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.

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