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.

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