Saturday, April 25, 2015


By John McKee

April 18, 2015 is the date for the ever popular Bahati Foundation LA Circuit race. Talk about popular. The 2015 version had huge fields and that went for the 60+ race. The 60s had their own race and at the expense of the 55s who didn't have a slot. I think Brad House figured if the 60s had their own category in the Socal Cup series and LA Circuit was one of the 20 races included in the series that the race should be on their terms. 60s racing against 60s. 34 racers came out and it could have been 40 if everyone had made it out. Let's digress for a moment. I like funny stories. It concerns Bruce "Where is that guy?" Steele. Bruce has a new nickname now and it is "Bong Bong".
Brad House with some down time at his LA Circuit race talking to Bruce Steele and a Bike Palace teammate.
 Bruce moved to a swanky neighborhood in Redondo Beach thinking all would be peaceful and bliss. All was going great after some house improvements and such but Bruce didn't understand the significance of the date 4/20 in Redondo Beach and made a big mistake on that date. He left his Toyota Tundra truck parked on the street! Didn't he know! The date 4/20 is celebrated nation wide for the free wheeling use of marijuana. A real Bong holiday. The hotels in Colorado are packed.
 Bruce didn't know that it was really celebrated in Redondo Beach. Not everyone can make it to Colorado. Here are some of the rules for Redondo residents on 4/20. Rule #1- Stay in your house. Rule #2- Keep your cars off the street. Rule #3- Don't ride your bike in the city for Heaven's Sake. Bruce just didn't know the rules and violated Rule #2. He left his car parked on the street!

