Monday, April 12, 2010

Tour of the Battenkill

The 2010 Tour of the Battenkill is in the books, and despite all the hype and pre race ranting along the interwebs regarding the promoter, it turned out to be a very well run and well attended event.
Philadelphia Ciclismo fielded a 5 man team in the Cat 3 Green Race. We had several plans going into the race, but for the most part everyone had a role to play and a chance for glory. We were confident as a squad with our abilities and were pleased to be grouped with some tough teams to compete against.

Joey and Jamie hung out at my parents house in Brewster Friday night and after my mother stuffed us with coffee, breaded items, and fruit we headed up to the great north to meet up with teammates Chris and Dan.

Upon our 11 am arrival my sister Emily, Lauren, and Greg immediately sought out the beer tent. The group congregated and decided quickly that the 20 mph west wind was going to mess pretty much any hopes of a predictable race up completely.
We warmed up and hit the start line. Before we knew it, the gun had sounded and the peloton headed out for a very nervous 5 miles.
Constant break checks and a few people run off the road were standard for the first half hour. Chris and I tried desperately to move up a bit in the pack before the first dirt section, however our efforts were limited by a (at times enforced) yellow line rule.
The team rode close until climb 1, 10 miles in. We all sag climbed keeping with the plan of hiding out until the real fireworks went off. The theme of the race for the first 30 miles seemed to be sprint up every climb, then let whoever was dropped catch back on as the riders who made the selection refused to work to try to stay away.

Everything was pretty calm until feed zone 2.
I took a feed from Lauren and ended up dropping the musette bag before I could get my bottle out…
Luckily Dan had a spare bottle and was able to give me the hand off.
We made it over the famous Meeting House Rd. section without drama. Climbing at mach 3 and then bombing a dirt descent at 45 mph was fairly drama free. The dirt roads were in the best condition I have seen them in the 2 times I have done this race, very hard packed and fast.
The pace dropped dramatically at times, almost to the point where the entire field was soft pedaling. Joey got sick of it and moved to the front to bring us back to race pace. This is a moved that ultimately helped me as it cause a bit of a split and got us all moving again and a reasonable pace. We held a steady tempo into the last climb where Dan pulled me up through the field and delivered me right to the base of the climb. I forget his exact words, however he said something to the effect of “ Go get it Festa, god bless.” I knew I was by myself now so I just stayed in the line of 20 or so riders sprinting up this dirt road climb at 15 mph. I knew gaps would start to happen so I was mindful and leap frogged a few people to make the lead group. By the top of the climb, there were only 7 of the original 120 riders left. We flew down the descent, then hit the flat 4 mile run up into town. My group worked together pretty well, but still 4 other riders bridged back up, one of them Gerry from Bicycle Therapy whom I had a bet for beer with pending on finishing position. Joey had made the first chase group and did his best to slow it down enough that they wouldn’t catch us. The sketchiest moment in the race for me came here, I moved out to the left to move around a rider in the final kilometer and a rider on my left side brushed my bars as he was doing the same positioning move to me. I swear my bars went 90 degrees sideways for a second, but we only wobbled a bit and stayed up.. at 30 mph. Everything is a bit of a blur. We barreled into the last turn, where I slide out last year playing human Jenga with another rider… Boom, there it was, 200m to go. I unleashed my sprint, my legs screamed as I tried desperately to hang on. 1 or 2 riders came around me, and then Gerry pipped me right at the line for the beer bet! (and 7th place). If I had half of Craig Lebair’s town line grabbing sprint, I would have won going away( I heard Craig also crashed winning a sprint this weekend though so maybe I am happy I didn’t have it.) My teammates all finished which is a great accomplishment considering the attrition in the race. The teamwork we demonstrated translated into a good result and for that I am extremely grateful and happy. High fives from Cousin Logan.
After the race we hung out a bit and enjoyed the weather. Later we went to a local bar where my Aunt Donna was to have a surprise 60th Birthday party. It was great to see my upstate NY family and eat some good food and drink some good beer. Being this the first race of the season for me, I forgot how bad your legs felt after. The joy of a good result quickly faded and the soreness set it, hard. I am sure I forgot something cool. I'll have to update it later with what I forget. Thanks for reading.

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