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Dynamic Duo Double Down on Copperopolis. Eric Lagier takes 1st, Piers Barry 3rd in 35+ 4

Copperropolis Road race is one of the epic spring classics in Northern California and is often referred to as the “Paris – Roubaix” of California. No cobblestones but famous for rough terrain and miles of pot holes.

Good races always starts long before the race. Weeks before the actual race, our cat 4 ‘tactical adviser’, CJ Wolf, had prepared a detailed analysis of the top 5 strong riders and the different scenarios for the race.

Unfortunately CJ could not join us on the actual day, but we did what we could to follow the tactics we talked about.

“The first hill comes quickly in the race at the 2nd mile marker and I am sure it will be fast but everyone will regroup at the top or along the rolling hills over the next 12 miles. I believe everyone will wait for the big hill on the 2nd lap.” CJ Wolf
There are many advantages of racing in the 35+ 4 category. One of which is the 11am start time. So after a god nights sleep I jumped into the car to pick up Piers, the better part of the Dynamic duo. Also with me was my dad who flew in all the way from France to see me race.
As I unpacked my carbon tubulars, I discovered that my rear tire was missing much of the rubber in two locations. Dr. Piers quickly made the verdict; “racing on pure kevlar would be certain suicide”. Bummer! So much for days of reading the great advice on ‘clinchers vs. tubulars’ on our chat, only to realize that I should have done a better prep and check my gear in advance.
Piers on the other hand had left home without his jersey and the thought of him racing topless made me a bit worried. Fortunately Alan Roberts came to the rescue as his racing unfortunately had ended prematurely for him.
As for warm up, Piers and I road 5 min. out and 5 min back in a modest tempo. That was it. No need to exaggerate all that warm up ;-). So at 11am Piers and I was ready to roll in a group of approx. 30 riders set to combat for the next 42 miles.

It was an easy start, allowing Piers and I to hang in the back getting familiar with the non existing pavement. But contrary to last year, there were fewer real pot holes, which was good news.
First lap was a walk in the park and Piers and I got a good view of the course. All the fun first started as we hit the big climb on our second lap as CJ had predicted. A few riders with Piers and I put the pressure on, and quickly the field was exploding. Piers and I nearly ended our race then as the two of us had a bumbling of wheels, but fortunately Piers unclipped, regained balance and we could continue. At the top of the climb we were 7 riders in what would turn out to be the building block for the winning break. We had put some effort in, but saved our matches for the final climb.
Then came a great collective effort with 10 sec. pulls in a fast moving pace line. A few riders showed sign of damage, but all in all we made the rotation work more or less smoothly. The chasing peleton never had a chance to get back.

During the rotations Piers and I used the small overlaps to chat about the final tactics. With 7 in the break and only Piers and I from the same team we had a strong advantage over the others and we were ready to play that hand when we started on the last climb at mile 38. Its a another ‘little hill’ of 300 vertical gain and about 1 mile long, but the perfect place to split the group. So as we started the steep part of the climb Piers accelerated and I stayed behind to keep folks in check. Unfortunately as Piers had been sick for most of the week prior to the race, he missed the killer ignition that he is otherwise famous of. So the other riders stuck to his wheel as he pulled up. It was then my turn to see if I could make a difference. Coming 100 m from the top I counter-attacked, reached into my stash of matches and pulled a few to light up the fire. Then came half a mile of rollers and gradual decent. A group including Piers caught me halfway down the decent, but it allowed me to get my breath for a few sec. to once again dig deep and pull away, shouting to Piers that we now only where 3. Racing down the last decent with 43mph is not for the faint at heart. Especially when there are numerous turns and the road is bumpy as hell. My bike was shaking like crazy. Piers did the right thing for the team by staying in the other riders wheel, letting him do all the work to bridge me, however I am sure Piers could have challenged me for the victory itself if I had not pulled away.
With 200m left, the road climbs all the way up the finish line. The other rider got up to my wheel and started moving past me. “Hell no” I thought. Fortunately he had spent all his energy chasing me, so when I went into sprint mode he had no more to give and I could race my hand in victory. Piers finished right behind us as 3rd.


Thanks CJ for good tactical advice, Alan for making sure that Piers did not have to ride top less and a BIG thanks to an amazing team effort from Batman himself, Piers. I will make it up to you when ever you are ready!
Next up Sea Otter…..

ThirstyBear Cycling champ Hans Gouwens takes 2nd. at Copperopolis 45+ 123

Copperopolis Road Race (63 miles) 45+123 Race Report.

