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Full podium at Leesville Gap for the 35+123s

Race: Masters 35+ 1/2/3 Leesville Gap
IDTB’ers: myself, Paul D, Ken G, Chris P. (In other words, we were 1/4 of
the field.)
Weather: Hot, hot, hot.
Result: Well, not to be immodest, but we swept.

This race was like a three-week Grand Tour in three hours of racing:
promenade roll-out, cobblestones (miles of them), selective climb (3.5mile,
with 1000ft gain), hair-raising descents and (this year, just like in the
TdF) a team time trial.

The race plan was to set me up for the win so I could get a matching T-shirt
from when I won in 2007. (In that race, I won a three-man sprint of Billy
Innes and some unknown climber named Chris Phipps. I think that was the
first & last time that’ll happen.)
Right from the start, Chris and Ken worked the front to keep a solo guy at
30secs until we hit the approach to the climb. Phipps was
uncharacteristically reserved on the climb, but we nonetheless put down a
good tempo to where it was just us four and two others (Jason Boynton from
Folsom and a guy from Audi, who flatted at abt 10miles after we came off the
climb.) So down to 5 in the break, and 4 were wearing the same jersey.
Jason was doing his work, but starting to look a little ragged, so at the
feed-zone hill, we decided to pull out the knives. Chris attacked, forcing
Jason to close. Then, Ken attacked, forcing Jason to close. Then, Chris went
again. As Ken came back to me, I told him if Jason closes this one down, he
and I are gone.
So with 20miles remaining, Ken and I were away. Paul also bridged up to us
and so the three of us just cranked through to the end. (We covered the
final 20miles in 45mins, with my average HR for that time at 170.)
Paul and Ken were generous enough to give me a win, not to mention first
crack at the watermelon slices afterward.
At some point, Chris dropped Jason and came rolling in on his own for
fourth, only a bit behind us.

So a great day for the Bears, and gives a nice boost ahead of some serious
racing later this month. Ken goes international to take on a bunch of
Frenchies for the next two weeks, and then a few of us have a date in Bend
for Cascade. With a team like this, though, we will be rolling strong.

Brenon Daly

Max makes it happen at Joseph Mendes Criterium

Temp. Cool slight overcast 60’s
Field size: 40 or so racers
IDTB racers: Dan, Jay, Jan, Max (2nd place)

Race started off slow 1st lap, then various San Jose guys tried to break on lap 2 of about 19.  No one got away entirely then San Jose rider (they had 8 guys) and a few others got away including Alan (IDTB).  They stayed about 10sec up for 1 lap then I was getting ready at the front for the counter.  A few more attacks went nothing stuck, then about 1/2 way through this lap Don Langley (Morgan Stanley/Barney) went hard got a quick gap, I jumped hit it hard got his wheel, didn’t look back for 50yds going all out.  We kept building a gap, harder better, faster, stronger no wait that’s a Daft Punk song, anyway we were digging deep every lap, Alan had dropped out had a minor crash I think so he was calling time gaps.  We had 20sec, 24, 27 next time then it started coming down with about another 25min left of racing.  Thought once or twice how was I going to keep up Don’s pace, but I kept glued to his wheel and took an even number of pulls.  Have to say Don was riding really well and was telling me to push it, push it.  I almost faded a few times, but never gave up.  I saw some 184HR numbers, backed it down a little so as not to blow.  Our lead did come down but we eventually built it back up to 35sec again and then on the last lap we had 50+ sec.  This was it last lap, it all looked good, I told Don he get’s the win (like I was going to contest a national track champion) because he had driven us and was riding stronger.  He knew he was going to win however I guess he didn’t trust me as he sprinted out the last 25m.  We also took 2 primes which we split.   It was another great day of great racing I was very pleased to be on the podium with a strong field of racers that we rode away from. 
Thanks for reading,
Max Thompson

Multiple Top Results at Mount Hamilton Road Race

Arthur Jones finished 2nd in a strong 45+123 field, while Ken Gallardo and Chris Phipps filled the bottom steps of the 35+123 podium.

