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Boonville Bite Hard…Ride Harder

The Boonville Bite Hard race is 67 miles and 9000 feet of incredibly scenic riding and suffering in 100 F heat, but very rewarding.
In the 35+ 123 Ken Gallardo was on his way to a win but flatted while in the break with Safeway’s Nick Theobald. Kyle Ashton 4th, Piers Barry 6th, Greg McQuaid 7th, Eric Lagier 8th. (they raced with the Pro12 – 20 starters).
In the W3/4 Tanya “the Sparrow” Fredricks put on a climbing clinic and smashed the field for yet another win (almost beating World TT Champ Molly van Houweling), Jenny Wong with a solid 5th. (they also raced with the Pro12 women – 12 starters)
In the 45+123 Max “the old Falcon” Thompson managed to stay with the front group through the first brutal up and down 8 miles of mostly 8-12%. I was in a battle with Carl Nielson for half of the race and finally dropped him on the crazy fast down hills around 20 miles from the finish and took 2nd. Lance rode a steady race and finished 5th! (we raced with the cat 3s – 25 startes). Max almost beat all but one cat 3, while I managed to beat all but two cat 3s.

35+ 123 By Kyle Ashton

Field: P12 and 35+ 123 combined, 20+ riders total, scored separately
ThirstyBear Cycling riders: Kyle Ashton (4th), Piers Barry (6th), Greg McQuaid (7th), Eric Lagier (8th), Ken Gallardo (DNF)
After a few months off from racing, Boonville road race was a must. It was a short drive and Greg raved about it from last year. On the other hand, a few days prior I had a pretty drastic re-fit on my road bike and my fitter advised two things: no racing and no climbing for at least two weeks. Guessing he probably would not have advised a 67 mile, 9000 ft climbing effort in near 100 degree heat?
Our field was combined with the P12s and once we hit the first climb about a mile into the race the pace got hot and I opted to not redline, instead choosing to ride a hard, steady pace and focus on good form given the new bike fit. Ken, Greg, and Piers went with the leaders, then me, then Eric and a few others. Eric and three others caught up to me and we rode together until the KOM climb began. By the top Eric had fallen off the pace along with everyone except a guy named Phil. He and I agreed to push hard threshold on the flats and climbs and be reasonable on the descents.
Off we went, expecting to get a good workout, enjoy the scenery, and probably not see any other racers. Around mile 17-20 I saw Greg and a Safeway rider (Kyle, finished 2nd) ahead. It took Phil and I a bit to catch up but when we did the four of us began working really well together, with the Kyle and Kyle show on the descents and hard efforts otherwise. Once we reached the coast, the four of us were pulling equally and then Greg started taking some longer pulls, 5 min or so. Thanks Greg! Although I had a feeling that we weren’t going to see each other once we started climbing again.
Congrats to Kyle for a great race!
Congrats to Kyle for a great race!
Up the feed zone climb miles 39-42. Most of my rides in the past few months have been less than 2 hours, and at this point we’d been racing for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, my muscles were tired, and I fell off the pace of the other three. My main concern at this point was hydration. With two empty bottles I wanted to make certain I picked up two more at the feed zone, so I caught back up, went a little off the front and got two new bottles. Kyle kept the pace high after the feed zone. Phil and I stayed with him but, sadly, Greg, fell off the pace.
After the feed zone climb, Greg had mentioned we still had another 8 or so miles of climbing. It just never seemed to end. Every time I thought, ok, this is the descent, climbing is over, we’d hit another steep hill. During this stretch we caught Piers and Cameron (eventually 3rd place); wished Piers had stuck but he popped pretty quickly. Unfortunately the guy he was with was able to hang on. Our train continued, briefly picking up Jacob Berkman near the end of the climbing before quickly dispatching him on the final descent down to 128. The two Kyles really pushed the descent and I was hoping we’d drop Cameron and Phil. And that none of us would hit the little dog that sped toward our wheels as we flew by (no one did, whew!) By the time we got to 128 Phil had crashed, we had passed Ken DNF’d on the side of the road, but Cameron stuck.
Now down to three riders, I was exhausted, out of hydration again, and we were in the frying pan. The three of us took equal pulls for the 8 miles on hwy 128 back to Boonville, my goal at this point simply to make it with them to the bottom of the climb. From riding with these two I also had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen once we hit the 1.5 mile finishing climb: Safeway Kyle was going to ride away and Cameron was going to be able to pop me at the first steep pitch. And so it was. In just over a mile, Kyle put three minutes into me, Cameron 2 minutes. I immediately went over my limit trying to follow, backed off, and just focused on finishing. I have never been so close to getting off my bike voluntarily in a race. All that was playing in my head was the Tour of California Palm Springs stage from this year that finished on a steep climb in blistering heat. I went so slow a couple of times that my CPU stopped recording! But I stayed on the bike, got to the finish line and begged for water. After some hydration, I felt better and was surprised when Jacob rolled in a bit later and said I’d finished 4th. Definitely pleased with the result, my eye on Little City Stage Race in a few weeks.

