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Unstoppable Jason Gets Victory Pie at Cherry Pie Crit +35 123

For the second day in a row, Jason steps up on the podium!
For the second day in a row, Jason steps up on the podium!

After having lapped the field and finished 2nd at BP Winter Crit, Jason is right back at it! Here is how it went down…

Late… because I always run late for crits, I got my number and got dressed in the car, listening to the heavy pelting wind and rain.  “It’s nice in here,” I thought.  “Maybe I should just stay warm instead of racing.”  I took my time getting dressed and had already resigned myself to an abbreviated warm-up.  I forgot my trainer, so I rolled down the parking lot hill a couple times and my butt was already getting soggy from the road.

Rolling to the start, there were 4 Mikes Bikes, 4 LangeTwins, and a collection of others.  Hunter Ziesing from Hammer showed up with the wrong number and quickly joined our field.  It was his second (maybe third) race.  There were about 10 of us total.  Hunter said he was going to attack from the gun… and he did.

I started from the back of the group, being extra cautious on the first turn and Hunter, Greg Tsutaoka (LangeTwins), and Mike Foley (Mikes Bikes) went clear right away.  With several teammates in the field, I knew that this first lap break was likely the move that would stick, so I immediately motored up to their group.  By the time I got there, Greg was already calling “uncle” and was unable to pull through.

Mike & Hunter were both barking at Greg for him to pull through & I said that we needed him in our group if we were going to stay clear.  Greg was in our group for now.

The race continued for a couple more laps with everyone but Greg taking some pulls.  There was a nasty headwind on the final stretch and it always sapped your energy when you did work into the wind, then had to hit the final 400m climb.  Greg dropped out of our group & pulled the plug on himself and then there were 3 of us.

Mike took 2 primes and I took 2.  Hunter sat out of all of them, saying, “I’m just happy to be out here.”  Our tempo was good and we had locked up the podium.

With about 6 to go, the chief ref screams at us that Hunter didn’t register and that he needs to drop from the race.  Huh?  Hunter continues with us and would end up being ineligible for the race.

Two laps to go, I try a hard dig on the backside and coming into the straight and final stretch.  I pull off in the final stretch, letting Mike come by.  We are going a bunch slower and he’s in the wind.  Coming into the hill, he’s a bit agitated and swings wide right for one of us to pull through.

Wide open door!  I pin it to the top of the hill and motor really fast through the turn at the bottom of the hill.  Hunter is with me.  Mike is off our group.  I continue to motor hard through the back side and then into the final stretch.

Looking back, we’re clear, so I need to keep something in reserve for the final sprint.  I ease up a bit, watching to see if Hunter is going to try to pull around.  At about 200m to go, I pop and give it everything I have… First.  Pie and primes are yummy!

 Thanks for reading, 



Jason Grefrath Laps the Field at BP Winter Crit 35+ 123 to finish 2nd.

Jason Grefrath, ThirstyBear Cycling fights the cyclone rain. Photo: Alex Chiu Photography
Jason Grefrath, ThirstyBear Cycling fights the cyclone rain. Photo: Alex Chiu Photography

I was looking forward to three days of team camp for months, but due to work and due to the stupid no rain for months, then raining every weekend situation, I bailed on the Friday and Saturday team rides. Instead of slogging through Santa Rosa, I figured I’d slog through the Folsom Crit. It’s 20 minutes from my house and I’ve done this course a million times. It’s a very simple course with no major turns, just sweepers, and I figured I could get a good result in a decent field.

Because I happened to be home instead of Santa Rosa, I got some extra “honey-do’s”, because, you know, I’m home. The last “honey-do” was picking up a granite fountain from a neighbor’s house (those things are heavy) and it made me late to the race. I arrived with 45 minutes to start. I still had to grab my number, pin it, and get warmed up. After a series of frustrating missteps getting all my gear on, I was ready to race, and I joined the field just as they rolled off the finish line.

For the first lap, I fiddled with my gloves, still getting them on, and keeping the bike steady in the rain, wind and puddles on the course. Did I mention it was raining?

4th lap was the first prime and I went clear with Jeff Watson (LangeTwins) and Jeff Galland (Zipz). Jeff Watson took the prime and Galland gave us the “we’re clear” and we started motoring.

Watson was blown from his sprint and had trouble pulling through. After some very direct words about not pulling through, Watson dropped back to the field. (Sorry for being so direct, Jeff!)


This left Galland & me together off the front. Once it was just Galland and me and we got a 20s time split, I looked back and told Jeff that we were going to lap the field.

