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ThirstyBears Aaron & Scot score 1st and 4th at the Mt Hamilton Road Race

2013 Mt Hamilton Road Race Report – by Aaron Long
Cat: Masters 45+ 3/4
Field: 40+ strong – including Scot McLean, Lance Haag & Aaron Long on the line for the Bears
Weather: 60’s , wet roads early, thankfully no rain & dry roads for the descent and run in!
Aaron showing the field how they ride in Rio.
Aaron showing the field how they ride in Rio.
 
Plan:  Scot n’ Aaron to take turns attacking and work for Lance in the sprint when it came back together.
The whistle sounded and with strong headwinds it was a rather smooth start up to Grant Park  (1/3) – With mainly Angus Murray (Privateer), Craig Lindburg (Cushman & Wakefield) & Alexander Komlik (SJBC) driving the pace…that is, until our Scot McLean turned the screw, stringing out the peleton and getting a gap.  With Scot off the front and the 3 above chasing, Lance and I settled nicely into 7th and 8th position.
On the wet descent past the Grant Park entrance it came back together and I rolled through and pushed to pace up the next climb getting a small gap.  As they chased me down Scot rolled past us and hit them again…making it look super easy into the headwind!  Again, he had a nice gap with the 3 above doing the majority of the chase work.  By now the 40+ peleton was strung out & down to 20.  At some stage here I think Lance was caught out by one of the many gaps forming in the heavy winds…
As we approached Smith Creek (2/3) Scot had attacked a few more times and had them all on the ropes -but each time they would claw their way back to him. I’d say about half way up from the Creek I was still hovering in about 7th (on the rivot no less) of just 10 riders left.  Mr Mclean was certainly the best climber on the day but that headwind wouldn’t allow his solo break to stick.  As we approached the 5km and 1km markers to the summit Angus countered one of Scots many attacks and got a gap going for the KOM which he won…Komlik was 2nd and I may have been 3rd just in front of the group of 7.
With an essentially “free ride” up the mountain due to Scots aggression I saw Angus sit up- So, put my head down and drove it across the summit doing my best “Falco” (Salvodelli) impersonation down the backside (not pretty).  At the bottom I was solo with no one in sight until about the neutral feed zone when 2 riders bridged up…Justin Eatinger (Penn Velo) & Roysei (Real) Kaneko (Sho-Air/SERT).
We quickly agreed to go for it and did well together sharing the work.  We had a good combination as Justin and myself at about the same size and “Real” was built to climb at about 30lbs lighter.  We’d drag him across the flats n descents and he’d keep the pressure on going up the rollers – occasionally having to ease for us both.  At mile marker 40 we passed the 2nd feed zone – topped up the fluids and got our fist glimpse of the chase group.  It looked like 7+ but afterwards we learned just 4.  With them looming we continued to press as I’ve often heard stories of breaks getting caught in the final km.
The final 21 miles took seemingly forever with the unrelenting headwinds but we did it.  The 5km marker came (so happy), then at the 1km we kinda stalled and I pulled through joking I’d be the lead out man.  As we approached the 200m sign I thought it would read 500m and Justin blew by me – I thought it was over but I put my head down and thankfully, on the little riser his legs locked up and I had an easy roll in.
We later learned that the 4 man chase group had split into a couple of pairs and that Scot caught them all and put it to them in the finally – securing a well earned podium for 4th!  Lance also managed to do well in one of his first Cat 3 events- with a field of 40+ riders; a respectable top half 18th place showing.
Great break-mates and racing Lance & Scot !!
Looking Forward to more soon,
Aaron
Relive all the action by clicking on this Raceshape
Relive all the action by clicking on this Raceshape
 

 

ThirstyBear Cycling Tanya Fredricks & Leila Cavanaugh push hard up to finish 2nd and 3rd at Mt. Hamilton NCNCA Championship

