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Anne Crushes All Competition at Pescadero RR 2015

Don’t believe your eyes! If in doubt, open your mouth (preferably before the finish line)

There were no teammates in my category but since we started with the cat 3/4 women both Monica and Meredith were racing in the same field. The group was big: over 30 riders and since half of them were 4s I told Monica and Meredith that I will set a good tempo going into the first State Rd. climb so we can string the group out. Camille DeLuca-Flaherty and Helen Casabona were my biggest rivals and I asked them to join me setting the pace at the start to stay safe and not get boxed in on the descent.
Camille took of pretty hard from the gun and the peloton was straining to stay together as we got onto Stage Rd. As soon as the climb started I went up front and set the pace to what was pretty hard even for me at this early on the race but I thought as soon as we get out to 84 I can relax and settle in. This is pretty much what happened. We had a breakaway of about 8 riders with only Camille from my category. She and I kept pushing the paceline so we could establish the break, and we had some interesting conversations with the 4s of how to ride in it :). It looked, and sounded to me that besides some of the more experienced 3s and Camille and I, the rest were ready to pop any minute.
When we got to Haskins I went up the climb with my regular hard, but not all out tempo and was able to form a small gap. Somewhere after the descent flatten out and the headwind started to gain significance I was caught, to my surprise by mostly riders I’ve never raced with or heard of. The only “regular” was Shelagh Fritz from Team Mike’s Bikes. At this point I thought I was the only “oldie” surviving the breaks and I kind of thought I’ll just enjoy the rest of the race working in the paceline but not having to push the pace or initiate any more breaks. But after we got to Stage Rd. Shelagh mentioned to me that the kid in a Stanford kit was wearing a 900-number and she was in my category! I couldn’t think of anyone pre-reged from Stanford in 35+ so I thought she must have signed in that morning, and she also looked really young for 35, but what do I know what the kids look like these days! So I went back to the “serious racing mode” and kept my eyes on her. I was just hoping she hadn’t been sandbagging the first lap since she was one of the riders I thought was on the verge of popping…
As far as kids go, they always seem to be able to sprint at the end so I decided I’ll try the game of attrition. I set the pace on Stage Rd. again and went hard on the descents but I could only establish a small gap that was quickly swallowed as soon as we got onto 84. My mystery Stanford companion, on the other hand, seemed to be gaining strength on every pedal stroke! Finally, we got to Haskins climb, and I went to the front setting a nice tempo, trying to gauge were everyone’s but especially hers strength was at this point. And it quickly dawned on me: she had taken it easy up to this point and she was right there on my wheel. So up we went trying to drop each other off on every stroke with our heart rates (or at least mine!) soaring as our breathing got more and more labored. At 2km mark I stood up to accelerate to try to shake her off thinking she must be tired maybe I can break her will… And I first got a small gap and thought here we go! But as I got to the 1km mark she was right there behind me again. My heart sank and I almost wanted to just declare defeat right there but I heard a small part of my brain calling me to fight. So at 200m to go I stood up again and said “okey legs, what ever you got left please give it to me now!” I pushed as hard as I could thinking I can’t do this it’s too much pain! but kept going for another 100m until I had established 15 meter gap and then I just alternated sitting and standing so I wouldn’t collapse finally crossing that line with my mind, and legs, completely done.
Anne showing true dedication. Photo: JABW Photo:
Anne showing true dedication. Photo: JABW Photo:
When the other riders from our group started coming in I finally spoke to them and found out that the “mystery girl” was not 35 and that she actually raced category 3. Baffled, I went over to her to ask what the deal was, and she looked at her race# and laughed “Oh I must have pinned my # upside down!” I almost said: “Congratulations, you almost made me pass out on that hill!” but instead I said “that’s not very good, because you fooled a couple of people”. I mostly felt really bad for Shelagh who after thinking she wasn’t competing with her, let her go on the last climb. But instead of the officials disqualifying her (which I think would have been not such a bad idea. You are DQed if your number is ripped or unreadable so why is this different?), she was able to share the 1st place with the next rider leaving Shelagh 3rd. Weird situation. All I could say at the end of the day was: a) thank gosh my effort wasn’t washed out by it, and b) I guess you can get to Stanford being dyslectic 😉
A true fighter!! Photo: JABW Photo:
A true fighter!! Photo: JABW Photo:
Meredith and Monica raced hard in the main back and came in 11th and 14th respectively. I couldn’t agree more with Holger’s assessment of the Pescadero race. It’s probably the hardest one in the calendar because of the elements and terrain. There really isn’t any place for rest. It’s just hard work from the get-go until the bitter end 🙂

