Words: Josh Dapice
The Northern California 35+ masters fields split up into five year age groups last Sunday to vie for district honors on SJBC’s 60 mile classic, Mt. Hamilton. Mt. Hamilton is known primarily for the main 15-mile climb, but experienced racers will tell you that the climb merely sets up the rest of the race. It’s a humdinger any way you ride it and this year promised rain and plenty of wind. Below are accounts of the 35-39 and 40-44 races, in reverse order (age before beauty and all that).
The 40-44 race featured a stacked field including national champion Matt Carinio (ArtsCyclery.com), defending 2012 champion Chris Phipps (ThirstyBear), Andres Gil (Michael David Winery), and Chris Lyman, Dan Bryant, and Nate Parks, all of Folsom Bike.
The race started off with Greg McQuaid (ThirstyBear) feeling frisky and setting a hard tempo for the first 25’ section of the climb. Nate Parks followed and surged into the next section of the climb, stringing out the field and dropping several riders. Starting the last (and steepest) 10K of the climb Ken Gallardo (ThirstyBear) set a hard pace along with Todd Bell (Morgan Stanley). Phipps soon made the inevitable attack and took the KOM with a 45-second cushion. Following the descent he was joined by Jason Boynton (Folsom Bike), Andres Gil, and Scott Bromstead (Barclay’s Racing).
These four took a 30-second lead on a chase group of six which included Gallardo, 2 Folsom Bike (Parks & Bryant) and Carinio. Working together in the headwind their advantage grew to over a minute by the feedzone climb where Bromstead dropped off. The relentless headwind blunted any attacks in the final run-in and the race came down to a sprint. Gil showed his sprinting class and won with Boynton 2nd and Phipps 3rd.
Dan Bryant attacked out of the chase group for 4th with Carinio winning the sprint for 5th, rounding out a national caliber results sheet.
Special thanks to Chris Phipps for this report.
Men’s 35 – 39 M123
Words: Josh Dapice
The 35-39 Nor Cal championships tend to attract small but elite fields and this year was no different. I was hoping to improve on last year’s 2nd place, but realized nothing would come easy. With last year’s champ, Jesse Moore, absent, Jeromy Cottell (Specialized), Jan Weissenberger (ZIPZ), and others looked tough. Unfortunately Jeromy crashed a few days before the race and withdrew, leaving a more open race.
Our day started off cold and rainy like everyone else’s. Matt Adams (Mike’s Bikes /InCase) set a very hard pace up the first part of the three-part climb. Jason Benford (GigaOM) took over on the second part. I took the lead on the third part of the climb, hoping that Weissenberger (and his sprint) would drop back. No luck. While I grabbed the KOM, Weissenberger and Jacob Berkman (Mike’s Bikes / InCase) were right behind me. Weissenberger, especially, was climbing well.
Weissenberger led the descent while Berkman gradually dropped back. I caught Weissenberger at the bottom and we rode through the ten-mile flat section together. I spent some time trying to figure out how I was going to beat Weissenberger, but didn’t come up with any good ideas.
Through the feed zone I realized I had to test him and I pushed the pace. He started to sag a bit and I kept it up. Finally, I noticed him start to fall behind. I gave the rest of the climb all I had.
I knew that from the top of the last hill I had 40+ minutes to the finish, but realized that Weissenberger could easily catch me at any time. I put my head down and prepared for some one-on-one time with the stem. While I was hurting at the end, I had a chance to enjoy my win and celebrate with the moto ref who had kept me company. Weissenberger finished second while behind him Neil Bartley (ZIPZ) was threading his way through the field to take third.
I also had a moment to think of Jonathan Eropkin (Safeway), 3rd place finisher at last year’s 35-39 district championships and one of Northern California’s top 35+ all-arounders. Jon spent the last week in the hospital being treated for blood clots in his lungs and legs. Jon’s a favorite on the Northern California circuit and I know that I speak for everyone when I say that I look forward to seeing him back in 2014.