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.
About a couple minutes later the chasers arrived. Gardie sprinted into 5th place, Hans got 8th and Scott 15th.
Tough race today!
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.
Piers continue his rise in the cat 4s taking 2nd after solo chase for the finish.
Race: Sea Otter Classic Road Race 35+ Cat 4
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.
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.