Thursday, August 15, 2013


By John McKee

August 11th, 2013 was the date for the Torrance Criterium. This is the 1st time the 55 and 60+ racers have had a cash purse. Races in the past have been paid with merchandise. The host team is the Peninsula Cycle Club. This is the 17th year for the Torrance Criterium though it is fairly new to the Telo course. The Telo course is used Tuesday evenings for criterium practice for those in the South Bay area that wish to do a El Dorado or Hughes Park type midweek race type effort.
This year as mentioned earlier the 55s and 60s are being paid cash in the amount of $200 each. Thank you!
The category sponsor is the Harmonic Life Center which is a full service chiropractic office in San Pedro. The Torrance Criterium is the week after the Brentwood race which is a very tough act to follow. The head count was bound to fall off and it did. The race was early at 7:35 am vs prime time at Brentwood and that hurt. There were a total of 30 riders broken down to 16 55s and 14 60s. One of our smallest fields of the year and definitely the smallest for a $400 payout.
The Peninsula Cycle Club has stayed in Torrance for the 17 years. The city is named after a early 20th century developer by the name of Jared Sidney Torrance. Mr. Torrance had the vision of a mixed use industrial/residential. Torrance and other investors purchased an old Spanish Land Grant and had a planned community designed in 1912. The city was incorporated in 1921. Torrance has seen a few large aerospace companies come and go but is the USA headquarters for Toyota and Honda.
The Bike Palace bike shop and are major sponsors at this race. is the law practice of Gerald Agnew a 65+ time trialist and track specialist. He also is an expert in injuries to cyclists and the law. On the course is a new brewery by the name of Strand Brewery. They started in 2010 and you could only find their craft beers at their Torrance Taproom Thursday thru Sunday. In 2013 they are launching their beer at Whole Foods Markets. Here is an excerpt from the OC Register:
"Don't let the industrial park locations fool you. There is some serious beer-making happening in Torrance.
Sure, people are making great beer all over Southern California. But there is something special going on in Torrance now, with three very good craft brewing operations getting a lot of attention.
It's a destination that might seem odd, but with its location not far from Orange County and Long Beach, Torrance is a good place to make beer these days. And, for those who like to try new brews, it's a terrific place to drink beer these days." The address is 23520 Telo Ave. between turn 5 and 6 of the race course. Unfortunately the taproom didn't open until 12 noon so it wasn't going to do any of us any good. Otherwise it would have been a great place to decompress after a race.
Pre race field.
They're off!

The 55/60+ lined up at 7:35 am to partake in the 40 minute criterium. Sometimes we race and say hello to our fellow participates not knowing much about them. I just learned of the background of SBW member Deogracias Asuncion. Deo as he is called a track cycling legend in his home country of the Philippines. He joined the national track team at the age of 16 and participated in cycling races for his country through 2007 as far as the research took me. Look at his bike some time. It says Olympian all over it. You can see it in one of the photos. Here is a short resume:

1979 - Southeast Asian Cycling Games held in Indonesia; 100kilometers, 3rd place
1982 - 9th Asian Games held in New Delhi, India; Velodrome 400m Team Pursuit; 3rd place Bronze. Points Race, 4th place.
1981 - World Championship Road and Track held in England; Participated
1981 - Southeast Asian Games held in Manila, Philippines. Participated in 8 events in track racing - 8 gold medals
1983 - Asian Cycling Points Race Track and Road. Gold Medal recipient. Team Pursuit, 3rd place bronze medal.
1984 - Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles CA. Points race track, 14th place
1988 - Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, Manhattan Beach CA, 1st place.
In 2007 he competed at a World Cup event at the Home Depot Center or as it is now known Stub Hub Center in the points race.
2007 World Cup. Photo courtesy of Arden Arindaeng.
No wonder Deo Asuncion is so good at the end of races. Major track background. The SBW squad was working for Deo at the Torrance Criterium and I will fill you in on that later.
Let's go right to the race itself. 30 racers started off and the 60s were most active at the beginning. John Roest tried to get away early with a 55+ racer. I had to shut that down early before they got too far away.
Rick Swanson leading the pace early on. Mike Birditt is always near the front.

