The 2013 Summer End Grand Prix...

At no point this morning did I check on the temperature in the broiler. Towards the end of the pre-noon hour, though, I am convinced the mercury in the thermometer was pretty well stretched upward, and rising all the time. It was hot. It was humid. There was not a hint of movement to the air. Nothing, in other words, to help that sweat slick coating arms, legs and face to cool a body. Those massive clouds, which rise over the mountains during the warmer days of August, were beginning to gather. Their show, both beautiful and threatening at the same time, was an unsubtle indication that we were heading for a hot and sticky afternoon.

the unmistakable look that says 'i'd rather be in the race, than on the sidelines'

Such was the setting for the final race of the season-long Ontario Series, the Summer End Grand Prix. When I pulled up at the end of turn one, down at the end of the opening straight, the second of the morning's Junior groupings were just getting underway - the Master's 55/60 races having just ended. A howdy to Michael Flemming as he rode past, a few test photos to check the camera settings, lighting, etc, and I strode on down to the start/finish to settle in. 

Junior's races can be a little problematic to spectate when you miss the start; three age groups on the course at a time, riders being dropped, lapped, breaks by the stronger riders, small bands continually disintegrating and reforming, forces everyone watching, officials included, to keep on their toes. A couple notes from the Juniors: In the Men's 17/18 race, Anthony Fitch (MRI Endurance Elite Juniors) and Duban Sanchez (Rokform/Rock N' Road) broke clear from the field with about four laps to go, worked well, continued to build a lead, until with one laps remaining, Fitch bolted away, powered through the final lap and took a nice solo win. In the Jr Women 15/18 race, Hannah Swan (Strive Racing) left her companions behind even earlier than did Fitch, and likewise, took a solo victory. One additional note, in the Jr Men 13/14 race, Massimo Lucidi (Rokform/Rock N' Road) who won yesterday's Hotter 'N Hell Hill Climb as the only competitor in his age group willing to attempt the climb, finished off the weekend with a nice 8th today.

On to the Master's 50+ race. With six races in the series, I find it hard to believe that I did not contest a single one this year. Just did not feel motivated to be out there. Where did that mojo go? Ah well, gives me an easy goal to aim for next year. Anyway, the bunch was lined up and were eager to get underway, but some of the just-finished Juniors were congregating just past the start line, holding things up. Ralph admonished their parents that "it's all fun and games until a herd of masters 50+ run into your kids." Laughter all around, and the course was quickly cleared. Five laps into the race a serious break developed consisting of ten riders, three of whom were from the Pinnaclife Racing Team. When the field rolled by prominent at the front, and controlling it quite effectively, were yet more Pinnaclife riders. A whiff of promise and potential was clear for everyone watching to smell. Or, maybe that was just the pungent scent from the porta-johns, a hundred feet away. One racer was soon dropped from the ten, but the break rolled along, and with five laps to go to was clear that the victory would go to one of the remaining nine. Scott Baker picked up a series points prime at the five to go mark, which might have helped him climb in the standings, but which would have no affect on the top spots three spots. The peloton including the series leader, Marvin Hall (UC Cyclery/JW Floors), had conceded by now and were simply racing amongst themselves. While Hall's nearest competitor, Craig Miller (BBI-SIC Cycling), had made the break, there was no chance for Hall's lead to be overtaken. There were not enough points on the line. At the finish, and as we have seen time and time again this year, Miller blasted clear and away from everyone else to claim the day's victory. Stephen Gregorios (Pinnaclife Racing) took second, and Steven Strickler (Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW) took third. On the Series overall podium later, Marvin Hall took the top step and the jersey, with Miller second, and Stephen Gregorios third.

While no one has been as disappointed in my lack of racing this year as I have, I know many of my fellow 50+ers have expressed their own disappointment in my no-shows. Ha, ha, right. Right? Not to worry, there are still a couple CBR races on the calendar, so I still have a little redemption time left.

The Cat 4's were up next, and did a respectable job of keeping true to the Cat 4 heritage. While there were a few break attempts, they were quickly either reabsorbed by the chasing bunch, or they were simply given-up by mutual consent. Or so it appeared. At the end of it all, Derrick Whitlatch (Ride Yourself Fit Performance Team) took top honors out in front of Tony Julian (Swami's Cycling Club), and Conrad Wang (Paramount Racing).

When it came to the Master's 45+ race, the field was far less generous with allowing any breaks room to roam. Finally, with about twenty minutes remaining, a few riders were given some lead at the end of a prime lap which saw Scott Raymond (BBI-SIC Cycling) take the prize. Kurt Bickel (UC Cyclery/JW Floors) joined Raymond and the two motored on for another lap with five to go. At four to go the duo off the front had grown to six, but the peloton was charging hard; woe to the lone rider stuck between. With three to go the break still had their gap but it was shrinking rapidly under pressure by the BBI-SIC riders. Two laps to go and it was all groupo compacto again, with BBI massed at the front to patrol any last minute moves. And that should be all the clue you need to predict the finish. That's right, BBI-SIC's very own Craig Miller cleared the deck with room to spare, taking a second win on the day. Bill Harris, also from BBI-SIC Cycling, claimed the second spot, with Armin Rahm (TIME - Velo Pasadena) taking third.

That was it for this day. With those clouds roiling in the distant sky, my jersey collar sticking to the back of my neck, the backs of my burning legs warned me it was time to go. Until the next race, ride hard and then, take it easy on me. 

I have narrowed the selection of photos even more than normal this time around - beside the few here, you can link to the select 41 photos by jumping to the Flickr set here.

reacting to a flyer along the right in the Junior 17/18 race

win number two today for mr. Miller came in the masters 45+ race

series champion's pose: John Roest (60+)

according to the racers code, official protocol, just how long are you required to hold a buddy's bike