Friday, May 16, 2014


By John McKee

The 805 Firestone race series started in 2012 with one race and a lot of money for all the racers. Promoter Mike Hecker started with the deceptively difficult Ave. of the Flags course.  The turnout was modest for 55/60+ racers especially in 60+ but the entire event was a success. It looked like the 805 event was coming back in 2013 with the one race but Mike added an event on Sunday following the Ave. of the Flags race which was held on Saturday the prior year and was scheduled for Saturday for 2013 as well.
Mike added a criterium on Sunday in Lompoc with big money like he had for the Saturday Ave. of the Flags race. Both races were great and the area is fun to visit because of the wineries. For 2014 Mike added a afternoon/twilight series at a police/sheriff practice oval in Lompoc on Friday to make the 805 Firestone race series a 3 day affair. Awesome event for all racers. One mile track with some banking on the oval ends. Great course but at 2:40 pm on May 9, 2014 the winds were howling at 25 to 30 mph. Warm but not hot. The winds made the course super difficult for most riders but of course the stronger riders can show their stuff in these conditions.
The 55/60+ race was scheduled for 40 minutes and was the 2nd race of the day. A few trial laps and pretty hard ones at that 4 riders slipped away. All 55+ racers. One of the racers dropped off quickly and left Mark Hoffenberg, Chris Black and Randall Tinney. I knew Chris from other races and knew how strong he was but I didn't know Randall Tinney. Randall showed amazing strength through the 3 day event. We all know Mark and how strong he is.
The pack shredded a few riders. It was brutal out there. The break group was going an amazing speed. In the end Chris Black gave out first. Randall tried to sprint with Mark but Mark took the 55+ race. The 60+ race was decided in a sprint in the pack with speedster Ricky Shorts winning. Dale Luedtke took 2nd and Paul Rodiguez was 3rd.
Chris Black starts the break. You can see Mark Hoffenberg at the front and will pounce on Chris shortly.
Black, Hoffenberg and Tinney in break. Going very fast.

Field sprint. Bob Kubinski is the 1st 55+ racer placing 4th. Ricky Shorts bests Dale Luedtke for 1st in 60+.
The 1st day was very hard and uplifting for some and discouraging for others. At least the 2nd day of racing would be at 10 am in the morning and the wind wouldn't be blowing as hard.
The 2nd day of racing would be at the Ave. of the Flags course in Buelton. The start time was 10:05 am. There was a breeze that would be a cross wind for most of the course. It made a pretty hard course that became that much harder.
Ave of the Flags 55/60+ start. Official Greg Alden is giving instructions.
The race started and the 1st couple of laps were modest for this course but then things heated up. A fairly large break group formed and was joined by some of the stronger 55+ riders that could get across the gap like Mark Hoffenberg. One 60+ racer was in the break and that was Paul Rodiguez. Same as the prior year.
One thing that is always apparent when I am at races with riders outside of Socal. They don't corner as well as riders from Socal. As a general rule. We do more criteriums then anyone and fast corners are the norm. I see guys braking going into the corners and I think WTF. I had to add that. It is always worse at the national level and gets even worse with the older groups because they do fewer crits than anyone. That grand prix course in Bend, Or. in 2011 and 2012 was way over the skill set of a lot of the senior racers and we saw what happened there. It was carnage.

Break group on the Ave. of Flags course.

The defining picture above shows 7 helmets. 6 55s and 1 60(Paul Rodiguez). There was one rider in between and that was Steve Hensler. The pack kept pretty close until the last few laps. Kal Szkalak took a flyer but Monty Pettus got on him and pulled through but Kal didn't want to work with Monty. Kal is very particular about who he goes on a break with. Rick Swanson was pulling from behind anyway to close it down. Pack all together.
The break group finished in a sprint with Mark Hoffenberg winning the sprint. Randall Tinney was 2nd. Jonathan Laine of Truckee and the 3 ft.- It's the Law team was 3rd. Paul Rodiguez didn't need to sprint and rolled across for 1st in 60+. The pack sprinted it out and Ricky Shorts got 2nd in 60+ and Monty Pettus who was feeling good this day got 3rd. Monty didn't do the Friday race and was fresh.
Hoffy wins sprint from Randall.

Paul Rodiguez wins the 2nd stage in 60+.

