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ThirstyBears Dominate Cascade Cycling Classic Stage Race 2015

Friday’s Road Race

The boys put in huge efforts yesterday to set up Jason and I. Hans pulled Piers off the front to save him and a wise move it was after his huge TT today.

Jacob, Eric, Joel, Duane, DQ, Brenon, Piers, and Hans were on the front for much of the first 50-60mi of the race as a GC favorite was solo off the front. They did a great job keeping it at 1:00 gap. And then as we approached the feed zone #2 (with Dani, Jules, Lex, and Otis ready to hand out bottles), we heard the cat-2’s were catching us. So the boys brought back the breakman to keep us together in case we were neutralized. Eric then led us up the hill for about 8mi to discourage any attacks. I sat on Brenon’s wheel the whole way as he led Jason and I up a few wheels back. Piers was close by and took over after Eric’s massive effort. We hit the last 3k into a strong head wind and attacks came but nothing stuck. Brenon and Piers continued to shut things down. I got up to second wheel with Jason on me. I jumped on a couple moves in the last 1k and followed a guy into the final 600m as we turned into the driveway toward the line. I took the lead with 400 to go and went hard up into the wind. Held it through 200 as we swung left with a tailwind.2013 National 45-49 crit champ, Eric Martin, came by like I was standing still. A huge guy, Joel Brazil, was next followed by 35 leader, Eric Sheagley (DQ’s former Oregon teammate). The line was fast approaching and then I felt a guy coming in the right. I lunged for the line, hoping to snag 3rd in the 45’s but got nipped…. by Jason! Smiles all around….. When you have 8 guys killing themselves to put you in position to succeed, it feels great when the result comes. Piers and Brenon came in the front group of about 25 as well. My memories of this day will be sitting in the pack looking up to see TB on the front….

Saturday  – Time Trial

It was windy with some rollers (into the wind), and a couple tight turns over the 9mi course. I had a goal of breaking 19:00 (stretch) or at least getting 19:15 ( hopeful reality) which I thought could give me the 45 GC lead. I was pleasantly surprised to catch my 30 sec guy, Sargent, halfway through where I also was averaging over 30mph (tailwind…). Pasco was my 1:00 man and I had gained 20secs on him by then too. The headwind and rollers came next, reminding all of us that we would pay for a fast early pace. I gained a little more on Pasco toward the end but the last 1/2 is a blur. Just glad I made it safely through the turns (no risks). I figured my 18:53 was going to be enough to do it and was thrilled to hear that only Dan Bryant (18:19) was ahead of me in 35/45.Jason had a good day next fastest at 19:07, followed by Sheagley in 19:09, and then our secret weapon, Piers in 19:23 (in borrowed shoes, disc wheel, and helmet from Hans because he left that stuff at the condo)! We had 3 in the top-5 overall today!GC – 45+
Pasco +33
Lopera +45
Brazil +57
Martin +57GC – 35+
Sheagley +40
Grefrath +44
Barry +1:04
Wuepper +1:24


Saturday afternoon Crit, and Sunday Circuit Race.


Saturday – The Crit

I’ve never seen anything but the tail end of this Crit while I’ve raced here. I figure someone’s got to sit on the back and wave goodbye as people drop off the group. But, since Jacob really wanted that job, and the announcer called me up to the start line in my yellow jersey first, I thought I’d see if I could stay with the front of the race for as long as possible, then go join Jacob when that inevitably didn’t work out. I don’t remember much except that it was the “easiest” crit I’ve done. If I slipped back from the top-5, I would just move up to the front and pull a little then slide back in once someone attacked. I do remember Brenon magically appearing from time to time to sit on the front and keep a steady, non-attackable, pace (it’s an “easy” crit when you have teammates like this). Eric and DQ were there too. Jason got the call up and he never left the front either. Apparently some knucklehead slammed into Dan Bryant causing a domino crash just behind the front group on a tight turn which resulted in some obvious issues with getting back on/in. However, I had no idea it happened right behind me (Crit guys will tell you this is why you ride at the front!). None of our guys went down luckily. I was considering leading it out along the backstretch to keep it safe (somewhere in the back of my mind it seemed like Yellow could do this for the field) when Dan Bryant beat me to it. I slotted in about 10th wheel and then thought I’d give the sprint a go when we came off the last turn. I ran out of room on the side and came in right next to the top-3 45’s who were right with the top-3 35’s. 7th on the stage. Speed topped out at 39mph (downhill, tailwind)! Everyone got group time and I kept my GC lead.

Sunday – The Circuit Race:

Sunday morning, we had Jason 3rd and Piers 4th in GC on the 35+, while I had the lead in the 45’s over Robert Pasco (33s), Maikey Lopera (45s), and a handful of others within 1:00. We had some ideas on how to move Jason and Piers up, but also obviously wanted to keep an eye on the 45’s. It didn’t quite work out for our 35’s – Eric Sheagley, in 2nd GC, wasn’t letting that happen, and Chris Lyman was taking care of Dan Bryant’s lead (Dan was noticeably limping around after his crash). After many attacks over the course of 2.5 laps which were elegantly controlled by ALL of our guys, two 35+ guys with poor etiquette attacked the feed zone and rolled away. Eric jumped on another 35+ bridging and away it went. We let it go to give our guys a break on the front which worked for half a lap. The biggest threat was 2:00 down on GC (around 1:00 behind Jason/Piers), so we kept it at 1:00 and eventually brought it back to within 15 secs at the end. Eric hung on for 3rd! TB came in with the pack. That’s the quick summary.

