Friday, February 13, 2015


By John McKee

I don't know what it is but the Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium brings out the biggest group of racers of the year and 2015 was no exception. 618 pre registered entries! Perfect weather. It was 63 degrees when I got to the venue before 7 am. Unseasonal warm weather. It was February 8th, 2015. The host club Canyon Velo brought the race back to the Challenger course. A fun hard 7/10 of a mile course with a mixture of fast and uphill sections. The section between turn 3 and 4 was uphill with the start of the leg just slightly uphill. Coming off a downhill section this part was quite easy but the momentum was gone after a spell and you were on your own but being in the draft of a pack made the climb easier. The leg to the finish from turn 4 was a false flat and it was tough after coming up the hill.
Pelky's bike. His son started a t shirt company with this name.

There were 58 pre registered riders for the 55/60+ race. 28 60s and 31 55s. That ballooned to 31 and 37 by the time we all got to the line. A fine turnout for sure but we have actually sold this out before at 75. The question now is can we carry these numbers forward to other races. We haven't in the past so we shall see.
Both categories were loaded with the best riders for their age. One of the new teams for 60+ was derived from last year's Swami's team. Swami's was the dominant club in 60+ last year and all of their 60+ riders went over to a new squad started by Rick Swanson. Rick raced for them and isn't lining up right now because of a major crash riding home from work. A truck turned left into him and threw him against a utility pole. Rick survived and decided to put his own money into forming a club with the name of his company on the kit- Hi Tech. They also have a tie in with Ridley Bicycles and will be racing on them this year. Thanks for putting your own money into masters racing Rick!
HipTech/Ridley team members from l to r- Luedtke, Swanson, Birditt, & Poyorena.
OK. Racers. On your mark. Get set. Go! "Go Dog Go!"(Did you read this book to your son or daughter when they were young? I did.) The 1st lap was a neutral lap in honor of Roger Millikan, a long time rider, supporter of the sport and a member of the host club. Roger lost his life to cancer several years ago but members wanted to keep his memory alive by naming this very popular race in his honor. Great idea!
The 55/60+ race start at Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium. 
After the neutral lap the race for on. We were suppose to race for 40 minutes. The sparing started early. Once "Blue Boy" lead us around early. Lothar has turned green this year so I guess I might consider dropping his nickname but I do still like it. Lol. Thank you very much "Blue Boy" for the kickstart but we have some racing to do. During the race no one gives you credit for a hard effort. No one slows down so you can catch your breath. Its onward and upward. Faster! Faster! You can't keep up. Tough! No quarter given. I knew all this and have felt very good for the early season so I sat in took advantage of the draft. Monty Pettus and I came over to the course 2 times before the race and rode and did hill repeats on the 3rd leg. The 2nd time we did it we went from turn 3 to turn 4 as hard as we could. Good training and gave us a good feel for the hardest part of the course. Being the 2nd oldest rider out there and the oldest that finished I knew I had to "hide". I learned from the ageless one. Mr. Robert Paginni. Robert turns 79 this year and can keep up in most 55/60+ races depending on the course. He choose to not race this event because of the course. He will be back at Ontario. He likes Ontario.

BBI racer Frank Picarilly leads veteran 55+ racers Bob Pellkofer, Mark Hoffenberg and newcomer Robert Swigart.
 Malcolm Hill was going to be the animator for the Breakaway from Cancer squad. Mark Hoffenberg has joined the team for 2015. Mark had 3 races planned and was going to sit in and conserve energy in this particular race. Tough course to do 3 times. David Prechtl justed aged up this year and David loves to mix it up off the front. I knew he would try some "stuff". Racing "stuff". Bob Pellkofer on his "Gaawano" Specialized machine would surely mix it up. That is his racing style. Bob would also be doing 3 races as well. Bob is a cat 1 and can do any of the hard races. Masters and the final 1/2 race. Bob can do it. Really! AND do pretty damn well. That's means there is no speed in this race too fast for Bob unlike myself and a few others. No number of schnitzengruben would be too many for Bob. Now I think my limit is around 14 like Cleavon Little(fake schnitzengruben at that). Cleavon did have other limits as well seeing that he wasn't from Havana.  I am pretty sure that Bob is not from Havana either so we got to figure he does also have his limits for some things.
Lili Von Strupp "The Teutonic Titrvillorv" before the "night" and breakfast with the schnitzengruben in "Blazing Saddles".
All of the primes were picked up by the fastest and strongest riders. I was surprised by the prime prizes. Now I usually don't knock a host club but frankly I think Canyon Velo went cheapskate. Considering the number of riders that come here every year and this year was no exception. The purses and everything should have been larger. You notice there is no police presence. They don't even have to pay Brea to do this. They just have to keep the indoor shooting range and the church happy. That done and they are good to go. I guess the shooting range gave in on the objection of the race being at the the challenger course.The shooting range is on the other side of Berry from the race. Don't want to interfere with shootin'. OMG!