The race early on was pretty straight forward and somewhat aggressive. A number of small groups tried to get away. Bruce Steele was very active looking for the right group to breakaway with.
Bruce Steele lining everyone out with some hurt.
The "Inland Strongman" John Roest putting some hurt on and he can do it even though he is 60 this year.
4 man break with Roest, Birditt, Pettus and Ralph.
SBW likes riding in the rear. "The Man" has an excuse. He is 77 years old and still keeping up. Way to go Pags!
Here is a pic of Pags racing in France in the early 50s.
The pressure is being put on by Mike McConnell with Birdy on his wheel.

If it wasn't for the "Inland Strongman" Mike and Mike might have gotten away. Kirk Freeman is chasing John. The hurt was definitely on. I can remember that.

 A number of riders tried to get away with one group including John Roest, Mike Birditt, Monty Pettus and Bill Ralph. This time like always in the race there were strong riders willing to chase. Rod Malloy with Kirk Freeman on his wheel put the chase into this group. One thing I didn't see much of were counter attacks. When most everyone has their tongues hanging out including guys like Cyril Hunte you counter if you are stronger. You may be hurting but the others are hurting more.
Another opportunity came with Mike Birditt and Mike McConnell. Mike has a torn rotatoar cuff and is having a tough time but is still racing. Birdy saw a chance to with Mike M. but the "Inland Strongman"(his initials are JR) dug deep to get across the gap and inspired Kirk Freeman to chase him and Bruce Steele to chase him. It definitely wasn't an easy day to breakaway. The field was compact and strong. There was always someone strong to chase hard and it was hard at times but not all the time like at Brentwood.
As we reached down to less than 1/2 the race to go it became clear or so it seemed that nothing was going to stick. It's tougher in the later parts of the race because if your attempt fails you are way tired. At the beginning of the race you can recover and have plenty for the finish. The stakes are higher but the possible reward is greater as well. You also have to know what you can do and can't do. Sometimes you don't know what you can do until you try.
With 10 minutes left the pace slowed and it dodgey in the pack. This is where larger teams help. They have riders to spare and pull or attack to keep the pace up. This of course is only good if your team members are strong and can withstand the pressure. A team with straight sprinters would rather see it slow before the end so he can use his strength to his advantage. Some sprinters are also strong like Birdy and Hoffy and they would rather see it fast and hard to keep the lesser riders back and away from them.
The lap cards came and it was hard to maintain position with the speed like it was, slow. 2 laps to go and Bruce Steele jumped. Alex Gonzales got on his wheel pretty quick. This was great for the race.
One lap to go and Bruce Steele is trying to stay away.

Alex Gonzales is falling off of Bruce's wheel.
The thing was who was going to chase. If you chase, you lose some stuff for the sprint. Well Kirk Freeman went out and took a pull. The SBW team came to life. Marlon Cortez went to the front with Deo on his wheel.
The pack with one lap to go. You can see Ralph on the other side of Deo. He launched solo on the backstretch.

One lap to go.
The rabbits were out front and something to shoot for. Bruce and Alex are it. Bruce is doing most of the work. Bruce is riding strong right now. I know. I see him every Wed. morning at the track. We came around to hear the bell and Bruce and Alex are still there. Alex looked to be hurting and was having a tough time staying on Bruce's wheel. Bill Ralph was lurking near the front on the other side of Deo. After the chicane and turn 4 there was a long stretch and Bill Ralph attacked the field. It was all or nothing in situations like this. Bill flew by Bruce on the other side of the road and Bruce was spent anyway. It was up to SBW to pull now. Marlon was doing a pretty good job of keeping a distance to Bill. Mike Birditt was Deo. Coming to the next to the last corner Paramount member Lee Romans decided to throw his ring into the race. He took off in chase of Bill Ralph. All good for Mike Birditt. Mike jumped wheels and now had a faster ride. Turning the last corner Bill was ahead by a ways but the pack was closing in on him. Lee Romans was the next to the last corner with Mike on his wheel. Mike looked down the straightaway and tried to gauge how far Bill was away and what effort it would take to over take him. Mike used his track form and hit it hard in the saddle.
Mike put the jets on he does have an extra jet speed in his legs. Mike hit a max speed of 38.6 mph which was the fastest of the speeds I checked of fellow riders. When Mike got 100 meters from the line he knew he was going to get it. He hadn't over taken Bill Ralph yet who was putting in a terrific effort. At less than 50 meters Mike came by Bill to win the 55+ race. Mike is still hot after winning 2 national championship jerseys at the track championships in Indianapolis in the scratch race(closest thing to a criterium on the track) and the 4 man team pursuit. This man has some skills! Like Ned(played by Paul Rudd) in the movie "My Idiot Brother" said to his former girlfriend(this gal is way funny in the new move "We're the Millers") "You know what. You know what. Wow!"
Mike Birditt with his Natz jersey. Nice going, Mike!

