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Jan “Winsprinter” to take Second at Santa Cruz Classic Masters 35+ 123

Congratulations to Matt Carinio. Jan Weissenberger 2nd and Scott Bromstead third.
Congratulations to Matt Carinio. Jan Weissenberger 2nd and Scott Bromstead third.

Originally we were planning to field 4 Thirsty Bears, Neil, Ken, Gardie and me, but as things happen it was only Neil and me for the Masters race this time. We were definitely out numbered looking around at the start line seeing that Mike’s Bikes had 9 guys, Squadra had 6 guys. We would have to watch the moves going up the road and make sure we were at least covering them. One good thing was that Matt Carinio and Craig Nunes of Art’s Cyclery were in the race and always race aggressively. The first 25 minutes several Mike’s Bikes riders were trying to get off the front. Then a chase would ensue, and we would either have a small break of the field would be back together.

Mike’s Bikes controlling the front with Neil checking it out.
Mike’s Bikes controlling the front with Neil checking it out.

Craig did a lot of work throughout the entire race either chasing things down or towing the field. Matt and I were in several moves together, but no one was committed to work and everything was brought back. With the lap cards counting down I stayed near the front, but out of the wind. Mike’s bikes did their lead out starting on the last lap with Squadra right behind them. So I was about 9 riders back from the front. I told myself that is too far back you gotta move up. So I slotted myself in right behind the Mike’s lead out. Coming into the last corner one of the Mike’s guys clips his pedal and goes down causing a moment of hesitation. Our speed slows just enough for the group to get closer to the front guys going up the hill into the stiff headwind. I knew I had to wait to start my sprint otherwise I would be leading it out. I jump off Scott’s Bromstead’s wheel and have a clear line to the finish, when I hear the whoosh whoosh of Matt’s wheels and he gets me at the line. Matt Carinio wins with me second and Scott Bromstead in third.

Thanks to our sponsors: Osmo Nutrition, City Cycle, Trek Bikes and Castelli

 

Neil Bartley in the right element
Neil Bartley in the right element
Congratulations to Matt Carinio for a great sprint finish!
Congratulations to Matt Carinio for a great sprint finish!

 

Thirsty Bear Mascot – will be permanently mounted on Jan’s handlebars.
Thirsty Bear Mascot – will be permanently mounted on Jan’s handlebars.

Ken Gallardo and Scot McLean goes “Pro” at Turlock Lake RR PRO 1/2

Ken sprinting for 4th. Photo: Katie Truong
Ken sprinting for 4th. Photo: Katie Truong
A few days ago Scot mentioned he was interested in racing Turlock Lake RR in the P / 1 / 2 category since it was the only morning field he could attend as a freshly minted Cat 2. Since the race is only an hour and a half from my dad’s house, I was also interested. A quick review of the pre-reg list showed a few strong teams with big numbers so I knew we’d have our work cut out for us. Working in our favor though is the fact that as master’s racers the young guys probably had no clue who we were and what kind of hurt a couple old guys could hand down. Well, they know now…
Despite some last minute concerns about the weather, Scot and I arrived at the lake with plenty of time to reg, Castelli SanRemo suit up! and spin around a bit. I suggested that we ride reverse of the course and check out the finish since I’d never done this race before (Scot did it last year). Scot gave me the low-down – the course is a mix of good and poor pavement and combines a little of the Snelling (in reverse) and Merco RR courses along with a nice series of rollers. And, best of all, lots of full road closure! Our plan for the day was to cover any break that had a Mike’s Bikes, Vu Medi and Marc Pro as these teams could easily put a couple strong guys in the break and block very effectively on the narrow sections of the course.
Ken – super focused on keeping the race in check
Ken – super focused on keeping the race in check

Scot and I managed to line up on the front row. The P / 1 / 2′s took a leisurely approach to lining up, getting there about 2 minutes before the start with some guys rolling up just as the whistle blew. Right away, the attacks started and fortunately most guys forgot that the first stretch of road was full closure so being near the front was a big advantage. The attacks continued most of the first lap and I was covering everything that looked remotely dangerous. About 20 miles into the race 8 guys finally got clear and after a little encouragement from yours truly (hey guys, we have a solid gap, let’s quit goofing around and ride!) we were off to the races.

It wasn’t the best break from the standpoint of numbers because there were two Mike’s Bikes guys Roman Kilun (who from the get go I knew would be the guy to watch) and Marcus Smith, two guys from VuMedi (Alexander Freund and Taylor Cody) and one each from ThirstyBear (me!!!), Red Peloton (Michael Claudio), Marc Pro Strava (never got his name) and Fresh Air Bicycles (Jared Prince).

