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“Sometimes You Have To Risk Losing Big To Win”. Tanya Fredricks Overall GC Victory at Mariposa Road Race 2015

Victory comes to those who go all in! Photo: Alex Chui
Victory comes to those who go all in! Photo: Alex Chui
was reminded of some basic life lessons this past weekend at the Mariposa Stage Race….
           Day One:  Flat Time Trial:
           1:  Always expect the unexpected:
When a herd of cows are being driven down the entire road for what feels like a mile, and you are stuck behind the posse trying to get to the start of the race, relax.  Everyone else is also stuck behind the madness, too.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff:
When you warm up with a  disc wheel (something you’ve only practiced with once before the race) and then change your mind 15 minutes before the race because the wind has picked up, don’t panic.  Just because you can’t get your regular wheel back on and HAVE to use the disc for the windy race,  keep calm and motor on.
TT Result: 2nd 
Impressive result by Tanya Fredricks of ThirstyBear p/b Akamai to finish 2nd in the time trial.
Impressive result by Tanya Fredricks of ThirstyBear p/b Akamai to finish 2nd in the time trial.
Day two: Hill climb and Circuit race:

1. Stick with what is tried and true:
Questionable Mexican food the night before the Hill Climb?  Maybe not the best choice.  Enough said.
2. Never assume:
Coming into the circuit race, I had almost 2 mins on my closest rival, Camille.  Her teammates were well behind at 7-8 mins. I felt all I had to do was stay glued to Camille and make sure she didn’t get any lap time bonuses.  At the end of the circuit race, I had accomplished this and assumed I was sitting comfortably on top of the GC for the final RR stage.
At dinner later that evening, a friend asked the simple question, “soooo how far up the road were her teammates?”.  Having no clue how far up the road her teammates had gone, I got a huge sinking feeling in my stomach and a complete loss of appetite took over.  It was confirmed after dinner that I was no longer 1st in GC but actually now 4:33 BEHIND the leader going into the final stage.   Although I went to bed at 10pm, not much sleep happened that night.
Hill Climb: 1st
Circuit Race: 3rd
Even smiling when climbing. This defines a ThirstyGal
Even smiling when climbing. This defines a ThirstyGal
Day Three: Road Race
1. Keep your enemies close and your rivals closer:
This is extremely helpful in stage racing when one day your biggest rival may need to be your break mate the next day.
 I thoroughly enjoyed the circuit race, chatting and getting to know Camille.  She is kind, smart, and knows how to race a bike.  We developed a nice rapport as we circled around the 7 lap course (while her teammates quietly time trialed themselves into first and second place in the GC).  Little did I know at the time that this was the perfect plan her team had laid out, and I fell hook, line and sinker into their trap.
Fortunately, she also came to my rescue in the road race and became my break mate for 48 of 50 miles. Together we were able to take back 25 mins and secure my place on top (she placed second GC).
           2. Choose your friends wisely:
  I don’t know what I would have done without the amazing support of my teammates…especially when I realized my huge rookie mistake from the circuit race.  They stayed up late with me to wait for the time gap checks to be posted and  believed in me that I could somehow still pull this off!
Tanya and Camille fighting it out. Photo:
Tanya and Camille fighting it out. Photo:
3. Act like you can:
My only “strategy” to salvage a GC win was to go from the gun and try to recover a minute per lap (read: suffer).  Although this sounded daunting, I decided to think positively and give it my best shot.  I guess my acting skills were good enough to worry my contenders. They kept asking if I would be okay shortening the race to 3 laps. I needed 4 laps to punish myself for my stupidity in the circuit race.  4 laps it was.
 Road Race Result: 2nd
Stage Race Result: 1st in GC!
An incredible weekend of racing with the best team/friends around!  Thank you to all my ThirstyBear teammates, Zac, our sponsors, and our weekend mascot, Timpa!  

Anne Valta Wins It All at 2015 Mariposa Woman’s Stage Race.

Amazing performance sees Anna Valta to victory at Mariposa Stage Race.
Amazing performance sees Anna Valta to victory at Mariposa Stage Race.



Mariposa Women’s Stage Races starts with a 10 mile mostly flat TT on Friday afternoon. The weather was perfect, not hot like last year with some headwind going out. I had no teammates in my category since Tanya and I decided to split so we could possible both take the win. The 35+ category had the biggest group of riders because all 4 stages were part of the NCNCA women’s series for the masters racers. I was eager to race against the top guns, and it motivated me to better my time from last year, and actually get the fastest time of the day in all categories. At the end of the day, I got 1:14 on Annie Carrino (Sisterhood of Cycling), and 1:45 on Rikke Jeppesen (Metromint).