Mike follow fellow rider in the scratch race. 2 man break and Mike won the sprint.
With Mike in for the win Bill Ralph was just trying to hang on and I am sure in a whole lot of hurt. Deo Asuncion was hot on his tail and closing fast. You can see from the photo that Bill just beat Deo at the line for 2nd. Right after the line Deo passes him but it is too late. Deo is 3rd in 55+. Then a mass of 4 55+ riders come through with Cyril leading the gang of 4. Cyril was next to last with one lap to go. No worries I guess. Ricky hit 38.0 mph. After the gang of 4 Monty Pettus came in to win the 60+ race. Monty's top speed was 36.8 mph. I was a ways back at the turn and didn't take a good corner per Mike Fleming. Once I straighten up I saw the "Inland Strongman" John Roest. I thought I could take him as he got out of the saddle. I started my sprint out of the saddle and wasn't making much headway. I had to kick it up a notch and did get by John and then cruised in for 2nd place in 60+ with John taking 3rd. John was followed in by Mike Fleming and Howard Miller.
Nice payoffs by the host team. Thank you. I got $60 for 2nd place. Per an earlier declaration I am donating any winning from racing to animal rescue groups and had focused on Best Friends Animal Society but decided to spread it around. I gave half to Ghetto Rescue FFoundation in LA. They do some great work helping out animals in distress and helping people with spayed and neutering of their animals in certain areas of LA. I also gave $30 to Paw Protectors Rescue of Seal Beach. They do some great work as well. I found out about this group from Chris Lotts. He is an animal lover. He interfaces with animals better than humans and I think he would admit that. All of these groups are on Facebook.
It was a fun race that was well organized and run. Thank you to all that came out. No crashes and good competition. Full results below. Thanks to Alicia McKee for most of the photos and Make Yamakazi for one of the photos and the video of the finish which I have on my 55/60+ bike racing Facebook page. Put a like on it and you will get all the updates and stuff and there is lots of stuff. Well over 100 photos of the race plus the vid. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Birditt wins!

Ralph holds on for 2nd place. Deo is 3rd in 55+.

Cyril is leading the pack of 4.

The pack of 4. Romans, Luedtke, Shorts and Hunte.

Pettus winning the 60+ race.
McKee besting Roest for 2nd in 60+.

55+ podium- Ralph 2, Birditt 1, Asuncion 3, Hunte 4.

60+ podium- McKee 2, Pettus 1 and Roest 3.

Torrance Criterium  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 47255 Michael Birditt SKLZ-Swami's Cycling Team 14
2 125834 William Ralph Rokform/Rock N' Road 11
3 50532 Deogracias Asuncion South Bay Wheelmen 10
4 52086 Cyril Hunte Southern California Velo 9
5 52251 Ricky Shorts Bahati Foundation p/b Major Motion Cycli 8
6 47262 Dale Luedtke SKLZ-Swami's Cycling Team 7
7 110259 Lee Romans Paramount Racing 6
8 64439 Nelson Alaan Lightning Velo 5
9 54084 Lothar Cramer 4
10 34753 Rick Swanson Southern California Velo 3
11 23303 Michael McConnell UC Cyclery/JW Floors 2
12 107559 Rodney Malloy Bahati Foundation-CA 1
13 49110 Rino Barbagiovanni Santa Clarita Velo 0
14 271566 Alex Gonzalez Bahati Foundation p/b Major Motion Cycli 0
Total # of riders 16      
Torrance Criterium  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 219074 Leo Pettus OCW/Paramount Racing 14
2 180386 John McKee Paramount Racing 11
3 277180 John Roest Southern California Velo 10
4 129293 Michael Fleming South Bay Wheelmen 9
5 49424 Howard Miller OCW/Paramount Racing 8
6 3793 Raphael Gomez 7
7 170779 Edgardo Potes Bike Palace 6
8 228631 James Swigart ACQUA AL 2/SDBC 5
9 195498 Donald Kimper UC Cyclery/JW Floors 4
10 12354 Kirk Freeman CA Pools/ Primal 3
11 301363 Mick Iwadare South Bay Wheelmen 2
12 140826 Robert Mosier Bahati Foundation-CA 1
13 45763 Robert Paganini PAA/REMAX 0
14 236498 Bruce Steele South Bay Wheelmen 0
Total # of riders 14    

