Contributor: Tom Lyons
Contributor: Tom Lyons
ThirstyBears: Alan, Brian, Max, myself
Race plan: control the first lap, have someone up the road if there is a break going early, ride a hard tempo up the main climb on the final lap, and save Max for the sprint.
After doing 5 laps for 100+ miles with Phipps in the P12 last year, 2 laps of racing in the 55+ might seem like an easy spin around the block. We even got to sleep in because our race didn’t start until 11:25 am. Fun to see all the action of the 35+123 and 45+123 go by with ThirstyBears at the front of the race every single lap.
The guys in our race to watch were Steve Archer (Morgan Stanley), Jon Ornstil (Hammer), Rob Anderson and Larry Nolan (Specialized), Jan Elsbach (Davis), and dark horse Mark Caldwell (Truckee Bicycle Team, but has probably won every NCNCA race on the calendar once or twice for Morgan Stanley).
We rolled out with 25 racers and Alan set a solid tempo all the way through the feed and the first part of the climb. As expected, Ornstil took over and tried to impress us all with his fitness. Anderson joined him up front and I was happy to sit third wheel. As we approached the top of the climb I glanced back and realized that Archer got gapped with Max sitting on his wheel. I surged to see what would happen and Anderson was the only one to respond, but wouldn’t pull through. I figured he wanted to keep it together for Nolan.
Max, Archer, Ornstil, and three or four others caught up with us, but except for Max and Archer nobody looked interested to keep the pace high, so I put in another dig to see if people would join me in the effort. Again, it was Anderson who came after me, but wouldn’t come through. I asked him if he was just going to sit on my wheel, but he could barely answer as he was still sputtering spit from the previous effort to chase me down.
A towed him for a while, but once we made the 90 degree left turn at the reservoir he pulled through and did his share of the work. We quickly gained 40 seconds and the rest of the 36 mile race became a two men time trial.
At the start of the second lap we had about 2 minutes and decided to take it down a notch. With 10 miles to go Rob asked me, “so how are we going to play this out”? I told him that I knew his strength and my own weakness and that it would take some smart racing to beat him. I had given him the impression the second time up the main climb that I had trouble holding his wheel on the steeper parts, opening up a three bike length gap while breathing heavily.
As we approached the final climb before the long descent to the finish, I had Rob take a longer pull and attacked him hard into the wind. Gave it a maximum effort for about a minute before looking back once I started my downhill journey and realized I was solo.
I kept the pace high all the way to the finish and won by about 30 seconds.
Meanwhile, the second time up the main climb Max and Archer were able ride away from the remaining group of 10-12 chasers which included Alan and Brian. Max was able to distance Archer to take the last podium spot. Alan took 8th and Brian 11th.
Looking forward to the next race and hopefully I can return the favor to my teammates to set them up for a win 😉
Hey Bears –I am dropping a quick note to tell you what happened to me at the finish line at Copperopolis last weekend (the men’s 45 +123 race). I had a respectable race and was coming in to the finishing descent with four others – was setting up for 6th, 7th or 8th place – not bad. As I hit the flat section at the bottom, I began to turn the cranks but was sensing no torque. I soon realized that my chain had come off of the big ring on of the larger bumps, and, in the process of trying to “peddle through it,” I succeeded in wrapping the chain around the crank several times, rendering the bike useless. After a futile attempt at untangling the chain, I began to jog toward the finish, bike in tow. I was able to mount the bike and coast through the last little downhill section for a few hundred meters, but was forced to jog the final uphill section (about a half K). Five riders passed during this time.I was disappointed and a little embarrassed as I came to the last 200 meters. Those at the finish line were cheering and chuckling (rightly so) – it was pretty hysterical. About 100 meters out, a Peets rider rode slowly alongside. He looked over at me and smiled, patted me on the back, and exhorted me onward. He announced that he would absolutely not come by me. The rider was Chris Ott. His was a small gesture of kindness, but one that I will not forget. I didn’t know Chris before the race – I had heard of him and understood that he was a nice guy (and a helluva bike racer). Well, folks – he is a nice guy and his display of sportsmanship is an example for all of us out there. This is what it is all about!Scot McLean