Tom Lyons and Hans Gouwens put in a great team effort with Jay Klein and Alan Roberts to grab the top spots in the 45+3/4 group.

45+3/4 Race Report by Tom Lyons

We had four (56 starters) IDTB guys in the 45+ 3/4 race today at Mt Hamilton. Hans Gouwens, Alan Roberts, Jay Klein, and myself.  It was my first race since last summer and for that reason, was so glad to be in the 45+3/4 race compared to the 45+1/2/3 that I did last year. I figured the climbing pace wouldn’t be nearly as fast but I also didn’t want to see a big group over the top drop me on the descent. I told Hans that I would probably want to get over the KOM ahead of the field and that they’d catch me sometime after the downhill. I figured it was important to be with the front pack along Mines so not to worry if I push ahead near the KOM to accomplish that. We also had a strategy of attacking in different places after the 40mi mark feed zone with perhaps a chance to get away together. If it came to a bunch sprint, Hans was going to lead me out. Those were our rough plans.

The race started with Kevin O’Donnell (Taleo) setting the pace. It was decent but I was getting bored. Evidently so was Hans. We were riding 2-3 behind Kevin for the first 5mi then Hans bolted up the road. I got ready to follow anyone and sure enough big Holger (Webcor) went in pursuit. After he caught Hans, he pulled over and I eased into the lead and upped the pace. No one came with me so I kept it going and decided that I would just ride up in front of everyone far enough ahead to lure them into upping the tempo but not too far that I would have to try to ride 55mi by myself with what would turn out to be a lot of headwind.

I kept a 30-45 sec advantage up the second climb and into the third main climb. I would look back and see that they had the same guy on the front and I could even see that the other three IDTB guys were still in it. This was working out great for our team. I wanted 5-6 guy in a lead pack to catch me (or not) somewhere after the decent. The group stayed pretty big however (maybe 20). We started passing the stragglers and I blended in. I would hear later that half the group didn’t know if I was absorbed or if I was away still. With about 1K to go, I had 1:10 on the group and made sure to keep it there and eased over the KOM making sure the judges saw me. The moto was still back with the pack so I had been alone. I remember Phipps telling me that he’s won all the KOM’s but never the race so I put that thought out of my mind and went easily down the mountain.

A mile after the feed zone at 27mi, the group caught me. There were 13 of us with Jay, Hans, and I as the biggest team. Two other teams with two and then some individuals. Jay was up front helping to keep the pace high, while Hans and I could sit back and relax for the next 10mi into a very strong headwind. Hans sidles up to me at some point before the 40mi feed zone and says he is going to attack on the long hill after that and I should bridge up near the top. How often do you get to try a thought out race plan? Hans and I both talked about making the race hard and active and this was our big idea here to try to get away together or at least thin it out some more.

An orange jersey guy tried to follow Hans up the hill initially and right when he caught Hans, he faded. I followed the next guy but he couldn’t catch on. So there’s Hans up the road and our pack is starting to thin out. I didn’t quite know where the hill would end, but timed it perfect and blasted out of the pack while no one followed. I caught Hans right as we summitted and we were off together. So much fun!  It was about here that I was wishing I hadn’t been on my own for 20mi. I was tired. Hans and I got a two-man TT thing going (just like we talked about doing!). We were madly flicking our elbows at each other, and I was starting to wonder if I could stay with him. I was trying to eat and drink as much as I could all the while trying to hit 25-30 mph through twisty roads passing the remnants of groups ahead. We did this for what seemed like 5mi. The moto-ref was fired up because he kept giving us time updates (no more than 20 secs). I think he was bored before that. After a while he comes up and proudly says “those five guys right behind you are the chase group.” Hans and I let up and I stuff more food/drink into my mouth. 