What better than to wake up at 4 am for the California version of “the Hell of the North”?  This was to be my first Big Goal for the 2013 season and I was so excited to race that I woke up before the 4 am buzzer.

After my Peet’s fix, I met Scot and Alan at Marin Brew Co at 5 am for the 2 hour drive to Milton, CA.  This must have been the warmest start of any Copperopolis race I have ever done over the past 12 years – no gloves, no arm warmers, no nothing extra weight.  Speaking of weight, I finally got below 150 lbs in 8 years and with all the Tuesday Torture miles under my 28 inch belt I knew I was ready to race hard and compete with the best of the old farts in NorCal.
Arthur, Duane, Holger, Scot, and Alan were the other Hungry Bears to race hard in a field of 42 starters.
The first of three laps was pretty mellow. Duane got in a break early on, while Arthur patrolled the front for any bridge attempts. Holger got in a break next, which really gave the rest of us an easy task to follow wheels.
After the first lap we still had Scot, Duane, Holger, and Arthur showing some good team representation as we approached the main climb for the second time.  This time, however, the pace was pretty intense and as we crested the top we were left with just seven. Former TBear Alex Osborne, David Passmore (SJBC), Mark Zimbelman and Cris Williams (Volo Cycling), Dirk Himley (Echelon), John Cavanaugh (PrimeTime), and myself.
Perfect team representation to keep things going smoothly, but sooner than later the infighting took over and the pace drop considerably.  Nevertheless, we were able to stay clear of the peloton behind us as we approached the hill before the finish.  Cavanaugh was cooked and somehow Zimbelman crossed wheels with his own team mate and went side ways instead of up hill.
One lap to go and 5 guys left and I’m feeling good.
Final time up the main climb I knew that I had to treat it as if it was the finish of the race – miss the connection and be left solo or dig deep and stay with the front. Dirk Himley did what he does best and put the hurt on all the others. Only Passmore was able to follow, while I got gapped by about five bike lengths as we went over the top.  Had to dig pretty deep into the pain cave, but managed to get back on and off we went.

The final 10 miles was almost a stroll in the park as the three of us had built a huge lead. Once we approach the final climb before the bumpy and speedy downhill finish, nobody wanted to take the front.  Ultimately, Himley drilled it and Passmore couldn’t stay on his wheel. I jumped across to get on Himley’s wheel halfway up the hill, but he quickly pulled off to the left to let me set tempo.  I had little choice, thinking that 2nd is better than 3rd because Passmore was not that far behind.  So I pulled Himley all the way to 200 meters and knew he was going to come around.  I tried to get on his wheel but got gapped too much to have a chance. Still, 2nd is better than 3rd and if I have to take his word for it (“I owe you”) my day will come.
Dirk is a good guy, a beast, a competitor.  He can be beat, but not today.
See all the results here and read the race report from 35+ 4 here.
Holger 8th
Scot 13th
Duane 21st
Arthur DNP
Alan DNP


Megan Alderete celebrates her start at ThirstyBearCycling with GREAT VICTORY at Bariani RR

Bariani Road Race, March 17th 2013.

Women’s Cat 4: 2 laps, 28 miles; Result: 1st Place

With over 60 women in the field, I reluctantly approached the starting line.  Seconds before the whistle I thought I heard a gunshot, but it was merely an exploding tire, fortunately on the bike next to mine. It was a welcomed wake-up call.  As soon as her wheel was changed, the whistle blew.

My only goals for the day were to A) not get in an accident, B) not miss a break, and C) position myself for a sprint at the end. The center-line rule proved extremely frustrating. As we rolled out, I found myself near the back of the pack on the left. It seemed nearly impossible to move up safely through the annoyingly slow swarm. By mid-lap, I eventually managed to move through the middle and up the right side on the shoulder.

As we approached the rollers, a handful of strong riders emerged to quicken the pace.  A couple Mintie women and a strong SoCal gal on Ritte tried to get in a break, but I made sure to stay on their wheels, and we managed to shed about half the field.

I rolled through the first lap (going into the last) at wheel #2 and tried to work with the Ritte gal ahead of me to get in a break. My garmin registered 34 MPH as I tried to pull in the front (there must have been a tailwind!). No luck. I tried again by pulling to the far side of the road, but no luck. Then I tried to get the six or so riders at the front to work together, but only a couple women were willing to work. We slowed, refusing to carry the 20 riders who were left in the group. In hindsight, it was probably the worst time to try for a break.