Friday, August 9, 2013


By John McKee

The Brentwood Grand Prix has turned into a big event in a few short years. The "new course" is very challenging and with a fast group it is just plain tough. The date in 2013 was Sunday August 4th(Happy Birthday, Carey). I was prepared to race and visit my daughter Carey and celebrate her 44th birthday but a number of things went wrong. Let's start at the beginning then.
My wife and I got to the venue plenty early and parked in the VA parking area. The VA hospital and rehab center is huge but decaying. The facility serviced many more veterans in the past then it does now. None of the buildings have been torn down. There is still a small train station that looks like it was for the Red Car back in the day.  In 1944 the Red Car carried 109 million passengers. There were 1,150 miles of track and the last one ran in 1961. Now we all drive in gas guzzling automobiles. What progress. Just down the hill from the VA is UCLA's baseball stadium called Jackie Robinson Stadium. Jackie was of course a 3 sport star there.
Entrance to the Jackie Robinson Stadium with my grandson Brent Conine getting ready to do an Elite Baseball showcase for high school players just 6 days prior to our race.
Nice shot of the scoreboard. My last year playing at this spot was 1968 when I played for Long Beach State.

Brett Conine getting ready to field a grounder at 3B.
Statue commemorating Jackie Robinson
On the other side of the freeway is a veteran's cemetery. There is some cruel irony there. My grandfather Archie McKee is buried there. Archie served in WW I in a observation balloon and was injured if that is the right term by mustard gas. He made it back to Long Beach and started a family or I wouldn't be writing.

Archie McKee-circa 1917
In any event the VA has buildings every where around there and chain link fences. After my trainer warmup I got on one of the local roads and was spinning with Howard Miller, Monty Pettus and some of the other racers. 2 gals wanted to cross the road but were on the wrong side of the fence. The tallest of the girls climbed atop the fence and then looked helpless. Ricky "You can't touch this" Shorts went over and "helped" the gal down from the fence. Before the second gal tried to scale the fence I sent Howard over to tell her that there was an opening in the fence 50 meters further up the road. No more Hammer time for Ricky.
Yo, I told you
(You can't touch this)
Why you standin' there, man?
(You can't touch this)
Yo, sound the bell, school is in, sucka
(You can't touch this)
We all went down to San Vincente to start the 55/60+ race. There were more 55s(30) then 60s(14). The vibe was that the race would be too hard for many 60s because of the course and strength of field. Our race was to start at 9:35 am which is prime time. Great start time and $300 for BOTH 55and 60+. This was the 1st race of the year that had the complete Rokform squad. Glad to see Danny Nicolette back. The last time I saw Danny was at the Dana Point Grand Prix and he was in a wheel chair. Great to see him back racing. Behind every comeback from a serious injury is courage, strength of will and hard work! I admire all of this so I say welcome back! I don't see this will in many 60s. It is so easy to give up. There are hundreds of reasons to give up. Screw all of them!
Start line- official had to tell someone to put away the earphones. Wow! How stupid can you be!

Robert Mosier really stands out in his Bahati kit.
Bob "Killer" Pelkoffer showing his stuff early on.
You can see Gerald "The Minnesota Chaser" Finken pulling the field early on.
 The race started nearly on time. I knew it was going to be hard and dug in. Bob "Killer" Pelkoffer took off. His team is amazingly strong and "Killer" was showing his stuff. Come and get me if you can. It was hard the 1st couple of laps though Mark "The General" Hoffenberg thought it was pretty easy. From there it just got harder. The course has several hard sections including the looping chicane that you have to break going into, charge up a small hill and afterward a short downhill sprint over 30 mph down a straight away. At the bottom of the course you also have to break and go into an apartment area  and come up a hill out of there and sprint for home. There wasn't much rest for the weary. Every lap it just got harder as Rokform threw everything but the kitchen sink at everyone. If it wasn't for Gerald "The Minnesota Chaser" Finken, Malcolm
Kim Bleth leading the field.