Women 1234 By Tanya Fredricks

Temp: perfect except for the 100 degrees at the finish

Teammates: Jenny
Women racers: 12
Result: 1st Cat 3/4;  second overall woman
With small groups, the categories were combined putting all the women together (P1234, but picked separately).  Within the first mile and a half, the ascent (assault) begins.  An 8.8% average grade immediately separated our field.  It didn’t take long for Molly Van Houweling (Metromint) to settle in to a good tempo which left behind all riders except myself and Elise Hazlewood (Red Racing) by about halfway up the hill.  By 3/4’s up the hill, it was now just Molly and me.  As we approached the QOM at the top, Molly accelerated, but I snuck around her to steal the QOM.  First sprint I’ve ever won…and likely ever will ; )
Next came the 16 % downhill sections.  Molly and I forgot we were racing and were enjoying a nice tea party for a bit.  When we got to Hwy one, Elise had rejoined us.  Oh yeah, this is a race!  The three of us took turns rotating together into the headwind for a few miles until Molly turned up the heat and gapped Elise, which now left the two of us chasing Molly.  Elise said she was just hanging on at this point, not feeling great.  I tried not to burn up too much energy, as we were still only 33 miles into the race (that’s it??), with more difficult climbing to come.
At mile 40, Molly was out of sight, and as the road turned up again, Elise could no longer hold pace.  I continued to ride solo from mile 40 to the finish.  Never caught Molly, but I tried!   To add some thrill to the race, I also managed to get hit by a dog at my foot as I was descending 35 mph .  After wobbling around for what felt like days, I  managed to stay onboard.  I may start going to church now.
Jenny was 5th in our group and rode an amazing race as well!!  She wasn’t far behind as I crawled up the last hill.
This was likely the hardest race I’ve ever done….including all of my running races (10 marathons included).  The heat certainly made it more difficult, and most notably the lack of water. It also makes the win that much more rewarding.
A fantastic race, with amazing teammates!  The podium looked like a Thirstybear convention. So impressive to see such great riding by all under the tough conditions.  The race was well run, with generous prizes and a fun location and awards ceremony following.
Many thanks to all my Monday/Thurs ride groups, and Tuesday torture sessions!  I wouldn’t have survived without the great support and encouragement for all of my super teammates.

45+ 123 By Max McKinley

Racers: Approx 25 (7 45 1,2,3 the rest were 3’s)

Thirsty Bears: Han’s, Lance and Max
Weather HOT 100deg
Course: 8900′ climbing with many unrelenting undulations and breathtaking view
Field: Combined Cat 3’s 18+ M45 1,2,3 (7) 25 total
Placings: Max 1st, Hans 2nd, Lance 5th (Hans was 3rd overall, I was 2nd overall)