Once we got going, the group worked together really well. I was pretty sure that as long as we rode a solid pace, we’d go faster than the peloton (which had been very inconsistent during all the attacking) plus all the big teams were well represented so only the stragglers would be available to chase. I can tell you that after some of the early season races, this break was hard but manageable. In contrast, the 35+ break at Snelling was (and I’m gonna get technical here) way, WAY harder. I was totally on the rivet the whole time at Snelling and nearly got dropped. I felt great today (perhaps, nah, no way, but just maybe I’m getting a little more fitness) and figured I had a pretty good chance of doing well if we could stay away.
Well, by the time we were halfway through the 2nd lap (of 4) we’d already built over a minute lead on the peloton. Unfortunately, the Marc Pro Strava guy touched wheels with someone on one of the rolling climbs and went down pretty hard. We slowed down for a couple minutes but when we’d gone two more rollers and didn’t see him anywhere we went back to business. Bummer for him and now we’re down to 7 guys.
On the 3rd lap, I can see some guys are starting to tire a bit and a couple guys are sweating pretty good. In contrast, I’d managed to forget my base layer, arm warmers and long fingered gloves so I’d been quite cool the whole time. I didn’t eat enough though and my legs were starting to hint that eating and drinking more might be a good idea. On the plus side, our gap on the field had been very quickly going up and by the start of the 4th lap we had 4 minutes. This should’ve been raising alarm bells but I figured the group wouldn’t want to blow a 4 minute lead by spending an entire lap attacking and cat-and-mousing. FAIL!
Almost as soon as we’d gotten the bell the knives came out. Roman reminded us that there was a full road closure by going full left (trying to get whatever “gutter” he could with the 5 MPH crosswind) and going full gas up the road. I’m caught a bit on the back foot as I’d just finished a pull so I was going backwards on the right when everyone dove left and accelerated. I managed to get back on terms and now it was no more Mr Nice Guy. I knew I couldn’t solo away for 20 miles so I figured I needed to watch Roman and bide my time. There were lots of attacks and I was attentive as possible and even launched a few of my own when I thought the timing was right. What I really wanted to to whittle the group down to 3 or less and at one point there were 4 of us but it was a bit too disorganized and the other 3 chased us down.
Then I made my big mistake. I rolled to the front and as I started to slow a bit, Roman launched. I was in the wrong gear on the wrong side of the road and didn’t react quick enough. Alex Freund of VuMedi jumped across off my wheel but nobody else did. Now Roman’s teammate Marcus was right on my wheel and nobody else would come around. 10 miles to go…I’m going full throttle but the engine room is screaming about fuel shortages and this hurts and why are you pulling these guys. Claudio makes an attempt to go across but I jump quickly onto his wheel but he shuts down. Now we’re racing for 3rd…

Somewhere in all the excitement we dropped the other VuMedi guy so now we have a 3 man chase with Smith sitting on. Unfortunately, Claudio isn’t contributing but keeps attacking so as we pass 3 km to go and he attacks, I let him go and let Prince take up the chase. He’s starting to fade so I jump off of Smith’s wheel and go by Claudio as hard as I can. Unfortunately he gets onto Smith’s wheel so I sit up and Claudio attacks again. Now I’m on his wheel and that’s where I’m staying. We pass 1 km to go and I can see Roman sprinting away for the win just like I knew he would. Damn! Now I have to be patient. 500 m to go and everyone is looking at each other, Claudio on the front, then me, then Smith, then Prince. I’m waiting as long as I can but know I’ll have to go right around 200 m if I want to get the jump. The finish is atop a *small* hill after a slight right hand bend (so glad I recon’d this and didn’t try to assess it during the race!). As we start up the hill and pass 200 m to go, Claudio opens the door on the right and I give it everything.
There’s a spectator on the road and I scream at him to GET OUT OF THE WAY! (and I didn’t use any expletives either) and I’m out of the saddle and the legs are screaming too and I can sense Smith coming alongside so I kick again but I need to shift and it’s not gonna happen and I throw my bike but come up short by a couple inches in the sprint.

Wow, what a race and what a finish. I’m really pleased with making the break and getting 4th. 2 out of the 3 guys who finished in front of me are only a couple years older than my son so, hey, they better beat this old guy! And what can I say, Roman is a talented ex-pro and I knew he’d be the guy to beat today. I kicked myself a couple times for missing that opportunity but now I know what to do next time…
Scot came in with the fractured field (he said once the field realized we were gone, the attacks starting flying fast and furious) so we both got a great workout and lots of quality, dry miles. We caught up with Alan and Joe and they congratulated me on a great finish. Hopefully some of my luck rubbed off and they do well!
Just in case anyone’s wondering, my night-before-the-race meal was this: http://www.theppk.com/2010/12/rustic-winter-stew-with-polenta/ AND homemade gluten, dairy, soy free apple crisp. Yum!

ThirstyBear Cycling Dominating the Chico Stage Race 35+ 123

ThirstyBear Bad Ass Bikers: Chris P., Jason G., Ken G., Ron C., Dan Q. Photography by Tahra Makinson-Sanders
ThirstyBear Bad Ass Bikers: Chris P., Jason G., Ken G., Ron C., Dan Q. Photography by Tahra Makinson-Sanders

Stage 1: Thunderhill Raceway 50 Min (7 laps)
Stage 2: Paskenta Road Race 90 miles (2 laps)
Stage 3: Time Trial 10 miles
Stage 4: Criterium downtown Chico 45 min

Stage 1
The Thunderhill Raceway stage 1 racing on a track where cars go over 100mph the pavement smooth. Probably one of the best venues for a race I have been to.
Our team goal was to put one of us high up in the results. There were a few power climbs on the course and we would try and have Chris attack them to string things out. Ken and Jason were on the front a bunch during the race making sure it was nice and fast. Chris attacked the longer hill in the race stringing the race out and making people chase him. Dan and Ron were riding near me keeping me out of the wind and in good position.

We did 7 total laps in 50 minutes. The last two laps were quite fast. Dan and Ron both kept me in good position each time I fell back a bit. Dan dropped me off in the top ten right before the hill where Chris rode so hard the group was strung out. It cause Folsom Bike to chase with Jesse Moore, Jason Walker and Dean LaBerge. Chris had a little gap letting me sit on the chase. Coming into the 500 m to go We just passed Chris and it was all good, but then Folsom ran out of steam and we were getting swarmed. This is when Dean started his sprint as we were approaching 200m to go. I sat patiently and then jumped hard and was able to come around Dean and lunge for the line to win the first stage and take the Yellow Jersey for our team.

