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Dynamic Duo Double Down on Copperopolis. Eric Lagier takes 1st, Piers Barry 3rd in 35+ 4

Copperropolis Road race is one of the epic spring classics in Northern California and is often referred to as the “Paris – Roubaix” of California. No cobblestones but famous for rough terrain and miles of pot holes.

Good races always starts long before the race. Weeks before the actual race, our cat 4 ‘tactical adviser’, CJ Wolf, had prepared a detailed analysis of the top 5 strong riders and the different scenarios for the race.

Unfortunately CJ could not join us on the actual day, but we did what we could to follow the tactics we talked about.

“The first hill comes quickly in the race at the 2nd mile marker and I am sure it will be fast but everyone will regroup at the top or along the rolling hills over the next 12 miles. I believe everyone will wait for the big hill on the 2nd lap.” CJ Wolf
There are many advantages of racing in the 35+ 4 category. One of which is the 11am start time. So after a god nights sleep I jumped into the car to pick up Piers, the better part of the Dynamic duo. Also with me was my dad who flew in all the way from France to see me race.
As I unpacked my carbon tubulars, I discovered that my rear tire was missing much of the rubber in two locations. Dr. Piers quickly made the verdict; “racing on pure kevlar would be certain suicide”. Bummer! So much for days of reading the great advice on ‘clinchers vs. tubulars’ on our chat, only to realize that I should have done a better prep and check my gear in advance.
Piers on the other hand had left home without his jersey and the thought of him racing topless made me a bit worried. Fortunately Alan Roberts came to the rescue as his racing unfortunately had ended prematurely for him.
As for warm up, Piers and I road 5 min. out and 5 min back in a modest tempo. That was it. No need to exaggerate all that warm up ;-). So at 11am Piers and I was ready to roll in a group of approx. 30 riders set to combat for the next 42 miles.

It was an easy start, allowing Piers and I to hang in the back getting familiar with the non existing pavement. But contrary to last year, there were fewer real pot holes, which was good news.
First lap was a walk in the park and Piers and I got a good view of the course. All the fun first started as we hit the big climb on our second lap as CJ had predicted. A few riders with Piers and I put the pressure on, and quickly the field was exploding. Piers and I nearly ended our race then as the two of us had a bumbling of wheels, but fortunately Piers unclipped, regained balance and we could continue. At the top of the climb we were 7 riders in what would turn out to be the building block for the winning break. We had put some effort in, but saved our matches for the final climb.
Then came a great collective effort with 10 sec. pulls in a fast moving pace line. A few riders showed sign of damage, but all in all we made the rotation work more or less smoothly. The chasing peleton never had a chance to get back.

During the rotations Piers and I used the small overlaps to chat about the final tactics. With 7 in the break and only Piers and I from the same team we had a strong advantage over the others and we were ready to play that hand when we started on the last climb at mile 38. Its a another ‘little hill’ of 300 vertical gain and about 1 mile long, but the perfect place to split the group. So as we started the steep part of the climb Piers accelerated and I stayed behind to keep folks in check. Unfortunately as Piers had been sick for most of the week prior to the race, he missed the killer ignition that he is otherwise famous of. So the other riders stuck to his wheel as he pulled up. It was then my turn to see if I could make a difference. Coming 100 m from the top I counter-attacked, reached into my stash of matches and pulled a few to light up the fire. Then came half a mile of rollers and gradual decent. A group including Piers caught me halfway down the decent, but it allowed me to get my breath for a few sec. to once again dig deep and pull away, shouting to Piers that we now only where 3. Racing down the last decent with 43mph is not for the faint at heart. Especially when there are numerous turns and the road is bumpy as hell. My bike was shaking like crazy. Piers did the right thing for the team by staying in the other riders wheel, letting him do all the work to bridge me, however I am sure Piers could have challenged me for the victory itself if I had not pulled away.
With 200m left, the road climbs all the way up the finish line. The other rider got up to my wheel and started moving past me. “Hell no” I thought. Fortunately he had spent all his energy chasing me, so when I went into sprint mode he had no more to give and I could race my hand in victory. Piers finished right behind us as 3rd.


Thanks CJ for good tactical advice, Alan for making sure that Piers did not have to ride top less and a BIG thanks to an amazing team effort from Batman himself, Piers. I will make it up to you when ever you are ready!
Next up Sea Otter…..

ThirstyBear Cycling champ Hans Gouwens takes 2nd. at Copperopolis 45+ 123

Copperopolis Road Race (63 miles) 45+123 Race Report.

What better than to wake up at 4 am for the California version of “the Hell of the North”?  This was to be my first Big Goal for the 2013 season and I was so excited to race that I woke up before the 4 am buzzer.