“Sometimes You Have To Risk Losing Big To Win”. Tanya Fredricks Overall GC Victory at Mariposa Road Race 2015

Victory comes to those who go all in! Photo: Alex Chui
Victory comes to those who go all in! Photo: Alex Chui
was reminded of some basic life lessons this past weekend at the Mariposa Stage Race….
           Day One:  Flat Time Trial:
           1:  Always expect the unexpected:
When a herd of cows are being driven down the entire road for what feels like a mile, and you are stuck behind the posse trying to get to the start of the race, relax.  Everyone else is also stuck behind the madness, too.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff:
When you warm up with a  disc wheel (something you’ve only practiced with once before the race) and then change your mind 15 minutes before the race because the wind has picked up, don’t panic.  Just because you can’t get your regular wheel back on and HAVE to use the disc for the windy race,  keep calm and motor on.
TT Result: 2nd 
Impressive result by Tanya Fredricks of ThirstyBear p/b Akamai to finish 2nd in the time trial.
Impressive result by Tanya Fredricks of ThirstyBear p/b Akamai to finish 2nd in the time trial.
Day two: Hill climb and Circuit race:

1. Stick with what is tried and true:
Questionable Mexican food the night before the Hill Climb?  Maybe not the best choice.  Enough said.
2. Never assume:
Coming into the circuit race, I had almost 2 mins on my closest rival, Camille.  Her teammates were well behind at 7-8 mins. I felt all I had to do was stay glued to Camille and make sure she didn’t get any lap time bonuses.  At the end of the circuit race, I had accomplished this and assumed I was sitting comfortably on top of the GC for the final RR stage.
At dinner later that evening, a friend asked the simple question, “soooo how far up the road were her teammates?”.  Having no clue how far up the road her teammates had gone, I got a huge sinking feeling in my stomach and a complete loss of appetite took over.  It was confirmed after dinner that I was no longer 1st in GC but actually now 4:33 BEHIND the leader going into the final stage.   Although I went to bed at 10pm, not much sleep happened that night.
Hill Climb: 1st
Circuit Race: 3rd
Even smiling when climbing. This defines a ThirstyGal
Even smiling when climbing. This defines a ThirstyGal
Day Three: Road Race
1. Keep your enemies close and your rivals closer:
This is extremely helpful in stage racing when one day your biggest rival may need to be your break mate the next day.
 I thoroughly enjoyed the circuit race, chatting and getting to know Camille.  She is kind, smart, and knows how to race a bike.  We developed a nice rapport as we circled around the 7 lap course (while her teammates quietly time trialed themselves into first and second place in the GC).  Little did I know at the time that this was the perfect plan her team had laid out, and I fell hook, line and sinker into their trap.
Fortunately, she also came to my rescue in the road race and became my break mate for 48 of 50 miles. Together we were able to take back 25 mins and secure my place on top (she placed second GC).
           2. Choose your friends wisely:
  I don’t know what I would have done without the amazing support of my teammates…especially when I realized my huge rookie mistake from the circuit race.  They stayed up late with me to wait for the time gap checks to be posted and  believed in me that I could somehow still pull this off!
Tanya and Camille fighting it out. Photo:
Tanya and Camille fighting it out. Photo:
3. Act like you can:
My only “strategy” to salvage a GC win was to go from the gun and try to recover a minute per lap (read: suffer).  Although this sounded daunting, I decided to think positively and give it my best shot.  I guess my acting skills were good enough to worry my contenders. They kept asking if I would be okay shortening the race to 3 laps. I needed 4 laps to punish myself for my stupidity in the circuit race.  4 laps it was.
 Road Race Result: 2nd
Stage Race Result: 1st in GC!
An incredible weekend of racing with the best team/friends around!  Thank you to all my ThirstyBear teammates, Zac, our sponsors, and our weekend mascot, Timpa!  