Ken controlling the race from the front!

Time to attack – Rapid Ron goes off the front.
Time for Jan to kick a 1000 Watts!

Thats how it looks like when you make it big!

A well deserved Win to new ThirstyBear teammate Jan Weissenberger – or as we call him “Jan WinSprinter”.

Stage 2

Jan actually looks good in Yellow!! Photography by Tahra Makinson-Sanders
Jan actually looks good in Yellow!! Photography by Tahra Makinson-Sanders
Paskenta RR – From Dust to Dirk.
Paskenta RR – From Dust to Dirk.
The Paskenta Road Race is 90 miles long and 3 miles of that is through a gravel section with rollers. Another epic road course. Our goal today was to either get Jason, Chris or me to win the stage.
The race started and the wind was blowing pretty hard which made this race even harder. The first lap was not very eventful. Ken and Jason were again riding near the front of the group to keep things in control. The first time through the gravel we were going quite fast and we dropped a few guys making the main group a little smaller. I think Ken rode on the front for nearly half the entire second lap. The rest of us were trying to stay out of the wind. Dan attacked a ways before the gravel section and no one chased for a while. Then things got serious and it was full gas into the second time through the gravel section we were all quite well positioned, but then Jason flatted, Ken was getting tired and falling a little behind, Dan was a little gassed from his effort, Chris and I were still in the front group. We exited the gravel section Chris was riding hard on the front with Josh Dapice from Audi. We were coming up to 3km to go and I was feeling good. It was a small group of about 15 riders. 1km to go still good and fighting for a good position. Craig Roemer comes to the front to lead it out and I sit on. I see 200m and I jump as hard as I can. I cross the line thinking I had won the race when I look up and see Mike Buckley and Dan Bryant just ahead. So I was third. Still not bad, but we had let our two main rivals get some time on us which was not good. But we were confident that Chris would ride a strong time trial.
Ken setting the pace down the dusty road! Photography by Tahra Makinson-Sanders

Chris flies over the dirt road!

After a long day on the road – this ThirstyBear surely needs a cold beer!

Stage 3

Stage 3 by Chris Phipps – 10 mile flat TT with 2 right turns.
Going into the TT, I was sitting 15 seconds behind Dan Bryant (Folsom Bike) and 23 seconds behind Mike Buckley (Specialized). Buckley had won the TT in 2013 in 21:00, so I knew that I’d have to be close to 20:00 to take the overall lead.  I think I went as well as I could have, even paced, gave everything in the last 3K and ended up with a 20:27 (29.2 mph), a time I was happy with. But within a few minutes, Bryant came in with a 20:09 and Buckley with a 20:45, so I ended up second in the TT and moved up to 3rd in GC going into the stage 4 Criterium.  Jan was 15th in the TT in 22:00 with Dan & Ken in 26th & 27th at 22:40 & 22:48.  Jason was holding back to save his legs for the crit because he had lost time in the road race & we didn’t know that team GC was scored by top 3 in each stage (d’oh!).

Ken the steam train powers by!
Chris Phipps in this usual no draft position.

 

Jason cruising by.

Stage 4

I just love racing crits. Especially downtown crits. This one is a fun one because the course is tight and short. It makes it hard to be able to move up and the field stayed strung out for most of the race. Again Ken and Jason were riding near the front to control and make sure we wouldn’t miss out on a break.

Crit at its best.

Chris and I were riding near the back getting our legs back from the TT effort. After 20 min though we moved up a little. With the last 5 laps I found Dan and Jason. With 3 to go we found Ken and the four of us were trying to line it up. But the course is so tight it was hard to squeeze by. We separated and with one to go Ken moved me up as far as he could, and I did the rest of the work. I was sitting fourth wheel around the last corner and would finish in 4th as I had no more power to come around anyone. Four hard stages and we ended up with Chris in 3rd in GC and I ended up in 8th. We had one stage win, Chris got 2nd in the TT, I was third in the road race and 4th in the crit. That’s a great weekend of racing for out team. Super proud of my teammates for riding so hard all weekend and making this one of the most fun stage races I have been to.

Congratulations to Dan BRYANT  @folsombike  Michael BUCKLEY @specializedncal 3rd Chris PHIPPS @ThirstyBears
Thank you to our sponsors: Osmo Nutrition, City Cycle, Trek Bikes and Castelli Clothing.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impressive Team Effort See Jan Weissenberger Get Podium at Bariani Road Race 35+ 123

70 Miles – 5 laps

Teammates: Chris P., Jason G., Ken G., Dan Q.
about 70 starters
Riders of note: Andres Gil, Dean LaBerge, Mike Sayers, Larry Nolan, Chris Baker, Chris Espy, Jason Boynton, Scott Penzarella
Result: 3rd