KK now putting on the hurt.

Malcolm Hill is outnumbered. If it wasn't for Finken this most likely would have been gone.
Hill would have been surrounded by 3 Rokform riders. KK saw the danger and started chasing. Lee Romans was in between Gerald and KK. KK was leading everyone that could hang on up to the speedy front runners. This is why it was so hard. You only have to look at the pictures above to see that all the Rokform riders were in on the program of making it hard. Kim Bleth, Jeff Moreton, Bill Ralph and of course "Killer" and "The General". Henry Schnepf was the chase man for KK or whoever would jump out without permission.
Witold Czulak trying to put the hurt on. No wonder it seemed so hard.
It seems hard to believe now that I see the photographs but Rokform got caught. Finken and KK literally pulled the race back together. Pelky went back into the pack to recover and get ready for another go at getting away. It really didn't take long for that to happen. Rokform had B F C out numbered 2 to 1. 10 riders were spit out during the race. I am a little surprised that there weren't more but most riders are pretty fit this time of year or they wouldn't sign up. 6 of 14 60s were off the back. There was no strategy for the 60+ riders. It was just hang on and as far up as you could stand it. That is one of the major complaints I get from potential 60+ riders. While the elite 55 are fighting each other almost all the 60s are just able to sit in. Paul Rodiguez was an exception at Buelton but Paul and Kal Szkalak weren't at this race for UCC. UCC had just 2 60+ racers.
At some point near the 15 minute mark into the race Bob Pelkoffer got away. Hoffy had taken a $50 prime and Henry Schnepf took the next prime and then Bob was off solo. I marvel at what he can do. He seems stronger this year than ever. Malcolm Hill used his ample strength to get across the small gap to Bob and they were off. 8 of the strongest riders wouldn't chase now and in fact would do some blocking. The race may have toned down like at Buelton when the break got away but I wasn't still there to attest to any of this. 
The race was scheduled for 40 minutes so there was a lot of time left but Malcolm and Bob just kept working together. Malcolm did most of the work that I could see early and then Bob started taking very strong pulls seeing how strong Malcolm really was. Back in the pack KK would jump trying to get away or join the break but Henry Schnepf was all over him and since he couldn't shake the Rokform grip on his wheel he integrated himself into the middle of the pack.
Bob "Killer" Pelkoffer and Malcolm "Pink Shorts" Hill late in the race. My wife is on the far right taking photos.

The break group got 15 seconds quickly and never got more than 20. The speed was still kept pretty high in pack.  Finken was another person that wanted to get across to the leaders but he didn't have the horse power to do it. Rokform was all over him anyway. Both B f C and Rokform were good with what they had up front. A bunch sprint with everyone was not preferred by either of the 2 big teams with Gibby Hatton in the mix. 
With 3 laps to go it was all a done deal for the break but who was going to win the 55+ race. The entire 60+ field or what was left of it were in the peleton so that race was up for grabs. For sure. Lothar Cramer didn't hear the laps to go and thought he would chase with 3 to go. Nice pull there Lothar. Now everyone knows Lothar as "blue boy" but his wife had a new nickname for him- "bonehead blue boy". I am not making this up. Lothar took one more hard pull before the end of the race and then Rokform went to the whip.
What did Lothar's wife call him?? Lol!
You can see Lothar's vid from his bike cam on my facebook's 55/60+ bike racing page. There are also over 100 photos there of the race. My wife and Lothar's wife took some really good pictures. 
Up front Bob and Malcolm took the last lap together. Coming home Malcolm led it out. He did a little bit of a snake going from right to left at the end. Pelky decided to come around to Malcolm's left and I thought that was a bad move. The short side. Malcolm could have really squeezed him but there was enough room for Bob Pelkoffer to come through for the win. Pelkoffer first and Hill second in 55+.