The pace softens when they catch up but we are glad to see there are only five of them. Unfortunately Jay is not among them. Two Webcor guys, a Body Concepts guy, an Audi guy, and a Fremont/Chipotle guy. We go along for another mile or two (I ask Hans how he feels and he says “great”). Then we hit a little uphill and there goes Hans again from the back of the pack. A couple guys jump on him and I just ride in behind them as we catch back on. Hans drifted to the back, reloaded and fired away again not much later. Guys are starting to get the picture. We caught him a second time and finally I feel like I have had a big enough break so after a bit, I jump up, shift and power on getting a gap for a mile or so. They gather and catch me. We’re now about 5mi from the finish and the road is about to go downhill to the end. So, our boy does what everyone knows he is going to do and blasts away again!

He gets a 10 second lead (we got the update from the excited moto-ref at 5K to go) and it looks like it just might work. He can descend solo as good as we can and while we can see him just ahead of us the whole time, the four guys working together in my pack can’t close it.  We cross the bridge with 1K to go and I really think he’s got it.  There’s a little shuffling as the sprint sets up but I really don’t think any of these guys are going to catch Hans. But, then we see Hans stand up to sprint and I realize that he doesn’t seem to be moving very fast. Probably because he just hammered away at 5mi of hard riding. So, now a few thoughts enter my mind. The prominent one is that one of us must win this race. I am in good position and figure I’ve jumped out ahead of these guys a few times this race without much reaction so I go into the final 200m knowing I can beat all of them. I jump hard and get a good gap. I’m looking back. Hans is looking back. I’m looking up for the finish line. Hans looks up. Can I make it so we go 1-2?

Hans was the strongest, most active guy in this race. He has to be the champ. I keep pushing as hard as I can, closing fast, but have a gap on my group so I am not pulling anyone up. They have to do it themselves. Bill Brier is the only one to get close. I wish Hans would stop looking back. I’m charging right at him, trying to time it so I catch him right at the line without having Brier pass us. I time it perfect and am able to pat Hans on the back as he crosses the line, champion. We did it!

Tom Lyons

Berkeley Hills – Another 1-2 punch in the 35+123s

Date: May 8, 2011
Event: Berkeley Hills Road Race
Category: 35+1/2/3
Field: 37 (32 finishers)
Racer: Ken Gallardo
Placing: 1st
Best Teammates/Uber-Domestiques on the PLANET!: Phipps (2nd), McQuaid (6th), Dyrwal (7th), Coughlan (15th), Osborne (27th), Daly (DNF)

After snatching 2nd place at Wente, I finally felt confident enough to tell my teammates that I wanted to win this race.  Last year, while on different teams, Paul and I took off together for the final two laps and were about 600 meters from a 2-man sprint for victory when the shattered remnants of the field caught us on Papa Bear.  This year, everyone on the team believed that I could do it and stepped into their roles admirably.  I can’t wait to repay their kindness and hard work this season.  And now to the action…

I did a nice easy 63 fairly flat miles on Saturday and got to the race with plenty of time to get ready.  Phipps even remarked that I made it to the race early (having seen me scrambling to get ready at the start of Wente) as we stood in line at registration.

The first lap was fairly uneventful, though Phipps threw in a nice attack right after we got onto the main road and the race started.  After we all burned out the cobwebs chasing him down, one rider did manage to break away but the pack seemed completely unconcerned and let him get out of sight within the first few miles.  Some people even joked that he was an ex-pro and we might not see him again until the finish.  Well, we cruised along and the pace slowly picked up as we made our way towards the climbs and we caught Mr Solo as we hit Mama Bear for the first time.  Chris set a fast tempo up Mama Bear and I could tell that I was feeling good – no difficulty at all.  I could see my other teammates were similarly strong and I knew that it would take a lot of work by the other teams to stop us from winning today.  I kept an eye on the guys I knew would be dangerous – Brian Choi, Nathan Parks and in particular, Jonathan Eropkin from Safeway.  He was off the front solo over a lap last year and went on to win the race sprinting out of the field, so I made sure that I was on his wheel whenever he was near the front.  We caught the Cat 3 field at the top of Mama Bear and kept the pace fairly high until after we went over Papa Bear.  There were a couple of break attempts but the pace was still fairly high until we passed the start area.  This lull led to Chris Ott of Lombardi attacking and once again, the field had no interest in chasing.  Then, from my left, Phipps took off in pursuit and I quickly stuffed my energy bar back into my pocket in preparation for the pursuit I expected to follow him.  However, nobody took to chasing him and by the time anyone decided to even try to bridge, the Chris and Chris show was up the road.