Copperopolis Road Race3/26/1645+12364mi (3 laps)ThirstyBear p/b Akamai Lineup – Brenon Daly, Shawn Daly, Chris Phipps, Scot McLean, Dan Palmer, Tom LyonsField – 32Three laps of rough road – a gradual descent to start the loop followed by a 4mi climb through the feed zone to the reservoir, a long section of flat and rolling terrain through the upper valley finishing with a 1mi climb and 3mi spine chilling descent. It’s about a mile from the bottom of the hill to the finish over a couple rollers with the last 300mi uphill to the line.The main cast of characters in our race included Peet’s (Dan Bryant, Chris Ott, Dean LeBerge, Ron Reade), and Make A Wish (Bryan Hoadley, Cameron Birky, Todd Bell, Roger Martin). Individuals included Robert Pasco (Safeway) and Bill Laddish (Castro Valley).Shawn and I took our customary spot patrolling the back of the peloton in the early miles. Soon Brenon, Roger Martin, and another rider got a gap on the climb and the initial break was set. By the top of the climb, we had gapped a handful of guys but everyone soon got back on. Right about then, Chris got a flat. We stopped and Dan gave Chris his wheel. This was the story of the race – how a teammate would take his whole Saturday just to ride for a half hour then give up his wheel, and his race. Dan is just getting back into racing after a couple years break – to do this for Chris was an amazing gesture and obviously what it means to have a strong team bond among the riders. Scot, Shawn, and I paced Chris back to a lethargic peloton. If nothing else, we felt like a pro team but it could have been a dangerous move leaving no one in the peloton. In the end, our quick reaction to adversity proved beneficial.Peet’s was left out of the break so Dean LeBerge went to the front with very little help from others. It wasn’t working to bring back the break so Dan Bryant took things into his own hands. He led the chase from the end of the upper valley, over the hill, down the hill, and back to the main climb. It was fast and by the time he caught the break half way up the main climb, guys were hurting on the back.There were only a few of us left (including Chris, Scot, and I) when we caught the break. Chris went to the front and kept the pace high. Brenon jumped on and after a short time I looked back to see the chasers 100 meters behind us. We went over the top with 45 secs lead and three ThirstyBears (Chris, Brenon, and I) with Dan Bryant in front. Scot was in a chase group of eight (Pasco, Hobb’s, etc..). Dan was a little reluctant to work with us but we agreed he would rotate but take shorter pulls. To which I suggested Chris do the same and let Brenon and I do the majority of the work to get the break established. We did that for a lap and our break grew to over 2:00 (maybe more – the moto wasn’t giving us much). Our scenario lended itself to a couple of interesting scenarios. We could get a guy solo off the front to try to win it that way. But that would require a lot of attacking since Dan has no weakness. Or we would have to wait until the sprint which is always a risky move (see 2015 Hiet Nieuwsblad where Ian Stannard beats three Etixx guys in a break). We did not want to be Etixx. We also knew we wouldn’t be Thirsty Bear going 1-2-3 out of the break from the Chico Stage Race Master’s Pro 45 road race.Obviously our main play was to have Chris attack the main climb and see if he can get away there. He tried. I even got in on the attacks there to help things but all it did was tire me out for the final steep pitch. Chris couldn’t shake Dan. This is where we took advantage of having numbers in a break. Brenon and I kept our pace reasonable and Chris just sat on Dan who did not want to drag Chris around the course for 15 miles. Brenon and I easily rejoined the two Stars and Stripes boys. And then over the next 10 miles in the upper valley, Chris and I attacked and counterattacked Dan over and over. And he kept coming back. I couldn’t believe it. I’m sure all of us wanted it to end at some point but we just kept doing it. And Dan kept responding. Brenon was struggling from the early break miles and recovering from his nasty illness (how in the world he rode as strong as he did, I have no idea!). He would get gapped on these surges but then come back to us once we calmed down. He attacked a few times too. Near the end of the valley I got gapped on a couple of Chris’s counterattacks and realized I should now just stop doing this and save it for the sprint. Chris kindly sat on Dan each time and Brenon and I got back on. On the last one, Dan probably should have just gone to the front and not let us back, but his prize for doing that was to drag Chris to the line. Just before the final climb, Chris asked me if I had a sprint in me to which I said “yes.” I think that convinced him not to hammer the last climb and change our plan to “leave it to the sprint.”The pace was still high up the hill causing Brenon to drift back. I wanted to lead the downhill so I could see the route and also not get gapped by Dan. We got to the bottom and both guys came by me. Then Dan wound up on the front up the little rise before 1K. We almost came to a standstill. It was down to 10mph. Real track stuff. Dan, me, then Chris in that order. The perfect setup for Chris to attack. And then wham! From 10mph to 40mph instantly. I was ready and got low behind Dan able to coast some while he pedaled furiously to try to close on Chris. Chris gave the perfect lead out – he went as hard as he could for as long as he could without regard to the finish line. It took Dan all the way until the 300m mark to catch Chris. I followed Dan into the last turn and jumped hard to the finish. A very satisfying team win. And very relieved that we were able to NOT be team Etixx ’15.Really impressed with how the 45+ team has raced this year. When everyone is there to race for the team result, good things happen. Sure makes this hobby of ours a lot of fun.Tom Lyons
ThirstyBear’s Aaron Long takes Silver medal at the 2016 Season opener down in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2016 Copa Rio Series Race #1 Circuit Race
6 Gold medals, 2 bronze and Women’s & Men’s best rider award. ThirstyBear p/b Akamai deserved to be awarded “Best All Round team at US Nationals Masters Racing.