Jeff took some short pulls for the first 8 minutes and for the final 23 minutes, it was all me on the front, steadily drilling it at 350 watts. I was concerned with lapping my first field and stopped racing, really. To win the race, tactically, I should have done things differently. Now that I’ve lapped a field in a race, my bucket list is checked and next time I’ll go for the win (Jan, I promise).

“We” caught the field with 3 or 4 to go and I motored right through the group, hoping they would let us go and that we/I would be out of range of any last lap stupidity. No such luck. Beth Newell (Go BETH!) tagged us and now the field was back together. 2 laps to go became 1 lap and on the final lap, I was more concerned about being out of trouble than about setting myself up for the sprint. (I’m still on the front, btw.)

Final turn is about 200 meters to the finish, slightly uphill and this year was in a major headwind. Coming off the turn, a very pathetic pop out of the saddle, and I watched Jeff take the field sprint, leaving me 2nd place.

Nice work Jeff Galland on playing your cards and about tagging the right wheel. He let me have all the primes… thank you Sierra Nevada, Cytosport, and Bicycle Lawyer (Zin Man wine) for supporting cycling. Jeff also gave me his winnings. While I’m not thrilled about Jeff sitting on my wheel, that’s his card and he raced his race (and won). Next time, I won’t make it so easy, though.

Thanks for reading!

Eric Lagier 5 Mile Solo Escape to Take Victory at Knights Ferry RR 35+ 3

Podium shot – Celebrating victory at Knights Ferry RR. Thanks to Paul Berger, his kid and Matt Johnson for stepping in. Notice the OSMO bottle – One of our new sponsors helping us improve performance.
Podium shot – Celebrating victory at Knights Ferry RR. Thanks to Paul Berger, his kid and Matt Johnson for stepping in. Notice the OSMO bottle – One of our new sponsors helping us improve performance.

Here are the ingredients for a perfect race;

Dedicated 35+ 3 race = no 1 & 2’s to bully the peloton
1. Noon start = get to sleep long
2. 59miles only, with a meager 2K feet of climbing = An easy start to the season.
3. High sun, little wind, and warm temperatures (Boy I love California)
4. Add 3days and 375miles of Coast Ride as base miles and continuously doing serious training rides with the ThirstyBears!!
5. Being accompanied by Piers Barry.

It all started with a nice 2.5 hour drive out to the middle of nowhere together with Piers and Piers’ friend, David Campbell. We did our usual 15 min warm-up, riding up and down the road for 2.5 miles, primarily to test that our gear was race ready. However David used the opportunity to have a flat. Better then, than during race.


Knights Ferry Road Race 2014 – 59miles out and back twice.

Field was 40 man strong with Kovarus/Wells Fargo Racing TeamBell Real Estate Cycling Team and Team Fremont/FFBC p/b Chipotle well represented. Especially Kovarus with 9 riders had the opportunity to dominate this race. Piers and I were in sync with our tactics. Stay in front, control the race, ok to let one guy go and let him hang to dry 15 sec out, but if anyone tried to bridge or more riders go, stay on their wheel. Do not take any pulls ourselves. We were only two riders and could easily burn up all the matches trying to control the race.

12 Noon we are off, tempo is modest and Piers and I sit in the middle of the field, but I use the first little climp to get up in the front to be sure to stay in control of the race.

Givargis Betoshana from Bell Real Estate Cycling Team had sneaked off from the gun and few noticed this until we approached the turning point first time and he comes flying solo way ahead us. The Kovarus team sets tempo up in front and we bring back the first break. Then follows 40 miles of constant attacks from Kovarus and a few other teams, but they are all half hearted and chased back. Dave Rossow from LuxVue – SunPower Racing takes some massive pulls and I stay tucked away just behind him. Martin Szwarc and Tim Zsoka Team BP/Sierra Nevada/Reliable is active contributing in front.  Unfortunately Martin Szwarc flats and missed out on the finish.

Our tactics is working out. I have closed down a number of breaks while Piers conserved his energy to go for the win as we get closer to the finish. However, having chased down 8-10 attacks over the first 50 miles it seem more and more likely that it will be a sprint finish and there are many strong legs in the field.

We come to the rail road tracks, which naturally slows down the field, and Dave Keefe LuxVue – SunPower Racing attacks. I turn on 750 watts and within seconds I am coming up fast behind him. I look around and see that I managed to gap the field, so I shout to Dave “lets do it” as I fly by him and for the next 30 sec we ride together. We come to a turn which I corner full speed. As I look back, Dave is gone…Shit, 5 miles left and now riding solo with a field of 40 chasing me. Should I sit up and wait or go all in? I go all in.

