Drove out to Battenkill for the next two weekends. I’m still not there. I went through Philadelphia and bought some new wheels and tires for my van. Picked them up in Bridgeport at 9pm and headed North. Got caught up in torrential rains the whole way. I had wicked tailwind because of the storms. I have 700 miles on this tank of diesel. That is something close to 23mpg which is pretty good for a full sized van. Diesel is .50 a gallon more on the East coast. Harsh. Going to preride some on the dirt sections this afternoon. It’s not supposed to rain, but it is supposed to be pretty cold and windy (30mph). Should be a good practice race from next weeks 200km Battenkill UCI race.
Battenkill all it was rumored to be. But, it wasn’t epic. If it had rained, it would have been epic. It was windy. Engaging. I love races that keep riders on their toes every second of the event. This was the case here. Not having the opportunity to see most of the course before the race, apprehension was omnipresent.
The race is in Cambridge, New York, 40 miles North East of Albany. Battenkill for the Pro-1 field was 83 miles. One 22 mile starter loop and then the whole 100km Battenkill loop that all the other categories rode. The course had a lot of dirt roads. Not gravel by Kansas standards. The dirt sections were actually much smoother than any roads I ride in Kansas. But, many of the dirt sections did have a fair amount of dirt pot holes that made it sort of tricky. It is super scenic. There are a few open flat sections, but the majority of the race rolls. There are somewhere around 8 to 10 prettty substantial climbs. Most of those are dirt. The last 15 miles there are two of these. The top of the last climb is 4 miles from the finish. It arguably is the hardest climb of the race.
We started out pretty quickly. The first loop had some tricky flat roads with a covered bridge and lots of twisty dirt sections. The steepest climb of the race is about 7 miles in. I was feeling pretty flat from car legs. I have been riding pretty good for me, so I was doing a systems check the whole first hour trying to figure out if the form was still there. Brian had flown in to Boston the previous evening and drove the 3 hours over in the morning, so he wasn’t fresh either.
Nothing much got away the first hour or so. After we got out on the big loop, Brian got into a couple moves with Bobby Lee and a few others. The wind was blowing 20-30 mph so I thought that wasn’t such a bad idea. With Brian and I being the only two guys here from the TradeWind Energy/The Trek Stores Team, we couldn’t afford to make too many mistakes or waste any energy if we wanted to have good results. And we didn’t want to miss any important splits.
It all came back together at the base of the longest climb out on the backside of the course. The field was decimated here. By the time we got to the top, there were less than 30 guys left. This was the only time during the race I felt winded. After the descent, it opened up to head cross wind riding. I looked around and realized that there weren’t too many teams that had many guys left. So, I thought it might be a good time to try my luck. I thought it might be early, but realized, before the race, that by the time the field got to the last 15 miles, there wouldn’t be much fire power left. So, I ended up going up the road with 4 other guys.
I was glad that Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com) and Daniel Zmolik (AXA Equitable Cycling Team/CRCA) were there. Their teams seemed to be the most active earlier. And they were both riding pretty well. For the most part, 4 of us rotated for the next two hours. We never got too far ahead, but it was far enough. I was feeling pretty great. I was super comfortable at the pace we needed to climb to stay together. About 20 miles out I looked across a field and saw that the field of 25 guys were all together and not that far back. We started to ride harder, hoping to get to the final climb with a lead.
We hit the Stage Road climb with 20-30 seconds. Justin, Daniel and I shelled the other two. I was itching to attack here, but was worried about the flat windy section to the finish. Justin was setting a pretty good pace up the climb. I thought it was fast enough to get over the top with a lead. I looked back a couple times and thought we were good. Right over the top, I pulled through and when I went to the back I was surprised to see Josh Dillion, Justine’s team mate had tagged on. I assumed that those two would just drill it here, but Josh must have been spent from chasing on because he didn’t seem to want to come through. I looked back again and saw that Will Dugan (Team Type 1) was coming. There was just 4 miles to go. Mainly downhill and flat. There were 6 of us now.