Ken, Chris and I carpooled to Bariani. On the way we discussed how we would like the race to play out and talked a little strategy. There was a chance for an omnium prize since we had finished 2nd the day before at the Crit. All we had to do was to beat Mike Sayers and we would get the omnium prize. That was one of our goals. The other goal was to get a high placing in the race. Ken, Chris and Jason were free to get into breaks. If it looked like a field sprint then save ourselves for an attempt at a lead out for me.
8:05am the whistle blows and we are off. The field was big for these small skinny roads as center line rule was in full effect, except by the run into the finish about 2.5km. The rest of the course was a bit rough with potholes, tight and narrow so really hard to move up. Specialized had 6 guys, Folsom Bike had 7 guys, LangeTwins had 6 guys, Studio Velo had 5 guys.
Lap 1 –  was pretty uneventful and we all just rolled it and everyone got a look at the course. It was a bit chilly at the start, but would warm up by our finish.
Lap 2 – was faster and about 1/4 of the way into the lap I ended up flatting my front tire. Dan stopped with me, gave me his front wheel. I look up and Chris is waiting for me. Chris and I chase back on to the back of the field in less then 5 minutes, few that was close…Chris did all of the work, so that I could just sit on. We then move back up through the field to seek shelter and recover a bit. As we come by the finish Dan rides up next to me and says hey I got a wheel I am back too. Awesome. We were all back in it.
Lap 3…Chris flats and chases back on solo, otherwise pretty uneventful.
Lap 4 – Much of the same, but we have Ken and Jason riding near the front jumping into break attempts and just watching that nothing gets away with out us in the move. The course is really pretty bumpy with a lot of pot holes and lose gravel.
Lap 5 – Here is where the fun starts. We are all together and it looks like it is going to come down to a field sprint. I have saved my energy for the sprint to try and get a good placing for our team. Ken and Jason are still near the front and setting a nice tempo. Then all of a sudden I feel my rear tire going soft. I am like ‘oh nooooo’. I ride up to the front and tell Ken and Jason I have a flat.
Jason reacts and attacks the field, while Ken stops with me. I asked him ‘hey do you have Shimano’, referring to the pedals, he says ‘yes’, referring to his components and not pedals. I take his bike and start pedaling as I see Chris, again, waiting for me. Well I didn’t realize Ken’s bike is not only TOO big but also I can’t clip in. I sit on Chris at 30mph out of the saddle and not being able to get into the pedals. Shit. We get close to the pack and Dan is just off the back waiting for us. I asked him if he had Shimano pedals, he says ‘yes’. So I say ‘ok lets switch bikes’. He hands me his bike, and then Chris and I chase the field for what seemed like an eternity. His bike still a little too big for me but at least I could get into the pedals and somewhat be able to sit down. We get back onto the field with about 4KM to go. I move right up to the front. We make the last right hand turn into the finishing straight of 3km. Specialized is on the front setting pace. With 500m to go I am in decent position. Mark Anderson is on my right and I have Mike Sayers in my sight as well as Chris Baker from Specialized. At 150 to go the sprint starts. All of the sudden I see Mark going down pretty hard right next to me (oh no…Marks a good friend of mine).  I start my sprint, but a little too late as Chris Baker, Specialized, wins, and Mike Sayers finished just in front of me. I ended up 3rd.

I am not a quiter!! Jan gets 3rd after 2 flats.
After 2 flats, riding on a bike that was not his, Jan Weissenberger sprinted to win! Photo: Alex Chiu Photography.
After 2 flats, riding on a bike that was not his, Jan Weissenberger sprinted to win! Photo: Alex Chiu Photography.
BUT WOW that was a day of errors and such awesome teamwork, I was left speechless by the selflessness by all my teammates. A thank you just didn’t seem enough by any stretch. Luckily I had the beer I won from the Crit with me which we all shared right after we got back to the cars. What a day.

Amazing team efforts pays of at the end. Chris, Ken, Jan, Dan and Jason celebrating Jan’s podium spot.
Also, a special thanks to our sponsors: Osmo Nutrition, City Cycle, Trek Bikes, Castelli Clothing,

Corey Scooby-Doo VICTORY at RedKit Masters 35+ 3/4

Corey sprinting for the win!
Corey sprinting for the win!
I started this race with the full intention of sitting in and waiting for the inevitable pack sprint finish. Breaks rarely work in the 3/4s because of the mixed field and lack of coordination from teams to help a break get established. So right out of the gate we let 1 solo guy roll off the front and the rest of the pack rolled around and looked at each other. After a few laps, some attacks hit and were covered and the solo guy in the break yoyo’d in his gap. During one of these yoyos on the back straight (during the tailwind) an Audi guy rolled away from the group and went on a mission to bridge. After a short while, he joined the leader and now the break was a slightly more solid 2. One of the interesting aspects of racing 3/4 as compared to 1/2/3 is that the fields are a lot more varied and the likelihood that anyone knows who is consistently strong is low – so when someone comes out of the pack to bridge, it is hard to tell if that is a move you should go with or if anyone is marking you. I rode very near the front for the first 1/2 of the race. I missed my chance to bridge with Audi guy but studied the break carefully trying to determine if they were solid, working together and whether or not I thought this could be a winning move. We were maintaining the break in sight but their lead was consistently 1 straight (1/4 lap).
About 1/2 way through the race we came through the 2nd corner onto the tailwind back straight. I was about 5 wheels back and one of the first two guys dropped a chain or had some kind of mechanical and caused disorganization at the front of the pack. Until that moment, I had not considered a bridge attempt – but as I came through to the front I looked up and the break looked closer on the long fast straight than they had in a few laps so I cranked it up a few hundred watts and accelerated off the front of the pack. One would never get away solo in the 1/2/3s with a move like that but in the 3/4 I could easily accelerate smoothly and seated and establish a gap. By the end of that 1st straight I had closed about a 1/3rd of the gap and was clear off the front of the group so I put my head down and crushed it for the remainder of the lap to complete the bridge.
My 2 break mates were happy to see some more support arrive and after sitting out one rotation to recover from my bridge I fell into rotation. We rode the break fast and efficiently but kept it within the bounds of everyone there. My break mates were Monster Media (Brian Scholl) and Audi (didn’t ever catch his name). We successfully rolled through the first few lap cards with a solid gap but with 2 to go, the pack was closing. I knew they wouldn’t be that organized and could see that they were right there but as we came through on the bell lap, the 3 of us still had 10 seconds or so on a charging field. As I rolled through the line, I could see many teammates and friends exuberantly cheering us on. I looked up to see Jan standing there and giving me the universal sign for “hit the gas” as I rotated through. For those of you that don’t know and need to – the universal sign for “hit the gas” is to pretend you are riding a motorcycle and twist the throttle with your right arm – while yelling GO GO GO! So I “hit the gas” and immediately pulled the Audi guy off the back. Now it was just me and Monster Media. I had already worked out that the other guy should have the last pull (straight before the sprint) so I laid on the power on the back straight. We came around the 2nd to last corner and it was desperate. We still had the gap but the pack was charging and we couldn’t back off. MM guy hung me out for the first 1/3 of that last straight before the sprint, but ultimately came around with a strong pull and that allowed me a few pedal strokes of recovery.