Han’s and I planned pre-race that Carl Nielsen was the guy to watch on the climbs a very fast climber. The course set off easy for the first mile then the torture set in up a steep 2 mile 12%++ gradient to the KOM (which I didn’t know about). We raced with the Cat 3’s (most of which were young enough to be my son’s:) , one guy was charging up the hill full gas to start, my goal was to keep Carl in my sights and stay with the lead group up this critical climb that would make a selection fur sure. Carl likes to race in the front of the group, about 1/4 the way up he guns it and jumps to the front and is riding about 2 bike lengths off the front going hard, harder, harder trying to whittle the group down and it’s working. I’m red lined (this is a great warm up by the way 10min into racing, try it sometime if you haven’t already) but I’m hanging in 4th or 5th wheel with mostly 3’s, there was another 45 guy but he cracked. There’s a Pen Velo guy (soon to be my break away companion), a few Squadra guys, and another few random teams that are all hanging together just behind Carl as the road just get’s steeper and goes on for what seems like an eternity. Carl is putting on the pressure, I look back I don’t see my TB team mates, were going harder and harder, redline, redline, I’m not losing contact but I’m gassed, good thing is so are the others! I see some old spray painting on the road 1k to go some more, steep undulations, stair stepping up, 12%+, ok I’m warmed up now! The group is now about 7 guys with Carl leading the climbing, finally a slight ease in the gradient, our group is all together, then up a bit more, finally with Carl shifting into a bigger gear and getting ready to sprint for the KOM, I was right on his wheel but to late to take the KOM, Carl thanked me (I didn’t really mean to give it to him, I just didn’t know about there being a KOM, oh well) he thanked me because he knew I could out sprint him. The road went down a little for a quick recovery here at the summit but guess what not for long, up some more and our 7 man group is still together. Finally we crest what appears to be a considerable downhill and Carl is on his brakes, YES, I’m going around him with the Pen Velo rider, we blaze down this super fast, fun, twisty descent and string out the field with Chris(Pen Velo) and I leading the charge, at this point one of the Cat 3’s (not sure what club) got away and Chris later told me he had won Nevada city recently and another big race. We manage to separate Carl from our now break of 5 or so (Squadra, Pen velo, another 2 random guys, and I) this is perfect!!! I’m wishing Hans/Lance had made our group but we push on up the now rolling terrain with considerable climbing still, it’s amazing scenery, I’m really having a great time on these scenic roads with no cars and beautiful views!! As we finally reach another big descent Chris and I look back and now it’s just the 2 of us due to hitting the rollers hard (we did not let up at all after the main climb or these rollers), Chris and I are matched well except that he can really power the flats. I look down at the mileage and it’s only 25 miles, were finally at the coast!!!! We have decent separation from Carl and the others(we never got any time gaps so it was unclear as to what our gaps were. I can’t believe this was only 25 miles, I feel like we’ve ridden 50mi mostly uphill! Chris had lost his water bottle on the downhill so as we make the turn onto Hwy1 (incredible views, AGAIN!!) I see that he’s suffering so I give him enough water to keep him going, he’s doing a lot of work here so I’m getting a nice recovery with some short pulls but he did a lot of work. At a certain point we come up to a place on Hwy 1 where there’s some construction and there’s a temporary stop light guess what, It’s RED!! there’s cars sec coming on the one open lane, we STOP!! Waiting, waiting, 10 sec- 15sec, no more cars it’s still red but we can’t wait with a a chasing field, we risk it and fly down the one lane with potential oncoming traffic, phew, no cars we make it through. At one point we looked back and could see chasers coming at 1min back so we put our heads down and dig deeper on the coast into the wind.I keep giving Chris sips of water (glad I carried 3 large bottles) we knew the neutral was at mile 40 so I was conserving with only about 3/4 of a bottle left and still another climb before water stop. We finally make a right turn and climb up some more 2+ miles to the neutral water. I also want to say that I cramp in heat typically, but with a good amount of training recently and some great racing at Mt Hood I was feeling strong.

One of the things I did though to help combat the heat was to start taking electrolytes (I use brand name: Electrolyte Stamina) the night before and have packets to take in the am and during the race (worked great no cramps). The coast was much cooler but it was already getting hot up the 1st climb. Next year I’ll carry more water if they only have 1 neutral feed. Chris and I are keeping a hard effort on all the time both up the climbs and on the rollers, not much flat road at all, even on the coast it was a head wind all the way up to the turn. Up, up and finally it’s the OSMO neutral support (Nirvana!!) relief, this is perfect we each get 2 bottles, saved! Turn back on the gas with renewed energy from hydration, power up the remaining rollers, up, up mostly. We pass Greg who is pushing on his own, we pass Eric, keep going. We pass Ken walking his bike (flat, he was in the lead, sorry to see him there), keep pushing with Chris, trade pulls up the last rollers, then DOWN to Hwy 128! We pass a swimming spot, I wish I could jump in the cold water, but no time to think about the heat, slam the last of my electrolytes, hydration, push on.

We get to Hwy 128, make the right start to catch Piers, he’s riding well, legs are ok no cramps!!!! Temps about 100deg now, keep pushing we catch 1st place Cat 3, he’s smoked, cramping, Chris starts pulling, I roll up to him and say let the other guy pull since now there in the lead for 1st place in the 3’s ( I want my breakaway companion Chris to win the 3’s). Chris sits back, then at about 3.5mi to go Chris attacks his competition, great move!! they were both cramping, but Chris goes anyway, drops the other 3! Chris is out of sight up the final climb, I’m happy for him. We hit the final grueling hill another run up the 12% + 2.5mi climb to the finish (2nd time up this) the now 2nd place Cat 3 guy is in front of me but blows up on the hill, I slowly pull away from him and drop him, keep climbing, up, up, its sweltering hot but at least there’s tree cover. No cramps yet, hit the 1k to go mark, I’m red lined up this final section, see the line, I take a final look back, no one coming, sprint to get as fast a time as possible, I”I’m DONE!!! Hans comes across in 2nd place, then Lance in 5th!!! It was an amazing race for both Hans and I. So much fun racing here. I couldn’t have done it without Chris, helping so much. Finish time about 3hr46min. Carl didn’t come across until about 9min later from me, he’s a super nice guy. Turns out Hans beat Carl up on the descent also and got rid of him before the final climb to the finish. Great racing!

Bite Hard Boonville RR 2013
Bite Hard Boonville RR 2013

For all results click here

ThirstyBears enjoying the fruits of a hard ride.
ThirstyBears enjoying the fruits of a hard ride.

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