Anne Valta Wins It All at 2015 Mariposa Woman’s Stage Race.

Amazing performance sees Anna Valta to victory at Mariposa Stage Race.
Amazing performance sees Anna Valta to victory at Mariposa Stage Race.



Mariposa Women’s Stage Races starts with a 10 mile mostly flat TT on Friday afternoon. The weather was perfect, not hot like last year with some headwind going out. I had no teammates in my category since Tanya and I decided to split so we could possible both take the win. The 35+ category had the biggest group of riders because all 4 stages were part of the NCNCA women’s series for the masters racers. I was eager to race against the top guns, and it motivated me to better my time from last year, and actually get the fastest time of the day in all categories. At the end of the day, I got 1:14 on Annie Carrino (Sisterhood of Cycling), and 1:45 on Rikke Jeppesen (Metromint).

Saturday morning started with the Groveland Hillclimb, 6.7miles on 6% average, every category starts separately as a group. Same plan as Friday: get as much time on rivals as possible. The first half a mile or so is the steepest and most of our group was dropped at this point. After 1.5 miles I was alone at the front. It was difficult at times to motivate myself to keep pushing harder since I had no one to breath down my neck although passing riders from other categories gave me some boost of energy. I managed to get a decent time (which turned out to be exactly the same with Tanya although we didn’t race together!) and was comfortably sitting on the 1st spot in GC with 3:23 on Helen Casabona (Pen Velo) and almost 4 minutes on Annie, followed by Rikke. The afternoon’s circuit race was going to be fun!
Our category raced 41.6 miles with 3255 ft of elevation gain. Every lap (8) except the first had time bonuses for the top 3 with the final lap having the biggest ones. Having a comfortable lead in GC, all I wanted and needed to do was to follow wheels and have fun. I figured Helen, Annie and Rikke had to do some serious work, and math! because they all had a chance for the podium. I also expected Charlotte Hart to try to win this one. She was leading the NCNCA women’s series comfortably up until this weekend because most of the races have been criteriums and she is a great sprinter. CR is the least hilly of the stages in Mariposa so she had a chance, I thought. On the second lap Annie’s teammate Raegan attacked. Rikke and Helen were quick to follow. I waited for Annie and Charlotte to react but they seemed happy to sit in the pack. The breakaway was sticking and getting further from us. About a mile later when we got to the last 200m of the lap, and where the only serious hill was, I attacked hard. The hill is followed by a 1.5 mile, non-technical descent and I went down as hard as I could. No one was following me, and about mile later I caught up with the breakaway. For the rest of the race I was happy to contribute in the paceline and let Helen and Rikke take most of the top 1-2 sprint points but making sure I got the last one and the win :D. My time gap at the end of stage 3 was 4:26 to Helen and about 1:30 more on Rikke. Annie’s mental lapse had caused her the podium on this stage 🙁
Sunday’s 51.5 mile road race finished off our weekend fun. We raced 4 laps with over 6000ft of elevation gain. Everyone was sore at this point but the ladies in places 2-4 still had chances to keep or lose the podium so again, I expected some attacking happening early. Surprisingly to me, none of the 3 podium contenders were willing to work so to keep myself somewhat sane and to have a good workout at least, I pulled the pack around for 1.5 laps. At some point towards the end of the second lap Rikke rode next to me and said: “Can you ease off a little bit on the pace!” I asked what was the problem: “Are people dying back there?” “A little bit”, came the answer. Okey, I thought, this is interesting. So when we got to short bump at the finish I attacked thinking they might as well just let me go since it won’t change anything in the standings. This time I had a 5 mile, screaming fast downhill following the climb and I was having a blast trying to get away from my pursuers. Half way down the descent I hear “On your right!” and see Meredith of our team flying by with a Metromint on her wheel. I started laughing so hard and that might have cost me because I was caught shortly after. At the bottom of the hill everyone started chatting and I was eating my lunch when Helen sneaked out ahead of us. I was waiting for a reaction from Rikke and Annie (Liz Benishin was the 5th on this breakaway) but they didn’t pursue Helen. As we got on a small incline I sprinted up to Helen and said, “Let’s go!” We worked hard for about 5 miles or until the end of the lap and figured we had established a good gap. By the last lap I was seriously starting to feel the toll on my legs but I kept on appearing to look like I was fresh as daisy. Helen and I kept a decent but chatty pace until the last 1km and then I took off to ride to the sunset, and finish up a unbelievable weekend of racing and having fun with a couple of teammates and other great female riders. I was so grateful that I felt good enough all weekend long to win all the stages and to be able to be aggressive, and make a difference in the races. So much more fun than just riding along and waiting for something to happen 🙂

