Monday, April 11, 2011

Throwing the Dice: Tour of the Battenkill Cat 3 Grey

Philadelphia Ciclismo took a strong team of 6 to the 'kill in order to chase down that elusive victory in the most hyped up race all year.  I love the race. Mainly I feel  this way because I enjoy riding bicycles on uneven surfaces compounded by dirt and close proximity to 125 other equally minded dudes, but also because it’s just ridiculous. The entire town is basically shut down for the race. Battenkill consumes Cambridge, NY, I believe that is what I like most.
Unfortunately Ciclismo (and I) did not win the race. What I love/hate about Battenkill is that it is a bit of a crap shoot. The variables, (distance, equipment, dirt, pot holes, punctures, crashes, 125 other dudes, luck, or lack thereof) stack up to a long list of items you simply cannot control. Fortunately these things also allow for variability in the ultimate winner. The strongest guy doesn't always win a bike race.
The flow of the race also can break a riders chances. I believe thats what happened to me. For the second year in a row, my race felt impossibly hard on the climbs, yet relatively easy elsewhere. This is bad. I made the "selection" at the top of the harder climbs, but when the pace slowed, everyone we dropped would catch back on. 
I was almost dropped on Meeting House Rd. Technically at this point, 45 miles in, we were ALL dropped as our race leader and eventual winner had a 4 minute advantage on us.
The pace went ballistic on the long stretch of rollers. I struggled, badly, to keep it in line and tucked into the back of my group but I was for a few minutes, in danger of being dropped. I went pretty deep and hung on. 
Cyclocross tangent: I think I learned how to ride a sand pit a little better. At a speed of "spun out" I hit the patch of white sand on MHR and fishtailed as bad as anyone else. Well maybe not as bad as this unlucky bunch.
At the end of the section once again we resumed the gentle pace into the the last hard climb of the day, Stage Road. I knew I needed to do something here. Coming to town with the full bunch in tact wasn't going to help. 
A rider made a fantastic attack (from the left side of the road on a yellow line rule course) and went clear a mile before the climb. The attack was fantastic as attacking from the left gutter made it hard to cover the attack as nobody was allowed to ride on the wrong side of the road. I believe I called him an "assclown" and got a decent laugh from the bunch. 
When we hit the base of the climb, I upped the pace a bit. It flushed out the strong guys and honestly, it hurt me a bit. I hung on and by the top I had made the final selection. 6 guys with 4 miles left to the line... for 2nd...
By the time we got to the bottom of the decent the rest of the group was lingering behind us. We formed a pretty functional paceline in hopes of holding them off. 3 times through the rotation, and the group of 25 was all back together... going slow. Really slow. 
At 3k to go Mark Flis took his shot. He got a nice gap, and held it to 2k. At 2k I made a little jump to see if I could get any separation. I didn't 
As soon as Mark was caught at right before 1k to go, I tried again. This time I got separation. My attack worked. I was clear. I was clear right until the first of two corners where the wall of riders swamped me. Blown, I filtered back through the bunch, helpless to the inevitably of the sprint about to occur. 
I ended up 19th. Sad result for a race I wanted badly, but I am happier this year in 19th than last year in 7th, when I failed to play my strength. I threw the dice. 
 As always my family came out, including my Grandpa who gives more shit to wait staff and the general race population than you could imagine. Its hilarious. Lunch/DInner/ Whatever time it was when we ate, was amazing. The Cambridge Hotel serves Chicken and Waffles. What else needs to be said?


Anonymous said...

Hey I'm the ass clown! My attack was straight up the yellow line (or I meant it to be as far as I remember..) because it was getting really shitty rolling 16mph waiting for the sprint and I had nowhere else to go. Sorry if I pissed people off. You all caught me anyway..

Mike said...

It takes a brave man to admit when they are an Ass clown.
Kudos sir, Kudos.

Rolling along between climbs did suck. I can't say I blame you...

Sean said...

Now that is funny!