Ricky Shorts wins field sprint for 60+. Pettus and Szkalak follow in.
55+ finishers- Laine 3, Hoffenberg 1 and Tinney 2.
60+ finishers- Pettus 3, Rodiguez 1 and Shorts 2.
Another hard day of racing was wrapped up. Now it was time for relaxing or maybe some wine tasting. Monty Pettus and his wife Diana hosted Rick and Karen Swanson and myself and my wife Alicia(the photographer) at Demetria Vineyard Winery in Los Olivos. 
Ate a picnic lunch while tasting wine. Some really good stuff but of course it was expensive. I throw up my hands. Whatever my wife thinks is good and wants to buy is alright with me. I like white like Karen Swanson. My wife likes red.
We were going to have a group dinner at the Firestone restaurant near the Sat. race course which would be packed with racers this weekend but it was closed for kitchen renovations. I think that was bad timing. 
The 3rd day of racing would be a get away day. Race and get away home or maybe do more wine tasting like Monty. The 55 and 60+ categories were close for the ominium so there was more at stack then just the day's results. The 55 cat had Mark Hoffenberg ahead but Randall Tinney was 2nd and close. No one knew what Randall had in store. He told his wife Lola "Blue Hair" Tinney he was going all out. Finish 1st or last. That was the goal. 
55/60+ racers line up in Lompoc for the last day of racing.
Sunday's race was on a flat bumpy course through the streets of Lompoc. Lots of corners and some wind. Mostly a cross wind. The race started out reasonable. Rick "Caboose" Lilliberg went to the front to start things off and after a turn at the front went back to the very back of the pack. He likes it back there.
Randall "Go for It" Tinney is breaking away.
3 laps into the race Randall Tinney made his move. A lot of riders make a solo move and maybe it starts something with other riders joining that person but usually they fade out and come back to the pack. Not Randall. He was on a mission. Win or Die! ALL IN! Jeff Moreton went to the front to control the break distance but Randall was going good. Jeff should have gotten out of the saddle and closed the distance while it was short or gotten so close that the rider would get discouraged or another rider would take over and close out the break. 
Randall became a "carrot" and kept the pace of the race quite high. This was the easiest of the days of racing but it was still very hard. This course fit me better and I was feeling more comfortable out there. 
Mark Hoffenberg's Rokform squad kept trying to bring Randall "The Carrot" Tinney back with Jeff Moreton and Mike McConnell. Mark even went to the front and went full gas but no luck. I didn't see much help from other sources. 
There was a Ominium points sprint midway through the race and Mark wanted to be sure and win this and he had to get it if Randall was to stay away. In 60+ action Ricky Shorts had a small lead over Paul Rodiguez. When the sprint lap came the pressure was really on in the 2nd half of the lap. Fast. Paul took the 60 sprint and Randall took the 55 sprint because he was away but Hoffy took the bunch sprint in 55 which gave him 2nd place ominium points. 
After the points sprint the pressure really got put on by the Rokform squad but the seconds of distance to Randall kept going up! 21 seconds. 25 seconds. Then 30 seconds. It looked like a lost cause for Mark but he could still win the overall. The 5 lap to go sign came up and things got harder out there. There were a few lulls but it seemed to get faster. With 1 and 1/2 laps to go it got even faster. Rick Lilliberg said riders were dropping off and he had to maneuver around to stay in contact with the peleton.

One lap to go! One lap to go! Hoffy is REALLY putting the pressure on.
Mark Hoffenberg was at the front really putting the pressure on. Everyone was lined out. Hoffy was really taking a chance trying to catch Tinney. Mark finally took the pressure off to catch his breath for the field sprint. He conceded to Randall Tinney. The last lap except for a few brief moments was smoking. With 3 corners to go I got chopped by a non Socal rider. Naturally. Had to brake and lost my chance to stay near my teammate Monty Pettus. 
Back at the front between 2 corners to go and the last corner it was into the wind. Everyone kind collected themselves and then shot for the last corner to give it everything they had for the finish. While everyone was doing this Mr. Tinney finally was able to relax and put his arms up in triumph. A great effort. Randall said he was in so much pain that he was seeing stars and stuff!
And the stage winner is Randall Tinney! Great job!!
The pack rounded the corner and sprinted for home knowing all the pain was going to go away soon!  Mark Hoffenberg came across the line first like you wouldn't know that would happen. Mark got 2nd in the stage and won the overall in 55+ by 1 point. It was very close.
Hoffy takes field sprint over Chris Black.

Rodiguez takes the 60+ sprint over Szkalak.
Bunch sprint from a different perpective. Photo courtesy of Lola Tinney.

Chris Black rolled across right behind Mark for 3rd place in the stage. In 60+ action Paul Rodiuguez put his stamp on the race and won the field sprint and the ominium. Kal took 2nd in the stage and Ricky Shorts took 3rd in the stage.
It was another tough hard stage but was easier than the prior 2 days. Great hard racing with no crashes!
Great job by everyone in the races especially the Socal riders since they are so smooth and I include Chris Black in our group. 

Last days 55 finishers- Fetah 5, Tinney 1, Hoffenberg 2 and Laine 4. Photo courtesy of Lola Tinney.

Last days 60 finishers- Pettus 5, Shorts 2, Rodiguez 1, Szkalak 3 and Luedtke 4.
Pags gets flowers because he is the oldest racer by 10 years at 78! Robert is the best! Notice Hoffy ride below with its oval chainrings. Photo courtesy of Lola Tinney.
3rd place in the ominium in 55+ went to Chris Black and 3rd place in 60+ went to Kal Szkalak with Ricky Shorts taking 2nd.
It was a great 3 days of racing minus the wind but nature is what it is. Thanks to promoter Mike Hecker for keeping the 55s AND the 60s in his awesome event. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

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