The ThirstyBear p/b Akamai Womens Dream Team. Monica, Tanya, Anne & Meredith
The ThirstyBear p/b Akamai Womens Dream Team. Monica, Tanya, Anne & Meredith

ThirstyBear p/b Akamai shows who is the big bear at Berkeley Hills RR 2015 45+. Congrats to Brenon for the win, powered by a strong team effort.

Brenon and Chris in the final. Photos: Katie Truong.
Brenon and Chris in the final. Photos: Katie Truong.
Bears: Aaron, Chris P., Duane, Tom, DQ, Gardie, Holger Shawn and myself.

Overall field: ~50

Condition: cool, windy at the start, warmed through the race but the wind stayed strong.

Distance: 72miles, with 5900 feet of climbing (the toll: 3:20; 2900kjs).

Placings: A lot of Bears, all at the top of the results page.Like today’s stage at the Giro, ThirstyBear p/b Akamai turned today’s race into a bit of a Team Time Trial. I think we had 5 of the top 10, including first (myself) and third (Phipps). Great day to show the depth and strength of our squad.

How it played out:
Since Hans was sidelined, we were all wondering who was going to play his role and attack from Kilometer 0. Duane let us know the answer, immediately jumping away with Kevin from Victory Velo. (To give a sense of how quick out of the gate he was, Phipps and I hadn’t even made it back to the pack from our ‘natural’ during the rollout and Duane was already gone.) The other strange part of the start of the race: my brother joined us about 4-5miles into the race and I handed him his race numbers, which he kinda/sorta fastened to his bike. (He never made it to registration or the actual start because he had to do an emergency spinal tap at the hospital and then zip down to race.)
When you don’t have time to get the numbers on your jersey. Photo: Katie Truong
When you don’t have time to get the numbers on your jersey. Photo: Katie Truong

Duane and his running mate stayed away until the third trip up Papa Bear (finishing climb). Tom had jumped earlier in the lap, bridged up & through them. Tim was riding well and still a bit of a gap on all of us, but there was a lot of wind for him to fight alone. (Quick aside: Duane gets my vote for ‘man of the match’ today. Even after soldiering for 50+ miles in a two-man break, he hung tough when he got caught and rather than go quietly, he kept throwing punches all the way across San Pablo Dam Road, making other teams chase him down. It looked like so much fun that DQ had to try it too, so he was off the front 4-5 times on his own, stretching the field.)

