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.

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