Friday, April 18, 2014


By John McKee

April 13th, 2014 has the prestigious LA Circuit race. This year the promoter Brad "Tool Bag" House had a separate race for both the 60s and 55s. There is a 4 mile up and back loop that makes it possible to put 2 groups on the course at the same time. This is a big benefit to both the promoter and the racers. More races more opportunities for racers and more racers more money for the promoter. Brad is promoting it for the Big Orange Cycling Club in conjunction with Back on Track Productions.
The 60s got their own race and it was to start at 8 am. 2 races later at 9:30 am is the 55+ race. Both races were to be 20 miles rather than the usual 40 minutes criterium race. Brad was hoping we would get 35 racers but I thought 30 was a better target number. We got 25. Thanks to the guys that did come out. I know Sea Otter is at the same time and kept some 55/60+ racers away but the ageless one did some Sea Otter and drove back down to do LA Circuit. Your the best Robert Paganini!
It's the man! Brad "Tool Bag" House. Brad raced the 55+ race with his tool bag on his bike. Brad has been the long time promoter of LAC and a big friend of 55 and 60+ racing.

Prior to the beginning of the 60+ race the National Anthem was sung.
Christina "Rico" Ricafort singing the National Anthem. I saw "Rico" later at the track. She was doing a short TT. Photo courtesy of
 The 60+ race got off on time and almost right out of the chute Dale Luedtke takes off on a solo effort. Dale was away for less than a lap but a lap is 4 miles. Good warmup for Dale. The rest of us just sat in. The 1st time through we got the 4 to go card and were all together. There were a few efforts at breaking away including Jonathan Livesay but nothing really pushing it or anything that looked dangerous. Mike Birditt was very active through the race and Reid Moore was as well. Don Davidson always gives it the old college(He works at UCR) try.
There was a lull in the action coming half way through the race.  I was chided by Dale Luedtke for not taking a pull and I could have here off of Howard Miller.

Alex Gonzales chasing the 2 break partners- Mike Birditt and Reid Moore.

