Thursday, January 08, 2009

2008 Race Winners From Santa Barbara

Reflecting back a bit on the 2008 road season and it dawned on me how many Santa Barbara locals won a race. I can't remember a year with this many. We have a great community of riders and the results show it. Savor those victories y'all... you earned them.

Let's review...

The Southern Nevada Stage Race was the first event of the season and a few locals hit the jackpot in Las Vegas. In the P/1/2 race, Gary Douville won the crit ...barely... over teammate Brian Cook. The great picture was taken by the talented photog duo of Kim and Steve Weixel.

The following day's road race saw two more Santa Barbara winners, with Corey Welles taking the Cat 3 road race and Chris Walker winning the Pro/1/2 RR and taking GC too.

A week later and the World Crit Championships, i.e., the Mothballs Criterium, SB's favorite son Cody O'Reilly blew away the Pro/1/2 field for his first of two local victories. The second was even more impressive, as Cody bested a bunch of speedy pros at the Island View crit. The picture is from John Goodman of Goodman Graphic. Cody also found the podium in the only other local'ish races, with a 2nd at Sisquoc RR and 3rd at the exciting downtown SLO crit. I'd say he won the local B.A.R. hands down ...err, hands up I mean.

2008 also saw the return of Johnny "O" Orach to the peloton. John started racing as a youngun from Santa Maria in the late-80s/early-90s, and quickly moved up to a Cat 2. I recall him having a real knack for getting in the right breakaways, justifying his reputation as a smart rider. After a few years though, he gave up the bike for a pair of running shoes. The bike-racing bug lay dormant until 2007 but, like herpes, it never went away. When big bad Johnny O signed up for the Cat 4 race at Mothballs, those punks never stood a chance. Nice way to start the year -- a vee at Mothballs!

Other local Mothballs champs include Echelon's Ben Barthel in the juniors 15/16 and ageless wonder Carlos Soto in the Masters 55+. By the way, Carlos probably won between 5 and 10 races this year ...and that's not even counting all his glorious Polo Fields victories!

A bunch of locals headed north to race over the Presidents' Day weekend, starting with the Cantua Creek RR by Coalinga. (BTW, did you know that Coalinga got its name because it was Coaling Station "A" for the railroad? ...who says you never learn anything from this blog!) Anyway, Cookie was loaded up with enough coal to ride damn near the entire Pro/1/2 race solo off the front. Cantua Creek is an out and back course, so each lap Cookie could see his pursuers, and vice versa, as the picture shows (from Bo Hebenstreit).

We SB amateur hacks are very fortunate to have so many talented professional bike racers in our midst. And they're all nice people ready and willing to offer help and advice. I took a picture of three of them resting at the top of Bates on some random Sunday. We've already discussed Cody. (BTW, did you know Cody got his name because he was a Code-Blue birth? ...hey, that's the second factoid you learned by reading this blog!) On the right is Kim Anderson, one of the best women racers in the world and widely known as a selfless and dedicated teammate on Columbia, which also happens to be the #1 ranked womens team in the world. Kim won the San Dimas Stage Race in 2008.

On the left in that picture above is Ken Hanson. A year ago, I predicted Ken would win 5-10 races in 2008. I don't know if he made it or not, but considering the magnitude of a couple of his victories, he had arguably the most successful season of anybody hailing from SB. Early in the year, he won the Pro/1/2 event at the Pine Flat RR, proving that he can climb despite being a sprinter. Look at the casual victory celebration in the picture. Later in the year he won a stage in the big-time Tour of Ireland. In August Ken won the hotly contested San Ardo RR.

But unquestionably, Ken's biggest win of the year was at the National Crit Championships in Downers Grove, IL, where he beat the fastest Cat 1s in the USA. Ironically, since he's back on a Pro team for 2009, he won't be allowed to race in his Starz-n-Bars jersey. He'll be gunning for the Pro version in 2009.

Continuing with the SB Pro theme... it was nice to see hard-working nice guy Aaron Olson win the NRC Tour de Nez this summer up in Northern California. All the stages were held around Truckee and the Northstar ski area in the high Sierra, where oxygen is at a premium. Not a problem for hardman AO. At right, another beautiful shot from Lyne Lamoureux.

It's nice when local racers win local races, and look how the Chicken Ranchers dominated the finish of the Cat 4 Island View Crit. Ken Doyle took the victory here, but just in case he faltered, Gabe Garcia was just behind in 2nd!

Gabe got his 2008 victory a few weeks prior by winning the road stage of the San Dimas Stage Race. He was so excited crossing the line first that he let out a blood-curdling yell, the echos of which are still reverberating around Bonelli Park to this day!

Also very nice to see victories by two new SB riders, Seth Zaleski and Steve Weixel. Seth earned his win at the always tough San Luis Rey RR where he soloed the final lap off the front of the Cat 4 field, and just held them off. Steve used a full season's-worth of lessons to earn a smart victory in the Cat 4 field at the San Ardo RR. Mark my words, both Seth and Steve will be very strong in 2009, along with the indomitable teammate Chester Gillmore. A third local champion at San Ardo was Eric Knight from Team Chicken Ranch making his return to racing with a win in the Cat 5 event. Congrats!

The last race of the season, a high-profile pro/1/2 night crit in downtown San Francisco, was won impressively by Daniel Ramsey. I include him as a local because he grew up here before moving south to Ventura. Daniel also won a tough circuit race in Aliso Viejo as well as a couple races back in North Carolina. Big time, Daniel!

Finally, although not a road event per se, it deserves a mention because of how impressive it was. Matt "Chicken Ranch" Benko won the Santa Barbara long-course duathlon in 2008. Even with his big manly physique (see pic at right--Matt, you should totally buy that...$12 at SantaBarbaraPix!), he's able to scoot fast enough on his feet to keep the real runners in range, and then he crushes them on the TT bike. This win was not a gimme by any stretch as 2nd place was a very strong Carl Legleiter who is an accomplished runner and also no slouch on the bike. Good win Matt!

Am I forgetting anybody? If so, drop me a note or comment so I can add him or her for posterity.

Give yourself a hand SB! And congratulations to all the local 2008 race winners and their teams! Here's hoping for good luck and more vees in the 2009 season.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm you forgot one.

Mark Fennell used all of his 115 pound spindly body to defeat all 45+ 120 pounders at the Mt. Hamilton Classic. How did he do it.. "I climbed... then followed the guy with biggest calves during the 500 watt sprint".

Take a bow Fenelli...just be sure Gina is around to help you back up.


Steve Weixel said...


If I knew Johnny O back then I might have tried to go with him when we were both OTF after a prime. But I didn't and I didn't have enough faith in myself and slid back to the field.

Steve said...


Does this mean a frezzing New Englander who will be in SB for two weeks training in Mid FEB will have a winning season as a new road racer back east ??
Hope so ...

PS - your BLOG is GREAT .

Steve Douville

Marco Fanelli said...

I talk about myself enough on this blog, don't you think? Besides, your facts are way off base... I weigh in at a massive 130 lbs, and that Mt. Ham sprint was at least 550 Watts. So there!!

djurist said...

How's about Chicken Rancher Eric Knight taking numero uno at San Ardo in the Cat 5 pack for his first career win!

Marco Fanelli said...

Fixed. Thanks David.

TnA said...

Hey Marco,
I won the Piru 20K TT in November...then again, I was the only Cat 4 to show up ;-)

Anonymous said...

Checkout this page of where they show the start time for the '09 Mothballs as 12:00 AM-what's up w/ that???????