Duane in his 2 man break for 50+ miles. Impressive! Photo: Katie Truong.
Duane in his 2 man break for 50+ miles. Impressive! Photo: Katie Truong.
Along the two valley roads (Alhambra and Bear Creek), Victory Velo’s Jay revved up his TT engine. He and Mike’s Bike had the field single-file as we approached Mama Bear for the last time. Jay set tempo up the climb and since we had Tom and Chris right on his wheel, I did a ‘drift climb’ and settled back into the middle of the pack. At least I thought it was the middle. When I actually looked behind me, there wasn’t anyone. The approach and less than a half-mile of climbing on Mama had cut the field to 10 — these were the riders who’d be going at it on Papa for the win.
Right from the start of the climb, ThirstyBear p/b Akamai set the tone. Holger went to the front from the base and rode hard tempo to cut the field in half. From there, Tom took over and stretched us clear with a strong piece of riding that got us (Phipps, Fonseca and myself) into the final 300 meters or so. Fonseca, who had been standing for most of the climb, jumped around Chris and caught scent of the finish line. I hesitated for a second but then realized Fonseca was going to stick it if I didn’t get up to him. So I ended up doing a two-stage sprint: first, to pull him back; second to get past him (Note: looking at on a power file shows how unconventional is was: two 10-second sprints of 900 watts, with a 5-second ‘recovery’ of 700 watts between them. Not how they teach it…)
This is how Winning looks like. Photo: Alex Chui.
This is how Winning looks like. Photo: Alex Chui.
However haltingly or falteringly, we got the win. And ‘we’ truly got this one — with everyone active in breaks, attacks or leading out. I was just the grateful beneficiary of a lot of hard work out on my ‘home course’ today. (I don’t know how many gallons of sweat I’ve left on training rides around the Bears over the past 13 years.) So a big ‘thank you’ to all my fellow Bears (and our sponsors) to helping me finally realize something that I’ve seen in my mind a hundred times in training over the past decade: coming to the top of Papa Bear, and kicking clear of the field.
Brenon 1st, Chris Phipps 3rd. Great day for ThirstyBear p/b Akamai. Photo: Danielle Barry
Brenon 1st, Chris Phipps 3rd. Great day for ThirstyBear p/b Akamai. Photo: Danielle Barry

Piers impresses Mama & Papa Bear to Win Berkeley Hills RR 2015 35+

Piers Pulling teeth to win. Photo Alex Chui.
Piers Pulling teeth to win. Photo Alex Chui.


ThirstyBears: Jan, Eric, Moritz, Jakob, Piers (plus Danielle and Hans G. handing out bottles and taking back vests).

Field: Stacked with strong dudes as always.  Make-a-Wish riders Birky and Hoadley dropped down to 35+ with a younger teammate.  Arts there with ever-present Carinio, Nunes, Albracht.  Specialized as always strong and smart. Peter Vaughn (fresh off Wente).  Chronos there with Dan Bryant, Theobald, Eropkin, Zimney. Squadra with Evans and Profumo.  

