Chris Phipps Powers to Victory at Wente 45+
ThirstyBear p/b Akamai Results: 1st, 7th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 18th & 19th
The “race predictor” had me winning this and we had 8 guys in the field, so anything other than a ThirstyBear on the top step of the podium would be a disappointment. We showed up in force with 8 of us in the field (Brenon, Holger, Tom, Hans, Duane, Shawn, Gardie and me).
Chronos had a solid team of 5 and R4R-Make a wish had 3 strong riders. In addition, this was Craig Upton’s first race in 7 years and we knew that he’d be a guy we needed to watch.
The plan was to use our numbers to attack, attack, attack (& attack again Tom!) and either get someone or a couple guys in a break or at least tire out the stronger riders who would be forced to chase while I’d just sit in & save myself for the final climb. The race was fast from the gun with Hans leading the wave of ThirstyBear attacks & counter attacks & the whole field strung out behind.
After the overpass on the first climb, Roger Martin (R4R Make a wish) attacked & got a gap with Duane and Dan Martin (Chronos) bridging up. Then strongman Rich Del Valle (Funsport) attacked to bridge up, but this caused our guys & everyone else to chase, so by the time we got to the bottom of the descent at Patterson Pass Rd. it was all back together.
After more attacks, and a fast 2nd climb, Nick Theobald (Chronos) got away with Tom on his wheel. The pack chased & at some point, Tom came back to the group but Nick stayed away & Jay Newton (Victory Velo & surprise NCNCA RR Champion – he had no teammates & was putting in a lot of work at the front, keep an eye on this guy) was at the front of the remaining group trying to bring back Nick. Gardie then attacked & bridged up to Nick.
At this point, Holger was on the front soft pedaling & the 2 leaders were riding away out of sight. I thought this move might make it to the end, but then Cameron Birkey (R4R) went to the front to set a hard tempo to bring them back.
On the 3rd climb Nick pulled away from Gardie as they went over Altamont Pass. I think it was Bryan Hoadley (R4R) who set the tempo on the climb. On the descent we caught Gardie who was happy to help pull back Nick who we heard had 90 seconds, but by the time we got back to Greenville, he was caught. With the pack all together, we had our guys continue attacking with Tom going again and again keeping the pressure on & got a small gap as we started up the Carroll Road climb the 4th time.
It was at this point that Upton who had been smartly sitting in all day finally went to the front & put in such a hard tempo up the climb that by the time we got to the overpass he had opened up a gap with just me still on his wheel. I was content to just sit there & not look back until he asked for help. When we got to the Flynn Rd. crosswind section he looked back, so I decided to take a look back too. We could see Brenon and Birky about 15 seconds back, then the remains of the field (about 10 guys) another 10-15 seconds behind them. I told him that I didn’t know if I should wait for Brenon or work with him. He said he thought I should work ;-). I was feeling pretty good so I worked with him just enough to keep him working, but saving something for the finale. We worked together for the next 10 miles, passing guys who had been dropped in the earlier fields & taking a look back when we could, but never seeing a threat from our field.
As we approached the final climb to the finish, I was really nervous. I had no idea what Upton had left & I had put the pressure on myself to not let the team down after all the work they had done earlier in the race. I let him lead into the turn onto Carroll, & for about the first 15 seconds of the climb before I attacked hard on the steepest pitch. I went all out for about 30 seconds and had a gap, then settled into a tempo that I hoped I could hold to the finish & that he wouldn’t be able to pull back. As the road flattened out, I sat down, put my head down & just pedaled hard for another minute, then took a look back & knew I had it!
Chris Hobbs (Mike’s) got a good video of the last 100M.
I left out a lot, but we always had our guys near the front, attacking & pulling back the dangerous moves, it was really awesome to be a part of it. Thanks guys!