After my Peet’s fix, I met Scot and Alan at Marin Brew Co at 5 am for the 2 hour drive to Milton, CA.  This must have been the warmest start of any Copperopolis race I have ever done over the past 12 years – no gloves, no arm warmers, no nothing extra weight.  Speaking of weight, I finally got below 150 lbs in 8 years and with all the Tuesday Torture miles under my 28 inch belt I knew I was ready to race hard and compete with the best of the old farts in NorCal.
Arthur, Duane, Holger, Scot, and Alan were the other Hungry Bears to race hard in a field of 42 starters.
The first of three laps was pretty mellow. Duane got in a break early on, while Arthur patrolled the front for any bridge attempts. Holger got in a break next, which really gave the rest of us an easy task to follow wheels.
After the first lap we still had Scot, Duane, Holger, and Arthur showing some good team representation as we approached the main climb for the second time.  This time, however, the pace was pretty intense and as we crested the top we were left with just seven. Former TBear Alex Osborne, David Passmore (SJBC), Mark Zimbelman and Cris Williams (Volo Cycling), Dirk Himley (Echelon), John Cavanaugh (PrimeTime), and myself.
Perfect team representation to keep things going smoothly, but sooner than later the infighting took over and the pace drop considerably.  Nevertheless, we were able to stay clear of the peloton behind us as we approached the hill before the finish.  Cavanaugh was cooked and somehow Zimbelman crossed wheels with his own team mate and went side ways instead of up hill.
One lap to go and 5 guys left and I’m feeling good.
Final time up the main climb I knew that I had to treat it as if it was the finish of the race – miss the connection and be left solo or dig deep and stay with the front. Dirk Himley did what he does best and put the hurt on all the others. Only Passmore was able to follow, while I got gapped by about five bike lengths as we went over the top.  Had to dig pretty deep into the pain cave, but managed to get back on and off we went.

The final 10 miles was almost a stroll in the park as the three of us had built a huge lead. Once we approach the final climb before the bumpy and speedy downhill finish, nobody wanted to take the front.  Ultimately, Himley drilled it and Passmore couldn’t stay on his wheel. I jumped across to get on Himley’s wheel halfway up the hill, but he quickly pulled off to the left to let me set tempo.  I had little choice, thinking that 2nd is better than 3rd because Passmore was not that far behind.  So I pulled Himley all the way to 200 meters and knew he was going to come around.  I tried to get on his wheel but got gapped too much to have a chance. Still, 2nd is better than 3rd and if I have to take his word for it (“I owe you”) my day will come.
Dirk is a good guy, a beast, a competitor.  He can be beat, but not today.
See all the results here and read the race report from 35+ 4 here.
Holger 8th
Scot 13th
Duane 21st
Arthur DNP
Alan DNP


ThirstyBear Cycling Rio Division 2013 Angra dos Reis Road Race report

Weather- a few clouds @88′ -hot & very windy

Class: Elite!
32 riders on the line
55 miles (point to point)
5,743ft of climbing
2:54 minutes

2010-2012: Raced the Master B (40+) class here in Rio and finish mostly on the podium with a few wins. Though the fields are smaller than California – many of the Brazil National Champs live in Rio – so it’s always a good test.

2013: Decided to up the ante’ and jump into the Elite class – Big commitment as jumping back and forth here is not allowed…

Last year: 4th in this race with the Master B’s. This years prep included driving out the previous 2 weekends to ride the course. Recommended

Elites were the first group off with a long 15km neutral promenade through Angra dos Reis a beautiful oceanside village about 2 .5 hours from Rio

City Cycle 2012 Trek still taking care of business – Great Bike!!
City Cycle 2012 Trek still taking care of business – Great Bike!!
Long 15km neutral promenade through Angra. 2nd Group – Master B’s just visible in the background. As the 40+ group is generally stronger here in Rio they usually put them before the A’s (30+).
Long 15km neutral promenade through Angra. 2nd Group – Master B’s just visible in the background. As the 40+ group is generally stronger here in Rio they usually put them before the A’s (30+).


The Big Elite team here is certainly FW Engineering with at least 9 riders and 30% of the peleton…and the class of the field.
The Big Elite team here is certainly FW Engineering with at least 9 riders and 30% of the peleton…and the class of the field.
Hanging onto Zomers wheel who eventually took 6th – nice ride Anderson! 
Hanging onto Zomers wheel who eventually took 6th – nice ride Anderson! 
First climb rises 2000′ in 6 miles from the valley below including 3 cobbled tunnels. Made the 2nd group on the road – about 10 of us including 3 FW riders…by Rio Claro just 3 FW’s and me. Hard but satisfied.
First climb rises 2000′ in 6 miles from the valley below including 3 cobbled tunnels. Made the 2nd group on the road – about 10 of us including 3 FW riders…by Rio Claro just 3 FW’s and me. Hard but satisfied.
A nice bamboo tunnel gives a little respite from the heat just after Rio Claro. FW boys offered some water and eased away…very sporting group!
A nice bamboo tunnel gives a little respite from the heat just after Rio Claro. FW boys offered some water and eased away…very sporting group!
All in at the finish line
All in at the finish line


The finish line at Mangartiba
The finish line at Mangartiba

Below: Results are in!