We came into the last corner and I would have liked to stay in his draft for the first 100m before opening up – but I was so aware of the looming pack that I felt I needed to launch my sprint right away. We rounded the corner – I jumped on the inside line – and we were off on a drag race to the line. My jump was strong enough to get clear by quite a bit but the sprint was long so I knew that holding on would be tough. As we closed through 50 to go I had my eye on Monster Media trying to step back out of my draft and come around but I knew as we closed that he had run out of road and I had him. We came across the line and I threw just to make sure but I had him by about 1/2 a bike length, with 3rd place coming out of the charging pack about 10 feet back.
It was super cool to be in a break in a 3/4 race that worked and to hold on for the win. One or two more like that and I won’t be able to race with them any more – but I will be able to torture myself in the P1/2 with Chris and the big boys!
Regards,

–Corey

Superstars Phil and Scot “double down” at Madera E3 Stage Race

ThirstyBear participants – Phil Hynes, Scot McLean
Stages – 3 (TT and crit on Saturday and road race on Sunday)
Field – 73
Average age – 22?  (Would have been 19 were it not for Phil and me.)
I had cleared this race with the family about a month ago using my birthday as leverage.  Getting away in March for a stage race is unprecetended for this kid.  I am looking to upgrade this year and this weekend was an opprtunity to amass some points.  Phil and I were both focused on the stage 1 TT as our opportunity to establish ourselves as GC contenders.
This ended up being weekend full of surprises: a lucky break for me the night before stage 1, an unexpected decision from the official’s relating to Saturday’s crit, and a few unfortunate occurrences on Sunday.
I had decided to book a room in Madera Friday night in order to be as fresh as possible for Saturday morning’s 9 am TT (Madera is a two and three quarter hour drive from Marin).  As I pulled into the Madera Quality Inn check-in area, I felt a strange bump on the top of my car and heard what sounded like two soft knocks on a front door.  Then I was immediately in the grip of terror having realized what had taken place – I had forgotten that my my road bike was mounted at the top of my car (TT was in the back seat), and I had just driven into a covered parking area with just eight and a half of feet of clearance.  I jumped out of my car expecting to see the bike demolished..  My God!  It looked ok.  It turns out that the front of the saddle had just cleared the roof of the structure.  The back of the saddle, however, made contact and the bike was compressed and then released once the clearance increased to nine feet – that explained the bump and the two knock noises.  My rear tubular was flexible enough to prevent any damage to tthe seat post or frame.  Disaster was narrowly averted.
Stage 1 TT (Saturday AM)
Stage 1 was about a 20 minute drive North to a little town called Chowchilla.  The TT was a flat, three turn stretch of bumpy country road (10.5 miles).  Phil and I met up during warm-up and chatted a bit.  Phil started about 5 minutes in front of me – starts were every 30 seconds.  The wind kicked up and we had a headwind for the first three miles, and then a cross wind after the first turn (didn’t really enjoy a tailwind until the last two miles).  I worked hard in the first half of the ride, fighting the wind and shifting my line to avoid potholes.  It felt slow but I stayed down and caught my 30 second guy at the two mile mark.  I caught two others later on and motored in with some momentum.  I wanted a 22:40 (based on times posted last year)but ended up at 23:11.  I was initially disappointed.  Phil and I met up – hist time of 23:02 (9 seconds faster) looked like time to beat.  Now, I felt a bit better.  If I was just 9 seconds in back of Phil, then I was surely top 5.
It turns out that we were 1, 2 by a lomg stretch,  Phil had 9 seconds on my time,  and I had 23 seconds on third place.
Stage 2 Crit (Saturday afternoon -1 hour – ended up being a 27 mile crit)

