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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. 

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