Monday, April 20, 2009

Tour of the Battenkill Recap.

Cat 4 Black.
I ended last years Battenkill race report with the line “I would have loved to have been in that group when it all went to hell…” This year I was there each and every time the race went to hell.
Lauren and I traveled up to New York on Thursday night, after a ride that left my legs feeling like lead. Generally when I have a horrible ride one or two days before a race I feel amazing for the race, so I was actually pleased by all of this. Friday we worked from my parents house and after a quick visit to Pawling Cycle & Sport to pick up a roof rack for the new car,

left for Cambridge Friday night for a Saturday Start.
The weather in Cambridge threatened to be a factor as showers were forecasted for mid race. Lauren was prepared, as her boots are in fact, made for walking.

The 12 miles of dirt sections of the course were sketchy enough; the last thing I really wanted was to be sliding around in the rain for 2 hours. I did that last weekend. Here is a picture of me trying to look like a d bag.

This is the part where I try and remember what the heck happened. The race began with a mile neutral start through town and out to the main part of the course. The pace was social. I ended up riding with Luke from Cadence for a few minutes.

I think I started the conversation by calling him a sissy and telling him he had and ugly bike. He in turn told me I had an ugly bike, to which I replied that he was the individual that sold it to me, therefore it was somehow his fault. The pace was really calm for the first 20 minutes, then we hit the dirt. The first dirt section is a 17% dirt wall of a hill, not too long but very steep. We were moving on the climbs, by reviewing the power file there are some good chunks of 4b/ vo2 effort for 4 to 5 minutes early on. At mile 16 my teammate Rob is riding right next to me, he flats and has to sit up and wait for the wheel truck to take care of him. I was bummed to loose a teammate so early into the day but knew I still had two others to work with. The rain started around 25 miles in and made for some cold, wet slippery riding. Embrocation is a must. There’s nothing quite like doing 40mph + on a dirt road in the rain. This is where the first of three sketchy moments occurs. I’m riding toward the front as a rider in front of me ejects a bottle as he hits a pot hole. The bottle did the “guess which way I’m going to go” routine as I desperately tried not t hit it. At the last second I was able to juke around it and avoid a potential crash.
Sketchy moment number two came not too long after as I was 2nd or 3rd wheel down a dirt descent. I got slightly off the hard packed area of the road and my front wheel dug into the powdery soft dirt death trap that hung out right outside the prime line. I had to dab a foot at 25mph to stay up. I took a feed from Lauren at mile 40 which I needed, badly, being completely out of water and food. I still had two teammates around with me at this point as Brian and Jim were hanging tough.

Here comes a series of good or bad judgment calls on my part. Luckily I had strong enough legs to pay for whatever logic that may or may have not made sense of at the time. At mile 48 you hit a significant dirt climb, followed by a short dirt descent and another dirt climb. It’s the same stretch of road I flatted on last year, maybe this had something to do with what I chose to do here. We still had a large group of 30 to 35 riders together at this point and we all know I cannot sprint, which is what the finish was looking like. I decided to increase the effort a bit up the climb, I didn’t jump I just steadily applied some pressure in hopes of dragging out the field and maybe dropping of some of the group. Nobody responded, I peaked back and I had at least 50 meters on the group, which was fanned out across the road. I soft pedaled the downhill and allowed the group to catch back on. I applied the same tactic again on the next hill for two reasons, one, the reason I just discussed, thinning out the field, and two, A smart person would have countered my attack here, and I don’t know if I had the legs to take a 900 watt dig at them to catch back on, so I kept the tempo strong in hopes nobody would get bored and jump off the front. It sort of worked.
Here’s where it goes to hell. A few minutes later after a paved descent, three riders go off the front and get a gap. Nobody in my group wants to chase. We goof around for a few minutes, several mini attempts at pace lines start and fail, finally I look over at a rider on a red Cannondale who seemed interested in doing some work to catch the break. “Lets go shut this thing down right now” I yelled. He took the front and we took short pulls back and forth. I took a 1 minute pull right at low vo2 pace and then realized I had just pulled right to the base of the last (dirt) climb of the day. CRAP. The break was now within ten feet, I quickly sat up and let a few wheels get in front of me for the climb, I somehow managed to recover and ended up leading to the top of the ascent. I even managed to push the pace on the last 30 to 60 seconds. I lead the following dirt descent, rode the cleanest line that existed and set up for the final 2 miles of flat pavement into town. The group was now down to less that 12 people. The next mile was filled with 5 second attacks that got nowhere, people soft pedaling and a failed pacelines. I had no interest in a field sprint of even 12 so I looked for others who were like minded. With 1 k to go I knew I had to do something, I moved to the front and started drilling it. 1k is short enough for me that I can hold a high level of effort and maybe shake out some of the true sprinters. I got 2 other guys to help out and we were maybe down to 8 people. I was riding 3rd wheel into the last corner before the line, in perfect position… and here is where it really really goes to hell… and culminates in sketchy moment 3 of 3.
I am on the inside and admittedly am coming in a little hot to take this rain slicked off camber right turn. I sit up a little as the rider in front of my falters slightly. My back wheel skips once or twice and I start to lean into the turn. As I am about to let off the brakes the rider behind me clips my left side and his handlebars become wrapped around my left knee. We are locked together at 30mph. here comes the longest 10 seconds of my life. I unclip my left foot and it hits the ground. I am literally waiting to topple and fall, every time I started to fall to the right, the rider I was tangled with would pull me back up just a bit, I somehow managed the same for him. We slid to a stop past the intersection and looked at one another. We unclipped my leg, turned around, remounted, hooped a sidewalk curb and darted toward the line. I couldn’t clip my right foot into my pedal and he pipped me at the line for 7th or 8th.

After the finish we both stood in amazement as to how we stayed upright. My family from upstate were awesome and came out to watch me ride around for 3 hours. Apparently my grandpa was talking bs to everyone around telling them I was going to beat everyone and that I was a badass. Classic.

This is what my dishwasher looked like.

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