Teammates: Chris P., Jason G., Neil B., and Tom L.
Cheering section: Alan R. and Max T.
I have raced this race several times and it has always been hard. This race takes place in downtown Reno and has been one of the best events. It is well organized, the results are up fast, competition is tough and the prizes are cool.
Neil came and stayed over at my house Friday, and our plan was to drive up at 10 am Sat. We left my house at 10 went to Perry’s in Fairfax to get a sandwich for lunch. Well, we ran into the Fairfax downtown parade and it took us 30 min to get around it. We were both stressing a bit trying to get on the road and make it to the race in Reno, 3.5 hour drive. Neil and I drank a ton, knowing how hot it would be in Reno. I think we pulled over 4 times to go pee.
We ended up making it to Reno with 2 hours to spare. We found the Pelophant and the other guys as they were getting ready for the 45+ race.
The course was a short one. Lots of turns, some good headwind and a slight riser. Our plan for the 35 race was to either get myself in a break or keep it together for a “field” sprint. Notables in the race are Dean LaBerge, Chuck Hutchinson, Michael Buckley, Justin Rossi, Craig Roemer and plenty of other guys that have been racing very strong this year.
As the whistle blew Phipps was on the front driving the pace. Tom jumped on an early move and ended up with a preme. In the first 7 minutes I found myself hurting so bad as if it was the last two laps. The pace, I felt, was so hard, that I was going to drop out of the race. Buckley, Phipps and Chuck were taking turns drilling it on the front to force a break. Luckily Jason came to the front, too, to help cover moves. I looked around after the first 20 minutes and I could tell the field was now down to about 20 guys. And people were getting dropped each lap. 25 min in I was wondering when I would blow up and pull out as well. Gaps kept opening up in front of me and I tried to close them down, slower each time that happened.
Once the lap cards started to show up, 12 to go, I was trying to be a bit more positive in my head, but that was very hard. I wanted to give up, but then I saw Phipps chase down a break, and then Jason would attack or also chase down guys. And I can’t let those guys do this much work without finishing this thing off. Coming into the last few laps I was unsure how things would play out for me. Still doubting myself. With one to go I was about 8 guys back, not a good place to be on a short course with a lot of turns. Luckily I shut off my head long enough to move up to third wheel, but then lost position and ended up 5th wheel around the second to last corner. Then I told myself now or never, got up and hit it hard and sprinted around the guys in front of me. That last corner was coming up fast and my line into it was terrible. I was first through the corner and again hit it towards the line. Put my head down and went and crossed the line with no one coming around me. Here I thought I had won, but Rossi had been off the front for three laps. I was so tired I didn’t even see him go, thinking Chris and Jason brought back all the moves. Well Rossi is one fast dude and he took a well deserved win! I came in second ahead of a stacked group of survivors. This was one of the hardest races I have done. And I can’t wait for next year. I ended up finishing two water bottles in this 50 min race. Phipps ended up with 3-4 premes (we can’t call him a climber anymore).
The seven of us who went to Reno had a great time. It was such a fun atmosphere in Reno. Thank you guys for racing and cheering!!
Also a big thanks to all our sponsors Akamai, Cogniance, Red Whale Coffee, Cloud Made, Sutter Health, HVR Software, The Ride Home, TNT Plumbing, Warman Security, iWin, ACME Bikes, Castelli and OSMO.
I think everyone who raced Pescadero today or in years past would agree that this race is definitely one of the more demanding ones on the race calendar. There’s not really an easy section on the 28 mile lap which race groups traverse 2.7 times. Climbs, technical descends, and wind are the main ingredients on this fun and exciting course, and so it’s clearly my favorite race of the season.
Fast rewind a couple weeks. After riding 130 miles around Mt. Hamilton I didn’t feel much like riding on Memorial Day and thought I’ll do some weight lifting/squads instead.
Maybe I should have spent more time warming up, but I didn’t and paid for it. I hurt my lower back and the pain gradually got worse every day for the next 7 days. On Monday this week I could not even tie my shoes in the morning, so I decided to give my teammates a heads-up that I may not be able to race Pesky on Saturday. Luckily with a lot of alternating icing and heating I finally saw some improvements and when I got out of bed this morning I was almost pain free.
