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Gold Gold!! Chris Phipps wins the double (TT & RR) at US Nationals Master 45-49

On Labor Day I picked up Jacob at 5:30 AM, drove to Marissa’s to meet Alan & load up the Pelophant at 6AM. We made a quick stop to pick up Jason in Sac, then it was a 10 hour  80’s dance party all the way to Ogden & our awesome team house on Jackson Street.  Thunderdome (Max) & Josef had arrived earlier and had some awesome salmon & rice waiting for us so we didn’t have to worry about making dinner when we arrived. Thanks guys!

Tuesday was check out the TT course day. We loaded up the Pelophant & headed out to Antelope Island in the middle of The Great Salt Lake.  The course had a 400 ft climb in the first couple miles that we’d have to go over on the way out & back, but was pretty much flat & non technical otherwise except for the open range Bison & the “presents” they left us on the course.

Wednesday, TT Day! There was some wind blowing, which seemed like last year & I thought it meant tailwind out, headwind back.  I got to start last in the 45-49, 30 sec behind Albert Senft (5th last year) 60 sec behind Walter Durrer (8th last year) & 90 sec behind Igor Rudalev (Georgia State champion who I knew would be tough to beat).  The way out was a lot slower than I had thought it would be & as I approached the turn around, I hadn’t caught anyone and was having doubts that it was going to be a good day. Finally, at the U-turn, I caught Senft with Rudalev & Durrer in sight!  It didn’t take long to realize that the way back was going to be faster & I had a couple carrots in front of me for motivation. I caught those guys & a few more (I couldn’t catch Jay though!) & just kept pushing all the way through the line hoping that after 2nd place that last 2 years, this would be the year I won it.  Shortly after finishing, I turned around & heard Frankie Andreau announce that I had won it! Very happy to see that Josef & Anne had also won and that Tom & Max had also made the podiums! (Thanks again to Scot for the disc!). It took me a long time & 7 bottles of water before I was able to get 90ml of pee for USADA.

On to Thursday – RR course preview day.  Dan Q,, Jay, Jason, Corey, Piers, Jacob & I took a spin around to preview the course. Anne had won her race earlier in the day & we were able to watch Josef win his race too!  Thunderdome also had a great race to finish 3rd!
Thursday night race planning: Gardie, Dan, Brenon, Shawn, Jay & I gathered downstairs to go over the race plan, going over every likely scenario & how we would handle it. We knew the riders to watch & the plan would be to let a couple guys dangle off the front for most of the race, then bring it back just before the climb.

Shawn pushing on all cylinders to move his bike faster up the road.
Shawn pushing on all cylinders to move his bike faster up the road.

Friday -Race day!!! We had 57 starters for the 97km (60 mile) race which started with a neutral 1.5 km climb followed by a 10 km descent with speeds over 90 km/hr!

Jay & Shawn got a bit gapped, but were back in the fold soon enough.  The attacks started right away & it didn’t take long for 2 guys to get a gap, which we let get up to about a minute. This was perfect to have 2 guys out there drilling it since now DQ, Gardie, Jay, Brenon & Shawn could sit near the front to keep anyone else dangerous from getting up there & keep the break between 45 sec & a minute up the road.  We also had help from Leavitt (Specialized) & a couple Audi Reno  guys (Heinemann & Pattalock).  At DQ’s direction, they eased up every time the break got too close.  At one point I asked the moto ref how far up the break was. He sighed & said “the same as it’s been all day, 50 seconds”. Haha, the guys were riding awesome!  The lead grew back to a minute on the final lap & as we approached the deciding climb, the T-Bears went to the front & upped the tempo to reel in the break.  So far all according to plan!

When we made the left turn up to Snow Basin, the break only had about 10 seconds & were caught within a minute.  As everyone fought to get to the front, I found myself about 20 places back with Brenon near the front.  I didn’t feel great, but knew that I usually don’t feel great until it gets real hard, so I was just patiently waiting for the other climbers to make their moves first. The first to attack was Thomas Cooke (Park City, UT – The X-Men), so I picked up the pace & slowly got to his wheel & let him set the pace.  After about 8 minutes we were down to 6 guys. I was starting to feel good & decided to put in an attack as we approached “the castle” about a mile before the first summit of the climb.  I was able to get a gap, so now it was TT mode for the final 8km to the finish. I powered down the 1st 200M of the descent to try & extend my advantage. By the bottom of the descent I had 20 seconds on a chase group of 5 with 5km to go.

The road climbed for about a kilometer before flattening out & descending a little before the final steep 3 km. I kept getting time gaps every 500M or so, always 5 guys at 20 seconds, I wasn’t gaining anything!  The last 2km felt like 10km & I was now really wishing that the road would flatten out but I knew it didn’t ease up until the final 300m so I just had to keep going & blocking out the pain. The moto ref was giving updates. Still just 20 sec, but then it went up to 25 sec, then 30 sec & finally 45 sec with 1km to go!  This was it, just 3 more minutes of effort and I’d be national champion for another year! Don’t give in to the pain & let all the time training & the hard work & sacrifices that Jay, Brenon, Shawn, Gardie & DQ made be for nothing!   As I approached the finish, there were many bears & friends cheering, sticking out their hands for a high five, but I was not easing up & just going all out all the way to the line!  It was great to see the bears coming in strong 7 hearing the news.  I can’t say it enough, how thankful I am to have such incredible teammates!

After the race I peed in a cup again (very happy to see Dapice in there after his win in the 40-44!), then came out & celebrated with the bears!

Jay escaping in the Crit.
Jay escaping in the Crit.

Saturday – Jay & I survived the crit! I finished 36th which was good enough to clinch the Best All-Around Rider jersey for the 45-49!   Dean Laberge won my race and I was very happy to see him win (go NCNCA!)
Afterward we watched the younger guys race (bummed about Jan’s bad luck) had a few beers & some pizza and celebrated the ThirstyBears Best All-around Team victory!


Chris Phipps – Top of the podium
Chris Phipps – Top of the podium

The End.


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