The criterium championships and the other championships move around to different venues and in 2013 the criterium championships moved to Ontario. Those that race often see Ontario on the schedule at least 5 times through the year. I use to venture off there at least 4 times a year and sometimes every event that was raced there. In 2014 Ray Moreno choose to have a 50/55+ race rather than a 55/60+ and then a 50+ race. That left myself and the rest of the 60+ racers out in the cold. Such was the dynamic of categories within our district this year.
|French bulldog taking in the event.|
The fields lined up this year with that eager anticipation and anxiety sitting in every racer. The 55s were off 1st at 8: 20 am on June 21st, 2014. One odd note was that the 2013 champions didn't enter this years event. I don't know why but no defending champions. There are many new 60s this year as most of you know so the 60+ category was loaded with lot of really good riders and this years race proved that.
At some point after this Mr. John Roest went off the front. This is John's speciality. John is strong and loves to try to start a break or even try and hold everyone else off. John hasn't raced since LA Circuit when a SBW rider trying to look behind himself moved off line and into John. John crashed and hasn't raced since then. You wouldn't know he hadn't raced because he looked really strong on this day.
John got about 100 meters out in front of everyone. John rides for Swami's and everyone knows Swami's is loaded in this category. The strongest 60+ squad in the country without a doubt. They were the big favorite to win the championship in Ontario.
What happened next is rather interesting and this is why you have to play the game because you never know what exactly is going to happen. Rick Lilliberg decided to take a flyer himself and see if he could reach "Big John". He did get there. Rick is riding really well this year at 67. Before the race my teammate Monty Pettus told me if the race came down to a field sprint that Rick would help Paramount get to the front. I was taken back because Rick is riding really well and he could do quite well on his own. I told Monty that I was surprised but if it came down to that, I would get on Rick's wheel and Monty could follow me and we could see where that would take us. Scratch that. Rick was going to try to turn things upset down with this move and make hard decisions for the Swami's team.
Rick sat on John for a bit to catch his breath after the effort to get up to John. After that they traded pulls and were going quickly. A number of riders started to chase including Reid Moore. Monty Pettus put in a really hard effort. Swami's put up a major block. They were going all in with John Roest vs Rick Lilliberg. Maybe they should have kept them a little closer or maybe they were monitoring the distance the break group got away. The breakers were all in and really going for it. Both are strong and took near max pulls.
2/3s into the race Mike Birditt decided to make a solo effort to get across the gap. Mike is riding so well I am never surprised at what Mike can do. Mike got over half way to the twosome and ran out of gas. I think John should have been a little more aware of what was happening behind him and made Rick do all the pulling while Mike was trying to come aboard. When I saw Mike slow a bit and look around, I was surprised but knew he had thrown in the towel. Mike came back toward the group. Monty Pettus thought about teaming with Mike and trying to get there with the 2 of them and they might have made it but they were tentative. Kal Szkalak also tried to bridge the gap in short order with a big effort but also ran out of gas. That was the last I saw Kal.
We got within 5 laps to go and even though Mike and Monty weren't going to catch the break group, they were still away from the group by a short distance. Ricky Shorts made short work of this. We were all back together with our tongues hanging out and John Roest and Rick Lilliberg were going to decide who was the champion. "Big John" went to the whip the last 2 laps. He wasn't sure they were going to stay away plus the fact that John only knows one way to ride. All out! He is like the 2nd coming of Hylton Murphy. Hylton only knew one way to ride and that was all out. Teammates would tell him to hold back at the start. Save your strength for later. Hylton would agree. Yup! That's what Hylton was going to do. Yeah right. When the gun went off, Hylton was off. Full chortle. All in! Hylton couldn't help himself. LOL! John rides in a similar manner.
John also figured that he would try and ride Rick off his wheel with his strength. It almost worked. John was going good but Rick hung on and when they got to the last corner John was pulling 100%. John gave it everything he had but Rick came around at the end and won by a bike length. Rick Lilliberg won the 60+ category when he turned 60 at the Paramount race for the championship in 2007. 7 years later Rick does it again. I say that is real good riding and quite an achievement. Rick didn't even race for a couple of those years in there and when he did come back he didn't get much in the way of results. Can't say that on this day.
|2007 60+ championship podium. Fleming 2, Lilliberg 1 and McKee 3.|
In the 55+ race Mark Hoffenberg was planning to hang in the pack and save energy for the 50+ race. He wanted to be able to help his teammate Robert Swigart. When the group came to the last lap, the Rokform team came to the front and Henry Schnepf gave Mark an excellent lead out. Mark doesn't need much help since he is so fast anyway. Mark was 1st, Brad Jones was 2nd and Mike Okano was 3rd.
|55+ podium- Brad Jones 2, Mark Hoffenberg 1 & Mike Okano 3.|
|60+ podium- Roest 2, Lilliberg 1 & Birditt 3.|