Someone yelled that the gap behind us was closing, so we tried to organize a double paceline, but like before, several women refused to pull through. I let myself fall toward the back of the 20 to recover as we wound through the turns of the back country roads.

The pace quickened again at the rollers, and the group morphed into single file. I positioned myself as wheel #2 or #3. Positioning rapidly changed as various women tried to break or move up. I hopped on any strong wheel that emerged to keep my position. With one mile to go, I hopped on a Dolce Vita wheel, and we managed a small gap. I thought this is it, I have a chance.

BUT THEN, a moto stopped us before the last turn due to a helicopter and ambulance tending to an accident on the overpass. All 20 women rolled up refusing to hold their positions. We were held for 5 minutes as the helicopter flew off and the rest of the field caught us at the stop (the woman was in our race and reported to be conscious). We pleaded with the moto to let the lead 20 have a few seconds gap for a safer sprint. He finally caved.

So there it was. Instead of a 28 mile race, we were unwillingly signed up for a 0.5 mile race with one turn and 20+ women at the new start. I figured I had no chance.


Megan sprints to the finish and wins Bariani RR 2013
Megan sprints to the finish and wins Bariani RR 2013

Rounding the turn, I fought for my wheel #2 positioning. Two single file lines graced the flat at 27 MPH. At 300 meters, I pulled to the side, let out a war cry, and sprinted seated. Two women hopped on my wheel. I put my head down and kept going. When I looked up, I was nearing a crowd of people, but didn’t see a finish line. I thought I had much further to go when the two women tried to come around me. Fortunately, I looked down and saw the white line as I crossed with about a wheel’s length ahead. 1st place. Surreal.

Thanks for reading.

See all results here. Megan is now added to the hall of fame! Welcome on board.

ThirstyBear Cycling Rio Division 2013 Angra dos Reis Road Race report

Weather- a few clouds @88′ -hot & very windy

Class: Elite!
32 riders on the line
55 miles (point to point)
5,743ft of climbing
2:54 minutes

2010-2012: Raced the Master B (40+) class here in Rio and finish mostly on the podium with a few wins. Though the fields are smaller than California – many of the Brazil National Champs live in Rio – so it’s always a good test.

2013: Decided to up the ante’ and jump into the Elite class – Big commitment as jumping back and forth here is not allowed…

Last year: 4th in this race with the Master B’s. This years prep included driving out the previous 2 weekends to ride the course. Recommended

Elites were the first group off with a long 15km neutral promenade through Angra dos Reis a beautiful oceanside village about 2 .5 hours from Rio

City Cycle 2012 Trek still taking care of business – Great Bike!!
City Cycle 2012 Trek still taking care of business – Great Bike!!
Long 15km neutral promenade through Angra. 2nd Group – Master B’s just visible in the background. As the 40+ group is generally stronger here in Rio they usually put them before the A’s (30+).
Long 15km neutral promenade through Angra. 2nd Group – Master B’s just visible in the background. As the 40+ group is generally stronger here in Rio they usually put them before the A’s (30+).


The Big Elite team here is certainly FW Engineering with at least 9 riders and 30% of the peleton…and the class of the field.
The Big Elite team here is certainly FW Engineering with at least 9 riders and 30% of the peleton…and the class of the field.
Hanging onto Zomers wheel who eventually took 6th – nice ride Anderson! 
Hanging onto Zomers wheel who eventually took 6th – nice ride Anderson! 
First climb rises 2000′ in 6 miles from the valley below including 3 cobbled tunnels. Made the 2nd group on the road – about 10 of us including 3 FW riders…by Rio Claro just 3 FW’s and me. Hard but satisfied.
First climb rises 2000′ in 6 miles from the valley below including 3 cobbled tunnels. Made the 2nd group on the road – about 10 of us including 3 FW riders…by Rio Claro just 3 FW’s and me. Hard but satisfied.
A nice bamboo tunnel gives a little respite from the heat just after Rio Claro. FW boys offered some water and eased away…very sporting group!
A nice bamboo tunnel gives a little respite from the heat just after Rio Claro. FW boys offered some water and eased away…very sporting group!
All in at the finish line
All in at the finish line


The finish line at Mangartiba
The finish line at Mangartiba

Below: Results are in!

Results are in!
Results are in!