Blondie's Prius with bong on top.
As this story goes...There once were 4 blondes and they just scored some marijuana for 4/20. They were joy riding through the neighbor streets of Redondo Beach. They figured everyone knew by then the 3 rules on 4/20 in RB but Bruce just moved into this quiet neighborhood and there was nothing in the sales contract about the 3 rules. thing lead to another(John Candy says this in "Stripes" but for a different reason. He had mud wrestled the night before and started a riot and was explaining to his CO what happened). Anyway back to the girls...a bong got passed around in a white Prius with the 4 blondes getting hammered. All of a sudden bam! I mean bam!! Bing bang bong bam!! The Prius ran into the back of Bruce's Tundra truck. I am sure the driver was thinking WTF. Didn't this resident know Rule #2.
Bruce came running out of his house and saw the 4 gals walking away but apparently not in a straight line. One of them must be a close neighbor. One of the stoners left their bong on the roof of the badly damaged Prius. The Prius lost badly in this one on one matchup with the Tundra. What is the moral of this story. Well I think it is always always remember Rule #2 and most importantly Rule #3.
Prius tangling with a Tundra. Both Toyotas but the Tundra won this crash.
Let's get back to the race. The Bahati Foundation LA Circuit race is no secret as to how it works. Out, back, out, back, out, back and etc. Even with what sounds like a somewhat boring course I have always liked to race here. Lots of room to race though guys love to bunch up at the end seeking refuge from the wind. We had a great turnout as mentioned earlier and though the 60s were the first to go off, the start time was 8 am. I think we have started there before at 7 am. That extra hour makes a big difference. Even still it was too early for "bong bong" to even get there to watch us. Don't know when he actually got there but he did ride to the race. The added bonus for this race was the addition of John Howard. The racing legend was going to join us. Hi Tech was bringing in Mike Marotta for this race. Mike doesn't race with us much but I was going to assume he was really fit and it proved out at the end that I assumed right.
OK, we are off with a 4 mile circuit for us all to race(My Garmin says its a little short of the 4). This was a bit different in that they called out a prime right off. In fact each of the preliminary laps would have a prime and really drove the race and character of the racing. There always is someone that tries to get things going racing out away from the start/finish line and I don't know who it was but I do know Pedro Ordaz was very aggressive the entire race. Pedro had this red kit on that really stood out.
We all know that Mike Birditt is the fastest guy in the country in 60+ being the defending crit champ and was at the race in a natz champ skinsuit(custom made with his team name on the front) which I hadn't seen before. Awesome looking actually. We also know that Mike can sprint and recover. Reminds me of Bob Barney. A name from the past. Bob wasn't near as fast as Mike but had the ability to recover from break efforts or prime sprints. In the 15 LA Circuit race Mike Birditt was always up front after we made the turn at the top of the course. Mike always seem to have great position near the front and tucked in though I know he takes turns and chases so he isn't a complete wheel sucker like myself or Pags. I learned from the master that as you get older you have to conserve your energy and worst still is if you made a very hard effort you can get dropped because you can't recover like the younger guys.
In this race the Hi Tech strategy was loose but evolved as the race went on. 5 good racers to deal with here. Mike Birditt would be the main man for the primes but Dale and Mike Marotta would be called on as they felt they could sprint. Most of the primes were 2 place primes. Maybe I am getting ahead of myself here but Hi Tech took virtually all the primes but one that formally retired racer Al Shorts took from Birdy with a nice sprint on the 4th lap. Al looked like he use to. Al hadn't raced in 2 years but came out and looked like he hadn't missed a race. I am thinking I race all the time and he comes out and makes it look so easy! Geez!
There were a number of break attempts and John Howard did try to get away and I thought that John might double up with a Hi Tech member and turn off their chase machine but no. It just didn't happen. Hi Tech has a real chase machine going. If you think they can finish, try getting away. It is probably not going to happen this year with the bullets they have to load. Like I mentioned earlier Pedro Ordaz was very active but didn't have near the mustard needed to make anything happen. If John Howard can't get away then you can safely assume that no one can our age.
The one thing I don't think Hi Tech does that well is take control of the last lap. I know they only have 5 racers but I remember my El Dorado days when Paramount had lots of members and Lightning Velo and SBW did as well. The major teams took control the race on the last laps and strung it out and made it fast and therefore safe. No pretenders were moving up to the front to mess things up.
The last lap did come after the 1st 4 laps and the average speed wasn't that high or the race that hard per my own average heart rate. Like mentioned earlier Al Shorts spent his energy bullets sprinting on the 4th lap for a $50 prime. With Al being out of racing for a while you had to figure he was done for the day. Not the case for our stars and stripes skinsuit guy. He seems like he gets better every year while the rest of us...well you know the direction Father Time sends us. Mike's best buddie(Dale) is also on fire this year after having some flat years. I remember coming by him at this race at the end several years ago but I can't even get near his wheel at the end any more. Add to those guys Mike Marotta and you have 3 of the best racers in the country. I haven't even mentioned top riders from other teams that could be a factor at the end of this race- Tom Gates who aged up this year as did a number of good riders like Don Denegal, Ron Malloy, Kevin Ryan, and Robert Wilcox. It never gets easier. That's for sure!
As I alluded to the last lap got bunchy and then we would chase someone. Don Denegal was locked onto Dale's wheel and didn't want to give it up and that was fine with me but as we moved from side to side even Don couldn't keep a wheel. The speed was so all over the place and if you wanted to move up you had to go out in the wind and most guys didn't want to do that so we got even more impacted going to the last turn around. As we turned the last corner we would have 1 mile to go. I ended up in not so good position and behind a rider I knew wasn't a very good finisher and tried to implore him to move up so I could get some cover but no. I didn't think it would work. I couldn't see what Hi Tech was doing up front but I knew that the major sprinters could sprint from further out then I could so when I saw Tom Gates go on the right side from pretty far out I knew I was in trouble. Mike Marotta went from the far left side and I know that from a video that was provided by Jane Bleth. The vid is at the bottom.
All I can say about the finish was how far the 3 Hi Tech finishers were ahead of the rest of us. It was a brutally one sided contest. Mike Marotta was smoking down the left side with Mike Birditt smoking it down the right side. Mike won! Ha! Mike Birditt that is. Marotta is still fast at 64 but Mike is 3 years younger and still really really fast. Dale Luedtke got 3rd while pointing to his friends and teammates. Don't know how he can still go fast and not have both hands on the bars like at Redlands. I guess he is just going so fast before hand it just doesn't matter. A Hi Tech trifecta! After Dale,  Tom Gates pipped Monty Pettus at the line for 4th. Monty was 5th followed in by Don Denegal, Kevin Ryan, Howard Miller, Ron Malloy, myself, Robert Wilcox and Mike Fleming. All will get Socal Cup points as this is one of the 20 races that get Socal Cup points in 2015. A fun safe race. A little slow at 24.6 mph per hour. My average heart rate wasn't that high which means I am getting fitter or the race wasn't that hard. Maybe a bit of both. I hope! Thanks again to the promoter Brad House AND to the category sponsor, Gerry Agnew. Thank you so much Gerry! Results below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
Nice picture of Gerry Agnew with a natz champ jersey on at track nationals. His daughter Sarah is on his right. Thanks again for the sponsorship.
Hi Tech podium- Gene filling in for Mike Marotta 2, Mike Birditt 1 and Dale "who needs hands on the bars" Luedtke. Photo courtesy of Craig Eggers.