So with no excuse left, I put my bike in the car, drove to race, and lined up with the M45s and M55s at the start at 9:25. I was happy to see on the drive down to Pescadero that the roads were dry, which turned out to be quite important in the progression of the race.
Team ThirstyBear was represented today by Tom, Scot, Duane, and Shawn in the M45s and Alan in the M55s. Contrary to years past, this year did not feature a Sprint Prime, which led to a bit less speedy start of the race. But this didn’t bother Duane who, as soon as the moto took off, put the hammer down and started the race with break. But with a lot of strong teams and rider represented Duane got caught before we got to the first Stage Rd climb.
The pace in lap-1 including the climbs was fast, but not too demanding. Several attacks were launched mainly by Chronos’s Dan Martin, Steve Ott, or Nick Theobald, but between Tom and myself we had every single one covered. As we got up Haskins the first time I made sure I was close to the front as we went into the descend, mainly to avoid being caught behind not so skillful descenders of which we had a few. As I said earlier, the road was dry so I didn’t use my brakes much. As the road flattened out I found myself with Nick, and Brian Hoadley at the front of the race with an already sizable gap. It didn’t take much discussion to get all three of us on the same page. This was a great break opportunity and we took it.
From here on the rest of the race was riding at a hard and steady pace and sharing the load. The sharing part worked well for half a lap until Nick started to show first symptoms of overload on the second half of 84. From here on he sat on and Brian and I did the work. We figured Nick would freshen up after some draft time and we needed him to fight the wind on Pescadero Rd. The second reason to keep him in the break was that it would keep his strong teammates from chasing. So we set a relatively easy pace going up Haskins, but it wasn’t Nick’s day today and we had to leave him behind and push forward if we didn’t want to get caught right away. When we passed the start area the moto told us we had a 1:30 lead (down from 2:20 in lap-2) to a chase group of 10 riders as we started lap-3. When we later looked back on both of the Stage Rd climbs we could not see a group behind us, which meant we were at least 2min ahead at this point.
Unfortunately after a couple miles on 84 my right leg started to cramp and I had to really concentrate and alternate my pedaling to be able to keep riding. Well, I did make it all the way to the finish, but when it came to mounting a sprint with 200m to go my legs refused to move when I got out of the saddle and so Brian got a gap and took the win. It was great seeing Tom arriving at the finish in 3rd position followed by Craig Upton in 4th. Scot took 8th, which put 3 bears in the top 10.
Thanks to everyone in our great team for supporting my break today. I know it take sacrifice and putting personal goals aside. Sorry my cramping legs couldn’t quite secure the win at the end.
To me it was an awesome day after an uncertain week of recovery.
Kind of an odd race.
4 strong teams: Arts, Squadra, Mike’s & ThirstyBear.
A break on the 1st lap had one guy from each team (we had Eric), but we caught them the 1st time up Haskins.
On the 2nd lap, Jan attacked solo & got his gap up to over a minute, but he was caught before we got to the feed zone, then immediately attacked again & got away with Profumo.
We caught them on the 2nd Haskins climb, but then after the descent it seemed the 4 teams were all content to just ride slow tempo for the entire 3rd lap & let it come down to the final climb up Haskins.
Jason & Piers went to the front to up the pace as we approached the climb & Piers set a hard pace for the first couple minutes. I went around & attacked hard, trying to get away, but just couldn’t shake Matt Adams (Mike’s). He beat me pretty good in the final 100M sprint.
We had Jacob in 8th & Piers hang on for 9th to have 3 in the top 10!
Don’t believe your eyes! If in doubt, open your mouth (preferably before the finish line)
There were no teammates in my category but since we started with the cat 3/4 women both Monica and Meredith were racing in the same field. The group was big: over 30 riders and since half of them were 4s I told Monica and Meredith that I will set a good tempo going into the first State Rd. climb so we can string the group out. Camille DeLuca-Flaherty and Helen Casabona were my biggest rivals and I asked them to join me setting the pace at the start to stay safe and not get boxed in on the descent.
