images: Alex Chiu
Most people ride the Three Bears Loop for a proper training ride one lap around or maybe twice and thats enough. Once a year we race around the loop 5 times for the Pro 1/2's. The 'Three Bears' climbs add nearly 1500ft each lap. Not to mention it was an early morning start time and 60% chance of rain. Yeah, thats a hard day.
At the start line temp was ideal, dry and humid everyone was happy and awake. no one had rain gear as no one expected to rain later. Most people started longsleeve jerseys but thats the most layers I saw, no velotoze nor overshoes. Big mistake.
On the approach to the first climb, Zeke Mostov lay down an attack on Mama bear and lets just say the legs had a brutal awakening. The peloton was more or less together with a couple of surges as we passed Papa Bear. Reese attacked on San Pablo Dam Road for a solo break. Some people had the same idea and left on the third lap, Roman and Andy bridged up to Reese with Robbie Chrisman and Chris Hartland-Dunaway of H24.
At ths point it starts to rain, just heavy enough to feel pretty wet. I was looking for an excuse to get in the breakaway, as half my team was there. I followed Zeke's attack on lap 3 at Alhambra Valley. We quickly bridged to Ben Demaree and one other, the four of us set out to bridge up to the break on San Pablo.
The break could not work together; too many Mikes Bikes and not enough of anyone else. Andy went off for awhile until Robbie brought him back, followed by Reese taking a flyer. I felt fine for only a minute while soft pedaling, but then slowly began to freeze from being soaked to the core coupled with a slight wind chill. I just remember following wheels so close that the wheelspray felt warmer then the actual rain coming down. Shivering, my back and neck muscles were fully locked. Everyone felt the same.
On the final lap on San Pablo the break continued to soft pedal until Roman made an acceleration and bridges up to Reese. Five minutes later, we connected with the peloton and I'm in trouble, shivering uncontrollably at the back. As the peloton headed down to Alhambra the surges from the group caught Roman & Reese, who have been in break all day. Special thanks to them for setting the pace, ultimately making the race play more in our favor.
With half a lap to go, Robbie tried to escape on last time, and Cameron Bronstein followed. He then attacked for a solo escape while Robbie was quickly absorbed. Cambo made a huge effort but the surges from the peloton brought him back. Chris HD attacked over the top of Mama, creating 25meter gap that only a few could follow as we descend Mama bear to an uphill power climb. Colin Daw countered HD and Jason Saltzman followed as we descended to Papa Bear. It took a bit to get there, no soft pedaling nor surging as we prepared give our legs some respite. Zeke laid down an attack and dropped all but a few contenders as we made it up half of Papa bear. Colin at halfway took the front then Chris HD laid down an attack to the line. Jason Saltzman read the attack and followed right and I responded. Saltzman got behind HD, and then I saw Ryan Sherlock surging up the left with 75meters to go. I dug to pass Saltzman then Sherlock then HD as I worked my cadence higher the more acceleration I felt all the way to the line. I didn't look back until I came across the finish line. I could finally say that I've won my first P 1/2 race.
Huge Thanks to my Team, Reese, Roman, Craig, Andy, Cambo, and Colin. They were checking in with me, the whole race, taking into account how I was feeling. Thanks to Caesar for taking care of us in the follow car. Thanks the Alex Chiu for the amazing photos of such a memorable win.