Results are in!
Results are in!

Very happy with mid pack finish – did not embarrass myself… Looks like would’ve won Masters A, B & C races by 2+ minutes. Upgrade was right on time. Lots of work ahead…

More than 370+ photo’s on Facebook here: Tour do Rio

Would love to host a TBC Rio training camp 2014…interest?

Will be up for Berkeley Hills & Mt Hamilton in May – Looking Forward!

Go Bears!

The ThirstyBear Cycling ladies takes control at Merco

Merco Almond Blossom RR Women’s Cat 3/4 March 3rd.

Chris & Tanya at the front, controlling the race.
Chris & Tanya at the front, controlling the race.

Merco was the first race of the year the ladies’ team had not just one but three Thirsty Beers(yes, this was how my team listing somehow ended up in cyclocross this year) in the same race. We like to capitalize on this when possible, but we were concerned about being three small hill climbers in a mostly flat race. Fortunately Hans helped us with a race plan. I was especially excited about any plan at all to try to avoid having a painfully slow and uneventful race ending in a full field sprint like last week at Snelling.

Chris, Jenny and Tanya after a great race they controlled from beginning to end.
Chris, Jenny and Tanya after a great race they controlled from beginning to end.

Our plan basically was to attack and counter attack as much as possible on any little roller that came up and see if we could form a small break or at least drop part of the field. Tanya and I alternated attacking repeatedly starting about 5 miles into the race but the field had us pegged early on and a few particularly vocal riders seemed to be watching our every move and broadcasting to the entire field that the Thirsty Bear gals were plotting evil hill sprints again. Jenny put in at least two excellent counter attacks when we thought we were maybe starting to tire people out. Unfortunately none of our breaks managed to stay away for very long, but we did shed about 15 riders off the back. The race slowed down in the last 10 miles as we were taking a quick hiatus from the attack mode and no one else from other teams was willing to make a move. It came down to a sprint finish at the end, with 2nd through 8th place finishing within a second of each other. We finished in 6th, 8th, and 15th. Our new team recruit Megan was positioned well and put in an excellent final sprint for 2nd place. We had a lot of fun, got a great workout in, and enjoyed learning to race more aggressively with help of teammates! Hoping for hillier races to come.

Thanks to Chris Lundy for a great post.

Piers Barry claims 2nd victory of the year at Pine Flat Road Race

Pine Flat might be one of the best road race courses I’ve seen.  Great scenery, very safe roads, little traffic, but an early start 4.5 hours drive from anywhere.
Stayed in Clovis at Hilton Homewood which is a great spot if you decide to go next year.
Eric Lagier was busy dominating Copper Town, so I at the race solo looking forward to some nice climbs.  Clearly so were 8 of the guys in the group who had their sights set on this race due to the big climb near the finish (Wildcat) and then the steep uphill finishing last kilometer.
The race started out at a snail’s pace with no one willing to go to the front.  As I was starting to get cold I kept going up there to keep us from being swallowed up by the fields behind us.  After the turn-around at 11 miles the pace increased a bit and it warmed up.  Fortunately I had Danielle waiting at the side of the road as we passed the start again at 22 miles and I tossed away my vest.   After 30 miles the pace really went up with everyone pulling through for short turns.  No action until the rollers started at mile 45 when there were a few attacks off the front.  One stuck with 2 guys going away and dangling at 300-500 yards up the road.  One came back towards the field but I was happy to sit near enough to the front with the other climbers making sure he didn’t get too far out of sight.  As we passed mile 50 and some more rollers only the skinny climbing types remained.  I waited until it got a little bit steeper at mile 52 and then just went off the front as hard as possible.  I could see the last guy off the front 100 meters ahead and used him as a springboard, reeling him in within a few seconds and then I was totally clear with no one within sight within a couple minutes.  Kept up a high pace to the top of the Wildcat climb, fast descent, then just kept increasing the gap all the way to the line and finished 3 minutes clear of 2nd place.  Love the course, the climb and getting out of Cat 5 to join the Cat 4s for Snelling.  Submitted my upgrade request already.
Pine Flat Road Race. Length 62 miles 4,200ft climbing

Stay thirsty,
For all race results see here.