Break attempt lead by David Prehtl followed by Kal Szkalak, Mark Palmer, Danny Nicolette and unknown Simple Green rider.
The break looked good above right. Like all the other breaks there were too many teams to chase. Hi Tech wouldn't let this one get away. Most of the breakers are going to be the younger and stronger 55s but you can see Kal in this one and he of course is over 60. You can see Birdy below ready to pounce if this one looks in any way dangerous.
 All of the break attempts were kept close at hand. Because of the nature of the combo of ages the great majority of the 60s have no choice but to sit in. I use to try here when I was younger but precious energy would be lost nowadays. Even though Hoffy was thinking of sitting in he did make a go of it one time with his old teammate and friend Danny Nicolette. They caught a David Prechtl led group. Passed them and kept it up for about 2 laps. This was late in the first half of the race. They were caught and I think Mark was happy about that. Save some of that precious energy for later.

Yours truly getting out of the saddle to keep up. Looks like Cyril(on my back right) is struggling a little bit.
About the only time in the race that national champion Mike Birditt was behind me. Like Claude Rains said in "Casablanca"- I'm shocked, shocked John that you engage in such self promotion". Those weren't the exact words. I do believe that Mr. Rains was shocked that there was gambling going on at "Rick's". Ha! TCM is the best station!! You can also see "Blue Boy" with his Contour video camera in green of all colors!