Mt. Hamilton Road Race – NCNCA Championship, Masters women 45-49
Field: 14 combined 45-65 age groups
Awesome teammate:  Leila Cavanaugh
As we lined up, I immediately noticed Jane Despas (Leopard-Sapporo Team, Cat 1).  She and I battled it out last year at Patterson Pass Districts, with her out sprinting me at the finish from 300m out.  She was now going to be my wheel to follow.
At the whistle, Jane took the front and set a strong tempo the minute the road tilted upward.  I was second wheel, and stayed there until we reached the Meadow.  Leila was also in close contact, keeping tucked in and staying comfortable.  At the meadow, I realized we were now down to about 10 (or less) riders.  As Jane willingly took up the pacing again, I closely followed.  Leila kept reminding me to be patient and just stay on Jane’s wheel, but I had ants in my pants.  I knew my strength (climbing) and my weakness (descending), so I decided it would be best for me to climb at my tempo and try to get a gap so I could roll over the top, free of competitors, and take the descent at my own snail’s pace.  With 9 miles of climbing to to go, I attacked.  After 15 seconds or so, I turned around to see Jane midway, and driving to catch me.  I settled into a tempo pace, with Jane eventually joining me for the next 5 miles. Leila was smart enough to call out to me, as she was just a few meters away, so I slowed a bit so she could catch on.  Unfortunately, whenever this happened, Jane would pick up the pace, and I had to respond. I asked Jane on two occasions if she would like to work together to stay away, only to be ignored or told, “I don’t really care”.  Stunned, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I attacked again 3 miles from the top.   It worked!  I rode hard the last 3 miles and could not see anyone as I looked back down the switchbacks.  I took the QOM and continued to ride hard until the first turn into the descent.
Assuming Jane and Leila would easily catch me at the bottom, I just maintained a comfortable pace.  Having two to work with sounded like a good plan for the final 40 miles.  To my surprise, I could see no one behind me.  I kept a comfortable effort and kept checking back. About 15 miles later, I finally saw a lone figure coming, with intention. Jane reached me just in time for the final 2 hills.  Each hill, Jane dropped, but would claw her way back despite my effort to keep her away.  With the final 17 miles to go, I tried once again to see if she wanted to work together.  No response.  If I tried to follow her wheel, she would stop pedaling and move back and forth across the road.  To be fair, she never tried to draft behind me either.  We rode side by side (3 feet apart) for the next 16 miles, in silence.
On the final decent to the finish, Jane dropped behind me and seemed to be fine letting me cruise ahead.  I had noticed all day that she had been a bit timid on the descents (only to find out later she is still spooked  by a bad crash she obtained at Winters RR last year).  As we neared the bottom, I saw the bridge where I was intending to make my final “move”.  Just as my brain woke up, Jane was already flying by me at lightspeed, gapping me by 150m in no time.  The only thing I could do was laugh out loud at my lameness.  I was a deer in headlights.  I guess that’s what 9 years of racing will teach you…how to set yourself up perfectly for the win.  That’s why she’s a Cat 1 and I’m still a 3 ; )
Leila was an outstanding teammate, offering to help at any point.  Huge thanks to her for her team spirit!  She battled on solo, caught between groups but pushing forward in hopes of helping out.  She took the third podium spot and certainly deserved it.
Lots of take home lessons to be learned from this race, and good fun.
Tanya Fredricks
ThirstyBear Cycling Tanya and Leila take control of the podium
ThirstyBear Cycling Tanya and Leila take control of the podium
Leila did an outstanding job trying to offer help.  Huge thanks to her for her team spirit!  She took the third podium spot and certainly deserved it.
Thanks for reading.

Finishing 3rd, 4th and 6th ThirstyBear Cycling dominates the Mt. Hamilton District Championship 45+123

Except for the wet roads going to the top, it was a perfect day to race the Biggest Hill in the Bay Area.

