The 2013 Ontario Series Grand Prix...

Chris DeMarchi leads the Pro/1/2/3 field through the
start/finish on one of the early laps of the race

Well, with a first-race-of-the-morning temperature of 26º, the 2013 Southern California road race season got under way with a rather frigid Ontario Series Grand Prix. The venerable Ralph Elliott took up his familiar place in the MGE announcing and officiating booth and was keen to rechristen todays contest "the Icicle Criterium". By spreading rumors of water freezing in bottles during the Cat 5 race, he reminded all those who came later in the day just how cold it was in the early morning hours. Also there for another year was series organizer, Ray Moreno; I had worn my old Chevrolet/LA Sheriff windbreaker to help deal with the gusting breeze. Ray, who also raced with that team, noticed it and came over to talk for a little bit. He has been organizing these races for a long time - seventeen years, is it now? 

Even though it is only mid-January, I didn't notice any lack of willingness on the part of the racers to raise the speeds to something approaching mid-season intensity. Seemed like a  few of the local teams were missing, but between the MRI's, the UCC's, the OTR's, PAA's, MM's, SMMC's, CSULB's, UCSB's (yay), and maybe even a BBI or two, there were a whole lot of initials flying around. So, while the fields looked a little smaller for this first race, they were no less competitive because of it.

everyone stretching to view the approaching first race of the year

breakaway group in the Cat 4/5 race

Go Gauchos!

early evening reflection

The 35+ race has long been one of the most exciting to watch (or race in) on any given day, and today was no exception. Today's race shaped up to be a contest between Chris DeMarchi and the MRI team, and the team of Surf City Cyclery; various riders from each team traded efforts at the front, with other teams filling in when they could. In the end though, most people watching from the side were putting their money on Surf City's Charon Smith. Smith, who had a terrific 2012 didn't disappoint, blasting clear of the bunch well before the line to take a nice sprint victory to start the new year. First race of the year is in the books, and it only gets faster from this point forward. Besides the few photos here, you can check another fifty by clicking this link; they are a mixture of Cat 3, Masters 35+, Cat 4/5, and the final race of the day, Pro/1/2/3.

DeMarchi cornering under the watchful eye of Smith

two more take their turn at the front

short lead

upping the pace

no better way to start the year Mr. Smith

So, like a sunrise that follows too soon on the heels of a late night, a new season of local races is upon us. It used to be that at some point in late summer, I might see the season perched above me like a vulture on a tree branch - so many races done, so little to show. You know, a kind of wake up call - hey, you're running out of time; if you are going to do something, do it now. Well, that sucker is up on that branch already, and this time he is saying, hey, when are you going to get yourself ready? I used to pride myself on good winter preparation; I would train well through the cold months and be ready for those earliest races of the new season. This year, though, the holidays saw me spend more time off the bike than normal; and now, with dad in the hospital, and no one sure if he is going to make it out, my early season preparation is pretty much non-existent. Thankfully the year is long.

centerline going away