Phil Hynes going full power
Phil and I were a bit disheartened to learn that the time bonuses for top 3 crit placings were so high – 20, 10, and 5.  Twenty second bonus for the win!?  There were also two 5 second prem laps.  We had marked the four guys in back of us and watched them like hawks.  Everything was fine and it looked like our time gaps were safe until a crash on the last lap – I was and half the field were separated from the first half by about two seconds.  That was enough for the field judge to award a 9 second time difference between the first and second halves of the race.  This 9 second penalty ended up being the crucial difference for me.  Phil was safe – he cruised across in seventh.  Phil looked absolutely unbeatable.  He was the class of the field.
Power house Scot Mclean pulling at the front
Power house Scot Mclean pulling at the front
Stage 3 (Sunday – 4 laps, 64 miles)
This was it.  Having not done this race before, I was quite anxious about this rough road section. I  was told that it was worse than Copperopolis.  I had no idea.  Phil and I lined up at the start.  We both knew that this could come down to equipment.  We were still 1,2.  I was vulnerable (now just 17 seconds in front of third and 20-25 in front of three or four others), but Phil’s lead looked insurmountable.   We rolled and hit the first lap bumpy section about.  I had started in the front part of the race but was soon falling back and struggling to find a line to avoid these gaping holes in the earth.  This was like jet turblance from hell.  the stretch seemed to go on and on.  Finally, the road seemed to smooth over, but the first lap had taken its toll on the field.  We had lost maybe five on that first lap.  Oh no, there was Phil as I road by!  He had flatted.  I road on as the new GC leader, but I was sick about Phil.  I was able to stay near the front for the remainder of the race, and the bumpy road section became more and more manageable over the succeeding three laps.

Phil chasing back after flat in final stage. A long ride home…
As we road through the final set of rollers, I was in a great spot – probably sixth wheel.  One of the GC threats took off solo and I let him go a bit, waiting for the last 1k before I hit the gas.  I just need to reel him in a bit to preserve the GC win.  I think it was my fourth or fifth peddle stroke out of the saddle when I was suddenly hit hard from the back.
All this way and then full stop for Scot
All this way and then full stop for Scot
I was smacked down on the road immediately on my left side – no warning at all.  Three or four others went down as well.  I was stunned and dazed.  A few guys road over me and my bike.  I rolled off to the side of the road, hoping to avoid further injury.  I was fairly lucky.  I realized that I was cut up pretty bad and my bike was a disaster – twisted and torn at the top.

Victory vanished in a split second, but still Scot gets on the bike and finish. A true sportsman “Never surrender”.
After about sixty seconds, I decided to get back on and peddle across the line in case it mattered.  I soon learned that one retains pack time in crashes within 3k of the finish.  I still had a chance.  I waited for two hours to learn that I had lost the GC win as a result of an arcane tiebreak rule.  I wom’t bore you with the math, but I ended up second.

Congratulations for Scot stepping up on the podium seriously bruised but still smiling!

Folks, this was Phil’s race.  He deserved the win and would have had it easily were it not for the mechanical.  I merely limped in for second.  Hats off to you Phil and sorry for what happened.  You were the man!
Scot

Unstoppable Jason Gets Victory Pie at Cherry Pie Crit +35 123

For the second day in a row, Jason steps up on the podium!
For the second day in a row, Jason steps up on the podium!

After having lapped the field and finished 2nd at BP Winter Crit, Jason is right back at it! Here is how it went down…

Late… because I always run late for crits, I got my number and got dressed in the car, listening to the heavy pelting wind and rain.  “It’s nice in here,” I thought.  “Maybe I should just stay warm instead of racing.”  I took my time getting dressed and had already resigned myself to an abbreviated warm-up.  I forgot my trainer, so I rolled down the parking lot hill a couple times and my butt was already getting soggy from the road.

Rolling to the start, there were 4 Mikes Bikes, 4 LangeTwins, and a collection of others.  Hunter Ziesing from Hammer showed up with the wrong number and quickly joined our field.  It was his second (maybe third) race.  There were about 10 of us total.  Hunter said he was going to attack from the gun… and he did.

I started from the back of the group, being extra cautious on the first turn and Hunter, Greg Tsutaoka (LangeTwins), and Mike Foley (Mikes Bikes) went clear right away.  With several teammates in the field, I knew that this first lap break was likely the move that would stick, so I immediately motored up to their group.  By the time I got there, Greg was already calling “uncle” and was unable to pull through.

Mike & Hunter were both barking at Greg for him to pull through & I said that we needed him in our group if we were going to stay clear.  Greg was in our group for now.

The race continued for a couple more laps with everyone but Greg taking some pulls.  There was a nasty headwind on the final stretch and it always sapped your energy when you did work into the wind, then had to hit the final 400m climb.  Greg dropped out of our group & pulled the plug on himself and then there were 3 of us.

Mike took 2 primes and I took 2.  Hunter sat out of all of them, saying, “I’m just happy to be out here.”  Our tempo was good and we had locked up the podium.

With about 6 to go, the chief ref screams at us that Hunter didn’t register and that he needs to drop from the race.  Huh?  Hunter continues with us and would end up being ineligible for the race.

Two laps to go, I try a hard dig on the backside and coming into the straight and final stretch.  I pull off in the final stretch, letting Mike come by.  We are going a bunch slower and he’s in the wind.  Coming into the hill, he’s a bit agitated and swings wide right for one of us to pull through.

Wide open door!  I pin it to the top of the hill and motor really fast through the turn at the bottom of the hill.  Hunter is with me.  Mike is off our group.  I continue to motor hard through the back side and then into the final stretch.

Looking back, we’re clear, so I need to keep something in reserve for the final sprint.  I ease up a bit, watching to see if Hunter is going to try to pull around.  At about 200m to go, I pop and give it everything I have… First.  Pie and primes are yummy!