With about 2 laps to go Mike "Staples" Birditt jumped out there and Reid Moore went after him. They teamed up and got a quick gap. They didn't have much of a gap and you could see them at the 180 turns just ahead. There were just a few people chasing like Kurt Freeman, Alex Gonzales and Rino B.
The race seemed to go by so quickly and actually was a longer race than we normally have. The lap card came up with one to go. The bell was rung. Early into the last lap Robert Mosier tried to jump across the gap and looked like he was going to make it but ran out of gas just short of the prey. Robert came back to the group. Mike and Reid were sharing the load. Reid was getting a little tired but they hung in there. Reid knew he stood no chance at beating Mike at the end but the word chance will definitely come into play here.
The Paramount team and SBW didn't even try to catch the 2 guys making the bunch sprint good for the last spot on the podium or so it seemed. We came up to the last corner and there would be one mile to go. Just as we turned the corner and got upright on our bikes there was Mike Birditt on the right going very slow. Flat tire! A staple entered his tire and let air escape about one mile too soon. Bummer! The race now took on a little different complexion.
I got on Kal Szkalak's wheel thinking this was a good wheel to be behind. Monty Pettus was going to freelance it and pick his spot. Up front Reid Moore was proably in shock that his partner in the break got a flat and he was going to win solo at LA Circuit. He indeed rode across the finish line in 1st place. Kudos to Reid for being aggressive and taking it too the sit in sprinters.
The sprint train was coming back toward the finish line but not a very fast pace. Being on Kal was a decent spot but the slow pace allowed riders to come around us and all of a sudden I wasn't in good positon. Monty came up the right side and lanched his sprint pretty far out and everyone else got out of the saddle. There was no clear favorite here but I might have put money on Dale Luedtle. Dale is riding very well this year.
Monty got going and he didn't slow down. He smoked the field for 2nd place. Mike Marotta sprinted in for 3rd place and the last place on the podium. 4th place was a surprise with Rick Lilliberg flying in for a very good finish for him. He got a new Trek just like mind. Same color only it is a faster model. Rick almost didn't get a chance to race because he had a flat before hand and didn't have a long enough extender to work with a new tube. Monty gave him what he needed and saved his bacon.
Dale rolled in for 5th followed in by Kal. I sprinted by Jonathan Livesay and let off the gas a bit and Leo Longo "Kimpered" me at the line. Leo 7, myself 8 and Jonathan 9. Kal was upset after the race that the leadout wasn't fast enough but he could have forged his own trail like Monty did.
60+ podium- Marotta 3, Moore 2, & Pettus 2
The 55 race had more riders at 42+ because half the field were 60+ riders doubling up. Not sure where all the 55+ riders are. There is actually a purse for everyone here. Great start time. Good course. WTF? I think a lot of 55s are afraid to get beat by "older" riders.
The 55 race was the same distance at 20 miles and played out remarkable the same. The players were different though and there were no flat tires. Kal Szkalak was still smarting from the 1st race and decided to take things in his own hands. Mid way through the race Kal jumped off the front and went by Cleve Law. Jeff Moreton saw this as an opportunity since sprinting is not his long suit and he jumped across to Kal. Cleve gave up and came back to the pack.
Kal and Jeff got a bigger lead than the 2 breakers in the 60+ race. I believe it was around 20 seconds. The last lap came and they were still away. In fact they finished 1/2. No contest there for the win since Kal is a good sprinter but 2nd is a good finish here for Jeff. Good job, Kal Szkalak and Jeff Moreton.The sprint built up for the field was almost the same as in the 60+ race but not quite that slow. Danny Nicolette came flying out of the pack to finish 3rd and fill out the podium. Mike McConnell(Mike hasn't raced with us this year. Get with it buddy! Lol!) finished 4th followed in by 60+ racers and buddies Dale Luedtke and Mike "Staples" Birditt. 11 of the 1st 25 finishers were 60+ so maybe I wasn't blowing smoke earlier.
55+ podium- Nicolette 3, Szkalak 1 & Moreton 2
The racing was good. Not real hard. The pace wasn't as fast as it could have been. John Roest got taken out in the 55+ race by a SBW member who was looking around rather than paying attention to the task ahead of him. Other than that it was all good. Complete results below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Saturday, April 12, 2014


By John McKee

The 2014 Redlands Bicycle Classic continued to include 55/60+ racers in their great race. Thank you for that. For sure. 2014 is a pivotal year for the 55s and especially the 60s. Those 2 categories need to show numbers to keep going into the future. Turnouts have been good where there has been a 55/60+ combo race and hasn't been bad when both cats had separate races like at Roger Millikan and Chuck Ponitus.
Here is Tico Pico. The mascot dog for the 2014 RBC. No one will get the movie reference for the name of the dog.
   I have struggled this year getting all my "stuff" to the races. This race was no exception. I didn't have my pedals or to be precise, I had one pedal so short one, right. Speedplay Zero. Gray. I luckily found my coach John Howard and he wasn't racing until 2 races after mine so he loaned me one of his green Speedplays. Color didn't matter. I could race. Yes!
You looking for pedals Mike? I have quite a few sets in my garage. Not at the race but plenty in the old garage.
The idea Mike is to point your bike straight ahead at the start.
The 60+ field was quite strong while the 55+ was lacking some of the stronger riders in this category. I figured this meant a field sprint but I knew that breaks work on this very technical course. It is fun and challenging. You gain 850 ft. in a 40 minute race. The 55/60+ was to be 40 mins and start at 7:55 am. Both cats had the same race number series and the organizers and officials weren't using Eric Smith's finish program. This would be a problem later.
We all came to the line at 7:55am and the we of course included myself. I felt lucky to be able to race. 30 minutes before I was ready to drive away dejected. We flew off on the officials whistle. I knew the first few laps would be hard for me since I didn't get a warmup. The first few laps were speedy but steady. I started to settle in. I think maybe I can do this. This course will take no prisoners. Like when Peter O' Tootle got caught up in the moment in the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" when his crew of local tribesmen were going to attack a retreating Turkish army. He yelled "No Prisoners". This course is always yelling "No Prisoners". Especially when the pressure gets put on.
Early action that strings out the peleton.

