Weekend of June 30th/July1st 2013 and time for the first 805 Criterium Weekend. In 2012 promoter Mike Hecker started with a one day race which was called the Avenue of Flags Criterium. It was held on a Saturday. Mike had the support of Firestone Walker Brewing Company, the City of Buellton, and the Santa Ynez Valley CC. In 2013 Mike added a 2nd race in Lompoc on a Sunday and got the support of the City of Lompoc there. Both courses are unique and fun. I believe Mike has a 5 year plan to make this a big event. There was $7,000 in payout to the men pro/1/2. He would like to get on the National Race Calendar.
|Field waiting to start. You can see Eric Smith at his viewing screen. Eric is awesome at placing riders with his screen.|
|Field waiting to start.|
The 55s and 60s lined up 13 and 12 respectively. 25 total was not very good. There was a big event up north that drew away Norcal riders. One rider from Central and Northern Cal showed up. It couldn't take them any longer to get to the Buellton/Lompoc area than the people from Socal. Maybe the event needs to be marketed stronger to Norcal riders. I know Mike would like to move the event up to April to avoid hot weather like we got this weekend.
The weather in Buelton was just plain hot this year on June 30th! At 8 am for our race the temp was in the 70s and fine but the afternoon races would see temps over 100. The 55/60s lined up at 8 am. Rokform/Rock N' Road lined up a strong 3 man squad in 55+ while UC Cyclery lined up a very strong 60+ squad of 5 riders. Rokform had Mark Hoffenberg, William Ralph and Kim Bleth. Add to that always strong Breakaway from Cancer's Malcolm Hill, UCC's Steve Hensler, Gerald Finken from Minnesota, Brad "2nd Amendment" House, Fred Hoblit and Rino Barbagiovanni and you had a small but select field. In 60+ UCC had 3 riders that could win the race in Paul Rodriguez, Kal Szkalak and John Rubic. Add to that Swami's strongman Mike Marotta and Paramount's trio of Howard Miller, Monty Pettus and John McKee. There aren't many 60+ races in the country but if there were they couldn't match the strength of this field. There are candidates for National champions in both categories.
Whenever you have Rokform in a race you can expect a hot fast race and put that mindset with this course and you were going to see smoke, hard breathing, and high heart rates.
The course to be raced is .75 miles with 5 right-hand turns. One of them being a long sweeping U turn something like at MBGP but off a uphill stretch and not a downhill stretch like at MBGP. The left-hander is a fun downhill 90 degree turn that you can take a pretty good speed. The finish is 800 meters to the line after the sweeping right hand turn and is slightly downhill.
|The downhill left-hander was fun and way cool!|
|Mark Hoffenberg testing the waters and putting the hurt on.|
|Hensler and Ralph away early. You can see Malcolm with his head down and Mark on his wheel off to the left.|
|Malcolm Hill going all in chasing Hensler and Ralph.|
|Kim Bleth leading a all together field in the 1st half of the race.|
|Part 2 of the picture above.|
|Early prime sprint action. Don't know who got the wine.|
It was inevitable that a split would happen and it was no surprise who was in it- Hoffy, Hensler, Rodiguez and Hill. Rodiguez was the only 60 in the group so if they could stay away he would win first place in 60+. As strong as these guys are and the teams behind them blocking for them, they were going to stay away to the finish. Gerald Finken tried hard to pull it all back together because he is an independent but no such luck. The pace in the peleton came down to a more manageable speed and feel.
|The 4 break members- from L to R- Henler, Rodiguez, Hoffenberg & Hill.|
|Gerald Finken chasing the 4 break members.|
In the lead group Paul Rodiguez took the reins on the last lap and kept up a hard pace. Remember Paul has the 60 race locked up. After the top of the course Mark Hoffenberg took the secret jets out of his back pocket and really got on it. He won the 55+ race by 20 meters and he states that his speedometer maxed out at 44 mph. Let me repeat that. 44 MPH. No wonder he won by so much. It is slightly downhill but the slope isn't that much. Steve Hensler bested Malcolm Hill for 2nd place. Paul Rodiguez was of course the winner of the 60+ category.
The 4 pack chase group finished with Gerald Finken leading and placing 4th in 55+. He was followed in by Ralph, Smith and Bleth. The main pack was pretty small now. Alex Collins and Monty Pettus had flat tires so it was even smaller. John Rubcic lead it out going uphill before the last turn. A long sprint was in order. JR had told Kal about the plan. This actually played into the hands of Mike Marotta. Mike has a very long sprint and he sling shotted by everyone and won the bunch sprint for 2nd place in 60+. Kal got 3rd in 60+. I tried to get by JR since he was tiring from leading it out but my legs were dead and couldn't respond. Brad House had some life left and shot by the 2 of us for 8th place in 55+. Eric Nelson of SLO and the only rider to come down from Northern Cal. was the last 60+ rider to finish in the pack.
It was a great hard race. The lead pack had an average speed of 25.3 mph while the main pack had more like 24.7 mph. Fun for everyone but those that got dropped. I wish we had more racers. It was worth the time and money. Winners got really cool 805 jerseys. Thanks, Mike Hecker! Some of us went wine tasting later but not Hoffy. He was out in the middle of the day with Kim Bleth, William Ralph and Kim's wife. It was hot but they were killing it. I did see Hoffy at the group dinner at Firestones. Monty Pettus and his wife Diana, Don Kimper and his wife Trisha and my wife Alicia joined him for a great dinning experience. All of the action pictures were taken by my wife of 35 years Alicia McKee. Thanks Hon! Complete results of the racing are below. This is part 1 of the 2 part 805 weekend racing weekend. More to come! That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
|55+ podium- Henlser 2, Hoffy 1, & Hill 3|
|60+ podium- Szkalak 3, Rodiguez 1, & Marotta 2|