Holger, Max (now better known as Mount McKinley), and myself were set to do battle with the best climbers in our age group. They threw is in the same group of a bunch of youngster who could have been my sons.  No, not really but it was a bit frustrating at the end to race for the podium with the 45-49 field. We left San Jose in a drizzle at 8:40 sharp with a pack of 54 guys.
The race plan was pretty simple – hang on to the fast wheels for the first 20 miles to the top and make adjustments along the way as neeeded for the finale.
Hammerhead Ziesing made the first move around mile 4, but nobody really cared.  John Hancock (Sierra Nevada) made an effort to get across a mile later, but didn’t get very far.  I tested my legs at mile 7 with a surge to see what kind of reaction it would create in the peloton.  Sure enough, Kevin Metcalfe (Specialized) pulled the field to catch me and soon it was Nick Theobald (Safeway) setting a fast and steady pace to the meadow (mile 9) which popped half the field. From there on it was Theobald, Metcalfe, and Todd Allington (Victory Velo) setting a tempo all the way to the top to do some serious damage.
Dirk Himley (Hammer) disappeared with 5 miles left to the top, while Holger and John Cavanagh (Prime Time) got unhitched with 3 miles to go. I got gapped myself with a mile to go, while McKinley was the strongest Bear and stayed with the front all the way to the top. I lost sight of the front on the down hill but caught back on just past the neutral feed.
Only 11 guys left at this point – John Hunt (California Giant), Bryan Hoadley (R4R), Todd Allington (Victory Velo), Robert Pasco (Safeway), Nick Theobald (Safeway), Craig Nunes (ArtsCyclery), and Cale Reeder (Hammer) for the 45-49 field and David Passmore (SJBC), Kevin Metcalfe (Specialized), McKinley and myself for the 50-54. A pretty strong group to keep the pace high, but nobody wanted to do any serious work with 35 miles left to race.  With the pace dropping, Dirk Himley (Hammer), Holger, and John Cavanaugh (Prime Time) were able to catch back on and as soon as we hit the flat section of the valley the attacks were developing quickly. McKinley and myself got busy trying to get away, but it quickly became apparent that we were racing two different races in which neither age group would let anything get away.  Eventually, McKinley got away with Pasco after Del Puerto Canyon which provided a perfect set up for me once they were caught. After several hard attacks the elastic finally snapped in the group and Dirk and I got away, almost in similar fashion when Tom Lyons and I rode away three years ago.  Dirk and I were trading pulls equally and it looked like we had a 15-20 second jump. It all looked very good until I couldn’t hold his wheel in the final uphill, headwind section when it was his turn to take a pull. The 3 second gap was enough to put me in the red and I had to sit up and wait for Metcalfe et al.  At this point, we still had 12 miles to race and with 9 guys left we still had a decent chance to catch Dirk.  Well, this is where things went wrong for the 50+ guys, because none of the 45+ guys had any interest to chase because there race was still intact.  We totally lost momentum and it took a lengthy discussion trying to convince the 45+ guys not to get in our way. The good thing was that Holger was able to catch back on, but in the meantime Dirk had 45 seconds. To make a long story short, eventually Metcalfe, Passmore, and myself started rotating and drilled it to get it down to 30 seconds with 6 miles to go. Holger jumped in as well to drive the pace, but unfortunately we never saw Dirk again.
Hans going all in on the final sprint
Hans going all in on the final sprint
In the meantime, the 45+ guys are getting a nice draft to rest up for the sprint which became quite a mess. With 200 meters to go Nunes chopped from left to right and almost took out a few guys, but got the out-of-district win. Pasco was the first NCNCA, followed by Brian Hoadley and Reeder for 1-2-3 in the 45-49 group. I was able to beat Reeder, but Metcalfe took me by a bike length to take 2nd in the 50-54. Holger 4th and McKinley 6th. Needless to say, some weird dynamics at the end.
ThirstyBears well represented on the podium
ThirstyBears well represented on the podium
Time to take some time off from racing now, but back for more later in June.

ThirstyBear Cycling Piers Barry strikes for the 3rd time to take 1st at Mt. Hamilton RR District Championship 35+4