The back of the field early on.
A number of riders whipped up the pace. Dan DeMuth of Team Redlands was one that looked strong and wasn't afraid to go to the front and power on! Right on! Power to the pedaler! Don Davidson always is up for a good pull. The course takes bike handling skills as well. 
Kal Szkalak was looking to get away and took a stint off the front but didn't get very far away. He asked "Birdy" if he wanted to go with him because Kal was racing 55+ rather than 60+. I guess he thought he had a better chance of finishing. We all had the same number series and Kal didn't show up afterward to let the officials know what his intention was. It was a disaster when the results came out.
Nothing was sticking as far as break attempts. The peleton would string out when the pressure was on but when the pressure was taken off the pack bunched up again. A few more top riders to hit it when there were lulls would have made a difference.
Swami's whipping up the pace. Cyril "Trouble" Hunte mixing in with Swami's.
I started feeling better in the 2nd half of the race and was looking for the lap cards to come up and soon enough 5 came up. The pace still seesawed but got pretty high with 3 to go. Monty Pettus had to put out 1100 watts to move up into position for the finish. The pace eased a bit with 2 to go.
You can see the electronic lap counter with 2 to go. Swami's still at the front.
The electronic lap card showed 1 to go. We hit the first turn and the pace wasn't high. Lothar "Blue Boy" Cramer in his white jersey came to the front between turn one and two. He decided to take the pack home and see where he could finish after being at the front for most of the last lap. Mike Birditt and Dale Luedtke were in prime position as was Tom "Flood" Gates and Cyril "Trouble" Hunte. Lothar got to the last corner leading but after the turn the sprinters started flying by.
Finish! Birdy and Flood win!
"Birdy", Dale and Cyril were the first to go by and then Mr. Gates. Tom knew Mike and Dale were 60+ so he had his sights set on Cyril. He had to pass Cyril to win the 55+ race. Mike Birditt came up the inside track and easily beat everyone and of course was first in 60+. Tom Gates did pass Cyril Hunte for 1st place in 55+. Cyril took 2nd. Dale Luedtke took 2nd in 60+ with Kal taking 3rd, Paul Rodiguez 4th and Monty Pettus 5th. In 55+ David Fetah filled out the podium. Lothar hung on for 4th in 55+ and took the last paying spot there. Ron Mallory was 5th in 55+ but was behind myself. I was 7th in 60+ so the 60+ field was definitely stronger as far as the finish was concerned.
Once the race was over the fun started. There was a different finish program that was used. Not the usual Eric Smith program that spells out the age on the far right. Since there was the same numbering system the official that was in charge of the result sheets was having trouble. Lol. 2 or 3 lists came out and were incorrect.  I had to list the finishers correctly verbally and the top finishers were put in the correct categories. Kal wasn't around to let anyone know what category he was racing so he was put in the category that related to his age. This was a bad deal for Monty because that bumped him out of a paying spot in 60+. The results still don't show in USAC 6 days after the event so the different program had to be a major problem. I hope we eventually get credit for the effort there.
Mr. Gates seems to be enjoying his time with the podium girl. Didn't he know I was taking pictures. Lol.

55+ podium- Hunte 2, Gates 1, Fetah 3.

Ludtke 2 and  Birditt 1.
It was  a good fairly hard race. Could have been faster with a few more 55+ stars. The pace was 25.5 mph on a pretty technical course. Thanks to everyone that came out and I was very happy to get the chance to race it. Results below as shown on the final finish lists. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
Final finish lists.