Conditions: Windy all day long.
72 miles.  6,300 feet of elevation.
Results: 1st, 19th, 20th, 27th, 31st.
I love this race and have always had fun on this course.  It’s definitely possible to win from a break and we had discussed as a team what our race plans would be and how we were going to make this play out in advance.  And this time we actually stuck to the plan and made it work.  Jan knows how to save energy and who should be where at what time.  Since I’m never sure I usually waste a lot of energy trying to be everywhere every time.  Looking at my ride–I basically did nothing until the last lap.  2 hours a 25 minutes of this race I was in Zone 1-3 thanks to being looked after by my teammates who went in all the right moves and kept me out of the win.  When it was finally time to wake up I was well rested.
We started off easy in this race but within a reasonable amount of time there was a break that was more of a field split than a break.  Around 15 guys were off the front with everyone represented except for Art’s.  Normally I would have spent a large amount of energy to get up there and be in the break but we had Moritz and Jakob in there who could finish this race off if they sat in (which they did).  For some reason Mike’s Bikes also did nothing although this could have won the race for them as they had 3 riders and Matt Adams in the break.  Arts sent Ben Albracht to the front then Craig Nunes single handedly spent 20 minutes bringing the entire group back to the break.  This was a great situation as they burned matches which limited their ability to work at the very end of the race.  Jan, Eric and I appreciated the arm chair ride to getting all back together.
Moritz leading the pack up Mama Bear. Photo: Katie Truong
Moritz leading the pack up Mama Bear. Photo: Katie Truong
Up Papa Bear the 2nd lap Jakob “I’ll just race with my freshly broken collar bone” Berkman set a perfect tempo to just keep everything smooth and easy where I was sitting out of the wind back in the back.
The strong wind limited breaks and for once I kept out of the wind and rode around in circles making sure no one serious got away.  There were a couple small incidents with a weird solo crash (watch those bumps!) and the same 3 not-to-be-named very strong but not wonderful bike handling riders who seem to bump around and cause crashes at every race.
The last lap got serious.  As Jan predicted the remaining racers were strung out in a line for most of it.  It got serious enough that someone decided they were going to go pee triathlon style.  This unnamed rider just went wee in his shorts in the middle of the pack on a downhill spraying half the pack behind.  Pee is actually a sterile fluid but: When you’ve gotta go–go to the back of the pack!!!
There was a final wheel tangle going up Baby Bear where a few riders went down on an uphill.  Matt Adams amazingly hopped over his bike while crashing and landed on his feet without going down.  I just missed the crash by swerving around the right side of it. By this point my teammates days were done after sheltering me all the way to this point.  I remembered how pointless it was to go on Mama Bear as the descent just brings it all back together and hung out in 4th or 5th position.  I stayed there taking a little more wind than the powerful finishers behind.  Bryan Hoadley worked hard to get Cameron Birky in place.  Hanns Detlefsen was sitting in a sweet spot and I squeezed in behind him.  He kept cranking up the pace and I could see the powermeter go from 320 to 360 up and up to 450.  I looked back to see Carinio, Birky and Cottell all lining up waiting for me to go too soon (again).
With 400 meters to go I let a small gap of 10 feet open up in front of me to Detlefsen and could appreciate the big headwind.  I jumped hard, tore past Hanns and opened up a nice gap behind me that I kept increasing (I think) all the way across the line.  I got some great encouragement from Hans G and Dani who were right there making sure I didn’t slow down too soon.  Just an awesome feeling to be able to finish this off with my biggest win ever.  My TB teammates rolled across having done the perfect job all day.  We could barely get the smiles off our faces after the win and watching the 45+ team decimate the field.  Pulling off the 35+ and 45+ wins was just the perfect way to spend the day.  I love racing with these guys.
Now I have completed my podium collection of a 1st, 2nd and a 3rd for the year.  It also looks like enough points to upgrade to Cat 2 so I’ll put in my paperwork for that.
Special thanks to our sponsors: ThirstyBear B, Akamai, Novato Community Hospital, Acme Bikes, Cogniance, Osmo, Castelli, Red Whale Coffee, Trek, Bontrager, Iwin.
Piers stepping up on the podium “yet again”. Photo Danielle Barry.
Piers stepping up on the podium “yet again”. Photo Danielle Barry.


Anne Valta Solo Victory at Wente Vineyards RR Classics 2015

Impressive solo effort by Anne Valta to win at Wente.
Impressive solo effort by Anne Valta to win at Wente.


Teammates: Kim, Leila, Meredith and Monica

Conditions: 80s, not too windy
Results: 1st, 5th, 7th, 10th
I was happy to have company in this race which is one of my favorites in the calendar. Because we only had two laps (35miles) to race I made a risky plan. I told the lady Bears I would attack on the bottom of Carroll on the first lap and see what happens. I was hoping that I could pull Camille De-Luca Flaherty (SJBC), my biggest rival for this race, with me and we could work together to stay away.
Kim told us she would lead us to the bottom of the hill. The rest of the Bears settled in behind her. I right behind Camille, ready for action. As we approached the right turn to Carroll, Camille accelerated to take the lead, myself in tow. As soon as we made the turn and the road got steeper I accelerated hard off the saddle. The race was on! I heard some f-words behind me (seriously!) and I knew the attack had taken the pack by surprise. I was quickly feeling the hard effort in my legs and lungs (lactic acid anyone?) but I kept pushing until the climb flattened out a little. As I sat down and looked behind me I saw a gap about 75ft. I knew I had to keep the tempo up to make this work so I committed and kept going as fast as I dared until I got to the sharp right turn onto S Flynn. I was told I had 35 seconds on a chase group of 3. Not confident with that but very close to burning my last matches I told myself to settle in and try to save some energy on the downhill.
Just when I was starting to think I made a huge mistake and would be swallowed any second I got the second update: 50 seconds. I couldn’t believe it, this might just work! When I got to Greenville Rd. I realized I wouldn’t have a tailwind, but instead would have to work a little harder to keep the tempo high. Fortunately, it wasn’t one of those “blow your hair off” -days this year :), also there were lots of other riders on the course at this point, and I tried blend in as much as possible so my chasers would have a hard time finding me.By the time I got on top of Carroll on the second lap I finally started feeling pretty good and my legs had recovered. Right after turning to Patterson Pass I got a word that I had 2 minutes on the chase group. It was time to enjoy my time trial!