 Thanks for reading, 

Jason

 

Jason Grefrath Laps the Field at BP Winter Crit 35+ 123 to finish 2nd.

Jason Grefrath, ThirstyBear Cycling fights the cyclone rain. Photo: Alex Chiu Photography
Jason Grefrath, ThirstyBear Cycling fights the cyclone rain. Photo: Alex Chiu Photography

I was looking forward to three days of team camp for months, but due to work and due to the stupid no rain for months, then raining every weekend situation, I bailed on the Friday and Saturday team rides. Instead of slogging through Santa Rosa, I figured I’d slog through the Folsom Crit. It’s 20 minutes from my house and I’ve done this course a million times. It’s a very simple course with no major turns, just sweepers, and I figured I could get a good result in a decent field.

Because I happened to be home instead of Santa Rosa, I got some extra “honey-do’s”, because, you know, I’m home. The last “honey-do” was picking up a granite fountain from a neighbor’s house (those things are heavy) and it made me late to the race. I arrived with 45 minutes to start. I still had to grab my number, pin it, and get warmed up. After a series of frustrating missteps getting all my gear on, I was ready to race, and I joined the field just as they rolled off the finish line.

For the first lap, I fiddled with my gloves, still getting them on, and keeping the bike steady in the rain, wind and puddles on the course. Did I mention it was raining?

4th lap was the first prime and I went clear with Jeff Watson (LangeTwins) and Jeff Galland (Zipz). Jeff Watson took the prime and Galland gave us the “we’re clear” and we started motoring.

Watson was blown from his sprint and had trouble pulling through. After some very direct words about not pulling through, Watson dropped back to the field. (Sorry for being so direct, Jeff!)

 

This left Galland & me together off the front. Once it was just Galland and me and we got a 20s time split, I looked back and told Jeff that we were going to lap the field.

Jeff took some short pulls for the first 8 minutes and for the final 23 minutes, it was all me on the front, steadily drilling it at 350 watts. I was concerned with lapping my first field and stopped racing, really. To win the race, tactically, I should have done things differently. Now that I’ve lapped a field in a race, my bucket list is checked and next time I’ll go for the win (Jan, I promise).

“We” caught the field with 3 or 4 to go and I motored right through the group, hoping they would let us go and that we/I would be out of range of any last lap stupidity. No such luck. Beth Newell (Go BETH!) tagged us and now the field was back together. 2 laps to go became 1 lap and on the final lap, I was more concerned about being out of trouble than about setting myself up for the sprint. (I’m still on the front, btw.)

Final turn is about 200 meters to the finish, slightly uphill and this year was in a major headwind. Coming off the turn, a very pathetic pop out of the saddle, and I watched Jeff take the field sprint, leaving me 2nd place.

Nice work Jeff Galland on playing your cards and about tagging the right wheel. He let me have all the primes… thank you Sierra Nevada, Cytosport, and Bicycle Lawyer (Zin Man wine) for supporting cycling. Jeff also gave me his winnings. While I’m not thrilled about Jeff sitting on my wheel, that’s his card and he raced his race (and won). Next time, I won’t make it so easy, though.

Thanks for reading!
Jason

Eric Lagier 5 Mile Solo Escape to Take Victory at Knights Ferry RR 35+ 3

Podium shot – Celebrating victory at Knights Ferry RR. Thanks to Paul Berger, his kid and Matt Johnson for stepping in. Notice the OSMO bottle – One of our new sponsors helping us improve performance.
Podium shot – Celebrating victory at Knights Ferry RR. Thanks to Paul Berger, his kid and Matt Johnson for stepping in. Notice the OSMO bottle – One of our new sponsors helping us improve performance.

Here are the ingredients for a perfect race;

Dedicated 35+ 3 race = no 1 & 2’s to bully the peloton
1. Noon start = get to sleep long
2. 59miles only, with a meager 2K feet of climbing = An easy start to the season.
3. High sun, little wind, and warm temperatures (Boy I love California)
4. Add 3days and 375miles of Coast Ride as base miles and continuously doing serious training rides with the ThirstyBears!!
5. Being accompanied by Piers Barry.

It all started with a nice 2.5 hour drive out to the middle of nowhere together with Piers and Piers’ friend, David Campbell. We did our usual 15 min warm-up, riding up and down the road for 2.5 miles, primarily to test that our gear was race ready. However David used the opportunity to have a flat. Better then, than during race.

 

Knights Ferry Road Race 2014 – 59miles out and back twice.

Field was 40 man strong with Kovarus/Wells Fargo Racing TeamBell Real Estate Cycling Team and Team Fremont/FFBC p/b Chipotle well represented. Especially Kovarus with 9 riders had the opportunity to dominate this race. Piers and I were in sync with our tactics. Stay in front, control the race, ok to let one guy go and let him hang to dry 15 sec out, but if anyone tried to bridge or more riders go, stay on their wheel. Do not take any pulls ourselves. We were only two riders and could easily burn up all the matches trying to control the race.

12 Noon we are off, tempo is modest and Piers and I sit in the middle of the field, but I use the first little climp to get up in the front to be sure to stay in control of the race.

Givargis Betoshana from Bell Real Estate Cycling Team had sneaked off from the gun and few noticed this until we approached the turning point first time and he comes flying solo way ahead us. The Kovarus team sets tempo up in front and we bring back the first break. Then follows 40 miles of constant attacks from Kovarus and a few other teams, but they are all half hearted and chased back. Dave Rossow from LuxVue – SunPower Racing takes some massive pulls and I stay tucked away just behind him. Martin Szwarc and Tim Zsoka Team BP/Sierra Nevada/Reliable is active contributing in front.  Unfortunately Martin Szwarc flats and missed out on the finish.