Very happy with mid pack finish – did not embarrass myself… Looks like would’ve won Masters A, B & C races by 2+ minutes. Upgrade was right on time. Lots of work ahead…

More than 370+ photo’s on Facebook here: Tour do Rio

Would love to host a TBC Rio training camp 2014…interest?

Will be up for Berkeley Hills & Mt Hamilton in May – Looking Forward!

Go Bears!

Victory to Chris Phipps at Madera Stage Race 2013 with winning support from Ken Gallardo, Phil Hynes and Kyle Ashton

Chris Phipps VICTORY after 5 miles solo escape chased by the peloton of hungry wolves, but kept away by the strong ThirstyBears.
Chris Phipps VICTORY after 5 miles solo escape chased by the peloton of hungry wolves, but kept away by the strong ThirstyBears.

Being just a week after the big time Merco Stage race, the long standing Madera stage race has seen a drop in its masters fields the last couple fields, but we still had a strong 35 rider field show up for the most compact stage race on the calendar.

The small field had several teams of 3 or 4 riders with Mike’s Bikes, Lange Twins, Ritte Racing and Cushman & Wakefield among them. ThirstyBear Cycling was represented by Kyle Ashton, Ken Gallardo, Phil Hynes and me.

Between the start of the stage 1 criterium at 12:50 on Saturday and the finish of the 68 mile stage 3 road race at 10:45 AM on Sunday less than 21 hours elapse. (we lose 1 hour with the time change)


Stage 1: Criterium </p>
Stage 1: Criterium 


Stage 1 Criterium (40 min): The plan was to be aggressive without going too deep since the TT was just 3 hours later. We attacked a lot but nothing stuck. With 3/4 of a lap to go I attacked with Phil on my wheel and I was hoping we could get something but were swarmed in the final 200M. Steve Heaton (Hammer Nutrition) won the sprint. Phil ended up 12th with me 19th, Kyle 24th & Ken in 28th all finishing with the same time.



Stage 2: TT
Stage 2: TT

Stage 2 TT: 10 miles of flat and good to fair pavement with some pot holes. Velo Bob decided to do something totally wacky this year and run the TT in reverse alphabetical order, so I would be starting 9th in our field and 1st on our team. My 30 sec man was Oliver Ryan from Mike’s who was a good carrot. I felt really good in the TT and ended up catching 5 guys and finished in a PR of 21:20 (& tied Nate English for 3rd on the Strava Segment behind Evan Huffman (now with Astana) & Paul Mach)

We had a great team result with my win, Kyle in 4th, Phil in 5th & Ken in 17th.

Stage 3 Road Race: 68 miles, 4 times a 17 mile mostly flat loop with some rollers and a 3 mile really bumpy section. Sitting in 1st, 4th & 5th in GC was a great position to be in going into the final stage. We figured I would only really be concerned with Brian Choi from Stuzio who was in 2nd and Nick Theobald of Safeway who was in 3rd. If anyone else lower down in GC attacked we would keep it in check or have Kyle or Phil go with it. It was a pretty relaxed 1st lap, then on the rollers a couple guys lower on GC attacked & Ken just went to the front & rode tempo with Jason Grefrath from Lange Twins taking a few hard pulls keeping them within 30 seconds. At the end of the 2nd lap, Nick attacked on the final big roller and I was on his wheel. We quickly caught the 2 man break, but we didn’t too far before the pack had us back. Later that lap a 3 man break got away that I thought had a chance. It was Jacob Berkman from Mike’s along with Levine & Grefrath who had both flatted in the TT, and they were all down over 1:50 in GC, so we didn’t have to chase right away, but the rest of the field worked to pull it back on the bumpy section.

Stage 3: RR
Stage 3: RR

So, we were back together again with Ken at the front pulling us all along at 40+ kph and the three of us sitting on his wheel enjoying the day. Ken was just awesome riding a hard tempo on the front for long stretches for most of the race. On the final lap, we knew the bumpy section would be the place where all the action would happen and sure enough it did with the 4 of us and all the strong guys at the front trying to get away or at least make it hard on everyone else. About 5 miles from the finish, I went to the front and went hard for a few seconds and saw I had a small gap, so I was off to the races at full gas the rest if the way. I have to tell you that my new Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 clinchers with 25mm Bontrager R3 tires were awesome on the terrible pavement and I was able to fly over the roughest of it at full power and solo in the last 5 miles for the stage and GC win!