Who: Piers Barry, Richard Bolt, CJ Wolf

What/When/Where: 2013 Mount Hamilton Road Race on May 26th in San Jose, Cat 4 35+
Conditions: Light drizzle on the way up, sunny and warm by the top and on
Placings: Piers Barry 1st and KOM, CJ Wolf 9th
This is how races are won!!
This is how races are won!!
    Without superstar sprinter/climber Eric Lagier (in deep training in Bend, OR and now a Cat 3) and no steep finishing climb we wanted to keep this race together.  Richard is in awesome running shape (he just ran 5:42 miles in a 10K on Monday) and is working on converting that over to cycling legs.   Meanwhile CJ packs a really good sprint for this finish.  On the car ride over with Danielle and CJ we were reviewing the starting line up and the best of the Cat 4 field (minus Eric) had assembled together–including mountain bike pro Kenny Burt who demolished the field at Sea Otter by himself.  I was ready for a little revenge and some careful Kenny Burt wheel watching.
    We started out at 9AM sharp with a very light fog drizzle.  Enough moisture to wet the roads on the way up but nothing falling down. The plan remained to try to stay hidden in the pack on the way up the hill as Hans had correctly warned up not to go to soon as 43 miles of head and cross winds were sure to be on offer after the climb.
Several riders decided to try to shred the field and get rid of the sprinters right off the bat.  In particular Jeff Braunstein from Red Peloton decided to make that his personal mission.  The pace was way higher than usual right from the gun.
    CJ and I hung out 7-10 spots from the lead following wheels at a steady but hard pace with Richard Bolt just behind us.  A few hard accelerations on the front from Red Peloton and Peninsula Velo shelled some more riders down to a group of 15 solid climbers.  And so it went with no chit-chat (insufficient air for words) for the first 16 miles.  I noticed Kenny Burt repeatedly slipped back in the group and I shifted over to the left in case he tried to come flying by–which he did exactly at the 5KM to the KOM/QOM sign.  This was clearly the race defining move.  He put in a huge acceleration followed by 4 more trying to break completely free for another solo win.  This cracked peloton splintering the group into 3 different echelons.  I was able to stay glued on Kenny’s rear wheel fairly comfortably as he went all out for about 2 kilometers.  We created a gap and then started cajoling me to help out.  I didn’t want to push the pace until I was sure CJ and Richard weren’t coming back.  There was no one within sight several switchbacks down the road.  At that point I agreed I was being a worthless wheel-sucking dead-weight and I went to the front and started cranking up the pace.  I ended up gapping Kenny, and waited for him a couple times.  He was still recovering from his initial acceleration.  I figured I at least should try to get the KOM since I have minimal sprint power.  I kept going solo and took the KOM by about 200 yards and sat up and waited at the top until he joined me.  According to Strava we had about 2 minutes on the first chase group by the top.
   Waiting at the top was unnecessary as Kenny proceeded to put on a descending clinic as only a pro mountain biker can.  I have a lot to learn.  We started down together and it was all I could do to keep close enough to see glimpses of his back on the straighter stretches as we went screaming down the back side of Hamilton.  Fortunately it was completely dry and the road was in good condition.
    I passed by the fallen rider, strapped to a back board and covered in a blanket and slowed even more.  The helicopter was already coming in, so I slowed down and asked if they needed help, but they waved me on and I didn’t stop.
At the bottom Kenny was cruising at a moderate pace and I quickly caught up and went right to the front to start drilling it.  We cooperated completely and shared the work equally, pushing along as hard as we could.  There was a strong head and cross wind which slowed us down, but we kept passing other groups of men and the women’s field and never saw the chase group which built up to 10 riders.  I started to get cramps for the first time in any race in my calf and quads with 15 miles to go.  We kept working equally until the 5km to go sign.  I led the whole descent, soft pedaling and trying to keep my legs ready to chase.  At 1km to go we played a little cat and mouse, barely cruising in.  I knew there was an up hill slight rise at the finish and I just waited as long as I could.  At 250 meters to go I figured I just had to go for it and led out the sprint trying to increase my acceleration the whole time.  I poured it on at the cramp limit and Kenny tried to come up along my left side but I managed to hold him off for a photo finish by less than half a wheel length.  Never won a sprint before!  CJ came in with the 2nd large group and was setting up for a good sprint but ended up rubbing wheels with another rider, slowed down to avoid crashing and came across 9th.  Richard completed the climb and headed back down to get ready for his 10K running race the next morning.  I’m catting up after Pescadero–a final race then onto the big leagues….


Piers Barry

The usual suspects: 1st Piers Barry, ThirstyBear Cycling, 2nd Morgan raines, Team Bicycle Trip, 3rd Jeff Braunstein, Red Peloton, 4th Paul Berger, Topsport, 5th Dennis Van Hoof

Chris Phipps leads the way to the podium for ThirstyBear Cycling at Mt. Hamilton Road Race NCNCA Championship, Masters 40-44

Mt. Hamilton Road Race – NCNCA Championship, Masters 40-44

By: Chris Phipps (ThirstyBear Cycling)

Field: 31

ThirstyBear Teammates: Ken Gallardo, Greg McQuaid, Alan Nevin

Before this race I put a lot of thought into which wheelset to use.  My lightest wheels (Zipp 303s) would be best on the climb, my Bontrager RXL tubeless would be best for the steep descent and my Bontrager Aeolus 5 d3 were my most aero and would be best for the final 40 miles into the headwind and since that’s where the race is won or lost, I went with those.  When we arrived and it was drizzling, I kind of wished I had my tubeless, but thankfully the descent ended up being dry.

The setup for the race
The setup for the race

The race plan was for me to attack on the last 5K of the main climb and hopefully after the descent, we would have 3 or 4 of us in the selection, then from there would try attacking & counter attacking to get one of us away solo or with one other rider from Folsom since they were the big team with 6 riders.

The race started off with Greg feeling good and setting a hard tempo for the whole 1st 25 min of the main climb.  This probably wasn’t the best thing to help his chances later in the day, but it was great for us to keep anyone from attacking and tire some guys out before the last part of the climb.  On the short middle section of the climb, Nathan Parks (Folsom Bike) put in a hard attack, that really strung out the field and popped a few guys, but all the key guys were still there.