Our tactics is working out. I have closed down a number of breaks while Piers conserved his energy to go for the win as we get closer to the finish. However, having chased down 8-10 attacks over the first 50 miles it seem more and more likely that it will be a sprint finish and there are many strong legs in the field.

We come to the rail road tracks, which naturally slows down the field, and Dave Keefe LuxVue – SunPower Racing attacks. I turn on 750 watts and within seconds I am coming up fast behind him. I look around and see that I managed to gap the field, so I shout to Dave “lets do it” as I fly by him and for the next 30 sec we ride together. We come to a turn which I corner full speed. As I look back, Dave is gone…Shit, 5 miles left and now riding solo with a field of 40 chasing me. Should I sit up and wait or go all in? I go all in.

I know Piers has been saving his batteries all day, so the longer I am out there with the others chasing, the better are Piers’ chances to counter attack and go for the win once they swallow me up.

Time to go – pulse hitting 200, surging 800 Watts. This is the only way to get away.
Time to go – pulse hitting 200, surging 800 Watts. This is the only way to get away.

I am in adapted TT mode, pulse hammering at 185 bpm and ride in the screaming red zone. I don’t look back once, as its serves no purpose to see if the are close or not, just focusing on keeping the pace at maximum. 1 mile goes, 2 miles goes, 3 miles goes…I cannot believe that they have not caught me yet. I am at a tipping point, fuel is fast running out of the tank and I am starting to doubt that I can hold the pace much longer. I get to think of my solo stunt at last years Snelling RR and it gives me renewed energy to try harder.

I see the 2km sign! Only 2 short km to go, but it’s the 2 km with all the climbing on the course. Not really what I wished for, but how hard can it be? I need to make it. As I hit the 1km for the final climb I get into the little ring and spin as fast as I can. It’s do or die. I cannot look back fearing that the hungry chasing group will be right behind me. They must be right behind me. Half way up the top I see Rick from VeloPromo standing on the side and I shout to get him to tell me where the chasers are. He replies “They are coming fast”. I dig deep and pull out the last juice, the 200m sign is coming up, I get up and start sprinting, No one is going to take this from me now! 20m and I turn my head and to my surprise they is no one near. The field is just passing the 200m sign. I F***ing MADE it. One hand in the air for victory!! Gasping for air. This is how races are won.

According to Raceshape I managed to quickly built a gap of 20sec, which grew to 35sec after 4 miles. The last mile I lost nearly 20sec especially on the climb.

Piers did an amazing job as I went away. Piers went up in the front and continued to take false leads helping to keep the tempo down. Coming up to the climb, Piers went for it, but unfortunately too many grabbed on and of fear that he would pull the chasers up to me he sat up. Thanks Piers!!! – The dynamic duo is back!

The Dynamic Duo!
The Dynamic Duo!

 

Knights Ferry RR 45+ 123 ThirstyBear team lead out Joe Amon to take 4th

Joe Amon – Close but no Cigar!
For all those who raced today – Duane, Hans, Gardie, Brenon, Dan, Holger, Oddva – sorry, if I’m forgetting some important detail. I’m terrible at race reports.

So we get to Knights Ferry with at least an hour’s time to suit up and get ready.  All’s good. Until somehow the keys get locked in the car. Hans is down the road in his running shoes, and most of Duane’s gear is still in the car. Duane’s on the phone with AAA and time is ticking by. Finally he agrees to let me try and smash his window so we can race, and we’ll all split the cost of the replacement. I grab a rock the size of a papaya, smack the window pretty hard and, to my disbelief, nothing. So I wind up and smack it even harder and it just feels like plexiglass, I can see it flex. No go. By now people are walking by and commenting, what the hell are you guys doing, as I take repeated blows at the glass and am unable to break it. Then a guy comes over with a pair of vice grips acting like I’m some kind of pussy and he tries whacking it a couple of times, to no avail. Finally I realize if you hit a window on the corner, that’s how they blow. Sure enough, with 10 minutes to go, we suit up and line up for the race.

Masters 45+ 1/2/3 started with a field of about 50 guys, 8 of ‘em Thirsty Bear. With that many in the field, we had to do something and the whole race, we sure did. When I say we, I mean They ‘cause I just sat in. It was just constant attacks, mostly TB, but every time other teams would shut it down.  I think there were enough sprinters that had teammates to keep things in check.

About halfway through the 87-mile race, even though the terrain is pretty flat we had managed to lose half the field. The whole race TB was attacking, trying to form breaks. I’m not sure if there was a single break attempt that didn’t have a TB in it. And then with about 6 miles to go TB went to the front and just kept the pace high, to discourage more attacks.  We averaged 24 miles an hour over the whole race.

It’s not my kind of sprint finish. It’s a bit too big of a hill for me, but at some point Brenon came around, told me to get on his wheel and he just drilled it. With about 100 to go, Don Langley shot by us with the guy that got second and Dan Shore who ended up getting 3rd, but they had so much momentum I wasn’t able to get right onto Dan’s wheel. I closed the gap down but only right at the finish line and didn’t have enough road to come around. I‘m actually pretty happy with 4th place considering how strong a lot of those riders were, but I do feel like I let the team down a little bit, the way everyone worked so hard the whole race and then that amazing lead-out and I didn’t podium.

Joe Amon.