started to tie up about 30 to 40 meters from the line and stopped accelerating. John Roest held me off by about 12 inches with Howard Miller between us though I didn't see him. There were other 55s around us. John Roest was 2nd in 60+ with Howard 3rd and myself a somewhat disappointing 4th. My top end speed was decent for Ontario at 36.8 mph though not near Nelson Alaan's max speed of 40 mph. Nelson placed 5th in 55+ because he started so far back. David "I don't like to train or race" Lang was very close to me for 5th in 60+.
It was a fun hard race with an average speed on around 25.4 mph which wasn't bad for the field size. I hope Gibby will race with us more from now on. Complete results below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Ontario 5  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 54522 Kalman Szkalak UC Cyclery/JW Floors 14
2 277180 John Roest Southern California Velo 11
3 49424 Howard Miller OCW/Paramount Racing 10
4 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 9
5 107852 David Lang DARE 8
6 3793 Raphael Gomez 7
7 129293 Michael Fleming South Bay Wheelmen 6
8 228631 James Swigart ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 5
9 254258 Hugh Lothrop 4
10 140826 Robert Mosier Bahati Foundation-CA 3
11 9271 Pete Dern Montrose Bike Shop- CW Builders 2
12 45763 Robert Paganini PAA/REMAX 1
13 48245 Gary Westerfield Team Simple Green/Bike Religion 0
14 238828 Phillip Richards Citrus Valley Velo 0
15 50406 Michael Edwards Michelob Ultra - La Grange +21 0
Total # of riders 15    

Ontario 5  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 61128 Gilbert Hatton Team Alliance Environmental 14
2 47262 Dale Luedtke SKLZ-Swami's Cycling Team 11
3 52251 Ricky Shorts Bahati Foundation p/b Major Motion Cycli 10
4 52086 Cyril Hunte Southern California Velo 9
5 64439 Nelson Alaan Lightning Velo 8
6 45431 Bruce Hartley Radsport Cycling Team 7
7 36299 Daniel Valentin Citrus Valley Velo 6
8 23303 Michael McConnell UC Cyclery/JW Floors 5
9 34753 Rick Swanson Southern California Velo 4
10 49110 Rino Barbagiovanni Santa Clarita Velo 3
11 16837 Brad House Big Orange Cycling 2
12 45552 Douglas Knox TIME - Velo Pasadena Team 1
13 167453 Bob Estupinan Citrus Valley Velo 0
14 16360 Fred Hoblit Swami's Cycling Club 0
15 15625 Demi Hechanova Southern California Velo 0
16 177283 Eugene Poyorena Swami's Cycling Club 0
Total # of riders 16    

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


By John McKee

Most of you should have read about the 805 weekend from Part 1 of my story. Part 2 will be about the race in Lompoc on Sunday June 30th, 2013. The criterium is called Valley of the Flowers. It is the new part of the 805 weekend. Last year there was just the Saturday race in Buelton. The City of Lompoc threw down some money as they saw this race as a benefit to the area besides the sponsorship of Firestone Walker Brewing Company. The Lompoc Police Fountain also came in for this event. The course for this event is rather unique and fun. It is 1.1 mile figure 8 shaped loop with 6 right-hand and 2 left-hand turns. It is flat and has 600 meters to the line from the last corner.
55/60+ racers lined up for the start of another race but the 1st race in Lompoc.
There were 24 55/60+ racers that showed up on Sunday in Lompoc. 13 55s and 11 60s. One off the total from Buelton. The race time was the same 8 am. We got one practice lap and then we were off. It took a bit to get the feel of the course. It was fun but bumpy in a lot of spots and you had better turn pretty sharp at turn 5 because the barrier felt close when you took that corner at speed.
Gerald Finken and Brad House starting things off.

Kim Bleth early in the race showing what good form he had.
The early action was started by Gerald Finken and Brad House. I don't think Brad was "packing" or at least I hope he wasn't. Just kidding, Brad. Kim Bleth was all over this and as you will see this was Kim's race to shine.
Kim Bleth got away fairly early by himself. Kim looked very strong. Every time Malcolm would go to chase Mark Hoffenberg would be right on his wheel. This was a little frustrating to Malcolm but that is just racing. Malcolm knew if he kept going and only Mark was with him he would be out numbered 2 to 1. Malcolm didn't seem to like that idea.
Kim Bleth on his 1st break attempt.
There was a lot of churning in the pack. Everyone knew or at least thought that we were racing for 50 minutes which is 10 minutes longer than we usually do. A number of riders came out to chase Kim and included John Rubcic, Gerald Finken, Alex Collins and Mike Marotta. John Rubcic seemed to be UCC's rider to chase. At one point in the race Paul Rodiguez looked around and saw all the white and green made a comment in frustration about the lack of activity on his team.
Kim was out there for a number of laps and was brought back. Mark Hoffenberg then made the race

Malcolm Hill putting the chase on Kim Bleth's 1st break attempt. Paul Rodiguez is following.