Camille took of pretty hard from the gun and the peloton was straining to stay together as we got onto Stage Rd. As soon as the climb started I went up front and set the pace to what was pretty hard even for me at this early on the race but I thought as soon as we get out to 84 I can relax and settle in. This is pretty much what happened. We had a breakaway of about 8 riders with only Camille from my category. She and I kept pushing the paceline so we could establish the break, and we had some interesting conversations with the 4s of how to ride in it :). It looked, and sounded to me that besides some of the more experienced 3s and Camille and I, the rest were ready to pop any minute.
When we got to Haskins I went up the climb with my regular hard, but not all out tempo and was able to form a small gap. Somewhere after the descent flatten out and the headwind started to gain significance I was caught, to my surprise by mostly riders I’ve never raced with or heard of. The only “regular” was Shelagh Fritz from Team Mike’s Bikes. At this point I thought I was the only “oldie” surviving the breaks and I kind of thought I’ll just enjoy the rest of the race working in the paceline but not having to push the pace or initiate any more breaks. But after we got to Stage Rd. Shelagh mentioned to me that the kid in a Stanford kit was wearing a 900-number and she was in my category! I couldn’t think of anyone pre-reged from Stanford in 35+ so I thought she must have signed in that morning, and she also looked really young for 35, but what do I know what the kids look like these days! So I went back to the “serious racing mode” and kept my eyes on her. I was just hoping she hadn’t been sandbagging the first lap since she was one of the riders I thought was on the verge of popping…
As far as kids go, they always seem to be able to sprint at the end so I decided I’ll try the game of attrition. I set the pace on Stage Rd. again and went hard on the descents but I could only establish a small gap that was quickly swallowed as soon as we got onto 84. My mystery Stanford companion, on the other hand, seemed to be gaining strength on every pedal stroke! Finally, we got to Haskins climb, and I went to the front setting a nice tempo, trying to gauge were everyone’s but especially hers strength was at this point. And it quickly dawned on me: she had taken it easy up to this point and she was right there on my wheel. So up we went trying to drop each other off on every stroke with our heart rates (or at least mine!) soaring as our breathing got more and more labored. At 2km mark I stood up to accelerate to try to shake her off thinking she must be tired maybe I can break her will… And I first got a small gap and thought here we go! But as I got to the 1km mark she was right there behind me again. My heart sank and I almost wanted to just declare defeat right there but I heard a small part of my brain calling me to fight. So at 200m to go I stood up again and said “okey legs, what ever you got left please give it to me now!” I pushed as hard as I could thinking I can’t do this it’s too much pain! but kept going for another 100m until I had established 15 meter gap and then I just alternated sitting and standing so I wouldn’t collapse finally crossing that line with my mind, and legs, completely done.
When the other riders from our group started coming in I finally spoke to them and found out that the “mystery girl” was not 35 and that she actually raced category 3. Baffled, I went over to her to ask what the deal was, and she looked at her race# and laughed “Oh I must have pinned my # upside down!” I almost said: “Congratulations, you almost made me pass out on that hill!” but instead I said “that’s not very good, because you fooled a couple of people”. I mostly felt really bad for Shelagh who after thinking she wasn’t competing with her, let her go on the last climb. But instead of the officials disqualifying her (which I think would have been not such a bad idea. You are DQed if your number is ripped or unreadable so why is this different?), she was able to share the 1st place with the next rider leaving Shelagh 3rd. Weird situation. All I could say at the end of the day was: a) thank gosh my effort wasn’t washed out by it, and b) I guess you can get to Stanford being dyslectic 😉
Meredith and Monica raced hard in the main back and came in 11th and 14th respectively. I couldn’t agree more with Holger’s assessment of the Pescadero race. It’s probably the hardest one in the calendar because of the elements and terrain. There really isn’t any place for rest. It’s just hard work from the get-go until the bitter end 🙂