Battenkilled then Battenchill
It is a bit strange to think that just a handful of years ago the Tour of Battenkill was the biggest race on the East Coast: an early season marker whose prestige was sufficient to motivate long hours on the trainer in January. In many ways it shaped the entire opening weeks of the season as tri-state area cyclists would brave brutal weather in February and March in the aim of being fit in time for Battenkill's early April arrival. For a whole variety of reasons the event evolved into something different and eventually left the USAC format altogether. We recently came across images from the 2015 edition and rescued the original journal entry associated with them from our old team site. In the words of former team member Ollie Davis:
The Tour of the Battenkill might be my favourite race. For anyone that’s not familiar with the event, it’s an early season road race that plays out in some beautiful countryside in upstate New York, around the area traversed by the Battenkill River. The thing that makes the race so unique is that it incorporates dirt roads – 7 dirt sections over 11 miles of the race in total. The dirt sections make the race – and depending on the weather deliver a more or less brutal edition. 68.2 miles of rolling roads + short steep climbs + potholed dirt roads + chocolate milk for the winners (really) = a pretty good day on the bike.
Anything can happen in this race, and more than most races having some luck and avoiding technical issues is important. Road bikes can get smashed up pretty well on the dirt sections. Derailleurs explode. Spokes break. Cleats fail. Punctures – especially – abound. I’ve always used clinchers, but this was the first year I’d used the tubular version of Vittoria Pave’s, this time mounted on the team's Lightweight wheels. It was a pretty fantastic combination, somehow smoothing out the dirt sections significantly, and it didn’t hurt on the climbs either.
In an exceedingly hard race twelfth place meant unfortunately no chocolate milk for me this year, but we followed up the races on Saturday with a day of Battenchill on Sunday. We cruised the beautiful backroads upstate under blue skies, stretching our tired legs from the prior day's race. After that we took in a bit of the Elite Men’s race with some of the locals. All in all a great weekend on the bike with the squad.