hard and really worked it. There were a few splits in the group of racers and a few 60+ riders were off the back. Always sorry to see this since they are discouraged from racing more and other 60+ riders see this and don't want to come out and take the chance of getting dropped themselves.
The race was very hot and cold. Many hard sections where the pressure was on and everyone was lined out and there might be a break in the group here and there but we always came back together except for Kim Bleth and he was back in the after his 1st break attempt.
Late in the race and even before Kim was thinking of jumping the field solo again Mark Hoffenberg coaxed Kim into making another go of it. Kim got a gap again. The second time there didn't seem to be the effort to bring him back. Malcolm tried but always had Mark on his wheel.
Mark Hoffenberg making it hard on the pack. You can see everyone is lined out.
Like I mentioned we were suppose to have 50 minutes to race but we didn't get 50 minutes. I looked at my watch at one point and saw we had raced for a little over 30 minutes and figured we had a long ways to go. We actually got somewhere between 42 and 44 minutes depending on who you talked to.
The lap cards came up and they were held by hand quietly on the rail underneath the officials and announcers stand. They started at 6 to go. Few people saw the cards. The announcer was very busy talking about the race but I never heard him say anything about the laps to go. Others heard him that were up front. I was further back.
Kim Bleth on his last solo break attempt.

Kim Bleth was away for the last number of laps and there didn't seem to be the urge to chase Kim. About half the riders were 60 and didn't care that he was away. The last lap came and the bell was rung when Kim came by and if the guys up front heard it, I certainly didn't where I was and neither did Paul Rodiguez, Gerald Finken or Steve Hensler. Mike Marotta was further up then I was and happen to look up when he came to the line and saw the one lap to go card. Game on!
The last lap did get going pretty fast. I didn't know why but other laps during the day were hard. When we turned the last corner for the sprint home I saw my teammate Monty Pettus start his sprint. I thought he must be going for  a prime prize.
Kim Bleth held off the field and won the 55+ category by about 35 meters. Great job my Kim. Mark Hoffenberg used his great sprint to best the field and get 2nd in 55+ with a high speed of 35.3 mph which wasn't near as fast as the day before but that was a downhill sprint. The 60+ race was actually more competitive than the 55 considering 1 thru 3. 1 thru 3 in 60+ was pretty close. Kal Szkalak won with Mike Marotta barely taking 2nd over John Rubcic.  Malcolm Hill then rolled across for 3rd in 55+ with Monty Pettus nipping at his heals for 4th in 60+. Fred Hoblit was 4th in 55+ followed in by Alex Collins and Brad House. Paul Rodiguez and I rolled in for 5th and 6th in 60+ not even knowing the race was ending. Lol. It was our fault. I was upset right after the race but it was our responsibility to look for the lap cards. I got use to the announcers making a big deal about the laps to go but that isn't always the case.
Kim Bleth winning the race. "Where are you guys?"

Mark Hoffenberg taking 2nd in 55+ and acknowledging that his teammate had won.

Kal Szkalak winning the 60+ category with Mike Marotta just beating John Rubic for 2nd in 60+.

Malcolm Hill coming toward the line for 3rd in 55+ and Monty Pettus blocked out getting 4th in 60+.

You can see Malcolm having crossed the line just ahead of Monty Pettus. Fred Hoblit is coming toward the line.
Overall this is a great event and really fun. I hope it grows in the future. I know Mike Hecker wants to move it up on the calendar to avoid the heat in Buelton. We shall see later about that. Rokform proved to be the strongest 55+ team winning each day which UC Cyclery proved to be the strongest 60+ team also winning each day. Both teams won with different riders as well which is way cool. The average speed was a slow 24.4 mph but there were a lot of turns and a small field. Complete results are below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
55+ winners from the Rokform team- Mark won at Buelton and Kim won at Lompoc.

Valley of Flowers  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
PlaceLicenseNameTeamSoCal Points
149191Kim BlethRokform/Rock N' Road14
245461Mark HoffenbergRokform/Rock N' Road11
3156650Malcolm HillBreakaway from Cancer Masters10
416360Fred HoblitSwami's Cycling Club9
546255Alex CollinsUC Cyclery/JW Floors8
616837Brad HouseBig Orange Cycling7
749239Gerald FinkenSt Paul Bicycle Racing Club6
815874Steve HenslerUC Cyclery/JW Floors5
9131303Mark LukePlatinum Performance Cycling Team4
1049110Rino BarbagiovanniSanta Clarita Velo3
1145552Douglas KnoxTIME - Velo Pasadena Team2
1293812Donald DenegalVelo Allegro1
Total # of riders13 

Valley of Flowers  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
PlaceLicenseNameTeamSoCal Points
154522Kalman SzkalakUC Cyclery/JW Floors14
272880Mike MarottaSwami's Cycling Club11
348760John RubcicUC Cyclery/JW Floors10
4219074Leo PettusOCW/Paramount Racing9
558847Paul RodriguezUC Cyclery/JW Floors8
6180386John McKeeParamount Racing7
749424Howard MillerOCW/Paramount Racing6
8195498Donald KimperUC Cyclery/JW Floors5
9126668Joey ValdiviaUC Cyclery/JW Floors4
103793Raphael Gomez3
Total # of riders11