Bob Pelkoffer wins the 55+ race with Malcolm Hill taking 2nd.
Back in the pack Bill Ralph went to the front on the last lap and made it quite hard. He was trying to take some of the sting out of Gibby's sprint. Gibby had locked onto Hoffy's wheel on the last lap. Once Gibby is locked on to someone's wheel he isn't going anywhere. With things strung out Henry came by Mark on the downhill right turn. Gerald Finken took control after coming out of the "pit". He hit it hard. Henry was all over this and lead it from there. He dropped Mark off a little further than they would have liked but Mark is fast and strong. Mark Hoffenberg took 3rd in 55+ by a bike length with Gibby Hatton taking 4th and Cyril Hunte taking 5th.

Mark Hoffenberg taking 3rd in 55+ with Gibby Hatton taking 4th and Cyril Hunte 5th

Mike Marotta taking 1st in 60+ by a long ways.

John Rubcic(green helmet) took 2nd in 60+ while Monty Pettus(between Lee Romans and Ricky Shorts)took 3rd place.
Mike Marotta hung tough through the whole race and definitely proved to be the strongest 60+ racer in the group. Mike came in between Cyril and Gerald Finken to take 1st in 60+. Mike is riding very strong at this time. Mike was followed in by John Rubcic, Monty Pettus, and John Roest. There was a long string of riders finishing with their tongues hanging out. You know you have been put through the ringer at Brentwood and great job to everyone that did race and those that were able to finish.
Rokform is a killer team in 55+ with the numbers and quality of riders. They obviously dominant a race which isn't necessarily a good thing but it is what it is. The addition of Bill Ralph and Kim Bleth this year has made a difference. Complete results below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
55+ podium- with Hoffenberg, Pelkoffer and Hill.
Brentwood GP  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 55+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 47652 Bob Pellkofer Rokform/Rock N' Road 14
2 156650 Malcolm Hill Breakaway from Cancer Masters 11
3 45461 Mark Hoffenberg Rokform/Rock N' Road 10
4 61128 Gilbert Hatton Team Alliance Environmental 9
5 52086 Cyril Hunte Southern California Velo 8
6 49239 Gerald Finken St Paul Bicycle Racing Club 7
7 26090 Daniel Nicolette Rokform/Rock N' Road 6
8 93812 Donald Denegal Velo Allegro 5
9 125834 William Ralph Rokform/Rock N' Road 4
10 70853 Henry Schnepf Rokform/Rock N' Road 3
11 52251 Ricky Shorts Bahati Foundation p/b Major Motion Cycli 2
12 110259 Lee Romans Paramount Racing 1
13 60602 Daniel Swietlik OTR Racing 0
14 258639 Timothy Meza Team Simple Green/Bike Religion 0
15 177958 Kevin Ryan METALMTN Cycling 0
16 5094 John Brown Family Cycling Center 0
17 25023 Jeffrey Moreton Rokform/Rock N' Road 0
18 47262 Dale Luedtke SKLZ-Swami's Cycling Team 0
19 107559 Rodney Malloy Bahati Foundation-CA 0
20 1254 Mark Ainslie 0
21 49191 Kim Bleth Rokform/Rock N' Road 0
22 54084 Lothar Cramer 0
23 271566 Alex Gonzalez Bahati Foundation p/b Major Motion Cycli 0
24 276778 Witold Czulak Breakaway from Cancer Masters 0
25 48434 Keith Ketterer Breakaway from Cancer Masters 0
26 6082 Ben Cardenas Squadra Carrera 0
Total # of riders 30    

Brentwood GP  (Rank 1.0)
Masters 60+
Place License Name Team SoCal Points
1 72880 Mike Marotta Swami's Cycling Club 14
2 48760 John Rubcic UC Cyclery/JW Floors 11
3 219074 Leo Pettus OCW/Paramount Racing 10
4 277180 John Roest Southern California Velo 9
5 49424 Howard Miller OCW/Paramount Racing 8
6 140826 Robert Mosier Bahati Foundation-CA 7
7 245777 Steven Borer UC Cyclery/JW Floors 6
8 126351 Steve Bernede Team Werks 5
9 101582 William Carvin 4
10 3793 Raphael Gomez 3
11 Chris Cochran 2