The 2nd half of the race came and the action got thinner and thinner. I think everyone pretty much reached the conclusion that a break just wasn't going to work here. The pace was still brisk but I actually thought it would be faster and harder. I had some reserves. Like our friend in "American Pie". He was telling his French foreign student that he had "reserves" after he blew it once. Not exactly the same thing but I did have a little extra just in case. I didn't want to go into that reserve tank because I wasn't sure I could get out of it and wouldn't have had anything for the last lap.
Greg Alden the SCNCA official at the starting line told us before the race that the lap card was going to come up at 7. I was looking at the cards during the race and saw 7. Yes, 7 laps to go. I know I am going to make it!
You can see the eventual winner Gibby Hatton on my left. He was just hanging out and waiting. Notice the big guy in the shocking pick kit. Wow. I rode behind him for a few laps. What a wind block. He didn't seem comfortable out there so I ditched him. I stay away from potential "hot" spots.
Going up that hill was so much easier in a pack vs by yourself. I knew when I was doing the hill repeats here that it was going to be easier in the race. I at least tried to convince myself of that and it did turn out to be true.
You can always pick out Mike "Jon Voight" Birditt in his 2014 Natz jersey. Mike uses his small size and small bike to maneuver around the pack. He is an expert at this. Of course small isn't referring to the size of his legs.
The lap cards were coming and going quickly. I didn't see much of a panic shuffle in the pack. The pace was heated but manageable. Don't know who was driving the race. Primes did again play a part in the 2nd half of the race. Laps are always faster on prime laps. At least in the 2nd half of the lap. Sometimes the 1st half would be slower.
Tom "In N Out" Gates is following Don Kimper. Tom loves double/doubles with fries and a chocolate shake. I don't know how he squeezes into his kit. Looks like Tom wants to take over tail gunner duties from Nelson Alaan.
Malcolm Hill leading the race late at turn 4. You can see Mike Marotta at 3rd wheel in an old Swami's kit. Mike didn't get to the race but minutes before it started and didn't have time to put on his new Hi Tech kit.
  I saw 3 to go and knew it would be fast. I stayed tucked in though I have known for years that's its best to be on the left/outside because it is easier to move up. Lost that thought and it cost me later. With 2 laps to go Pelky went on a flyer up the left side with a rider on his wheel. The pack pretty much didn't respond to them thinking they would fold before the end and they did.
The bell lap came. Who would give themselves up to lead on the last lap. Lothar Cramer went to the front just before turn 1 and lead the group. After turn 2 a unknown 55+ rider from SDBC by the name of Mark Chavarria went to the front and Lothar stayed on his wheel until the rest of the field swarmed them about 150 meters from turn 3.
To back track a bit here let's take a look at the players and how it unfolded for their race. After turn 2 Malcolm looked back and saw his teammate Mark Hoffenberg and accelerated. He knew this would help Mark even if Mark couldn't get directly on Malcolm's wheel. Dave Prechtl got on Malcolm's wheel and Mark follow. Mark's shadow at this time was a former teammate and a neighbor, Robert Swigart. Robert was sporting an all black kit and had just aged up to 55. He knew a good wheel when he saw it. For the 60s it was catch as catch can but as we will see the 60 field was deeper than the 55 field.
At turn 3 Malcolm kicked it up a notch again. Dave, Mark, Robert and everyone else was in tow. Mark kept waiting for Dave to make his move. Mark was sure Dave would go long and he would ride the Prechtl wave to victory. Of course that was plan A. Scratch plan A and go to plan B. Mark decided half way up the hill to jump himself and max speed by the last corner and hold on for victory. Both plans A & B were victory plans. Like the Shakespearean actors that Leslie Nielsen shot in "Naked Gun:From the Files of Police Squad", They were "Good ones" . Mark was going with plan B and Swigart was hot on his tale. Lurking somewhere was Gibby "The Great White Shark" Hatton. Gibby was about 10 at turn 3. Mike Birditt was tucked in there somewhere. Mark went up the middle with Robert Swigart on his right. Mark left the door open next to the curb and Gibby took the opportunity to open the door and then close it on everyone. Gibby came by Mark with 50 meters to go to win the 55+ race. What acceleration by Mr. Hatton.
Gibby Hatton for the victory in 55+. Robert "Dan Aykroyd" Swigart and Mark "John Belushi" Hoffenberg are doing the neighborly thing near the finish line. Remember the movie "Neighbors".

The Prechtl wave is coming in for a respectable 4th place and a paycheck.

Ho Hum! Another 1st place for Mike Bird. Mike was 6th overall.

The rest of the mortal men come streaming in. A couple came flying in unfortunately.
Mark Hoffenberg was 2nd across the line with Robert Swigart taking 3rd. David Prechtl was 4th and Nelson Alaan was 5th. The 5th rider across was the 1st 60+ rider and winner Mike Birditt. Tom Gates was a ways back but the next 60+ rider across for 2nd place. The 60s took over from here. Kal Szkalak was 3rd, Dale Luedtke 4th and Mike Marotta 5th. I placed 10th in 60 but would have been 11th in 55+. After the first 4 riders the 60s dominated.
The only bad part of the race happened around 12th place for both categories. Malcolm Hill was limping home after giving his teammate a leadout and got his front wheel clipped. It sent him flying into the gutter and across the finish line for 12th place in 55+. Rick Carrera flew across Malcolm for a flying 12th place in 60+. Both were roughed up and Malcolm hurt some already sore ribs while Rick messed up his AC joint in his shoulder. Malcolm had some really bad road rash.
The race was clocked in at around 26 mph from a moving start. Pretty fast for this course but 2 mph slower than the 40+ race. Great turnout, great weather for the race, and great competition. The crash was the low point of the race. Thanks to all that came out. Let's carry these numbers forward for Ontario where 55s AND 60s are welcome again! Full results are below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe! Thanks to Emily Cramer for the great photos!
Finish video done by Maki!
Another Blue Boy vid done on bike by Lothar Cramer.

60+ results.

55+ results.

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