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This Is How The Race Was Won. US National Champion Chris Phipps ThirstyBear Cycling

ThirstyBear Chris Phipps celebrates his 2nd consecutive US Masters National Championship

Chris Phipps in Monster TT Style. Photo: Chris Phipps Monster TT style. Photo:

On Labor Day I arrived at Alan’s at 7:30 to load up every bike thing I own into his Prius & make the 760 mile drive to Ogden. Thanks to Alan’s new radar detector & heavy foot, we made the trip in just about 11 hours including 3 gas/food/pee stops. Holger had arrived earlier and had some awesome pasta waiting for us so we didn’t have to worry about making dinner when we arrived. Thanks Holger!

Tuesday was check out the TT course day. Alan, team friend Anne Valta & I loaded up the Prius & headed out to Antelope Island in the middle of The Great Salt Lake to check out what we were to be in for the next day.  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).

Wednesday, TT Day! Unlike the day before, the wind was blowing strong from the north, which meant tailwind out, headwind back. I was lucky to start last in the 45-49, 30 sec behind favorite Dan Bryant (Folsom Bike/VW/Raley’s), but he was so fast I never saw him. The was out was flying & I averaged 31mph (thanks to Dyrwal’s super aero disc!), with the tail wind, but knew the way back would be the real race. I did catch minute man Paul Thomas (Core Cycling), 2 other guys, then finally Craig Roemer (Specialized)  my 90 sec man, right as I was cresting the climb with 2 km to go. Just as I was passing Craig, I took a peek up & saw a huge Bison crossing the road right in front of me! Luckily, both Craig & I were able to avoid it & power on to the finish.  I left it all out there & as I crossed the line in 44:14 (well under my 45 min goal!), I thought I had a chance of taking the win, but Bryant had crushed everyone with a 42:39, but I was very happy to take silver again!

Alan had a great ride to finish on the podium in 5th in the 55-59 & Holger had an off day & was 19th in a deep 50-54 field. Anne ended up crushing the 45-49 field for the gold!

On to Thursday – RR course preview day. While Anne & Tanya were racing to a 1-2 finish in the women’s race (congrats!), Dan Q, my buddy from Vegas, Ray & I took a spin around to preview the course.  I really liked the final 10 km with 2 climbs with around 500M of elevation gain!
Gardie, Dan, Tom & I had been going over the race plan for many weeks & we spent a lot of time going over every likely scenario & how we would handle it. We knew the riders to watch & the plan would be to try & get me to the base of the final climb with the lead group and for Tom to get in a break with 1 or 2 guys who were not a major threat & who we knew Tom could beat on the climb if it stayed away. Gardie & Dan would then have to make sure no dangerous riders made it across and ride tempo on the front as we got to the final climb.

Friday -Race day!!! We had 68 starters for the 97km (60 mile) race which started with a tough 1.5 km climb that saw many fields lose 10-30% of their fields followed by a 10 km descent with speeds over 80 km/hr!  I would guess that we lost around 20 guys on the climb & even though I was near the front & descended fast, I ended up in the tail group with Roemer & a few others about 10 seconds behind the main field by the bottom of the descent. Luckily we didn’t panic & DQ dropped back to pace me & the others on my wheel back to the field while Tom went to the front to try & slow things down. After I got back on, it was fast with attacks, but Tom, Gardie & DQ were up there like pros, getting on everything until Tom ended up getting away with Kyle Glerum from Safeway.

This is how to win!  Photo:

This was perfect for us to have 2 strong guys out there drilling it since now DQ & Gardie could sit near the front with help from Nick Theobald from Safeway working for Dan Martin to keep anyone else dangerous from getting there. One other big guy bridged over & helped the break for a while, but for some reason he ended up sitting up at some point & it was just Tom & Kyle out there. Their lead grew to as big as 1:10 & as little as 15 seconds at which point they were almost caught & I got nervous that dangerous guys would counter, but luckily, the pack never was able to close it & the lead grew back to a minute as we rode the final lap & approached the deciding climb. So far all according to plan!