Daly, Dyrwal and McQuaid had all been clustered close by and unknown by me until later, Coughlan and Osborne were watching the strong guys behind me, so the IDTB team was ready for what we hoped were bridging attempts we could use to our advantage.  Very few attempts were made and it took a lot of encouragement by Specialized to even organize a chase.  I found out later that Phipps had managed to get away without all the strong guys knowing it, so Safeway wasn’t interested in chasing Ott and an IDTB rider knowing that it would simply bring Phipps and I closer to victory.  About this time, the Cat 3’s decided to race their bikes and a 2-man break went by us on the false flat before Mama Bear.  I thought that might inspire a higher speed from the group, but again it appeared that our reputation and numbers meant that the rather mellow pace would continue.  Of course, the Cat 3 field caught us about a mile before Mama Bear, which only helped the Chris-Chris break, but we caught and passed the 3’s at the top of Mama Bear and by the time we reached Papa Bear, Ott was coming back to the field and Phipps was out of sight.

Around this time, a couple of the guys asked me if this changed our race strategy.  No, I replied, this is perfect.  The other teams have to chase if they want to win, Chris has the strength and saavy to meter his effort so he can go the distance and even if he gets caught, can rest up and still be strong.  We continued as planned – follow break attempts to try and get me away and up to Chris.  Well, the 3rd lap was similar to the 2nd, except that the 3’s caught back up to us before the descent after the reservoir AND the 45+1/2/3’s caught us!  This was great for me – I needed a nature break.  After that, I felt great and the lull in racing allowed Alex to catch back on and I followed him to the front of the field.  We caught the Cat 3’s at the bottom of Papa Bear but their break was still in front of us at the top.  And then, the worst possible thing – riders from fields that had finished were slowly riding back to the start area and were spread out all across the roadway!  Despite a lot of yelling for them to get out of the way, to my right I heard someone yell and glanced over to see a teammate go down hard.  At first I thought it was McQuaid, but it turned out he was near the front with Dyrwal.  That meant it was Daly – ouch!  I sure hoped he was OK, as I knew he’d been working his way back from injury and was finally feeling strong again.

The final lap saw the Specialized guys finally browbeating a couple of the other teams into helping them chase.  Safeway also made the effort because Eropkin had come alongside me on the 3rd lap and asked if Phipps was up the road.  I’d been a little vague with my response since he’d had a teammate (Martin) up the road at Copperopolis and nobody in the field seemed to know that.  However, he assured me that had I asked him who was up the road, he’d have told me.  Mostly because there was nothing that could have been done about it anyway!  So, I told him, yes, that’s Phipps out there by himself.

