Monday, June 15, 2015


By John McKee

The MBGP(6-7-15) and the CBR(6-14-15) June Criterium had good turnouts of 55/60+ racers. Little did we know that when we raced with Steve McDonald at Manhattan Beach, it would be his last race and the last time we would see him. Steve died on Friday(6-12-15) from injuries in a biking accident near his home. Steve wasn't wearing a helmet and crashed on his own suffering severe head injuries.
The CBR race on the 14th became the Steve McDonald Memorial Race for the 55/60+ race. More on this later.
Steve McDonald(1960-2015)
The MBGP had about 50 racers line up for the very early 7 am start but at least we had a race at Manhattan Beach. We haven't always had a slot there. The event has to end early because so many residential streets have to be closed off though residents are allowed to be escorted on and off the course. Not sure why because I am pretty sure the streets have an exit at the opposite end but don't know for sure.
A good number of top 55+ racers didn't attend while all the 60+ top performers did. Some riders don't like the nature of the course and the danger of the last 180. This year's 55/60+ race was crash free and almost all the races I have done there have been as well.
To cut to the chase, Malcolm Hill used Dale Luedtke as a rabbit with 3 laps to go and shot off from the pack. He asked Mike Birditt to not chase so he could join Dale but when Malcolm got to Dale the man was out of gas. Dale came back to the pack. Malcolm WASN'T out of gas and had plenty left in the tank. Malcolm held off the entire pack though the 60s didn't really care. They/We had their/our own race.
Start of the MBGP race
Malcolm was able to hold off the field and won the 55+ race. Really strong riding by Malcolm. The rest of the mortal racers and I must say racers rather than men because we do have gals enter out events and they are welcome. Angela Wimberly has raced with the 55/60+ racers for a number of years but is racing more this year and looks better than ever.
The 60+ race wasn't decided until late into the last lap. Mike Marotta jumped off the front with Yahuda "Pacman" Packer. "Pacman" is very strong and tagged teamed with Mike for 2nd in the 55+ race. Mike Marotta won the 60+ event. Deo Asuncion sprinted in with the peleton for 3rd in 55+. Mike "Oh my aching back" Birditt finished 2nd with Ricky Shorts edging Dale Luedtke for 3rd place in 60+. The pace wasn't as high and as hard as it has been in the past. A few of the stronger 55s that sat it out might have made a difference. The avg. speed was less than 25 mph and the avg. watts from my Stages power crank arm was 210 watts. Thanks to Emily Cramer for the action photos! There are videos at my 55/60+ facebook page if you want to see the action. Very good work by "Chaser" and "Backman".

60+ MBGP result

MBGP 55+ result

60+ MBGP podium- Birditt, Marotta, & Shorts

55+ MBGP podium- Packer, Hill and Asuncion
The CBR June Criterium was raced on the Carson course and that is a fun course but sometimes some of the riders go out into the cones. Stay away from those cones! Please! The turnout of 55/60+ riders ws pretty good but not as good as MBGP. 43 racers lined up behind a group of racers from
Best Chauffeured - Mazda - Pro Bike Supply team. I knew them as OC Armada. That's what you can see on the butt. All of these team members were there to lead a neutral parade lap to honor Steve McDonald. Thank you for doing that and thanks to Chris Lotts(promoter) for allowing it. You get to know people over the years of coming to race events and they are like an extended family. I didn't get to know Steve but of those that did, he is leaving a lasting memory. RIP Steve McDonald. 
We got to race after the parade lap but the race was an after thought. Unimportant compared to a man's like. The best thing to do in this situation is to race hard and I think for the most part it was a pretty hard race. The course is pretty fast and the avg. speed for the 33 minutes was 26.4 mph. The race was shortened because of a crash in an earlier cat 5 race. What a surprise. 
James Edwards and Frank Picarelli went off on a early flyer and were going pretty good but Lothar "Chaser" Cramer and a few others weren't having it so despite a good hard effort they were caught after about 3 or 4 laps. After that there were no majors threats that lasted very long. It was going to come down to a bunch sprint for the 55 and 60+ winners and podium placers. 
Mark Hoffenberg out sprinted the field for the win in 55+ with James Edwards and Steve Strickler following him in for the rest of the 55+ podium. Mike Birditt out sprinted the 60+ group to win that category with Ricky Shorts getting by Dale Luedtke again for 2nd place. Dale held on for 3rd. Good hard race. The 50+ race was 2 races later and had a strong field with the avg. speed coming in at a robust 27.4 mph. I did have a higher power wattage in the 1st race because I was circulating more. 245 watts vs 210. It was a solemn occasion but glad we got to honor a lost fellow racer and we did race hard in his honor. That's all for now folks! Train hard and race safe!
55+ podium- June CBR- Edwards, Hoffenberg, & Strickler

60+ podium- June CBR- Shorts, Birditt, & Luedtke
55+ result- CBR June Crit

60+ result- CBR June Crit

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful tribute to Steve at the start of the race. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
    I love racing with you guys, it's my favorite thing. You're making me stronger too, although you'll never have to worry about me in the sprint.