Sunday, March 29, 2015


By John McKee

March 22nd, 2015 and unfortunately there were 2 races for 60+ racers to choose from. The 55+ guys would only have a race at Ontario but the 60s had both Chuck Ponitus and Ontario to go to. Santa Clarita Velo has always had the Punchbowl Road Race on Sat. to tag team the weekend but this year made the 2 races an Ominum with very generous purses for the 2 day event. You could do 1 race or the other but you had to do both days to be eligible for the purse. I had to make a tough decision which race to do. Rino B. of SCV always does a great job with his club events and he is a friend but Ray Moreno is providing 60s with their own race and a purse. At Ontario there is a 55+ race afterward and both are early which tipped the balance for me. I had to get to a LB Dirtbags baseball game at 1 pm and actually earlier because they had a baseball alumni lunch, etc. before hand. Sorry Rino but Ontario worked better for me on this day.
At the Punchbowl Road Race on March 21, 2015 the podium had some pretty skinny fit looking guys in 60+. You can see for yourself in the photo. The Punchbowl is a tough course and takes no prisoners. It is nearly a constant challenge.
RR podium- Freeman 2, Wilcox 1, & Dufour 3
On Sunday March 22, 2015 the Chuck Ponitus Criterium had Doug Knox winning the race in 60+. Doug took off late like he usually does and every one figured he would get caught in the sprint but he didn't. Kal Szkalak won the bunch sprint for 2nd with Howard Miller and Monty Pettus following him in.
At Ontario the 60s had a 30 minute race at the Grand Prix course that we have done SO many times. It is a good course though and almost all of us like racing there.
There were 23 entries in 60+ which is good considering the 2 events. Hi Tech was a little thin in numbers with 3 racers but it isn't always numbers that matter. 30 minutes comes and goes pretty quick when you are out there racing. Rick Lilleberg of SBW was out racing for the 1st time this year. Rick was very strong in his last season and it was nice to see him back out there racing with us.
When we got to the line Ralph Elliott announced that Ricky Shorts was the points leader in the on going race series that they have at Ontario after 2 races. Points are garnered in one interium sprint and the finish. Dale Luedtke has been on fire this season and was looking to challenge Ricky. Dale would have the 60+ fireball Mike Birditt to back him us. The race got under way and the 1st few laps were pretty slow. After that the pace picked up for most of the race. No real threat at breaking away emerged. Primes came and went. Birdy the top dog at prime killing would pick and choose the "stuff" he wanted and leave the crumbs for the rest of the hardy sprinters. The points prime came and Ricky Shorts jumped early like he had in the last race but was challenged by Dale and Dale took it to eat into Ricky's overall lead.
Once we completed the points prime there weren't many laps left. A lot of the time the pace lags near the end of a race because no one wants to burn energy before the sprint but Rick Lilleberg came up to pace as he had several times during the race. It obviously was going to come down to a sprint finish or so everyone thought.
Don Davidson in his PR kit in honor of Phil Richards. Don had Phil's lime green water bottles cages from Phil's favorite bike, a lime green Trek. He wasn't riding it when he was struck by a drunk driver. The driver was convicted of a number of counts and sentenced to a very long jail term.
 With 2 laps to go I jumped on Mike Birditt's wheel considering his was a good one but sometimes it isn't always that great if you can't stay on it at the end. Mike can really accelerate. With the bell lap ringing Dale decided he wanted his teammates wheel and sweep it clean and I was good with that. Dale is also a great wheel and would be looking to win to take the lead in the series points. We did 1 corner, 2 corners, and 3 corners at a modest pace. I was still on Dale. Dale stands up pretty high in the saddle as does his teammate Bob Wright so my view wasn't like I was on Mike Birditt. Lol! Bob had worked his way up to the front and started to lead Mike after the 4th corner which is the only right turn. Bob and Mike got a gap and I didn't see it. Don't know what the guy in front of Dale was doing. Siesta time there. We make the next left and I can see ahead and here is Mike Birditt 35 to 40 meters ahead with Bob Wright peeling off. The guy ahead of Dale peels off and Dale of course doesn't do anything but ride like he is on a recovery ride. I could have charged off and spent my bullets bringing everyone else up but thought better of that. I thought "Big" John Roest might try and close the gap but no. We went around the next to last corner at the slowest pace I have ever done in this race and I have done this course over 40 times. I was still on Dale but before we hit the last corner Ricky Shorts jumped. Of course it was way too late to catch Mike Birditt. Mike would win in easy fashion. Some how I ended up behind a bunch of riders and lost Dale's wheel. There was a regroup about 50 meters after the last corner and then it was a full sprint to the finish. Dale used his great form to take the bunch sprint for 2nd place. Tom Gates is also riding well and took 3rd. The best Ricky Shorts could do was 4th place. Demi Hechanova and Dick Gentile had gotten ahead of me in that Ricky Shorts surge at the last corner and I couldn't over take them before the finish. Demi 5th, Dick 6th and the last paying spot for the 60+ race.
It was a fun race though not all that hard. The pace was 24.8 mph and my avg and max heart rates were the lowest I have had this year in a race. Thanks to all the 60+ guys that came out to The Santa Clarita event and the Ontario event. Good showing!
60+ results- Ontario #3

The 55+ race at Ontario started 2 races later at 8:40 am. 40 minute race and the field size more than doubled. There were 49 racers with a number of guys coming from the earlier 60+ race. Like has happened in a lot of the 55+ races there was a break that got away at about the half way point. 6 riders stuck to everyone else though there may have been more guys to begin with because I saw some solo riders getting picked up along the way in the 2nd half. The break got 30 seconds which usually is enough in our races but that number came down a bit and Evan Teske went to the whip and set a torrid pace. Danny Nicolette tried twice in the last 5 laps to bring the group back but didn't have any help. Everyone else figured it was futile though Danny says he got within 150 meters.
Robert Paganini riding the cobbles in Europe in 1953. Robert is the "short" guy next to the curb.
In the break sprint Evan Teske won with Robert Swigart taking 2nd and David Prechtl 3rd. They were followed in by Mike Birditt(nice day with 2 paydays!), James Edwards and Anthony Reguero. Dale Luedtke again showed outstanding form and sprinted in for 7th. 1st in the bunch sprint. The pace of the race was about 1 mph faster than the 60+ race at 25.9 for the bunch. Robert "Pags" Paganini finished both races at 79 years of age and finished 38 out of 49 starters in the 55 race. Way to go Pags!
Anthony Reguero filmed the 55 race from his bike and here is the vid -
Lothar "Blue Boy" Cramer also filmed the race(thank you Lothar) and here is his vid-

It was a pretty good weekend of racing with great opportunities for 60+ racers. No crashes and nothing for rubber side down for the 60s and 55s. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
Dale posing for us after the races with Birdy looking on.

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