Saturday morning started with the Groveland Hillclimb, 6.7miles on 6% average, every category starts separately as a group. Same plan as Friday: get as much time on rivals as possible. The first half a mile or so is the steepest and most of our group was dropped at this point. After 1.5 miles I was alone at the front. It was difficult at times to motivate myself to keep pushing harder since I had no one to breath down my neck although passing riders from other categories gave me some boost of energy. I managed to get a decent time (which turned out to be exactly the same with Tanya although we didn’t race together!) and was comfortably sitting on the 1st spot in GC with 3:23 on Helen Casabona (Pen Velo) and almost 4 minutes on Annie, followed by Rikke. The afternoon’s circuit race was going to be fun!
Our category raced 41.6 miles with 3255 ft of elevation gain. Every lap (8) except the first had time bonuses for the top 3 with the final lap having the biggest ones. Having a comfortable lead in GC, all I wanted and needed to do was to follow wheels and have fun. I figured Helen, Annie and Rikke had to do some serious work, and math! because they all had a chance for the podium. I also expected Charlotte Hart to try to win this one. She was leading the NCNCA women’s series comfortably up until this weekend because most of the races have been criteriums and she is a great sprinter. CR is the least hilly of the stages in Mariposa so she had a chance, I thought. On the second lap Annie’s teammate Raegan attacked. Rikke and Helen were quick to follow. I waited for Annie and Charlotte to react but they seemed happy to sit in the pack. The breakaway was sticking and getting further from us. About a mile later when we got to the last 200m of the lap, and where the only serious hill was, I attacked hard. The hill is followed by a 1.5 mile, non-technical descent and I went down as hard as I could. No one was following me, and about mile later I caught up with the breakaway. For the rest of the race I was happy to contribute in the paceline and let Helen and Rikke take most of the top 1-2 sprint points but making sure I got the last one and the win :D. My time gap at the end of stage 3 was 4:26 to Helen and about 1:30 more on Rikke. Annie’s mental lapse had caused her the podium on this stage 🙁
Sunday’s 51.5 mile road race finished off our weekend fun. We raced 4 laps with over 6000ft of elevation gain. Everyone was sore at this point but the ladies in places 2-4 still had chances to keep or lose the podium so again, I expected some attacking happening early. Surprisingly to me, none of the 3 podium contenders were willing to work so to keep myself somewhat sane and to have a good workout at least, I pulled the pack around for 1.5 laps. At some point towards the end of the second lap Rikke rode next to me and said: “Can you ease off a little bit on the pace!” I asked what was the problem: “Are people dying back there?” “A little bit”, came the answer. Okey, I thought, this is interesting. So when we got to short bump at the finish I attacked thinking they might as well just let me go since it won’t change anything in the standings. This time I had a 5 mile, screaming fast downhill following the climb and I was having a blast trying to get away from my pursuers. Half way down the descent I hear “On your right!” and see Meredith of our team flying by with a Metromint on her wheel. I started laughing so hard and that might have cost me because I was caught shortly after. At the bottom of the hill everyone started chatting and I was eating my lunch when Helen sneaked out ahead of us. I was waiting for a reaction from Rikke and Annie (Liz Benishin was the 5th on this breakaway) but they didn’t pursue Helen. As we got on a small incline I sprinted up to Helen and said, “Let’s go!” We worked hard for about 5 miles or until the end of the lap and figured we had established a good gap. By the last lap I was seriously starting to feel the toll on my legs but I kept on appearing to look like I was fresh as daisy. Helen and I kept a decent but chatty pace until the last 1km and then I took off to ride to the sunset, and finish up a unbelievable weekend of racing and having fun with a couple of teammates and other great female riders. I was so grateful that I felt good enough all weekend long to win all the stages and to be able to be aggressive, and make a difference in the races. So much more fun than just riding along and waiting for something to happen 🙂

The ThirstyBear p/b Akamai Womens Dream Team. Monica, Tanya, Anne & Meredith
The ThirstyBear p/b Akamai Womens Dream Team. Monica, Tanya, Anne & Meredith

ThirstyBear p/b Akamai shows who is the big bear at Berkeley Hills RR 2015 45+. Congrats to Brenon for the win, powered by a strong team effort.

Brenon and Chris in the final. Photos: Katie Truong.
Brenon and Chris in the final. Photos: Katie Truong.
Bears: Aaron, Chris P., Duane, Tom, DQ, Gardie, Holger Shawn and myself.