60+ finish list.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


By John McKee

The Ontario Criterium series is 6 strong through the year and as most of you know the 60s were brought back with a nice purse and the 55s have a race there as well with an even nicer purse. The 3rd in the series was raced on Easter Sunday, April 5th, 2015.
Lineup for the 55 strong 55+ race at Ontario #3
60+ only race at Ontario #3
Easter Sunday turned out to be a day that 60+ racers kicked butt...well at least 3 of them anyway in the 55+ race. In the 60+ race Mike Birditt won. Dale Luedtke was 2nd and Tom Gates was 3rd. In the 55+ race Mike Birditt(60+) won. Evan Teske was 2nd and Dale(60+) was 3rd. Cyril Hunte was 4th and Tom Gates(60+) 5th. Doesn't "Birdy" get tired of winning! Well no! Not if you can do it. "Birdy" had a faster top end speed in the 60+ race. Faster guys of course would be my response. Great turnouts. 23 in 60+ and 55 in 55+(at least 15 were racing there 2nd race from the 60+ event). Good purses. Good weather. Great fun! Did I mention that the 60s took it to the 55s in their own race. Oh yeah. I did mention it. Ha!

60+ result at Ontario #3

55+ result at Ontario #3

Don't these guys get tired of putting their hand out and picking up a paycheck! Probably not! Oh I get it. It must be the green and orange water bottle we all get at Natz. Think I will try that in my next race. It works for Mike!
The Redlands Bicycle Classic Criterium is part of a week of racing that includes pro men and women. The amateurs can partake in racing on Sunday at the challenging Redlands Criterium course. A little dicey but is fun if you survive it. The turnout on Sunday April 12, 2015 was light in 55/60+ and was in most categories. I think the course does spook potential riders. There were crashes before and after our race on the last corner. It is a fast corner so problems have occurred in the past. There were just 16 60s but that wasn't too bad but there were just 16 55s. Compare that to say 40 at Ontario the week before. The total at Ontario was 55 but at least 15 were 60s. You would have to conclude that the 55s stayed away from this one. There was one 55 that stood out when we lined up and that was Thurlow Rodgers. Thurlow was a teammate of Greg Lemond on one of his pro teams in the 70s so his pedigree goes way way back. Thurlow has several different ways to kill it when he races. He can go to the front and pour it on and make it really hard for everyone. He could let a break form off the front and then effortlessly go across the gap to join up. Thurlow likes to jump hard and see if anyone wants to go with him or maybe just see what he can do himself. Rarely does he sit in and wait for the sprint. Not sure if that has ever happened.
All the 55/60+ lined up on time for the 7:55 am start. It was to be a 40 minute race with the lap cards coming up with 5 to go.
Redlands Bicycle Classic Criterium renamed the RBC Phil Richards Memorial Criterium.

Anxious guys awaiting the start.
One other thing about this year's race was at least for the 55/60+ race the name would be the RBC Phil Richards Memorial Criterium. 7 racers were wearing the black and green PR kit. This was a special kit designed to honor the memory of Phil. It's a snappy looking affair and I was honored to be one of the seven wearing the kit. We do miss you Phil!
Seven racers post race "Up against the wall" with the classy looking PR kit.

OK, we are ready and lined up and they are off! The course starts uphill with a sharp turn at the top of the course. We all get going at a moderate pace but things pick up quickly. One thing about the Redlands course, as hard as it can be it does seem like there is more downhill than uphill. You can get in a good flow through the course if you don't have to use your brakes. The 1st 2 laps were pretty hard but I felt good. I could tell my fitness was getting better. I felt good out there. I sometimes dread coming here for some reason but always feel good after I finish the race. It is a very fun course providing no mishap. This year I was in an auto accident on the 405 freeway just the Tuesday before. My wife and I were rear ended in a 5 car pile up. The driver behind us said she was changing a radio station and looked up and everyone was stopped. Yes they were! On Wednesday I was feeling kind of depressed after the whole mess. Though my wife and I weren't hurt so to speak there were mental scars and I didn't feel like racing at Redlands. By Thursday though I did the training protocol which was some hard intervals and after I finished those I was feeling much better mentally and decided to tackle Redlands after all. 
After we passed the finish line for just the 2nd time Thurlow pulled out one of his patented tricks. Don't know if trick is the right decription but James Edwards saw an opportunity here. James locked onto Thurlow's wheel and off they went. Some of the 60s were snoozing like Mike Birditt and didn't even know they were going, going, gone. I saw them but there was little I could do. I can't chase down Mr. Rodgers. It only took a couple of laps and we couldn't even see them any more. It was a bit confusing because there were riders off the back that were getting passed but the speed they were going you knew they hadn't been "off the front".
The prime laps came up and there were a few good sprints here and I have to assume "Birdy" was involved but I was tucked in all comfortable like and didn't want to rock my boat and didn't pay it much attention.
James Edwards and Thurlow "The Tow Truck" Rodgers
It actually didn't take long for Thurlow "The Tow Truck" Rodgers and his mate James Edwards to show up in the pack again. The 1st thing I thought of was...are they going to go again. Well of course Thurlow was. He had to distance himself from James Edwards and well just because he is Thurlow Rodgers. He is like a ADHD kid that can't sit still. Thurlow can't just sit in like the rest of the mortal folk that race.
You can see me behind "Pink Guy". He is quite a draft. Dale sporting his beard is in front in this picture. Cyril is just off Monty's hip and FINALLY showed some good form at the last Ontario.