As we started the last 10K of the climb, the steepest part, Ken was setting a hard pace along with Todd Bell from Morgan Stanley, then as it started to kick up I launched an attack. Parks quickly got to my wheel and I could see the rest of the field was coming back, so I put in another hard dig & broke free.  After about 30 seconds I looked back & had a gap & was able to ride my own pace the rest of the way and take the KOM.  I had about 45 seconds on the chase at the top and I think the descent went well since only Jason Boynton (Folsom Bike) caught me on the way down and we were joined by Andres Gil (Michael David Winery) and Scott Bromstead (Barclay’s Racing) as we crossed Isabel Creek.  The 4 of us had about 30 seconds on a chase group of 6 which included Ken, 2 Folsom Bike (Parks & Bryant) and defending national champ Matt Carinio (Art’s Cyclery.  The 4 of us worked together and our advantage grew to over a minute by the feedzone climb (thanks to Alan’s wife Tracy for the feed!) where we lost Bromstead & were down to 3.  With a headwind all the way to the finish, there was really no good place for an attack and the race came down to a sprint.  I was actually in the ideal position heading into the final 200M 3rd wheel behind Boynton & Gil, but I got impatient and jumped 1st with 200M to go.  I got a small gap and for a few seconds thought I might take it, but reality set in with 100M to go as Gil went by me for the win and Boynton for 2nd.

In the chase group, Dan Bryant attacked out of it for 4th with Carinio winning the sprint for 5th.  Ken finished 9th, Alan 15th and Greg in 27th.  Throw in the 40 mile “cooldown” back to the car and we were all ready for an IPA (thanks Greg!)

 

CP

Podium Phipps as we started to call him.
Podium Phipps as we started to call him.

 

ThirstyBear Cycling Alan Roberts takes 3rd at Mt. Hamilton District Championship 55+123

Race 55+ Cat 123 60+ & 65+ scored separately for districts
Start: 9:30
Field: 45
Conditions: Damp but not raining about 63 degrees.
Mt Hamilton seems almost like two races, the big climb and then the valley. I don’t seem to be doing so well on early in race climbs lately, so when the likes of Kevin Susco, Steve Archer and Rob Anderson set a strong pace up the hill, I fell back and tried to keep a reasonable gap. This didn’t seem to be happening and even though I was in a small chase group that worked somewhat together, we were losing time on the lead group all the way up. I figured I’d be racing for maybe 10th place, but kept pushing the pace hoping to pull some guys back on the other side.

Alan Roberts turns on the ‘diesel’ engine and crushes the field one by one to finish 3rd.
Guys started blowing up near the top and so the decent was myself and a SJBC guy who knew the road like the back of his hand. A Victory Velo rider joined us at the bottom, so now there were 3 of us working up the hill to the feed zone and off toward the valley. I put my head down and pushed on and both of those guys blew up, but I picked up a Victory Velo guy falling back from the front group. Unfortunately he couldn’t do more than sit on my wheel for probably 15 miles, so I was essentially on my own. (turns out he won the 65+ race, so he owes me a beer)
Reached the other end of the valley and started up the hills. This was made more fun by the fact that my front derailleur had slipped out of adjustment (again) so I only had big ring gears.
I was catching more guys from my field along the way and then caught up to Rob Anderson and a fella named Joe Lemire on the Hammer team. Always nice to pull up behind a guy wearing rainbow stripes, so I paused for a second behind Rob and then rode around him. He reacted by saying “who was that?” as I went by and grabbed onto my wheel along with Joe. I pretty much pulled them up the rest of the climb. Once it started rolling Rob started rotating with me, but Joe was not able to contribute, so he hung on the back. (Joe ended up first in the 60+ field, so I think he owes me a beer too)

At about 5k to go we spotted a Strava rider and a Victory Velo rider ahead. I wasn’t sure where they were in the field, but we were gaining on them quickly.
I gotta say, Rob Anderson is one of the nicest guys I’ve ridden with in a race. When he saw the riders ahead he said “let’s not catch them too soon, Alan. They don’t know were back here and surprise is on our side”. “Let’s pull up behind them and hit them at 1k”. Now, having a world champion coaching you in a race is pretty cool, so I paid attention. We caught up to them at about 2k and sat on their wheel for a bit but they looked pretty beat, so Rob waved me up and said “attack now!” and I did. Came around them fast with Rob on my wheel. He took one turn and then started yelling “go Alan go!” I mean seriously, a WC cheering you on from behind, how awesome is that?
I looked back at 200m to see them coming hard, so I put my head down and pushed harder. Next time I looked back I’d put 50m on them and was clear going across the line. Not having been at the front of the race, I didn’t know how many were ahead of me, so I had to ask around a bit to see where I finished. Turns out Susco and Archer had been off the front, finishing 1st and 2nd and I ended up 3rd place.
Took forever to get the awards, but thankfully Lance stuck around to ride the 45 miles back to the cars with me with a little burrito stop along the way. Nice 109 mile day!

