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43rd Annual Manhattan Beach Grand Prix
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 8/14/2004
43rd Annual Manhattan Beach Grand Prix
 

The 43rd Annual Manhattan Beach Grand Prix

 

The Manhattan Beach Grand Prix is an annual tradition for this sleepy upscale  beach town on the Southern California coast. Started in 1961 by “Local Angel” Ted Ernst the founder of the local bike club the South Bay Wheelmen it has grown to be the second oldest one-day bike race in the USA. Visiting with Ted last year during the race one could see the pride and delight in his eyes in how the race has grown in prestige and attendance. He turned to me and he reminded me of the day of the first race those four decades ago, “do you remember the first race, the handful of riders, and now we have a field of 200 Pro riders?” It was easy to recall as I was one of the six Jr. Novice riders at the start line for my first real bike race.  The race held riders who are legendary in my memory Bob Tetzlaff and Dave Sharp with local track and road riders competing.

The Grand Prix has grown to be a must race event drawing the top pros in the USA and the spectators have grown to 10,000, “Not bad, not bad at all,” said Ted with a smile.

Ted Ernst started the club a year and Manhattan Beach Grand Prix after returning to the states after a pro career racing in Europe, he was always generous with advice to novices and his passion for the sport was contagious to all who met him. The Manhattan Beach Grand Prix is a living monument to Ted Ernst and his love for the sport.

The race course is challenging and fast, with two180 degree hairpin turns on either end of two long straight-aways. The first years of the race the turns crossed railroad tracks of a local spur which added to the challenge as one raced the course, now removed the broad turns still lead to a crash or two with a large Peloton squeezing through on the lead in to 200 meters to the finish line.

The second turn is preceded by a steep but short climb that wears on a riders legs with each lap, and backs up the pack making it torture for riders who weren’t in the first group going through. The rolling backstretch is known for its headwinds produced by the prevailing winds off the Pacific. With 150 feet of climbing each lap, driving speed of the riders on the long straights and the headwinds it is rare that a break away can stick to win the race; but that doesn’t mean that some riders won’t try it this year as they always do. Likely the race will come down to position coming out of the last turn and a hard on sprint in the last 200 meters surrounded by screaming spectators.

Weather for tomorrow is forecast as a perfect Southern California day with mostly sunny after the morning fog breaks up, with temperatures in the mid 70's.

Jonas Carney (Jelly Belly) who has won this race twice in the past will be on the start line with his leadout man the quick Alex Candelario will be in the hunt to add this race to his extensive palmares. Dave McCook (McGuire Realty) once a team mate of Jonas Carney on Prime Alliance also a top sprinter in his own right fresh off wins on the Eastern NRC circuit will be sure to be in the mix.

Robbie Ventura (USPS) a criterium specialist is one to watch along with Eric Saunders (Ofoto/Lombardi) who can count So. Cal as his home turf and a win would be particularly sweet.

Health Net is bringing the guns minus the riders who went to the Olympics, this race is custom made for the sprinting speed of  Dan Schmatz and young Tyler Farrar who in the past has been compared with his mentor Gord Fraser.

Add in the Meza brothers, Miguel and Rigoberto (Team Dare) and other local Elite teams looking for a hometown win and you can see the race will not lack for excitement with many preems are gathered from the eager spectators.

It will be a fast race as usual and the cycling gods will sort them at the line.

Start list Men Pro (not complete at time of publication)
Jelly Belly: Caleb Manion, Jonas Carney, Ernie Lechuga, Alex Candelario, Ben Brooks
Monex: Greg Mendanilla, Peter Knudsen, Kyle Gritter,
Ofoto Lombardi: Eric Saunders, Jason Bausch
McGuire ProCycling: Dave McCook, Devon Vigus, Nathan Miller, Roman Kilun,
obert Kampilla, Pat Dunaway, Jamiel Danesh,
Webcor Builders: Bernard Van Ulden, Ben Stafford, Justin England, Imanol Ayestaran,
Team Seasilver: Shirley Neil, Daniel Ramsey, Jakob Erker,
Health Net: Tyler Farrar, Chris Wherry, Mike Sayer, Dan Schmatz,
USPS: Robbie Ventura
Miguel and Rigoberto Meza of Team Dare,  Harm Jansen of Velo RPM and other local Elite teams.

Womens Pro

As the beautiful women hit this course there will be no mercy shown and the womens race on this circuit is fast and usually produces a few daring breaks of charming road warrioresses who would rather not wait for the sprinters to take the show at the finish.