The details are that every one of our guys came up, checked with me on the front, and rode like champs all day. I felt like I was in a Grand Tour. At least a half dozen guys in the peloton came up to me during the race saying what an impressive, unbeatable, team we had. Same thing after the race – anyone I talked to expressed how impressed they were with us and that we earned it. I stayed on the front all day and was never alone. As you scan the results, the places don’t reflect the fact that we had 7 other guys who all could have been where Piers, Jason, and I were but they sacrificed that to make sure the team had a shot to win. We all belong on the top step because it took all of us to get TB there! I would think it’s uncommon for a group of 10 people to work in such a way together when this is just a silly hobby. I learned last year when Gardie, DQ, and I went to nationals to “help” Chris win it, that it is often just as satisfying to be the one to do the work to help the team win as it is to be the one who gets to go for the individual win. While biking is my forced substitution for running, I’m forever grateful to Hans for creating this team and all his work to organize this type of experience for a bunch of old guys/gals who think this is a fun way to spend a weekend…..
“I’ve been on five different NorCal amateur teams in my racing “career”.  The racers, quality people, that we have on this team is uncommonly awesome.  It is truly unique and special in the ranks of amateur racing.  I’m floored at how many committed, selfless, and also strong and smart racers we have on ThirstyBear p/b Akamai.  I’m serious when I say that EACH ONE of our guys at Cascade contributed to the team’s success, each in his own way, on and off the road.  I’m super proud and super impressed.” Jason Grefrath 3rd GC 35+

“The Circuit Race Breakaway” A note from Eric:

Hans had encouraged me to be on the outlook for a break and be ready to bridge up if the opportunity arose. With 20 miles to go, just after the feedzone, Shane Savage from Mighty and Rob Evans, Bear Development Team (3rd in the crit), attacked and got a small gap. Stephen Bedford, who had won the Crit and been on a solo break for 50miles in Friday’s road race went for it to get in the break. This guy should win the most active rider at Cascade trophy. I was fortunately up at the front, as Tom had told me that this was the spot where most breaks would form. So as soon I saw Stephen take off, I jumped and stayed in his wheel. We quickly got contact with Rob and Shane. Knowing I had 9 other hungry Bears in the field and 2 GC contenders, they all looked at me, and asked if I was going to pull or not. I looked back, saw we had a gap and I said “lets do it”. We got a good break going constantly rotating. Rob and Stephen were further down in the general classification, while Shane was 36sec. ahead of me and 1.45min behind Jason after 3rd stage so I should be careful how we played this. We gradually extended your lead from 55sec to 1.55min at 10 miles to go, but could then hear that the pace had picked up in the field and at 5 miles to go we only had 55 sec. At the bottom of Archie Briggs we knew that the field was closing in on us fast. No reason to play tactical or not pull, this was pure survival and we all gave it all we had. Stephen managed to get a gap, but I tried to chase with Rob in my wheel. Rob went by me at the flat section and bridged up and passed Stephen, while Shane was trailing behind after he had done some massive pulls in the break. I tried to push the pace, but there was no more juice in the tank. As we approached the steep finish I could hear the main field coming like a steam train. I squeezed out the last drops of power and managed to drag my bike over the finish line as 3rd, with Piers finishing 4th, same time as me. That was close. Super excited to get this prominent podium spot thanks to a strong team effort.

A note for our Editor in Chief Hans Gouwens:

It has been about 8 years that Tom started showing up for the Tuesday Night Alpine Ride. Just like Chris Phipps, Tom was looking for something else since the “runners high” was running low due to aching bones and joints.
Not sure who else was there that late spring evening when Tom showed up with his styrofoam helmet and his 22 lbs aluminum bike with down tube shifters, but we all spanked his fat ass and hairy legs. It took him about 3 months of determination to reverse that process and make us look like a bunch of overdressed Euro Pro fools.Tom started racing in 2008 with a few Hill Climbs to make sure he was safe and less likely to crash. In 2009 he won his first road race at Wente as a Cat 5 and quickly became a Cat 3 after that.
In 2010, he won his first 45+123 road race at Spring Hill and in 2011 he was kind enough to measure his sprint for the line to give me the win at the Mount Hamilton Classic – what a team mate!
After that, he went on to win the State Criterium Championship and three Stage Races. This past weekend, however, truly showed how strong and determined Tom has been lately. No more hairy legs, but an eye for detail and specifics to get the job done to grab the biggest win so far. It was truly fantastic to see Tom pull it off and wear that yellow jersey all the way back to Fairfax. Tom, you made us all look good!

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