Epic ThirstyBear Cycling Team ride and BBQ celebrating Amgen Tour of California

ThirstyBears ready for the ride out to Mt. Diablo.
ThirstyBears ready for the ride out to Mt. Diablo.
ThirstyBear Cycling plus friends.

 

Max leading the way for the ThirstyBears
Max leading the way for the ThirstyBears

 

Pictures of the race thanks to Ken Gallardo.

Christina – “Wired – but Not Tired”
Christina – “Wired – but Not Tired”
two mountain goats enjoying the view
two mountain goats enjoying the view
Denmark well represented on Mt. Diablo cheering for Michael Moerkov, Brian Vandborg and Johan Aaen.
Denmark well represented on Mt. Diablo cheering for Michael Moerkov, Brian Vandborg and Johan Aaen.
Some enjoyed the ride more than others
Some enjoyed the ride more than others

 

The crew after hammering it up Pinehurst Climb. Piers still smiling after his crash.
The crew after hammering it up Pinehurst Climb. Piers still smiling after his crash.
Christina and Adam after 75 miles with the ThirstyBears. HAppy to see they are still all smiles. Thanks for coming out and sharing the fun with us!
Christina and Adam after 75 miles with the ThirstyBears. HAppy to see they are still all smiles. Thanks for coming out and sharing the fun with us!
Some thirstyMini’s
Some thirstyMini’s

 

John Hughes, awesome job on the BBQ!
John Hughes, awesome job on the BBQ!

A HUGE hanks to Aaron for hosting and organizing an amazing ride and great fun BBQ party with friends and family!! Lets make it a ToC tradition…

Organic Brew from ThirstyBear – Cold beer after a long ride makes for the best sponsors a team can have.

Boys with toys…
Boys with toys…

View the entire photo stream from this epic ride and BBQ:

 

Quick video of today’s Stage of the ATOC at Muir Beach Overlook. Strong support local hero Nate English.

 

Sprint Superstar Joe Amon is back! Winning at Modesto RR 45+ 123

ThirstyBear Cycling Joe Amon top podium spot at Modesto Road Race. After 3 month of non racing Joe shows us all that he is back!
ThirstyBear Cycling Joe Amon top podium spot at Modesto Road Race. After 3 month of non racing Joe shows us all that he is back!

Modesto Road Race

Masters 45+ 1/2/3

About 50 guys. Hot and windy.  Six laps, 60 or so miles. No teammates.

 

This was my first race back after a yoga-injury earlier this year that had me off the bike for almost three months.  Fucking yoga.

Hunter Ziesing told me before the race that he and Chris Courtney were going to try and split the field any chance they got, given the many crosswind sections.  And sure enough, from the gun, Hunter and a few others attack.  I pause and wait for wheels to jump on, knowing that my fitness is not so good, and this happens several times in the first three laps.

I’m starting to feel all the surges and I let the next break go.  Sure enough it’s got most teams represented, and I just don’t feel strong enough to bridge up to it.  There’s 10 guys in the break, and they just start pulling away and no one is responding.  It probably takes us a lap to get organized and figure out who doesn’t have someone in the break.  It turns out Kouvaris and Cortex don’t, so 2 Cortex, 2 Kouvaris, 1 other guy (can’t remember his team) and I start working well together.

Modesto RR – Made for men like Joe.
Modesto RR – Made for men like Joe.

The break is 45 seconds up the road and we just hold that.  It goes up and down, 35 to 45 seconds for two laps.  I’m skipping pulls every third or fourth time ‘cause my back’s cramping. I’m telling one of the Cortex guys, I’m not going to be able to keep this up much longer. And then in the confusion of passing other fields and dropped riders, suddenly we’re right on them. They were surprised to see us again. Hunter did say after the race that some of the guys were talking about how everyone was represented, so no one would be chasing.

With only one lap left I start to think oh, I can totally hang on for another lap. Shut up, back.

