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Against all odds the ThirstyBears pulls a podium spot for Holger Steinbach at Wente 45+ 123

Thirsty Bear Team: Hans, Gardie, Scott, Holger.

I hung out with friends a bit long last night and went to bed late. The result, I overslept big time. My plan was to leave the house at 5:50am to be in Livermore by 6:45 to have enough time for the usual preparation including a half hour warm up.

When I stared at the clock still half asleep and saw it was already 6:50 I was very close to throwing the towel and turn around to get another hour of sleep. But something drove me out of the bed that said you got to at least try. Luckily my stuff was all packed, the coffee was already in the coffeemaker, I just needed to jump into my bibs and in the car and off I went.

After 10 minutes of driving I noticed that the “low gas” light had come on. Stopping to get gas was not an option if I wanted to still make it. If the light had just come on when I first saw it, I had a decent change to make it, but it was going to be close. When I filled my tank with 19.3 Gallon after the race I realized how lucky I was to not run out of gas.

By the time I had registered, had visited the porta-potty, put the TWO number on, it was about 8:10. I made it, the race would have to take care of the warm up. When the race started Scott and I rode off the front, but no sign of Hans and Gardie. Seems like my team members had “late issues” too today.

Scott and I kept the pace low at the front in the first half mile hoping Hans and Gardie would still catch on. It only took a few minutes and rocket man Dirk Himley engaged his thrusters to take off. Still being cold I could not chase after him, but 4 riders managed to slip into his draft (Hancock, Eatinger, +2). Shortly after Chris Courtney made an effort to bridge across, but didn’t quite make it.

3 of the riders Dirk pulled cracked on the first hill and got gobbled up by the field shortly thereafter. After we passed the finish area Scott and I went to the front and drove the tempo to try to stay close to the break. After a while Gardie came to the front. It was good seeing that he had caught on. The tempo work got interrupted a few times resulting in a 1:30 minutes lead by Himley and Hancock when we got the first time check. Knowing how strong Dirk rides it was unlikely we’d bring him back unless the field would mount a serious chase effort. But that didn’t happen. Gardie Scott and I stayed close to the front of the race in laps 1 and 2, while Hans, per his plan, rode conservatively further back. Towards the end of the 2nd lap on the approach to the climb as Scott was at the front I used the opportunity to break away. At the start of the climb I had about a 15-20s gap so I decided that I’ll try to go solo. I managed to maintain a consistent effort and my lead kept growing. When I didn’t see the field anymore going up the penultimate Wente climb, I knew I had a good chance to stay away. I pushed on as strong and consistent as I could and before I knew it another lap had gone by.


Shortly before I got to the last climb I approached a group of 7 or 8 riders with 900 number. As I passed the group on the left, without any warning the two riders to my right crashed and almost took me down with them. I couldn’t believe it. After I had passed this unexpected hurdle I went up the hill one last time. I probably could have taken it easy since I had a comfortable lead, but did not want to risk being caught. So I rode as hard as I still could until I crossed the finish.  Haven’t had a podium place in a while and was very happy to have managed to go solo for 2+ laps to 3rd place.

ThirstyBear Cycling Holger Steinbach takes 3rd at Wente.
ThirstyBear Cycling Holger Steinbach takes 3rd at Wente.

About a couple minutes later the chasers arrived. Gardie sprinted into 5th place, Hans got 8th and Scott 15th.

ThirstyBear Cycling 35+ 4 team on rocket fuel dominate Wente Vineyards Classics

Race: Wente Road Race 3 laps 50 miles
Riders: Jim Grant, Peter Badertscher, Eric Lagier, Piers Barry
Conditions: Sunny, moderate winds, hot.

Great race today with incredible work on the front by Jim Grant and Peter Badertscher and an awesome final launching pad from Eric Lagier.
Race started with all the top finishers from Copperopolis, and 60 riders had registered (not sure how many actually started).

The field was pretty content to just follow a few guys at the front the whole time.  The first lap was fairly tame, and the most excitement came on the steep downhill right turn where a rider decided to take a Lance Armstrong style side trip off the road, through some 4 foot high fields of grass and managed to stay upright and rejoin.
The pace picked up after that with Jim Grant going to the front for large portions of the race and keeping a great tempo going.  Peter put in some excellent time there as well.  All in all the 4 ThirstyBear riders were at the front about 50% of the time.
I decided to lead from the finish of the climb through the descent the last two laps to stay out of any potential crashes.
Peter put in a great push through the penultimate last climb at 42 miles, and managed to fatigue some of the competition with his pacemaking up the hill.
5 miles from the finish the pace really heated up.  Jim, Peter and Eric were sitting near the front on the right while I was stuck in 20th on the left trying to get over behind them.
I managed to get nearly get repositioned 1000 meters before the final steep right hand turn.  Then the Roaring Mouse rider (Kirkbride) started cramping.  The Thirsty trio in front went the the middle of the road.
Eric launched out the group like he was shot out of a cannon!   I was able to thread through about 12 riders and went on a tear after him and the one rider able to follow his wheel.  The other rider blew up, and I caught up to Eric and went again off his wheel.  I looked back to a huge gap, kept going and was able to sit up and celebrate across the line with about 150 meters over second place.   Eric was just pipped on the line for second and ended up third.  Great Race out there with a very satisfying win on brand new Trek from City Cycles and a huge debt of gratitude to my teammates.