Anyway, as we started the false flat leading towards Mama Bear, Specialized was driving the chase and everyone was on their wheel.  Dyrwal was right in front of me and McQuaid was watching my back as we started up Mama Bear.  There was still a lot of jockeying for position but all I had to do was follow Paul and Greg – they were making it so easy for me.  As we descended towards Papa Bear, I was perfectly positioned to follow attacks and once again was in a good position near the front as the field surged towards the feed zone and the final climb.  I dodged a few wheels and then found Paul in the middle of the melee and followed him towards the front, where John Hunt of Cal Giant had taken over and was driving the pace up Papa Bear.  There had been a fairly strong cross-headwind and it was still there, so we formed an echelon on the climb, with Hunt leading Dyrwal, then me and McQuaid just behind me to my right.  As we approached about 300m to go, I knew I had to launch my attack soon or I’d be swarmed.  There was a rider from another field swerving around in front of us, but he finally straightened out and I hit the gas.  I immediately opened about a 25m gap and just kept the pressure on, looking back to make sure nobody was on my wheel.  As the grade started to level towards the top, I notched up another couple of gears and kicked again when I saw there wasn’t anyone right behind me.  As I approached the finish, I could see Phipps standing next to the finish line official cheering me on as I passed the line, thinking I was 2nd.  Chris rolled across behind me and came up alongside and said Congratulations Ken, great win.  Huh?  I hadn’t even considered this, but Chris had actually stopped before the finish line and allowed me to cross first since I had enough of a gap to be the clear winner from the field.  He’d rolled across in 2nd!  Greg and Paul duked it out for 6th and 7th, making it 4 IDTB’s in the top 10.  Duane took a great finish at 15th and Alex hung on for 27th.  We heard later from Brenon that while he had quite a bit of road rash and some damage to the bike, he had no broken bones or head injuries and hadn’t re-injured his back.  I hope he recovers quickly and can get back into the races soon.

What can I say – I have the most supportive and AMAZING teammates who sacrificed themselves (and in Chris’ case, his own hard-earned win) to make sure I was the day’s winner.  It was a great feeling to be able to call my mom and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and tell her that she’d inspired me to win and that my teammates had worked so hard to make it possible for me.  This has been an absolutely fantastic racing season and I’m really looking forward to the next races – Mt Hamilton, Mt Hood (where I will be burying myself to see that Phipps comes away with at least the climbing jersey if not the overall win) and the later races in the season like Cascade, Cal Cup and Nationals.

Ken G

IronBears go 1st and 2nd at Wente Road Race

Date:  April 30, 2011
Event:  Wente Road Race, Livermore, CA
Category:  35+1/2/3
Distance:  4 laps (63 miles)
Field:  approx 45
Placing:  2nd
Teammates:  Chris Phipps (1st), Paul Dyrwal (11th), Tom Roberts (12th), Ron Castia, Brenon Daly, Duane Coughlan, Greg McQuaid

After a bit of disappointment at Copperopolis last weekend (flatted with about 4 miles to go while in the main chase group that ended up sprinting for 2nd place), I was ready for a little revenge at Wente this weekend.

We rolled out into a monster headwind and the first few miles were spent dodging wheels because nobody really wanted to work hard into the headwind.  Ron took advantage of this lull and took off on an early breakaway.  Nobody gave chase, so he stayed about 150 yards ahead for quite a while.  We turned onto Altamont Pass and the headwind became a cross wind and the field lined out behind the front echelon.  As we approached Carroll, I saw Chris crusing up the right side of the peloton and knew the pain was about to start.  Sure enough, it was full throttle up the climb and my legs were very vocal about my lack of warm-up.  I remember thinking that if the climb hurt this much every time, I might be in trouble.  We hit the top of the cilmb and had already shed a few guys and Chris kept the pace high on the false flat atop the pass.  We roared down the descent and made the left turn onto Patterson Pass and once again there was Chris, drilling it hard at the front.  Thankfully I was chilling a few guys back, watching out for dangerous breaks and generally trying to gradually get into the race.

There were lots of break attempts throughout the race, but the field was having none of it today.  The 2nd time up the climb was just as tough as the first, but my legs felt better and I started looking around at the competition to see who looked good and who was struggling.  Surprisingly, the Specialized guys were active throughout the race, but didn’t look to be as dominant as they usually are.  Safeway had a couple strong guys in Nick Theobald and Jan Weissenberger, but Jonathan Eropkin wasn’t in attendance.  Brian Choi (part of the all-day break last weekend at Copperopolis) looked good, as did Greg Anderson of Morgan Stanley and also the Folsom Bike guys and Andres Gil of Michael David Winery.  Ron attacked a few more times along the way, and Paul, Greg, Chris, Brenon and Tom all jumped into promising looking breaks, but every time the field would work to bring them back.  