The whole last lap I’m just hanging on to the surges and hoping I can hang on for a sprint. Every acceleration I’m getting gapped and then I just decide that if I let this gap get any bigger, it’s just over, so I manage to close them down.  Once I get to a couple K to go, I realize that this is going to come down to a sprint, and I’m going to be able to hang on and do whatever it takes.

From the previous laps, I knew that it needed to be a patient sprint given the headwind.  I wouldn’t want to be too close to the front in the final 90-degree left-hand turn, which leaves you with 800 meters dead-straight to the finish.

So going into that final left, I slid back a few spots into about 10th position and just waited patiently while guys were drilling it on the front, into the wind.  After the first few guys burned out, I was about 5thwheel when we got inside 100 meters, and I just pulled out into the wind and gave it everything I had. To my surprise I was pulling around all the guys, expecting guys to come shooting around me because it didn’t feel like the best sprint, but I got it by about half a bike-length.

Results page: http://www.usacycling.org/results/?permit=2013-1423

30 miles solo break victory to ThirstyBear Cycling Piers Barry. Eric Lagier wins the hill climb sprint and finish 2nd.

Piers Barry taking great victory after 30 miles solo break. 

Race: Berkeley Hills Road Race 2013

Cat 4 35+ Racers: Piers Barry and Eric Lagier
Weather: Cool start, hot finish with 72 degree average and some wind
Finish: Classic ThirstyBear domination with 1-2 Finish
    This is one of the best courses I’ve seen for racing and–it doesn’t involve driving 3.5 hours East into sweltering heat.  Registration was a mess.  Cat 4 35/45/55 Masters were all stuck in one group.  It filled up weeks in advance, then it took 45 minutes just to get a number as riders tried to switch around.  This killed any chance of warm up.  After nearly a week of minimal riding with Achilles tendonitis I really needed that first lap to go easy.  We lined up for the start and 14 people missed the gun.  Fortunately they were able to join us before any racing started in the neutral section and it was all one gruppo as we hit the start.
    Cushman Wakefield and Integrity Roofing were heavily represented with huge numbers along with 5 riders from Folsom.  Cushman alone had at least 8 riders in our group.  We were missing CJ, Jim, and Peter who were obediently doing Mother’s day duty.  Cushman’s strategy was simple and played out on the first lap.  One rider each from Cushman and Integrity took off and their two teams blocked the entire road and soft pedaled.  Not too subtle.  Another 4 riders went off the front for a spread out lead of 6.
    Eric and I were trying to stay out of the wind and not show ourselves too early with a race strategy to go with any threatening breaks or to wait for the last climb and blast out of the pack to the top as had worked perfectly at Wente.  With 75 riders it was hard to see if we had caught all of the riders off the front and this made for nervous racing.
Cushman kept trying to block the front so we knew there was still one of their riders off the front.  We finally reeled in the last of the break at the end of lap one.  When the road narrowed again at the north end of the reservoir Cushman/Integrity tried the exact same tactic of sending riders up front and slowing down.  I saw what was happening and scraped just along our side of the double yellow line and bridged up to the two man breakaway when they had about 200 yards–hoping Cushman wouldn’t chase down their own rider.  I didn’t really want to go in a break that early but more than that I didn’t want Cushman or Integrity Roofing to play their large team tactics against us.

Piers forcing the break to explode going up Papa Bear. 
As Eric and I have gotten “Cat 4 famous”, the Thirstybear jersey at the front drew out 4 more riders from the group for a total of 6 in the break.  Cesar Guillen (2nd at Copperopolis) and a Davis rider were riding pretty strong.  I coerced and cajoled them into taking 30 second hard pulls and we got out of sight in the sinuous roads before the first climb.   The Cushman rider was skipping and taking weak pulls.  I told him: “Your whole team is behind working for you blocking the front–you have to do some work!”  A couple guys wanted to know if it was a serious break or if we were just testing the waters and wasting energy.  I didn’t actually want to be away that early and doubt was creeping in.  There was a slight slowing in the break and at the bottom of the Baby Bear first climb only Cesar Guillen was still looking strong.  I started to pull steadily but turned around and could see the pack approaching.  I dropped the rest of the break by the top.  My advantage had dropped down to 15 or 20 seconds with a straight line visibility up the hill.