I took a crazy risk but I wanted to see if it could work. Bear ladies had a great showing with everyone racing hard (sorry Meredith for flattening out on the second lap 🙁
Meredith, Still with a smile after a flat.
Meredith, Still with a smile after a flat.
Later we enjoyed burritos, cup cakes and beer to celebrate Leila’s birthday and a fun day racing!

Piers “yet again” steps up on the podium at Wente Vineyards Classic 35+

Dr. Piers Barry aka”The Beast” – Photo: Tahra Makinson-Sanders
Dr. Piers Barry aka”The Beast” – Photo: Tahra Makinson-Sanders


Bears: HUGE group of 7: Jason, Scot, Joel, Moritz, Jacob, Phil, Piers

Results: 3rd, 4th, 11th, 15th, 18th.
Conditions: Gusty winds, balmy temps.
So great to be able to roll into a race with a big team of hard hitting Bears who are always going Faster Forward.  I really like the final climb on this race and was ready to sit in and wait until the final right hand turn to try to get free and make a break for the top.
The competition has been out in force.  Chris Evans and Stefano Profumo were there with a teammate.  Specialized showed up with 5 sterling riders: Cottell, Dapice, Buckley, Passmore and Roemer.
Peter Vaughan was there and is always strong on this kind of course.
Mike’s Bikes had a full squad of 7 guys as always but clearly this isn’t there kind of course and they would be working for Luiggi Zuniga all day.
Ben Albracht and Norman Zellers were there solo.
Nice slow start right on time with an easy cruise for the first few miles.  Then the pace started to quicken after the first climb.  There was some very questionable bike handling but a couple of very strong but not so skilled riders out there.
We had a really nice pace going with the group stretching and bunching and many break attempts.  Phil took a nice flyer for quite a while up the road early on with with the wind and a big group it didn’t get far. The group dwindled down steadily as riders were shed on the climbs and couldn’t get back in the wind.
The big break formed on Patterson Pass on the second lap with Roemer, Buckley, from Specialized, Albracht, Profumo, Moritz and Vaughn.  This was a group with serious firepower and everyone but Mike’s Bikes represented.  Jason and I sat near the front.  Looked good with Moritz in there.  When they ramped up to 300 yards we saw Moritz falling back out of the group rapidly the second climb out of Cross road as the speed ramped up.  I jumped from the chase group and bridged up to keep us from having to chase.  Away we went with even pulls through the six of us.  Mikes Bikes burned each and every single rider except Luiggi in the effort to get back to the break on the climb up Carrol Road.  They delivered Luiggi it but lost the rest of their entire team who were immediately out the back after that effort.
Lots more attempts and surges went.  At a lap and half to go Chris Evans slipped off the front for a long solo flyer leaving Profumo in a great position to sit in.
Passmore was taken out of the race on Flynn road when his front wheel was taken out by a bump with Profumo’s back wheel.  This also pushed Scot off the road into a ditch (no crash), and then he was unable to close the gap back onto the group.
A few miles later Jason and I made a big effort to get away together and chase down Evans as no one would work and too many were sitting on.
Jason did an amazing job chasing down Evans all the way to the final right turn from Altamont onto Carrol road and as planned I hit out as hard as I could.  Jason could almost close the door but Cottell jump on with Peter Vaughn on his wheel.  I had a good gap and kept going, losing a little steam between 300 and 200 yards to go. I had 10 yards with 200 to go, but Vaughn took a free ride in Cottell’s draft and jumped for the win. Cottell nipped past me on the line for 2nd.  Jason was right behind me for 4th.  Fun times.  Hard racing.  I just needed a touch more speed and stamina to hold on, but I burned every match I had–nothing left in the tank this time.  Happy to race with great teammates on a nice course that’s close to home.  I’ll be back for Wente again for sure.
Big congrats to our 45 and 55 teams as well as the ladies (who crushed it as always)!
Great team effort sees Piers finish 3rd at Wente Vinyards Classic.
Great team effort sees Piers finish 3rd at Wente Vinyards Classic.