On the 3rd lap, I was near the front at the top of the pass and took advantage of a little lull to take off on a solo break.  I stayed away until the flat roads after Cross, where I was caught by the field, but managed to jump into the echelon and start recovering for the next series of attacks.  Shortly after we turned onto Greenville, a promising break formed with all the big teams represented.  Unfortunately, that meant there were too many guys and all the solo guys who missed out immediately took to pulling the field back together, so we headed for the climb with about 25 guys, with 5 or 6 Thirsty Bears.  The attacks and chasing brought us up to the Cat 3’s and they were neutralized while we passed just past the start area.  The field rolled smoothly along towards the climb and once again Phipps went to the front and set a hard tempo.  It was on this climb that I was able to get a bottle from a buddy of mine and I knew I had good legs because I was able to speed up and get back to the top 5 or so position I’d held at the bottom of the climb.  We definitely hit this climb hard and by the top of the pass, we had whittled this down to about 12, but a few more caught back on as we descended.  I went to the front to help keep the pace up as we cruised around the back side of the course and was thankful for Tom Roberts’ help as we headed back into the wind.

We caught and passed Kyle’s Cat 3 break and played ‘cat-and-mouse’ with him until the real aggression started on Greenville, with attacks and counter-attacks coming thick and fast.  Paul and I ended up in a break with Kevin Metcalfe and a bit of a gap, but once again the field wasn’t about to let 2 Thirsty Bears get away, so we were back together on the flat stretch heading towards the start.  Weissenberger launched an attack and I found myself on Metcalfe’s wheel following it.  I looked back and could see one other guy behind me and a nice gap to the field.  The other guy turned out to be Andres Gil (big thanks to Paul for pointing him out at Copper last weekend).  Well, we all saw the gap and so Metcale, Gil and I put the hammer down.  Weissenberger immediately starting sitting on and I was a little concerned that he might be trying to pull a fast one on us, so I mentioned to Gil that we needed to lose our ‘passenger’ and he and I started taking turns attacking hard to keep Weissenberger on the ropes.  Metcalfe was working with us, and was in the right spot in the rotation so he wasn’t bearing the brunt of our attacks, but we couldn’t get rid of Weissenberger.

As we turned onto Altamont, Jason Boynton of Folsom Bike bridged up to us and he also worked, so we had a break of 5, with 4 workers.  We kept the pressure on and despite the moto ref saying we only had a few seconds gap, every time I looked back I didn’t see the field, so I kept pulling hard to make sure we stayed away, also knowing that Phipps could easily close a 30 second gap on the climb.  We approached Carroll and I watched everyone in the break drop into their small chainrings to prepare for the climb.  I knew I could do the climb in my big ring (I run a 50 tooth compact) and knew that would give me an advantage once the climb started to level off.  I also knew that I could out-climb Metcalfe, Boynton and Weissenberger today so I kept my eye on Gil as we started the climb.  When he shifted and attacked up the left side, I attacked up the right side and only Metcalfe could stay close, but he was clearly struggling.  I got onto Gil’s wheel to recover for a few seconds and then I attacked again.  That was the end of Metcalfe and I heard a spectator cheering him on and saying that Phipps was coming.  Sure enough, I looked back and there was Chris, coming up fast from behind.  While I really wanted to get the win, I knew Gil was very strong and he was still hanging tough, so when Chris caught us, I told him to go, figuring that I’d follow Gil and tell Chris if Gil was able to get on his wheel.  Well, Chris pulled away and Gil couldn’t follow his attack, so I sat on Gil waiting for him to burn out.  He backed off, and I hit it hard with about 150m to go.  I didn’t look back and crossed the line in 2nd.

