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ThirstyBear Cycling Piers Barry strikes for the 3rd time to take 1st at Mt. Hamilton RR District Championship 35+4

Who: Piers Barry, Richard Bolt, CJ Wolf

What/When/Where: 2013 Mount Hamilton Road Race on May 26th in San Jose, Cat 4 35+
Conditions: Light drizzle on the way up, sunny and warm by the top and on
Placings: Piers Barry 1st and KOM, CJ Wolf 9th
This is how races are won!!
This is how races are won!!
    Without superstar sprinter/climber Eric Lagier (in deep training in Bend, OR and now a Cat 3) and no steep finishing climb we wanted to keep this race together.  Richard is in awesome running shape (he just ran 5:42 miles in a 10K on Monday) and is working on converting that over to cycling legs.   Meanwhile CJ packs a really good sprint for this finish.  On the car ride over with Danielle and CJ we were reviewing the starting line up and the best of the Cat 4 field (minus Eric) had assembled together–including mountain bike pro Kenny Burt who demolished the field at Sea Otter by himself.  I was ready for a little revenge and some careful Kenny Burt wheel watching.
    We started out at 9AM sharp with a very light fog drizzle.  Enough moisture to wet the roads on the way up but nothing falling down. The plan remained to try to stay hidden in the pack on the way up the hill as Hans had correctly warned up not to go to soon as 43 miles of head and cross winds were sure to be on offer after the climb.
Several riders decided to try to shred the field and get rid of the sprinters right off the bat.  In particular Jeff Braunstein from Red Peloton decided to make that his personal mission.  The pace was way higher than usual right from the gun.
    CJ and I hung out 7-10 spots from the lead following wheels at a steady but hard pace with Richard Bolt just behind us.  A few hard accelerations on the front from Red Peloton and Peninsula Velo shelled some more riders down to a group of 15 solid climbers.  And so it went with no chit-chat (insufficient air for words) for the first 16 miles.  I noticed Kenny Burt repeatedly slipped back in the group and I shifted over to the left in case he tried to come flying by–which he did exactly at the 5KM to the KOM/QOM sign.  This was clearly the race defining move.  He put in a huge acceleration followed by 4 more trying to break completely free for another solo win.  This cracked peloton splintering the group into 3 different echelons.  I was able to stay glued on Kenny’s rear wheel fairly comfortably as he went all out for about 2 kilometers.  We created a gap and then started cajoling me to help out.  I didn’t want to push the pace until I was sure CJ and Richard weren’t coming back.  There was no one within sight several switchbacks down the road.  At that point I agreed I was being a worthless wheel-sucking dead-weight and I went to the front and started cranking up the pace.  I ended up gapping Kenny, and waited for him a couple times.  He was still recovering from his initial acceleration.  I figured I at least should try to get the KOM since I have minimal sprint power.  I kept going solo and took the KOM by about 200 yards and sat up and waited at the top until he joined me.  According to Strava we had about 2 minutes on the first chase group by the top.
   Waiting at the top was unnecessary as Kenny proceeded to put on a descending clinic as only a pro mountain biker can.  I have a lot to learn.  We started down together and it was all I could do to keep close enough to see glimpses of his back on the straighter stretches as we went screaming down the back side of Hamilton.  Fortunately it was completely dry and the road was in good condition.
    I passed by the fallen rider, strapped to a back board and covered in a blanket and slowed even more.  The helicopter was already coming in, so I slowed down and asked if they needed help, but they waved me on and I didn’t stop.
At the bottom Kenny was cruising at a moderate pace and I quickly caught up and went right to the front to start drilling it.  We cooperated completely and shared the work equally, pushing along as hard as we could.  There was a strong head and cross wind which slowed us down, but we kept passing other groups of men and the women’s field and never saw the chase group which built up to 10 riders.  I started to get cramps for the first time in any race in my calf and quads with 15 miles to go.  We kept working equally until the 5km to go sign.  I led the whole descent, soft pedaling and trying to keep my legs ready to chase.  At 1km to go we played a little cat and mouse, barely cruising in.  I knew there was an up hill slight rise at the finish and I just waited as long as I could.  At 250 meters to go I figured I just had to go for it and led out the sprint trying to increase my acceleration the whole time.  I poured it on at the cramp limit and Kenny tried to come up along my left side but I managed to hold him off for a photo finish by less than half a wheel length.  Never won a sprint before!  CJ came in with the 2nd large group and was setting up for a good sprint but ended up rubbing wheels with another rider, slowed down to avoid crashing and came across 9th.  Richard completed the climb and headed back down to get ready for his 10K running race the next morning.  I’m catting up after Pescadero–a final race then onto the big leagues….