Overall field: ~50

Condition: cool, windy at the start, warmed through the race but the wind stayed strong.

Distance: 72miles, with 5900 feet of climbing (the toll: 3:20; 2900kjs).

Placings: A lot of Bears, all at the top of the results page.Like today’s stage at the Giro, ThirstyBear p/b Akamai turned today’s race into a bit of a Team Time Trial. I think we had 5 of the top 10, including first (myself) and third (Phipps). Great day to show the depth and strength of our squad.

How it played out:
Since Hans was sidelined, we were all wondering who was going to play his role and attack from Kilometer 0. Duane let us know the answer, immediately jumping away with Kevin from Victory Velo. (To give a sense of how quick out of the gate he was, Phipps and I hadn’t even made it back to the pack from our ‘natural’ during the rollout and Duane was already gone.) The other strange part of the start of the race: my brother joined us about 4-5miles into the race and I handed him his race numbers, which he kinda/sorta fastened to his bike. (He never made it to registration or the actual start because he had to do an emergency spinal tap at the hospital and then zip down to race.)
When you don’t have time to get the numbers on your jersey. Photo: Katie Truong
When you don’t have time to get the numbers on your jersey. Photo: Katie Truong

Duane and his running mate stayed away until the third trip up Papa Bear (finishing climb). Tom had jumped earlier in the lap, bridged up & through them. Tim was riding well and still a bit of a gap on all of us, but there was a lot of wind for him to fight alone. (Quick aside: Duane gets my vote for ‘man of the match’ today. Even after soldiering for 50+ miles in a two-man break, he hung tough when he got caught and rather than go quietly, he kept throwing punches all the way across San Pablo Dam Road, making other teams chase him down. It looked like so much fun that DQ had to try it too, so he was off the front 4-5 times on his own, stretching the field.)

Duane in his 2 man break for 50+ miles. Impressive! Photo: Katie Truong.
Duane in his 2 man break for 50+ miles. Impressive! Photo: Katie Truong.
Along the two valley roads (Alhambra and Bear Creek), Victory Velo’s Jay revved up his TT engine. He and Mike’s Bike had the field single-file as we approached Mama Bear for the last time. Jay set tempo up the climb and since we had Tom and Chris right on his wheel, I did a ‘drift climb’ and settled back into the middle of the pack. At least I thought it was the middle. When I actually looked behind me, there wasn’t anyone. The approach and less than a half-mile of climbing on Mama had cut the field to 10 — these were the riders who’d be going at it on Papa for the win.
Right from the start of the climb, ThirstyBear p/b Akamai set the tone. Holger went to the front from the base and rode hard tempo to cut the field in half. From there, Tom took over and stretched us clear with a strong piece of riding that got us (Phipps, Fonseca and myself) into the final 300 meters or so. Fonseca, who had been standing for most of the climb, jumped around Chris and caught scent of the finish line. I hesitated for a second but then realized Fonseca was going to stick it if I didn’t get up to him. So I ended up doing a two-stage sprint: first, to pull him back; second to get past him (Note: looking at on a power file shows how unconventional is was: two 10-second sprints of 900 watts, with a 5-second ‘recovery’ of 700 watts between them. Not how they teach it…)
This is how Winning looks like. Photo: Alex Chui.
This is how Winning looks like. Photo: Alex Chui.
However haltingly or falteringly, we got the win. And ‘we’ truly got this one — with everyone active in breaks, attacks or leading out. I was just the grateful beneficiary of a lot of hard work out on my ‘home course’ today. (I don’t know how many gallons of sweat I’ve left on training rides around the Bears over the past 13 years.) So a big ‘thank you’ to all my fellow Bears (and our sponsors) to helping me finally realize something that I’ve seen in my mind a hundred times in training over the past decade: coming to the top of Papa Bear, and kicking clear of the field.
Brenon 1st, Chris Phipps 3rd. Great day for ThirstyBear p/b Akamai. Photo: Danielle Barry
Brenon 1st, Chris Phipps 3rd. Great day for ThirstyBear p/b Akamai. Photo: Danielle Barry

Piers impresses Mama & Papa Bear to Win Berkeley Hills RR 2015 35+

Piers Pulling teeth to win. Photo Alex Chui.
Piers Pulling teeth to win. Photo Alex Chui.


ThirstyBears: Jan, Eric, Moritz, Jakob, Piers (plus Danielle and Hans G. handing out bottles and taking back vests).