Even though I was 2nd, it was a great feeling to know that I could have won against a very strong field.  Afterwards, Chris even said I should’ve told him I was coming up and he’d have let me get the win, but I didn’t want to risk Gil catching back up (plus the fact that I was way into the Hojo zone and talking was simply not possible).  I’m extremely happy with my result and also happy to see Chris get the hat trick at this race.  He was definitely the strongest guy in the field and totally deserved the win.  Not to mention that the whole team put in a huge effort to make it possible for Chris and I to stack the podium.  I’m really looking forward to working over the field next weekend at Berkeley Hills and have even more motivation to lose weight and be at the top of my game for Mt Hamilton and Pescadero.

Ken G

Copperopolis Road Race – April 23, 2011

Great race, great weather, and several good results but unfortunately mechanicals, cramps, and flats kept us from the podium.

Arthur Jones appeared to be cruising along just fine while riding away solo in the 45+123 race, but unfortunately bad cramps dropped him out of the front group several times.  Nevertheless, he came back more than once to the lead group but ultimately came to a stand still with 200 meters from the line.  Dan Palmer placed 9th, Hans Gouwens 13th.

Below is the 35+123 report:

Category: 35+ 1/2/3

Results: 6th, plus a bunch of team mechanicals
Starters: Somewhere around 50

Big Kudos!: To Greg McQuaid for generously giving Phipps his wheel when Chris flatted on the first lap; and to Ken and Ron for dropping back and towing Chris back up to the group. Very cool guys. Great teamwork!
How it went:
This has been the season of the successful breakaway in Norcal, and today was no exception. Unfortunately, we weren’t represented in it this time.
Pretty much from the gun, a guy in a green kit got off the front. I saw him just a few hundred meters up the road and thought it was a Taleo guy. Since David Levine was right in front of me in the peloton, I decided not to worry about it. Turns out it was Brian Choi wearing a brand new green Fuzio kit (instead of last season’s blue one), and he *is* someone to worry about. 
Then on the first climb Dan Martin went stealth on us and quietly snuck away, bridging up to Choi. I still don’t know how or when Martin went, though I was positioned in the first 10 wheels. In fact I talked to several guys after the race and no one saw him go, but doesn’t matter. The result was that there were now two strong guys off the front with a ~40 sec advantage by the top of the climb, and three strong Safeway guys playing defense for Martin.
At that point I wanted to either get up to the break or pull it back, so I got as active as I could — attacking a few times in the hope of bridging (every time taking a Safeway guy with me; they did a great job of racing as a team today) and going with several moves that other guys initiated — but nothing stuck. By the end of the first lap Dan and Brian were up the road by more than a minute.
Starting the second lap, Chris was on the front putting down a real solid pace, when just before the feed zone the ass end of his bike exploded all over the road. I was right on his wheel and saw the carnage up close. His derailleur tore off the hanger and the chain ripped a nice chunk of carbon out of the chainstay. Bad news, man. That was the end of the race for our strongest pedaler.
There was no wind to speak of today (first time I’ve seen that at Copper), and there were several real good sprinters in the field, so when we began the 2nd climb I took the front and tried to ride a strong tempo to the top in the hope of getting rid of some guys. I believe the field was down to 25-30 by the time we hit the top. Phil and Ken were still there … though Phil flatted as we rounded the reservoir, with just me and Ken left from the team.
Second lap was the same as the first, with the exception that Ken came to the front and took some real nice pulls — working mainly with Easterling from Sierra Pacific and Roemer from Specialized — hoping to keep the break in check. John Hunt, Lyman, Andres Gil and I also took a few pulls, but we didn’t do as much work as the first three guys mentioned. 
Any-who, the real action began on the 3rd lap. Brian Bosch went ape shit on the main climb and destroyed the field. He accelerated hard out of the saddle, and at first, Ken was the only guy who could go with him. I knew that I’d blow myself up if if I tried to do that, so I kept riding as hard as I could but at a pace that I felt I could hold to the top, hoping to pull them back. Luckily, that worked out, so that 9 of us were left at the top: Bosch, Eropkin, Gil, Weissenberger, David Albrecht, John Hunt, Lyman, Ken and me.
Ken looked incredibly strong on the climb. I was super impressed. I’m pretty sure that he and Bosch were the two strongest guys in our group. And in fact, Ken was taking some MONSTER pulls on the 3rd lap, hoping to pull back the break. 
But unfortunately, Ken flatted shortly before the smaller climb near the finish, so now it was just me. (Totally bummed me out, because with two Safeways there sitting-on, and other super strong guys, I was hoping to do the whole attack/counter thing with Ken to see if we could break the elastic.)
Shortly after Ken flatted, we caught Choi. He blew up with like 5k to go, but Martin was long gone. Now we’re racing for second.
When we hit that final 2 min climb, Bosch and Gil attacked all-out. I went as 100% hard as I could and (barely) managed to hang on. We all bombed the crap out of the descent, so that with 1k to go — and with me knowing that there is no way that I’m going to out-sprint Bosch or Weissenberger (who’d rightly been sitting on), I went with an attack by David Albrecht and we had a promising gap with 600 to go. But I believe that Eropkin took the front and pulled like crazy for Weissenberger, because with about 100 to go Bosch, Weissenberger and Gil sprinted by us like we were standing still. 
So David and I crossed the line 5th and 6th.
Oh well… We’ll get em’ next time, guys!

