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2013 USAC Masters Road Nationals, Bend, OR by US National Champ Chris Phipps

Previous Master Nats Results:

2009 – 4th RR
2011 – 3rd RR
2012 – 3rd TT, 5th RR

Part 1 Time Trial Agony

Human Bullet Train: Chris Phipps. Photo: Matthew Lasala
Human Bullet Train: Chris Phipps. Photo: Matthew Lasala
Equipment – 2012 Trek Speed Concept 9.9, Zipp 900 Disc rear & Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 clincher front (50mm) with Bontrager R4 Aero front tire.  Giro Selector TT helmet with face shield.  Sram Force drive train with 55-39 & 11-23. Weight – 8.05 kg.

The Prineville 30K out and back time trail course was the same one used in 2012.  I knew my main challengers were Dave Bailey (Truckee Bicycle Team) starting 30 seconds behind me and defending champion Richard Feldman (Durance Colnago) starting last at 1 minute back.  I tend to go out too easy in TTs and really power the 2nd half so I made sure to get a good warm-up and planned to start the 1st half harder than I ever have before.

At 9:45:00 I rolled down the start ramp & was focused on catching my 30 sec man Dan Bryant (Folsom Bike).  I knew I was going well when I caught him and then my minute man Matt Carinio (Rock Solid Cycling) before the turn around.  After the turn I got my one check point on Bailey and Feldman and by my estimation they were still at 30 sec and 60 sec back.  At this point I got an adrenaline rush thinking this could be the day!  I left it all out there and when I crossed the line felt satisfied that this was my best TT I had ever ridden.  After I slowed down and came back to the finish I saw my dad with a frown on his face holding up 2 fingers.  I had finished 2nd to Feldman and the initial report was that I had lost by 0.22 sec (later revised to 0.84 sec).  Second was my best Nationals placing ever and I was very happy with it, but losing by less than a second really stung!

Part 2 Road Race Insanity

Equipment – 2012 Trek Madone 6.9 with SRAM Force compact 50-34 & 11-23. Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 Clinchers. Bontrager R4 Aero tires.   Weight – 6.83 kg
Specialized Evade aero helmet.

There were 81 starters & perfect weather conditions for the start of our 112K road race.  I only had 2 teammates, Ken Gallardo & Greg McQuaid, but also had a friend in Jeff Galland (ZIPZ Cycling Team) and our plan was simple. Don’t let anything dangerous get away and set me up to launch on the final climb 8K out form the finish.  2012 winner Matt Carinio (Rock Solid Cycling) also had a solid team with him and the same race plan.  The 1st 2:15 of the race was pretty uneventful for me, just sitting in at 40-50 kph and staying hydrated while the guys at the front rode tempo and chased down attacks.  Then at 95K we had the first steep pitch of the finish climb and I went off the front with a 90% attack to warm up the legs, but as I expected we chased down immediately. As I slowed Dave Bailey (Truckee Bicycle Team) pulled through and rolled off the front with no chase.  My teammate Greg gave chase and bridged up to him and they were followed by a couple more guys.  I sat back a few wheels as we hit the little descent before the final 8K climb and waited for the inevitable final attacks to launch and sure enough it was Carinio who made the big attack when it got steep.  I immediately chased and as I was catching him we were leaving everyone else behind and went right by the 4 break away riders, each now on his own with Bailey the final man caught.

At 6K to go it was just Carinio and me with 15 seconds on a hard chasing Feldman & a few others just behind him.  Carinio had put in the huge move to get us away so now I was working with him to keep us from getting caught, but knew that my only chance for a win was to get away solo.  Now with 4K to go it got really really dark. I had never seen it get so dark so fast & had to remove my sunglasses. Then it started.  First one, then another and another. Golf ball sized hail was coming down all around us!  It was scary and the first big one hit me squarely on the shoulder blade and I almost went down, then another on my spine and several (thankfully) on my helmet and many others hitting my wheels.  We were all getting pelted and there was no where to get away from it so I just braced & pedaled harder.  I had to stay seated for the final kicker since the road was so slick with hail & slush.  With 2K to go I took a look back and I had dropped Matt and had a crazy euphoria that I might actually win this! I went all out to the final U-turn thinking if I can just make it to the turn with a gap, I can take it slowly and not crash then I will have it.  I survived the final turn in the slush and now it was just 1K flat to the finish with just a gradual sweeper to the left. I can’t tell you how incredible it felt in the final 100M and crossing the finish line!  I let out a few screams of joy!  Carinio took the sprint for 2nd over Dan Bryant (Folsom Bike).

My parents were there at the finish & saw it, which was really special.  As I waited at the end of the chute many of the NCNCA riders I know were excited & giving me hugs.  When Greg crossed (36th), he came up to me with tears in his eyes, he was so happy for me, especially after being there watching yesterday’s TT.

I wanted to wait for Ken too, but I was starting to shiver and had to go pee in a cup for USADA.  Ken, his job done for the day, had taken shelter under a tree when the big hail came, but still got back on the bike to finish 70th.

As I walked to doping control I gave Karin a call and she started to cry too since she knew how hard I had worked for this and what it meant for me to finally win a national title.

I’d like to thank Karin for all her support over the last 14+ years and especially over the past 8 since I started this bike racing thing!

Thank you so much to Ken, Greg and all my Thirsty Bear Cycling teammates who couldn’t be there with us but were thinking of us as we raced!

Thanks to Hans for encouraging me to buy a bike in 2005 and all the Thirsty Bears who make up this team and to all of our sponsors!

And thank you Jan Weissenberger (Zipz) who was my training partner 3-5 days a week for the last few months! Good luck in the crit today!
National Champ Phipps – We salute you!
National Champ Phipps – We salute you!

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