I know Piers has been saving his batteries all day, so the longer I am out there with the others chasing, the better are Piers’ chances to counter attack and go for the win once they swallow me up.

Time to go – pulse hitting 200, surging 800 Watts. This is the only way to get away.
Time to go – pulse hitting 200, surging 800 Watts. This is the only way to get away.

I am in adapted TT mode, pulse hammering at 185 bpm and ride in the screaming red zone. I don’t look back once, as its serves no purpose to see if the are close or not, just focusing on keeping the pace at maximum. 1 mile goes, 2 miles goes, 3 miles goes…I cannot believe that they have not caught me yet. I am at a tipping point, fuel is fast running out of the tank and I am starting to doubt that I can hold the pace much longer. I get to think of my solo stunt at last years Snelling RR and it gives me renewed energy to try harder.

I see the 2km sign! Only 2 short km to go, but it’s the 2 km with all the climbing on the course. Not really what I wished for, but how hard can it be? I need to make it. As I hit the 1km for the final climb I get into the little ring and spin as fast as I can. It’s do or die. I cannot look back fearing that the hungry chasing group will be right behind me. They must be right behind me. Half way up the top I see Rick from VeloPromo standing on the side and I shout to get him to tell me where the chasers are. He replies “They are coming fast”. I dig deep and pull out the last juice, the 200m sign is coming up, I get up and start sprinting, No one is going to take this from me now! 20m and I turn my head and to my surprise they is no one near. The field is just passing the 200m sign. I F***ing MADE it. One hand in the air for victory!! Gasping for air. This is how races are won.

According to Raceshape I managed to quickly built a gap of 20sec, which grew to 35sec after 4 miles. The last mile I lost nearly 20sec especially on the climb.

Piers did an amazing job as I went away. Piers went up in the front and continued to take false leads helping to keep the tempo down. Coming up to the climb, Piers went for it, but unfortunately too many grabbed on and of fear that he would pull the chasers up to me he sat up. Thanks Piers!!! – The dynamic duo is back!

The Dynamic Duo!
The Dynamic Duo!


Knights Ferry RR 45+ 123 ThirstyBear team lead out Joe Amon to take 4th

Joe Amon – Close but no Cigar!
For all those who raced today – Duane, Hans, Gardie, Brenon, Dan, Holger, Oddva – sorry, if I’m forgetting some important detail. I’m terrible at race reports.

So we get to Knights Ferry with at least an hour’s time to suit up and get ready.  All’s good. Until somehow the keys get locked in the car. Hans is down the road in his running shoes, and most of Duane’s gear is still in the car. Duane’s on the phone with AAA and time is ticking by. Finally he agrees to let me try and smash his window so we can race, and we’ll all split the cost of the replacement. I grab a rock the size of a papaya, smack the window pretty hard and, to my disbelief, nothing. So I wind up and smack it even harder and it just feels like plexiglass, I can see it flex. No go. By now people are walking by and commenting, what the hell are you guys doing, as I take repeated blows at the glass and am unable to break it. Then a guy comes over with a pair of vice grips acting like I’m some kind of pussy and he tries whacking it a couple of times, to no avail. Finally I realize if you hit a window on the corner, that’s how they blow. Sure enough, with 10 minutes to go, we suit up and line up for the race.

Masters 45+ 1/2/3 started with a field of about 50 guys, 8 of ‘em Thirsty Bear. With that many in the field, we had to do something and the whole race, we sure did. When I say we, I mean They ‘cause I just sat in. It was just constant attacks, mostly TB, but every time other teams would shut it down.  I think there were enough sprinters that had teammates to keep things in check.

About halfway through the 87-mile race, even though the terrain is pretty flat we had managed to lose half the field. The whole race TB was attacking, trying to form breaks. I’m not sure if there was a single break attempt that didn’t have a TB in it. And then with about 6 miles to go TB went to the front and just kept the pace high, to discourage more attacks.  We averaged 24 miles an hour over the whole race.

It’s not my kind of sprint finish. It’s a bit too big of a hill for me, but at some point Brenon came around, told me to get on his wheel and he just drilled it. With about 100 to go, Don Langley shot by us with the guy that got second and Dan Shore who ended up getting 3rd, but they had so much momentum I wasn’t able to get right onto Dan’s wheel. I closed the gap down but only right at the finish line and didn’t have enough road to come around. I‘m actually pretty happy with 4th place considering how strong a lot of those riders were, but I do feel like I let the team down a little bit, the way everyone worked so hard the whole race and then that amazing lead-out and I didn’t podium.

Joe Amon.