Field: Stacked with strong dudes as always.  Make-a-Wish riders Birky and Hoadley dropped down to 35+ with a younger teammate.  Arts there with ever-present Carinio, Nunes, Albracht.  Specialized as always strong and smart. Peter Vaughn (fresh off Wente).  Chronos there with Dan Bryant, Theobald, Eropkin, Zimney. Squadra with Evans and Profumo.  

Conditions: Windy all day long.
72 miles.  6,300 feet of elevation.
Results: 1st, 19th, 20th, 27th, 31st.
I love this race and have always had fun on this course.  It’s definitely possible to win from a break and we had discussed as a team what our race plans would be and how we were going to make this play out in advance.  And this time we actually stuck to the plan and made it work.  Jan knows how to save energy and who should be where at what time.  Since I’m never sure I usually waste a lot of energy trying to be everywhere every time.  Looking at my ride–I basically did nothing until the last lap.  2 hours a 25 minutes of this race I was in Zone 1-3 thanks to being looked after by my teammates who went in all the right moves and kept me out of the win.  When it was finally time to wake up I was well rested.
We started off easy in this race but within a reasonable amount of time there was a break that was more of a field split than a break.  Around 15 guys were off the front with everyone represented except for Art’s.  Normally I would have spent a large amount of energy to get up there and be in the break but we had Moritz and Jakob in there who could finish this race off if they sat in (which they did).  For some reason Mike’s Bikes also did nothing although this could have won the race for them as they had 3 riders and Matt Adams in the break.  Arts sent Ben Albracht to the front then Craig Nunes single handedly spent 20 minutes bringing the entire group back to the break.  This was a great situation as they burned matches which limited their ability to work at the very end of the race.  Jan, Eric and I appreciated the arm chair ride to getting all back together.
Moritz leading the pack up Mama Bear. Photo: Katie Truong
Moritz leading the pack up Mama Bear. Photo: Katie Truong
Up Papa Bear the 2nd lap Jakob “I’ll just race with my freshly broken collar bone” Berkman set a perfect tempo to just keep everything smooth and easy where I was sitting out of the wind back in the back.
The strong wind limited breaks and for once I kept out of the wind and rode around in circles making sure no one serious got away.  There were a couple small incidents with a weird solo crash (watch those bumps!) and the same 3 not-to-be-named very strong but not wonderful bike handling riders who seem to bump around and cause crashes at every race.
The last lap got serious.  As Jan predicted the remaining racers were strung out in a line for most of it.  It got serious enough that someone decided they were going to go pee triathlon style.  This unnamed rider just went wee in his shorts in the middle of the pack on a downhill spraying half the pack behind.  Pee is actually a sterile fluid but: When you’ve gotta go–go to the back of the pack!!!
There was a final wheel tangle going up Baby Bear where a few riders went down on an uphill.  Matt Adams amazingly hopped over his bike while crashing and landed on his feet without going down.  I just missed the crash by swerving around the right side of it. By this point my teammates days were done after sheltering me all the way to this point.  I remembered how pointless it was to go on Mama Bear as the descent just brings it all back together and hung out in 4th or 5th position.  I stayed there taking a little more wind than the powerful finishers behind.  Bryan Hoadley worked hard to get Cameron Birky in place.  Hanns Detlefsen was sitting in a sweet spot and I squeezed in behind him.  He kept cranking up the pace and I could see the powermeter go from 320 to 360 up and up to 450.  I looked back to see Carinio, Birky and Cottell all lining up waiting for me to go too soon (again).
With 400 meters to go I let a small gap of 10 feet open up in front of me to Detlefsen and could appreciate the big headwind.  I jumped hard, tore past Hanns and opened up a nice gap behind me that I kept increasing (I think) all the way across the line.  I got some great encouragement from Hans G and Dani who were right there making sure I didn’t slow down too soon.  Just an awesome feeling to be able to finish this off with my biggest win ever.  My TB teammates rolled across having done the perfect job all day.  We could barely get the smiles off our faces after the win and watching the 45+ team decimate the field.  Pulling off the 35+ and 45+ wins was just the perfect way to spend the day.  I love racing with these guys.
Now I have completed my podium collection of a 1st, 2nd and a 3rd for the year.  It also looks like enough points to upgrade to Cat 2 so I’ll put in my paperwork for that.
Special thanks to our sponsors: ThirstyBear B, Akamai, Novato Community Hospital, Acme Bikes, Cogniance, Osmo, Castelli, Red Whale Coffee, Trek, Bontrager, Iwin.
Piers stepping up on the podium “yet again”. Photo Danielle Barry.
Piers stepping up on the podium “yet again”. Photo Danielle Barry.