After 1:15. its time for Piers to turn up the volume on his pacemaker to set of on a solo break. 
Eric was doing some awesome discouraging and blocking behind with more team tactical advantage than Cushman’s whole troupe of 8.  I hadn’t really committed yet and was trying to figure out if I should go back in the pack and stop wasting energy.  At this point the chase must have slowed and I had a little bit bigger gap in the feed zone.
At the top of Papa Bear I had my fiancee, and my Mom and Dad cheering.  I was sitting up, thinking about where to pull over and pee and wait for the group but I had to get a little gap and show off a bit for the family.  I had about 30 seconds at the top, looked back, decided: “What the hell–this will be fun to try” and instead of sitting up I stripped off vest, and arm warmers and tossed them with my flat kit to Danielle at the top and fully committed.  I pushed the descents, and put my elbows on the bars and tried to keep my heart rate under 175 as I knew 30 miles alone off the front was a big gamble.  I kept hammering away and the time gaps kept increasing.
The moto came up and fed me 30, 50, 55 seconds, then 1minute, 1 minute 20, 1 minute 50, 1 minute 55 then I broke the 2 minute gap with only a couple miles to go.  Team Oakland was chasing hard behind and I knew I was cooked if they caught site of me.

Eric controlling the peleton an chasing down any attacks.
Fortunately they didn’t!  Eric was behind me the whole way saying–“Look–it’s Thirstybear up there, you’re never going to catch him–why are you wasting your energy?” and discouraging the 45 plus riders from chasing a 35+ rider as well as subtly disrupting the rhythm of the chase.  He then came to the finish and unleashed the Lagier super sprint from 100 meters out and crushed the field sprint for 2nd for the 1-2 finish!

 Dynamic Duo celebrating 1st and 2nd place at Berkeley Hills 35+ 4.
— 
Piers Barry

A happy but tired winner!

A winning smile.

When sponsoring ThirstyBear Cycling – its better to be on the back than on the front – Piers Barry never looked back while 75 other riders constantly looked at his back. What better way to show off our great sponsors. 

Hans Gouwens leads the way to victory with Aaron Long taking 3rd at Berkeley Hills RR 45+123

Hands in the air! Victory. Hans also won the unofficial combativity award. 
Team mates: Max Thompson, Tom Lyons, Aaron Long, Holger Steinbach, Duane Coughlan
Field: close to 70 riders with lots of big hitters (at least 5 stars & bars, 3 rainbows)
Weather: perfect
Fueled by some left over Gila frustration, I was determined to race my bike hard, really hard. As a team, we all agreed to put the pressure on others from the gun to thin the large field as quickly as possible. Needless to say, I went 200 meters after the neutral section came to an end. Got away solo a few times, but the field never let me go too far. During one of my attempts Duane came across and the two of us made the chasers work. Shortly after that Holger went clear with Susco (MarcPro Strava) through the residential area, but got caught after a few miles.
Berkeley Hills Road Race 2013
Berkeley Hills Road Race 2013

The next move seemed to be the move that probably would have been the winning break with Passmore and Courtney (SJBC), Roemer (Specialized), Hunt (Giant Strawberry), Osborne (Fast Freddie) John Cavanaugh (PrimeTime), Blake Reed (Arts Cyclery), Cale Reeder (Hammer Nutrition), and myself. Nevertheless, Reeder did not use his wits but his watts instead and drilled it up Papa Bear which caused the break to break, leaving 6 to chase 4 and riding two important teams out of the break.

At the end of one lap we regrouped with about 20 guys and reeled in Reeder et al and I immediately countered. Aaron came across after a mile or so and gave me the breather I desperately needed. Dirk Himley (Hammer Nutrition) rode across solo and joined us just before the 90 degree right turn into the residential area. We hit the gas full throttle for a lap and a half and built a three minute lead as we approached the three Bears for the last time. Unfortunately we lost Aaron going up Mama Bear, but Dirk and I pressed on because we knew that field would put in a late charge. Dirk reminded me that he owed me a huge favor after I lead him out for the last 3 miles at Copperopolis so he could take the win there. When we approached the 100 meters to go I came around him and he didn’t put in a real deep dirk dig – what a good sport!

Dirk, Hans and Aaron toward the finish line. Kudos to Dirk for great sportsmanship. 
I was great to see Aaron hang on for 3rd with Reeder breathing down his neck. Holger was good for 9th, Max for 11th while Tom and Duane finished top 20 on a stacked field
Great team racing and superb results for all of us. Some of the other teams with 5 or 6 riders never saw the front of the race due to our aggressive approach. We came to race and we won!

Hans & Aaron celebrating their podium wins. – still waiting for the keys to the car…

The boys way to celebrate Mothers day!