Chris Phipps Powers to Victory at Wente 45+

Great team effort and strong finish gets Phipps top of podium at Wente.
Great team effort and strong finish gets Phipps top of podium at Wente.


ThirstyBear p/b Akamai Results: 1st, 7th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 18th & 19th

The story:

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.

Try to stay in this guys wheel. Photo: Tahra Makinson-Sanders
Try to stay in this guys wheel. Photo: Tahra Makinson-Sanders


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!



ThirstyBear p/b Akamai’s Aaron Long Bags double Wins in Brazils Nationally ranked Copa Rio de Janeiro Series!!

Impressive solo win by Thirstybear p/b Akamai rider Aaron Long.
Impressive solo win by Thirstybear p/b Akamai rider Aaron Long.


Copa Rio de Janeiro Stage One: March 15, 2015
The Itaipava Hillclimb (Rio’s version of Mt Tam Hillclimb)

Generally held in July (when we’re in Europe) they finally moved it and I was able to race.
Weather cooperated with partially cloudy skies and smooth paved and concrete roads.

Starting groups are neutrally promenaded along the first few miles in age divisions of 5 year increments – yours truly rolling 45+ with perhaps 18 of us.
As the road tilted upward early attacks were fast and furious but thankfully short lived!
Our front group went from 20 to 5 riders in a hurry and eventually it was just myself and Orland Shorter (1.87m 59kg) left to duke it out.
In the end we stayed together for the second half of the climb and I stole away with a couple of km’s to go to cross the line solo.

Profile Below:

Full Itaipava results here if you’re curious about how the Elites stack up against this ol’ Bear


Copa Rio de Janeiro Stage 2: April 19,2015
Angra dos Reis Road Race (Rio’s version of Mt Hamilton RR)

More than 400 riders appeared for one of the Best events on the 2015 calendar!!
Weather was nice with partially clouded skies again in this classic point to point shuffle.
Roads are smooth and paved with the exception of 3 cobbled 1 min tunnels atop the first main climb!

Routinely here in Rio, races start in age bracketed divisions but today was a little different – Elites went off then ALL Masters from 30+ through 50+ were launched together after the neutral promenade with more than 100 in the peleton. In an effort to make sure no 45+’ers would sneak away I decided to patrol the front. Thankfully we had 400+ series numbers so one could discern who was in your bracket.

As the road tilted upward on the first, major 35+ minute climb I could tell my legs were heavy. One by one riders passed by including Orlando Shorter (main rival & friend) who danced away on the pedals and there wasn’t much I could do but listen to that little voice inside that says; ‘stay riding with in yourself…its just a bad patch and it will pass’. Well eventually the legs did come alive but not before Shorter opened a 2 min gap going over the climb well in front. For the next 2 hours we chased hard as our group swelled to 20+ then shank again in the late rollers to just 5 – and with just 10 minutes to the line we caught our solo & cramping rival. Though not much left in the tank I of course had to oblige racing tactic 101 and attack at the junction which led to solo W by a couple of minutes. A hard-fought battle on an epic course I felt for Orlando as he deserved the Win – but that’s racing! Would be GREAT to have some Northerly TBears down for this one next season!?!

Profile below:

Again full Angra RR results here for reference

And here a nice 5 minute video production with an Elite focus!