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Finishing 3rd, 4th and 6th ThirstyBear Cycling dominates the Mt. Hamilton District Championship 45+123

Except for the wet roads going to the top, it was a perfect day to race the Biggest Hill in the Bay Area.

Holger, Max (now better known as Mount McKinley), and myself were set to do battle with the best climbers in our age group. They threw is in the same group of a bunch of youngster who could have been my sons.  No, not really but it was a bit frustrating at the end to race for the podium with the 45-49 field. We left San Jose in a drizzle at 8:40 sharp with a pack of 54 guys.
The race plan was pretty simple – hang on to the fast wheels for the first 20 miles to the top and make adjustments along the way as neeeded for the finale.
Hammerhead Ziesing made the first move around mile 4, but nobody really cared.  John Hancock (Sierra Nevada) made an effort to get across a mile later, but didn’t get very far.  I tested my legs at mile 7 with a surge to see what kind of reaction it would create in the peloton.  Sure enough, Kevin Metcalfe (Specialized) pulled the field to catch me and soon it was Nick Theobald (Safeway) setting a fast and steady pace to the meadow (mile 9) which popped half the field. From there on it was Theobald, Metcalfe, and Todd Allington (Victory Velo) setting a tempo all the way to the top to do some serious damage.
Dirk Himley (Hammer) disappeared with 5 miles left to the top, while Holger and John Cavanagh (Prime Time) got unhitched with 3 miles to go. I got gapped myself with a mile to go, while McKinley was the strongest Bear and stayed with the front all the way to the top. I lost sight of the front on the down hill but caught back on just past the neutral feed.
Only 11 guys left at this point – John Hunt (California Giant), Bryan Hoadley (R4R), Todd Allington (Victory Velo), Robert Pasco (Safeway), Nick Theobald (Safeway), Craig Nunes (ArtsCyclery), and Cale Reeder (Hammer) for the 45-49 field and David Passmore (SJBC), Kevin Metcalfe (Specialized), McKinley and myself for the 50-54. A pretty strong group to keep the pace high, but nobody wanted to do any serious work with 35 miles left to race.  With the pace dropping, Dirk Himley (Hammer), Holger, and John Cavanaugh (Prime Time) were able to catch back on and as soon as we hit the flat section of the valley the attacks were developing quickly. McKinley and myself got busy trying to get away, but it quickly became apparent that we were racing two different races in which neither age group would let anything get away.  Eventually, McKinley got away with Pasco after Del Puerto Canyon which provided a perfect set up for me once they were caught. After several hard attacks the elastic finally snapped in the group and Dirk and I got away, almost in similar fashion when Tom Lyons and I rode away three years ago.  Dirk and I were trading pulls equally and it looked like we had a 15-20 second jump. It all looked very good until I couldn’t hold his wheel in the final uphill, headwind section when it was his turn to take a pull. The 3 second gap was enough to put me in the red and I had to sit up and wait for Metcalfe et al.  At this point, we still had 12 miles to race and with 9 guys left we still had a decent chance to catch Dirk.  Well, this is where things went wrong for the 50+ guys, because none of the 45+ guys had any interest to chase because there race was still intact.  We totally lost momentum and it took a lengthy discussion trying to convince the 45+ guys not to get in our way. The good thing was that Holger was able to catch back on, but in the meantime Dirk had 45 seconds. To make a long story short, eventually Metcalfe, Passmore, and myself started rotating and drilled it to get it down to 30 seconds with 6 miles to go. Holger jumped in as well to drive the pace, but unfortunately we never saw Dirk again.
Hans going all in on the final sprint
Hans going all in on the final sprint
In the meantime, the 45+ guys are getting a nice draft to rest up for the sprint which became quite a mess. With 200 meters to go Nunes chopped from left to right and almost took out a few guys, but got the out-of-district win. Pasco was the first NCNCA, followed by Brian Hoadley and Reeder for 1-2-3 in the 45-49 group. I was able to beat Reeder, but Metcalfe took me by a bike length to take 2nd in the 50-54. Holger 4th and McKinley 6th. Needless to say, some weird dynamics at the end.
ThirstyBears well represented on the podium
ThirstyBears well represented on the podium
Time to take some time off from racing now, but back for more later in June.

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