Piers Barry

The usual suspects: 1st Piers Barry, ThirstyBear Cycling, 2nd Morgan raines, Team Bicycle Trip, 3rd Jeff Braunstein, Red Peloton, 4th Paul Berger, Topsport, 5th Dennis Van Hoof

ThirstyBear Cycling Alan Roberts takes 3rd at Mt. Hamilton District Championship 55+123

Race 55+ Cat 123 60+ & 65+ scored separately for districts
Start: 9:30
Field: 45
Conditions: Damp but not raining about 63 degrees.
Mt Hamilton seems almost like two races, the big climb and then the valley. I don’t seem to be doing so well on early in race climbs lately, so when the likes of Kevin Susco, Steve Archer and Rob Anderson set a strong pace up the hill, I fell back and tried to keep a reasonable gap. This didn’t seem to be happening and even though I was in a small chase group that worked somewhat together, we were losing time on the lead group all the way up. I figured I’d be racing for maybe 10th place, but kept pushing the pace hoping to pull some guys back on the other side.

Alan Roberts turns on the ‘diesel’ engine and crushes the field one by one to finish 3rd.
Guys started blowing up near the top and so the decent was myself and a SJBC guy who knew the road like the back of his hand. A Victory Velo rider joined us at the bottom, so now there were 3 of us working up the hill to the feed zone and off toward the valley. I put my head down and pushed on and both of those guys blew up, but I picked up a Victory Velo guy falling back from the front group. Unfortunately he couldn’t do more than sit on my wheel for probably 15 miles, so I was essentially on my own. (turns out he won the 65+ race, so he owes me a beer)
Reached the other end of the valley and started up the hills. This was made more fun by the fact that my front derailleur had slipped out of adjustment (again) so I only had big ring gears.
I was catching more guys from my field along the way and then caught up to Rob Anderson and a fella named Joe Lemire on the Hammer team. Always nice to pull up behind a guy wearing rainbow stripes, so I paused for a second behind Rob and then rode around him. He reacted by saying “who was that?” as I went by and grabbed onto my wheel along with Joe. I pretty much pulled them up the rest of the climb. Once it started rolling Rob started rotating with me, but Joe was not able to contribute, so he hung on the back. (Joe ended up first in the 60+ field, so I think he owes me a beer too)

At about 5k to go we spotted a Strava rider and a Victory Velo rider ahead. I wasn’t sure where they were in the field, but we were gaining on them quickly.
I gotta say, Rob Anderson is one of the nicest guys I’ve ridden with in a race. When he saw the riders ahead he said “let’s not catch them too soon, Alan. They don’t know were back here and surprise is on our side”. “Let’s pull up behind them and hit them at 1k”. Now, having a world champion coaching you in a race is pretty cool, so I paid attention. We caught up to them at about 2k and sat on their wheel for a bit but they looked pretty beat, so Rob waved me up and said “attack now!” and I did. Came around them fast with Rob on my wheel. He took one turn and then started yelling “go Alan go!” I mean seriously, a WC cheering you on from behind, how awesome is that?
I looked back at 200m to see them coming hard, so I put my head down and pushed harder. Next time I looked back I’d put 50m on them and was clear going across the line. Not having been at the front of the race, I didn’t know how many were ahead of me, so I had to ask around a bit to see where I finished. Turns out Susco and Archer had been off the front, finishing 1st and 2nd and I ended up 3rd place.
Took forever to get the awards, but thankfully Lance stuck around to ride the 45 miles back to the cars with me with a little burrito stop along the way. Nice 109 mile day!