Piers Barry


ThirstyBears Chris Phipps powers through to the top at Wente 35+ 1/2/3

Tough race today!

Thirsty Bears: Daly, Gallardo, Hynes, McQuaid & Phipps.
Race started off fast & didn’t slow down much. We caught the Cat 3 field who had started 5 min in front of us after just 20 min of racing.  Strava shows I rode faster laps this year than in P/1/2 last year and 35+ in years past.
Unfortunately, Ken flatted out on the 1st lap, so we were down to 4. 🙁
Jeromy Cottel (Specialized) attacked early & was joined by Nick Theobald (Safeway) & Dan Bryant (Folsom Bike).
The 3 of them built their lead up to 2 min as the Studio Velo guys rode tempo at the front before Brenon & a couple Mike’s Bikes guys (Appel & Hobbs) put in some monster pulls to bring it to under a minute. After the penultimate climb our chase group was down to around 12 guys when Metcalfe attacked as the descent started & bridged to the break.
I was trying to do as much as I could to bring it back & try to set up Greg, but we weren’t getting much help, so Greg came up to lend a hand too & with help from a couple others pulled the break to within about 10 sec.
 Then with about 10K to go Sayers (Specialized) attacked & bridged to the break, so now Specialized had 3 of 5!  Sayers & Cottell worked it to set it up for Metcalfe while we tried to bring it back or at least not let it get any further ahead.
As we were doing this, another group of around 12 who had been dropped caught back on about 1k before the final climb started. Sayers gave his last pull & pulled off at 2K to go, then Cottell led it to the final turn where Metcalfe launched.  We got there about 15 sec later & I thought we were racing for 5th, and the way I felt with dead legs & 15 guys who had been sitting in, I was thinking it would be tough to hang on for a top 10.
But as I led up the climb, the guys who had been in the break all day were just crawling so we flew by Cottell, Theobald & Bryant. Only Metcalfe remained, still around 10 sec ahead. With 500M to go & Nate Parks (Folsom Bike) was pulling up next to me to go by, so I put in a final burst & got away solo and to my surprise was quickly catching Metcalfe. I caught & went by him with 200M to go & just kept sprinting to the line for the win!

More importantly though, I got the Strava KOM on the finishing climb!
Greg had a strong final sprint to finish 6th with Phil in 21st!  They gave Brenon a DNP, but he did finish. Thanks for the help guys!

ThirstyBear Cycling dominate Sea Otter Classic 2013

Ken Gallardo, Greg McQuaid & I headed down to the Sea Otter Classic to test ourselves against the best masters racers in the state and in many cases, the US.   There were 3 current national champions in our circuit and road races, Rudolph Napolitano (35-39 RR), Matt Carinio (40-44 RR), and Mike Easter (35-39 Criterium).  There were also at least a dozen former national champions in addition to Nor Cal strongmen Dan Martin & Andres Gil and many others.  With 7 guys in the race, we knew that Monster Media/MRI would be the team to watch though.

Things started off with the 75 minute circuit race on the Laguna Seca raceway & Dan Martin (Safeway) didn’t wait 2 seconds before he launched an attack up the first climb, which sent Monster Media & Time to the front to string out the field.  The first few laps were full of attacks & counters, but by about 4 laps in there was a dangerous move of about 7 riders that Ken was in with Carinio (Arts), 2 Time guys and 3 MRI.  I decided to bridge up to this group on the climb & Ken fell back to the main field.  The 7 of us didn’t really work together, but were just attacking & counter attacking until we got down to 5 riders, me, Carinio, Napolitano & Easter (Time) and Philip Tinstman (Monster Media).  With 2 to go, I attacked & got away solo, but got caught by Napolitano with 1 to go.  I couldn’t shake him on the final climb & he came around me for the sprint in the final 200M for the win.  I crossed in second and Mike Easter nipped Tinstman for 3rd. Ken held on to finish 11th, but Greg wasn’t having his best day & dnf’d.