Sea Otter Weekend

Loads of fast racing this weekend at Laguna Seca, Monterey, CA.

On Friday’s Circuit Race we saw Greg McQuaid take 9th in the 35+123, Dan Palmer 10th in the 3s, and Hans Gouwens 11th in the 45+123 field.
Saturday turned out much better with Mari Chandler taking 1st place in the women 3/4 race, Chris Lundy finished 4th, and Tanya Fredricks 6th.
Just like the Circuit Race, the 45+123 Road Race was stacked with national champs, but Hans Gouwens was able to get 8th from a chasing group.
The 35+123 guys delivered big time with 2 podium spots – see race report below:

Iron Bears: Brenon Daly, Paul Dyrwal, Greg McQuaid, Chris Phipps, Tom Roberts.

Paul initiated the initial 4 man break on the 2nd lap of 6 with Jan Weissenberger (Safeway), Tore Nauta & Conrad Snover (MarcPro Strava). They quickly got about 30 sec & Kevin Metcalfe (Specialized) did a lot of work to try & bring it back but couldn’t get it under 30 sec. He attacked hard a couple times, but Brenon & Tom were all over him. When John Hunt (Cal Giant) attacked on the 4th lap Greg & I were on his wheel. We saw that we had a gap & decided to work with him since 3 of 7 in the break would be better than 1 of 4. Greg took a few real hard digs to help up get up to the break, but unfortunately did not have the legs once we got close & fell off (I was pulling at the time & did not realize that we had capped Greg – sorry about that). Once I noticed that Greg was gapped I sat up, but we had the break in our sights, so I went on with John & joined the break. We worked pretty well together & no one really attacked, preferrin! g to just wait & let the final climb decide it.

On the final lap about 2K before the climb, Paul attacked & got a nice gap. This was perfect for me since the others in the break had to work hard to chase. Unfortunately for Paul, he had his head down & overshot the final right turn before the finish climb, so he lost his gap & the 6 of us were back together. Once the climb started I threw in a hard attack & got away to solo into the finish. Paul & Jan were able to drop the other 3 in the break, but Jan was able to get a little gap on Paul with a hard surge on the flat part mid climb, & was able to hold that advantage to the finish.

Very happy to get 2 of us on the podium though! Brenon & Tom rode strong & I think were 9-10. Greg, thanks for the help bridging up to the break!

Great team effort & I am really looking forward to helping you guys in the weeks ahead!