When we made the left turn up to Snow Basin, Tom & Kyle had about 50 seconds & were within site. As everyone fought to get to the front, I found myself about 20 places back with Gardie on the front drilling it for the first couple minutes to string it out and enabling me to move up to around 5th wheel, right behind Dan Bryant & Dan Martin. 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 to his wheel & let him & Nico Toutenhoofd (Boulder, CO, juwi-slipstream) set the pace. After about 8 minutes we caught Kyle & Tom & were down to 6 guys. I was starting to feel good & decided to test the waters with a hard surge & before long it was just Dan Martin left with me, but Nico & Bryant were not too far back. I put in another dig for the final 400M before the summit of the 1st climb & powered down the 1st 200M of the descent to try & extend my advantage. Martin made up some ground and was back on my wheel as we ramped into the final 5km to the finish.

The road climbed for about a kilometer before flattening out & descending a little before the final steep 3 km.  With Martin on my wheel I stopped pedaling as it flattened out & let Nico & Bryant come by since Nico seemed eager to push the pace & extend our advantage over any chasers. I got on Nico’s wheel, then when the slope kicked up again I threw in another surge that gapped Nico but Bryant & Martin were still there. At this point, it was looking like it would be an all NorCal top 3!  I surged again & Martin popped with 2.5 km to go. Another surge at 2 km to go and I could see a gap growing behind me to Bryant so I knew this was it, just 6 more minutes of pain and it would be over!

That last 2km felt like 10km & I was now really wishing that the road would flatten out so I could pick up a little speed, but I knew it didn’t ease up until the final 400m so I just had to keep suffering. The moto ref was giving me updates. 20 sec, 25 sec, then 2 together at 30 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 let up & let all that training & the hard work & sacrifices that Tom, Gardie & Dan made be for naught! I didn’t get any more time gap updates & didn’t dare look back or let up. This is all out all the way to the line! It was quite a different experience from last year & so awesome to have several teammates & team friends screaming for me over the final 500M!  Thanks guys, that really helped me get there!

So proud to be on this team and thankful for all my incredible teammates!!!

ThirstyBear on the top. Congratulations Chris Phipps.

I’ll let others submit reports, but our other results were: Corey 53rd, Ken 63rd (40-44), Gardie 14th (NICE!!!), Tom 23rd & DQ 34th (45-49), Holger 20th, Hans 29th (50-54) & Alan 23rd (55-59)

After the race I peed in a cup again (In the USADA room, I was able to pass the 35-39 and 40-44 winners who had finished 20 & 10 min ahead of me & pee first!), then come out & celebrated with my teammates, but not as much as last year as I still had a crit to worry about.

Saturday – Crit day was fun! First, we got to watch Dave Burnett (who was staying in the condo above us & is the father in law if my good friend Brian Gillis), win the 70-74 crit to complete an amazing triple gold weekend for his first 3 national titles after many years of trying!
Next up, Alan was off the front in the 55-59 in a move I thought would make it to the line, but he was caught with one to go. Amazingly, he still led the pack out for the final sprint (won by Larry Nolan) & finished 23rd.

Chris Phipps Crit racing with the best of the best. Chris Phipps Monster TT style. Photo:
I survived my crit & finished 31st which was good enough to clinch the Best All-Around Rider mug for the 45-49!  Dan Martin won my race and I was very happy to see him win his first US title. Great work in the race by Kyle & Nick to help him stay away.

Next up was the 40-44 won by Matt Carinio who was off the front with Matt Gates for about 50 minutes. Corey had a great race to finish 12th in a super deep 74 rider field!
In the final race of the weekend, Jan & Neil lined up in the 35-39 race but unfortunately missed out on the winning 6 man break & couldn’t get across. Jan had an impressive sprint to finish 2nd in the field sprint (8th overall) to Kayle Leo Grande with Neil finishing 19th.

The DREAM TEAM!! Gardie 14th (NICE!!!), Tom 23rd & DQ 34th (45-49)

Afterward we had a few beers & some gelato & Alan woke up screaming with a mouse in his bed at 4AM.

The End.


Another one to the collection!

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