On to Saturday’s 62 mile, make that 54 mile road race, shortened a lap due to a late start.  After a good 10-15 minute delay we were off down the hill for the neutral first 4 miles.  The first time up the climb, everyone was content to sit in and ride at the tempo set by Monster Media to get warmed up.  But sure enough, as soon as the road flattened out Dan Martin started the attacking that would continue on and on with Ken and a Monster Media guy getting in just about every move until about halfway through the race we were down to just about 15 guys in the lead group with Greg, Ken & me still in there.
Surprisingly though, all the Monster Media guys were gone.  Greg went to the front to ride tempo to keep anyone who had been dropped from getting back on.  On the next climb and over the next couple laps, Ken went to the front to ride tempo and told me to just sit behind him & be patient.  It was really great having Ken and Greg there in the selection.  I think it was with 2 laps to go that Carinio launched an attack and I found myself with just him, Andres Gil and Chris Walker (Time).  It looked like this would be the final 4, but Walker’s teammate Napolitano had been delayed with a mechanical and was able to bridge up to us.  Walker set tempo for a while, but then Napolitano attacked & Carinio & I would chase & counter with Walker & Gil just content to chase back on.  Napolitano was though able to get away on the rollers about 2 miles before the final climb began.  On the early part of the final climb, Carinio, Gil & I tried to work together to bring back Napolitano, but it quickly became apparent that we were racing for 2nd.  When we hit the steeper parts of the climb I just went to the front and was able to ride away for 2nd with Gil not too far back in 3rd and Carinio 4th & Walker 5th.
Greg was looking very strong leading in the chase bunch sprint for 6th with Ken right there in 8th.  Great race working with Ken and Greg who are both very fit right now and I think will be posting some great results in the weeks ahead.

Piers powers through Sea Otter Classic RR 35+ 4 to take 2nd.

Piers continue his rise in the cat 4s taking 2nd after solo chase for the finish.

Great Podium finish for ThirstyBearCycling Piers Barry
Great Podium finish for ThirstyBearCycling Piers Barry

Race: Sea Otter Classic Road Race 35+ Cat 4

Conditions: 68 F, Sunny, perfect riding conditions
Riders: CJ Wolf, Eric Lagier, Piers Barry
Places: Piers Barry 2nd, CJ Wolf 7th, Eric Lagier 15th
Finally the entire ThirstyBear Cycling Cat 4 team was set to race together for the 1st time (and CJ’s first race of the season).  We were pretty excited about this race, especially as Eric’s brother Christian has won here before.  We drove down together in CJ’s tiny Saab and planned out possibilities of places to attack in the feed zone, or at the final climb up Barloy.  We wanted to wait until the final lap.
At the race we had perfect weather conditions and after a neutral start on the Laguna Seca Race way we got down to business on the first lap.  No one seemed very interested in attacking or racing at the start.  After completing the first lap with just a few probing attacks from other teams one rider managed to get away solo midway through the second lap.  He dangled off the front, wasting a bit of energy and we were happy to let him.  He was soon joined by another rider but it didn’t seem too threatening.  We started to close the gap of 30 seconds or so, but a few riders refused to work and kept going near the front, slowing down and breaking up the chase.  (No these were not actually breakaway riders’ teammates but they were doing a good job acting the part).

The same pattern continued.  CJ and Eric and I represented Thirstybear doing the majority of the work with only a few other riders from the pack.  Mid-way through the third lap we caught one of the riders just leaving a solo rider up front.   The race motor cycle kept bringing back the gap time which went from 30 to 40 seconds to over a minute but few riders would help chase.  At the top of every climb the pack slowed to almost a stand still.  Finally on the final lap I went to front, led up the last big climb, pulled almost all the way to the feed zone with Eddie Silva from One Way Cycling.  No one else would work and just sat in our slip stream.   I attacked out of the feed zone and quickly opened up 30 seconds on the field.  I kept trying to close the gap to the leader, and pulled up within sight of the lead car and rider.  I managed to put 1:10 on the field and closed the 1:40 down to 49 seconds but ran out of road.  The break away rider turned out to be Kenny Burt a pro mountain bike rider from Auburn who seriously deserved the win after being out front all day.  A really great day of racing out there and can’t wait to do more races with the full Cat 4 squad triple threat.

Powerhouse Chris Phipps takes 2nd at Santa Cruz Classic

Had a great time at the Santa Cruz Criterium doing the 35+ 1/2/3 with Phil, then coming back for a workout in the P/1/2 (20 + 39 hard laps = very thirsty Phipps).

Phil & I stayed in the middle of the 52 rider pack for the first several laps, then alternated trying to get in a move, but every time I went there was a Prime Time rider glued to my wheel. With 2 to go it was all together, so I tried one last solo flier up the side and had just a Prime Time (Fonseca I think) on my wheel, but I think he decided to drop back and help his teammates pull me back for LaBerge. So, I was solo for the last 1.5 laps & really thought I was going to win solo, just like last year, but with 50M to go I got caught by LaBerge who got me by a bike length (if only I had worn a skinsuit…)
Anyway, very happy to hold onto 2nd ahead of a hard charging field that included Dan Martin in 3rd & Andres Gil in 4th and I picked up a few Premier Series points on those two. Phil held on for 22nd in this tough field.


ThirstyBearCycling Powerhouse Chris Phipps at Santa Cruz Classic
ThirstyBearCycling Powerhouse Chris Phipps at Santa Cruz Classic
Santa Cruz Classic – Crit That is a lot of laps!
Santa Cruz Classic – Crit That is a lot of laps!

In the P/1/2, I sat in for 37 laps, then attacked with 2 to go, but didn’t have the legs. There was a 2 man break about 30 sec ahead that went 1-2 won by Tobin Ortenblad from Bear Development team ahead of pro Ben Jacques Mayne (awesome!)
I got swarmed with 1/2 a lap to go and ended up 29th.