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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.
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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

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