It was the first time Imperial cyclist Kenny Caldera competed in a four-event stage race, but judging by his stellar results it certainly won’t be his last.
As part of the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Caldera competed in the 2013 Police and Fire Championships in San Diego this last week, earning four gold medals and one silver medal.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I’ve been riding and racing for fifteen years and this was the first time I competed in the stage race.
“It was very challenging,” Caldera said. “I had to eat right, stay hydrated, and get plenty of rest leading up to it.”
The 57-year-old competed in four different cycling events, each of which were completed as individual competitions.
“In 2012, I raced the Criterium and I became the 2012 National Criterium champion and I raced the Road Race and took fourth last year,” Caldera said.
The stage race event, which Caldera joined in this year, required that participants compete in each of the Criterium, Time Trial, Sprints and Road Race events, with points awarded based on one’s placing in each event.
Caldera began with the Criterium over the weekend, excelling enough in the 45-minute fast-paced race held in La Jolla Village to win the first-place gold medal.
On Monday, Caldera competed in the 10-mile Time Trial in Campo, winning gold in that event as well.
“I was pretty comfortably ahead of my competitors at that point,” he said.
The Sprints were up next, at the San Diego Sports Arena.
The trio of sprints across 500 meters proved no match for the motivated Caldera, who won gold yet again, giving him a comfortable lead in the overall points for the Stage Race going into the final event — the Road Race that began at the Sycuan Casino.
“That was where I met the most challenging competition with Los Angeles Police officers and other law enforcement officers throughout the state,” he said.
“It was the most difficult but I felt confident and strong,” Caldera said.
Consisting of two laps of more than 15 miles each through the canyons near Sycuan, Caldera was unable to grab the gold, but still markedly improved from last year’s performance with a silver medal.
“My points were still high enough to take the overall gold medal for being the champion for the stage event,” he said. “So I went away with four gold medals and one silver.”
A member of the Imperial Valley Velo Club, which welcomes cyclists of any age and experience, Caldera commutes to work on his bike, logging at least 50 cycling miles a day. He often detours when the weather cooperates, putting him at 150 miles each week.
He has also competed with the California Pools & Spa Cycling Club out of Murrieta, becoming a category four cyclist and striving to reach category three, which would allow Caldera to race at the pro level.
“Throughout the years, I believe my training and endurance, eating well, taking vitamins and staying hydrated has contributed to this success,” he said.
“I want to reach my maximum potential as a cyclist,” Caldera said. “I believe that through more training and eating well, that I can accomplish that.
The father of three exceptional athletes — Priscilla, Junette, and Kenny Jr. have all excelled in wrestling, along with other sports — Caldera describes his family as athletic, with he himself having been a professional kickboxer before taking up cycling.
Caldera said he hopes others will look at his accomplishments, especially from the last weekend, and see that there’s nothing holding anyone back from a healthy life.
“I’m still competing with elite cyclists and I hope to inspire others to have a fit lifestyle,” he said. “I’d like to be an example to others in the physical fitness endeavor.”