Everyone started jumping. I felt fine and wanted it to split up. Then, next thing I know Brian is there with Jamey Driscoll (Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita). We didn’t even get a chance to talk before someone took off and Brian was in a group of 3, with 2 chasing. I was back with Justin, Driscoll and a couple others. The front 5 got together and proceeded to jump each other for the final 2 miles. We sat about 100 meters behind them kind of doing the same thing. Jamey eventually went to the front and started pulling. I was secretly hoping that he would pull us back up to the front. I was feeling good. (Bad Steve.)
Instead, I spent the final 5 minutes watching from behind as Brian rode perfect tactically. He was never in the wind. He made each split of the front group and only followed wheels. The last corner was 400 meters from the finish. Brian and I had checked it out before the start. It was pretty much straight tail wind and a shallow downhill. Brian came out of the corner 2nd and jumped. He won handily over Daniel Zmolik and Will Dugan. I jumped later than Brian and won the sprint for 6th, 15 seconds back. It was a pretty successful result for us obviously.
Brian seemed surprised to have won. He wasn’t feeling great the first half. He obviously was going well enough to get over the last climb with the select few that bridged up. He was very patient and that payed off in the end. I am pretty happy with the way I rode. I was good pretty much the whole race.
I’m not big on do over races when I feel good. I’m not sure that I am looking forward to doing that last section with another 40 miles on my legs this Sunday. I had another 40 miles in me on Saturday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be there next weekend. The forecast is the same as last week. Rain and cold. Now that would be truly epic……..
Here’s Cyclingnews.com report.
Here are some photos from Paris Roubaix that Trudi took.
I’ve been staying most of this week in Saratoga Springs, New York. It is only 24 miles from Cambridge, where the Battenkill course starts. Cambridge is a super nice town, but kind of small. Saratoga Springs on the other hand is just about the right size. Nice restaurants, coffee shops and other places to hang. I’ve been mainly riding over in Cambridge. I think I have the course down. I don’t feel near as good riding as I did last week. I’m not sure what that is all about. I guess allergies. It is super high here. But, it’s supposed to rain the next two days and only be in the 40’s on Sunday. That should be nice for allergies. But, the forecast is for rain and snow for the 200km on Sunday. This might be really ugly.
Looks like it is going to be wet and cold at Battenkill. I like those conditions normally. But, I’m not looking forward to doing 200 km in them. I guess it makes you harder. Maybe I’ll look at it like doing 6 cyclo-x races back to back. Actually, that isn’t a good way to think of it. I don’t mind riding in the rain. I mind getting ready in the rain. I hate standing around in the rain waiting to start a race. And I don’t hate riding with wet shoes and shorts, I hate the time period when they go from dry to wet. It should be interesting no matter what. But, I am second guessing my decision to not be at The Sea Otter this weekend.
I’d been hanging out in New York for a week waiting for the “real” Tour of Battenkill. Personally, I think they should run the 2500 rider race on Saturday and then the UCI Pro race on Sunday. I’m sure Dieter and Co. have a good reason to do it on two separate weekends, but if they could work out the logistics, it would be a bigger event together.
This week it was 200km. Two laps of 100km. Same dirt. Same hills. Nothing new from the previous race. Other than the temperature and precipitation. It was going to rain. Just when was the question. It was in the upper 40’s. Dry at the start. I started with arm warmers and bare/oiled legs. I’m not much into wet knee or leg warmers.
Anyway, the race started pretty fast. I was not having the day I had a week earlier. I was not warm. The pedals weren’t going over easily. If you would of asked me anytime during the 1st hour if I was going to finish I would of told you “absolutely not”. Just after the second feed about 40 miles into the race, it started raining. That was right before the longest dirt section. The dirt didn’t turn to mud. It stayed pretty hard. The problem was a thick, clay spray coming off the wheels. It was nearly blinding. Much worse than a cross race. I pulled my glasses down to shield the spray and just looked over the top.