Early Bird Road Race. Ice Ice Baby…

Extreme icy conditions for about 10 miles, but luckily non of the Bears went down. Piers Barry and Eric Lagier blew the 35+5 field to pieces and were heading for a 1-2 finish. Unfortunately, Eric flatted twice (but still didn’t finish last). Piers won by nearly 3 minutes! Tanya won the Cat 3 race, while Greg McQuaid took 5th in the 35+123s.

Did the 45+123 myself and took off solo at mile 1 to get warm and to get a clear view of the icy road. Finally got company around mile 12 from Chris Courtney and Ziesing and about a mile later Carl Nilson and Dirk Himley bridged up. The pace slowed just before the climb and suddenly the front group grew in size and became 10. I became unhitched on the climb and rode solo once again to hang on for 7th. Himley won, Courtney second. Thanks Hans for the Race Report. 

It is estimated that more than 20 riders went down on the road due to the extreme conditions. Fortunately all ThirstyBears stayed upright.

The Early Bird Road Race segment on Strava.

The following is the race report from Piers Barry who did the ThirstyBear Cycling honor by finishing 1st.
Weather:  46 degrees avg. Sunny. Icy roads over 10 miles of the course
Got out to Patterson early with Eric Lagier, and met up with Hans, Tanya, and Greg.  Still pretty cold out there but course officials insisted the roads were almost entirely clear and dry except for a tiny possible couple ice patches.  It turned out to be tons of ice and huge deep pot holes with loose rock everywhere.  We heard there were more than 30 crashes during the race and seeing the torn jersey collection crossing the line it seemed pretty accurate.
I started my Garmin at the start line–but then didn’t know where the turn around point would be at the top of the climb–lesson learned.  Eric and I just sat in the pack for the first 10 miles.  Pace was moderate but still fast enough we caught the Cat 4 group who was neutralized as we road by.  The road was as much ice as pavement by this time.  Eric and I had just moved to the front third of the pack when a touch of brakes on the ice just behind us resulted in an uphill crash of 5 riders.  No injuries but we went up to the front and stayed there to keep safe.  The race was all together until the final 1.5 mile climb at 9.5% grade.  At the base of the climb Eric and I went to the front and ripped the field into pieces.  Only one rider from Roaring Mouse was within a minute of us by the turn around at the top.  Eric was right with me at the top and we went flying down the hill.   The stage was set for a 2 Bear team time trial for a 1-2 finish to the line but unfortunately a pot hole interfered.  Eric had his first flat (of 3) and he sent me down the road solo.  I was motivated by being out front, pushed the pace a bit through the ice and kept extending my lead all the way to the finish line for a very tiring 18 mile ITT.  Last thursday’s icy Thirstybear ride through Lucas Valley with Peter Badertscher was great preparation for this ride!  There was a chase group behind of 5 riders but I managed to stay well out of sight.  I finished around 3 minutes clear of second place.  Eric had second flat on the road, then another after the finish, but still finished 13th!  Thanks for reading.  See you Bears out there.

Thanks Piers Barry for the race report. 


The Early Bird RR crew minus Greg. Piers 1st, Hans 7th, Tanya 1st & Eric 2 flats.
The Early Bird RR crew minus Greg. Piers 1st, Hans 7th, Tanya 1st & Eric 2 flats.


See the results on our results page. 

San Bruno Mountain Hill Climb

Happy New Riding Year to all ThirstyBears!

So the season starts on a sky blue and ice cold January 1st. at the San Bruno Mountain Hill Climb .

The race is basically just one quick sprint up the San Bruno Mountain. 7-8% up Guadalupe Canyon, right turn into San Bruno Mtn County Park, back under Guadalupe Canyon to Radio Road with narrow switchbacks and grades to 10%. Total distance is a mer 3.5 miles, but it sure gets your heart beating.

“The race started pretty relaxed & friendly for a 15-minute hill climb, which was a pleasant surprise since it’s often the first five minutes that feel the worst. But around 1.2 miles where it steepens,Costa had seen enough and started throwing in 600 watt surges that no one could match; at 120 pounds 600 watts goes a long way! “- Chriss Phipps race report on

Chris Phipps, Jenny Wong, and Piers Barry all got 3rd. I came across briefly after Piers as I had to carry a few extra pounds gained during Christmas.  Congrats everyone!  Chris could have won the 35+123 race with one leg, but opted to compete with the Pro12 and getting beat by a Garmin semi-pro who could have been his son. Actually, the 15-year-old kind of looks like his son ;-).

We got great support from Hans and Joe, who made the trip out from Marin to cheer us on. Wonder why they did not participate themselves as they made the ride all the way up to the top?

Thanks to Peninsula Velo Cycling Club for getting up early and organizing this great ‘burn out the New Years alcohol’ race.

For complete results check out the Thirstybear Cycling results page .

San Bruno Mtn. Hill Climb contestants Chris, Eric & Piers with support team Hans & Joe.