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ThirstyBear Cycling Powerhouse Chris Phipps stays away in the break and take 2nd at Cat’s Hill Classic Crit 2013

World-class bicycle racing again makes its way to Los Gatos on May 4, 2013 for the 40th Annual Cat’s Hill Classic Bicycle Races presented by Mike’s Bikes and the Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club.  Staged among the historic Victorian homes at Tait and Nicholson Avenues just two blocks off North Santa Cruz Avenue in beautiful Los Gatos, CA, the Cat’s Hill Classic Bicycle Race is renowned as one of the most difficult closed circuit cycling races in the United States!  Racers repeatedly climb up the challenging 23% grade of “Cat’s Hill” on Nicholson Avenue and complete the mile-long neighborhood loop with a 50+mph hair-raising descent onto the crowd-lined finishing stretch.

ThirstyBears: Greg McQuaid & Chris Phipps

The day started off as planned with Greg Picking me up at 11AM, which would give us plenty of time to reg & warm-up for our race at 2:15. After we loaded up his car I ran across the street to buy a vitamin water & then hopped back in the car and we were off. Unfortunately, about the time we were at the end of 19th Ave entering Daly City I realized my wallet was missing, so Greg drove us back to my place and had a look around, but no luck. So we were now headed back down about an hour later than planned & I was calling my bank & credit card companies canceling my cards.

After arriving, finding parking, getting numbers & pinning them on we had about 40 minutes before the race. After cruising around a bit and going up a steep climb in the neighborhood I noticed that my shifting wasn’t working very well and I couldn’t get into my 23 or 26 cogs, which would be vital in this race if I wanted to stay in the big ring on the climb. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so I went to the Mike’s Bikes (15 min before race!) & they immediately figured out that the stop that holds the cable housing near the rear derailleur had cracked, so the cable housing had been pulled into the frame. They were able to fix it and I was off to the start with 5 min to warm up.

Cat’s Hill Classic Crit 2013
Cat’s Hill Classic Crit 2013

The race was off & I started in the back with Greg around mid pack. Since this was a combined field, we had around 65 starters & I was worried that it would be tough to move up, but I was patient and wanted to move up slow to get warmed up. I moved up around 10-15 riders per lap for the first 4 laps, then was close enough to the front that when Jeromy Cottell (Specialized) attacked at the top of the course I was able to jump across to his wheel. It was a good move because his teammate Kevin Metcalfe was at the front of the pack with everyone on his left & Jeromy attacked up the right side.
We quickly had a few seconds and worked pretty evenly and within a few laps had 20 seconds, then a few laps later had 45 seconds. By this time we were able to throttle back a bit. I wanted to attack to try to solo it in, & gave it a couple tries at the top of the climb, but just didn’t have the pop for that kind of effort. I let Jeromy lead the last half lap hoping to come around him in the sprint, but that didn’t work out too well.

Chris Phipps at the front of the break. Photo thanks to David Cheung.

I was happy with 2nd though & glad to see Jeromy get a win since he’s been so aggressive in the races lately. Greg said the pack essentially gave up chasing after a few laps (I was expecting Cale or Dirk to try to bridge across), but was still fast enough to drop about 1/3 of the field. In the sprint, Greg ended up 14th, just a couple places out of the Premier Series points.

Jeromy Cottell 1st, Chris Phipps 2nd and Jan Weissenberger 3rd.
Jeromy Cottell 1st, Chris Phipps 2nd and Jan Weissenberger 3rd.

Next week it’s onto Berkeley HILLS!
Yes, HILLS & not the Dunnigan “hills”.

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