It keep raining and after the final climb at the end of the lap, there is a 55 mph descent. That was the worst. I’d put on all the clothing I had with me and I was still freezing. The wind chill was nuts. A big group got away on the descent and we just cruised for the next 10 miles. Not good for staying warm. Everyone was freezing. Shaking their hands, ect. I was frozen. On the Juniper climb I couldn’t really feel my arms at all. Not to mention my fingers. I guess the officials pulled something like 100 riders for being more than 5% behind after one lap. I eventually just took my gloves off because they were so wet and I couldn’t feel my fingers.
Eventually Jamis put all their guys at the front and it started rolling along pretty good again. They were setting a super fast pace. They caught the break about 30 miles later. Going into the 2nd feed with about 20 miles to go, I was feeling pretty good finally. I had been climbing pretty mediocre most of the race, but the previous couple climbs I’d felt much better. I tried to get into a couple moves right before the feed. I could sense it was going to be here that the winning move went. I was with a group of 8 or so with Floyd Landis (Bahati), but we didn’t really go anywhere. At the end of the feed, Floyd launched solo again. No one followed. Caleb Fairly (Holowesko Partners/Garmin U23 Team) jumped up to Floyd pretty quickly. I was at the front but was boxed in. I knew it was done. Another small group went less than a km later. Soon there was a bunch guys from the teams of the riders off the front riding slow. Mainly the Fly V Australia Team. They were all riding really strong on the climbs and I guess they thought they had their best guy for the day up the road.
I was still feeling pretty good. At least I was warm. The next couple climbs were easy. A few guys were getting popped from the conditions mainly. Not the pace. I was looking forward to climbing Stage Road, the final dirt climb, hard. The top is less than 5 miles from the finish.
We had a pretty big group hit the bottom of the climb. I was towards the front in the top ten. I went up the first pitch pretty good and then realized I wasn’t going as good as I was 10 minutes earlier. I lost a few places on a false flat before the 2nd pitch. I barely made it over in the group. I was hurt. I think Kristian House (Ralpha) and a few other guys that didn’t make it over in the group caught back on during the descent, so maybe it wasn’t so important staying in the front. It really surprised me how quickly I lost my shit.
So, a big field sprint for 5th. I was fine and just jacked it up. The last corner is 400 meters from the finish. You have to be in good position going into the corner. I had done it just a week earlier. Type 1 was doing a leadout for Ken Hanson, but it wasn’t going that fast. I was on the right about 10 guys back The wind from the left. About a 100 meters before the last corner I was jumping up the right to go through the corner at the front when Will Dugan or some other Type 1 guy peeled off the front to the right and coasted. There should of been plenty of room, but some homeowner had pruned his trees and had piles of branches in the road sticking out 5 feet or so. I had to get super heavy on my brakes and lost 10 places. I was buried. I finished 19th on the day.
My main observations of the race-Everyone was cold. Fly V was riding the best as a team and didn’t maximize their results. The Jamis guys did the most work of anyone in the race for the least return. Lack of radios definitely changed the results. I’m surprised that there weren’t a ton of broken chains. When it dried up the last 2/3 a lap, everyone’s drivetrain was completely dry/contaminated and very noisy. There are a lot of guys riding pretty fast right now. Or maybe I haven’t raced enough yet. And finally, Garmin’s U23 team seemed to be riding better than the Livestrong/Trek U23 guys this weekend. Winning this race was good for them.
Battenkill is a great event. The day was epic. The race was winnable. But, I would have had to have been extremely lucky for that to occur. It is kind of weird riding solo at a race like this. I wasn’t technically riding solo. Jared Nieters, owner of Haymarket Bicycles, had a whole gang up from the D.C. area and was nice enough to let me race with them. But, realistically, I was there on my own. I carried everything I needed. The mental stress with conditions like that was not easy to deal with. I was doing the race mainly for myself. I said last week, I don’t like doing do over races after I had a great day the week before. But, now 24 hours later, I’m okay with it. I got a bit stale waiting around the week. I’d do that differently next time. I wasn’t bad. I just wasn’t as good as the week before.
Now I’m sitting in Wisconsin. I drove the 1200 miles back to the midwest. Bromont needs to run in the woods some. I’m going to ride a couple races in Iowa City this weekend. Forecast is for rain.