Leo Longo going to the front to keep the pace up. Leo is trying to get ready for a team time trial with Bruce "Where is he?" Steele. "Birdy" and "Orangie" being attentive. Correction. Don Davidson is going to be Leo's TT partner. Not Bruce "Bong Bong" Steele. Have to see new story to find out about Bruce's new nickname.
"Birdy" looks like he is going to move up. "The Black Bandit" is checking him out. I always try and stay away from riders without a team kit. "Blue Boy" is recording the action. I never seem to get in front of Lothar to get in his vids. Never seen the "Bandit" before but looks like he has some gardner gloves on.
"Turbo" went again and Paul Rodiguez was on him and this started alarm bells for Hi Tech. "Birdy" was dozing the last time "Turbo" took off but not this time with important cargo like "Rod". "Birdy" caught on but John "Orangie" Roest chased hard and Mike and Paul threw in the towel. Not sure if Thurlow kept going or came back and jumped again but I do know he was out alone. James Edwards put a chase on and Ray "Pink Guy" Dicius also chased but I saw Ray back with the pack along with James. James was locked into to finishing 2nd now. He was a lap up on all the rest of the 55s so he didn't have to sprint though he did.
While all this was going on the 5 laps to go card came up and showed on the electronic banner as well. No one looked like they wanted to pace though Don Davidson was always good for a crack at that and of course he did. As the laps counted down it got bunchy of course. I seem to always get pushed back one racer at a time. With one lap to go I jumped up the left side and passed about a dozen riders and felt I was in decent position but actually it wasn't as good as it initially appeared. Leo Longo went to the front to lead the pack for a while. The chicane came and went without incident and we got going smoking fast on the downhill section before we made the mad double U turn for home. The top dogs were up front at the end and of course that is no surprise. These 4 guys guys are definitely 4 of the best if not the best crit riders in the USA. There was an "incident" after we turned for home. Now I didn't see it but heard all about it from Mike "Kal" Birditt after the finish line. Let's just say that Tom Gates and it says this on the finish list made "abrupt move in sprint". Tom did finish 1st across the line but you can see Dale pointing all the way across the finish line. Good thing no one else passed Dale while he didn't have 2 hands on his bars. Tom was relegated to 4 and not sure how that was decided because that still gave him a paycheck and kept me one off a payday but that's ok. Lol. Dale finished 2nd in 60+ and was given the victory. Paul Rodiguez was next and given 2nd. "Birdy" cooled his jets before the finish and finished 4th but got 3rd. What I want to know is "Who's on 1st". I finished after Mike for 5th and it stayed 5th. Monty Pettus was right next to me for 6th.
In 55+ we know that Thurlow Rodgers won the race and James Edwards was 2nd. Cyril Hunte pulled off a very nice sprint to take 3rd. Cyril followed up his good finish at Ontario #3. Cyril was followed in by John Avila in his PR kit. Best finish by a PR kit rider. 5th was taken by Yehuda "Green Bay" Packer and followed in by "Pink Guy" and "Blue Boy".
The race was a lot of fun and great to see so many guys honoring Phil and wearing the PR kit. Too bad the turnout was so low for a high quality race especially with the 55+ racers. Even David "I didn't miss a race in 2014" Fetah didn't make it. Full results below. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!

Tom "In N Out" Gates is the winner or is he? I several other nicknames for Tom. Donut is a good one and tail gunner also comes to mind and now maybe "Straight as an Arrow".

Paul is 3rd?

"Birdy" is 4th and I am 5th. Right? Half right. I am 5th.

55+ result at Redlands.

60+ result at Redlands.