If you aren’t getting out watching the women race this is one race you don’t want to miss. I mean here they are folks, beauty on two wheels fighting it out like lionesses protecting their cubs. It’s a show you don’t want to miss.

Former USA Criterium Champ Nicole Freedman (Team Basis) will have her work cut out for her on a typical fast day at this race, super quick at the finishTina Pic.  Local Becky Quinn (South Bay Wheelmen) and member of the National team, winner last year will be out to collect a double,

Katrina Grove (Rona Equipe) fresh from wins in the Midwest and Eastern circuit will surely make her presence felt, racing against former team mate at TMobile Amber Neben. The field includes many Pro women and local Elite teams who make the So Cal area their home turf so there will be no easy victory when the Cycling Gods sort ‘em out on the course.

Womens Start List (not complete at publication)
Team Basis: Nicole Freedman, Lauren Gaffney, Nicole Wangsa, Jessica Hulser,
Genesis Scuba: Rook Campbell, Tina Pic, Kori Seehaffer,
TMobile: Amber Neben, Stacey Peters, Dotsie Cowden, Lynn Gaggioli
Victory Brewing: Gina Grain,
Red 5 Racing: Jennifer Stevens, Pam Schuster, Tamara Gonzales, Kelly Finn, Laura Erker, Jennifer Eyerman, Nadine Bruhn, April Andersen,
Velo Bella: Erin Alders, Sarah Kerlin, Brenda Lyons,
South Bay Wheelmen: Becky Quinn.

Rona: Katrina Grove

La Grange: Nicole Brandt, Catherine Powers, Desira Utzig,

 

Remembering 43 years ago and a Salute to a Local Hero Ted Ernst

The morning fog was drifting across the course when I and 5 other Junior novices lined up for the first Manhattan Beach Grand Prix in 1961. I was 15 ˝ and been riding for six months on my full Campy Condor bike. I knew the course as I lived with my family only blocks away and had ridden it in preparation for my debut that day.

The starters gun went off and the six of us launched ourselves forward, I fumbled with my toe clips at the start and had to chase to make up the first fifty yards to our small Peloton.

The race was 4 laps, the first was ok, I was well within my zone, the second lap the speed went up as one of the riders attacked at the short 7% climb, I was dropped by a few feet but managed to catch on quickly as the others negotiated the wet railroad tracks that I had long ago learned to handle at speed.

The speed picked up as another rider attacked on the back stretch across the rollers and into the wind it was a foolhardy move and we pulled him back by the turn before the finish.
As I past the finish I could hear Ted Ernst screaming to me to hang in the group.

The third lap on the straight leading to the hill another attack and I was feeling drained as I approached the short climb, the legs weakened and I was dropped half way up the hill.

The rest of the race for me was a pursuit to catch the three leaders who soon became two, by the last lap I was half a lap behind, But Ted cheered me just the same as if I was leading. I finished a minute or two behind the winner but I finished and was congratulated by Ted for my first race, not bad at all. When the podium was called I found myself with a prize for fourth place. It was a dinner for two at a local Spanish restaurant next to Teds bike shop. I proudly gave the dinner to my parents for a rare night out for them.

Ted Ernst was my mentor then, I spent hours in his bike shop Ted regaled me with his adventures racing in Europe, the black & white pictures of him on the walls showed his career racing on track and in derny races. He told me about the tour de France and the Classics and the pros he had met and raced against. There were always German and French Cycling mags around and Ted would point out the biggest pros and tell me some of their stories.

Ted also helped me train and shared his wisdom on riding skill on the weekly South Bay Wheelmen bike rides. He also taught me to give back and help the newer and younger riders who joined the ranks of the South Bay Wheelmen, taking them out for training rides and teaching them the ropes riding in an echelon or making our way through the dense Los Angeles traffic safely.

Over the years Ted has been active in the local track, creating a bike path along the Southern California beaches, helping other young aspiring riders and racers, and keeping the Club and the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix growing to the status it now has as a Nationally recognized and popular race.

Each of us in our areas have Local Heroes like Ted who selflessly give of their time out of love for the sport. Ted Ernst was mine. He passed on and planted the seed of his passion for the sport to me. So in passing you will know that some part of what I do and the Daily Peloton does traces back to Ted who nurtured the dreams of a young man and introduced him to the world of Cycling. More than this he founded the club and enriched many lives along the way.

Salute to you Ted Ernst Local Hero!


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