The Awesome Foursome! Kyle Ashton, Chris Phipps, Phil Hynes & Ken Gallardo
The Awesome Foursome! Kyle Ashton, Chris Phipps, Phil Hynes & Ken Gallardo

Kyle and Phil finished in the chase group with Kyle hanging onto 4th GC and Phil dropping to 6th due to Joe Staron (Lange Twins) picking up a 10 sec time bonus.

Thanks Ken, Kyle & Phil, as short as it was, racing the Madera Stage Race with you guys was the most fun I’ve had in a long time!


See all the results here.

Corey Scobie takes 3rd at Merco Grand Prix

Race: Criterium
Distance: 28 laps (~27 miles)
Time: ~1:00With the dissolution of our coordinated Masters 1/2/3 plans I decided to not take the time off work on Thur/Fri and instead just race with the E3 youngsters on Sat/Sun. Today 50+ guys lined up for a 10:20 start and it was a good mix of true youngsters (lots of Bear Development and others) and some seasoned veterans.

To sum it up, this was one of the better Cat 3 races I have done. Bear and one other team kept the pace generally high with a nonstop series of attacks and counter attacks. I was focused on riding comfortably in the pack and saving everything for the finish. Fast forward to 3 to go – we came through the 2nd to last corner on the course and I was really squeezed on the inside. I got pushed across the sidewalk at the corner and my right clip came out. So as the pack surged past me I spent 10 seconds trying to get back in and squared away. Finally we came onto the finish straight and I was trailing the pack by about 15 feet. I was on the verge of just pulling up and throwing in the towel but for some reason I dug in and got attached again. 2 to go and as we came through the back side of the course I found a lull and spent some more energy to move back up the outside to 10th or so. Coming through the finish with 1 to go I was in good position and as we hit the back side the pack lulled again and I saw a Strava guy attack hard on the far side of the pack. I had inside line for the next corner and jumped hard to fall right onto his wheel for the back stretch. So as we came though the final few corners I was second wheel – not ideal but better than 10 back. Then on the small straight just before the final corner THERE WAS A CRASH behind me.
So despite it being earlier than I wanted in opened up the throttle 20 meters before the last corner. I got to choose my line though the last and opened up my sprint at the very bottom of a LONG finish straight. I looked under my arm once to see that I had a good gap but the front of the a chasers was digging hard to close. As we came into the finish I started to fade due to the 300M sprint and at the line 2 surged past. The winner (Specialized/Muscle Milk) and one guy from Sapporo/Leopard wheeled me at the line. But I am happy with 3rd given the drama in the last couple and having to open the sprint from the front.
Thanks Corey for the race report. Corey is now added to the Hall of Fame. 

The ThirstyBear Cycling ladies takes control at Merco

Merco Almond Blossom RR Women’s Cat 3/4 March 3rd.

Chris & Tanya at the front, controlling the race.
Chris & Tanya at the front, controlling the race.

Merco was the first race of the year the ladies’ team had not just one but three Thirsty Beers(yes, this was how my team listing somehow ended up in cyclocross this year) in the same race. We like to capitalize on this when possible, but we were concerned about being three small hill climbers in a mostly flat race. Fortunately Hans helped us with a race plan. I was especially excited about any plan at all to try to avoid having a painfully slow and uneventful race ending in a full field sprint like last week at Snelling.

Chris, Jenny and Tanya after a great race they controlled from beginning to end.
Chris, Jenny and Tanya after a great race they controlled from beginning to end.

Our plan basically was to attack and counter attack as much as possible on any little roller that came up and see if we could form a small break or at least drop part of the field. Tanya and I alternated attacking repeatedly starting about 5 miles into the race but the field had us pegged early on and a few particularly vocal riders seemed to be watching our every move and broadcasting to the entire field that the Thirsty Bear gals were plotting evil hill sprints again. Jenny put in at least two excellent counter attacks when we thought we were maybe starting to tire people out. Unfortunately none of our breaks managed to stay away for very long, but we did shed about 15 riders off the back. The race slowed down in the last 10 miles as we were taking a quick hiatus from the attack mode and no one else from other teams was willing to make a move. It came down to a sprint finish at the end, with 2nd through 8th place finishing within a second of each other. We finished in 6th, 8th, and 15th. Our new team recruit Megan was positioned well and put in an excellent final sprint for 2nd place. We had a lot of fun, got a great workout in, and enjoyed learning to race more aggressively with help of teammates! Hoping for hillier races to come.

Thanks to Chris Lundy for a great post.