Somehow I let myself get talked into racing in the Tour of Battenkill. In hindsight it is kind of funny that I would let this be my first road race since the late 80’s. The night before the race I got pretty much NO sleep. It was partly nerves and partly one of the worst hotels I have ever stayed at.
The morning of the race I had a early breakfast while hoping that my race day stomach would calm down. We lined up for our race about 9 minutes before our start time, and it was a good thing that I had a friend lined up next to my. There were two quick runs to the restroom in that 9 minutes.
The second the race started I calmed down completely and quickly fell into the flow of the race. The first 10 miles was covered in a quick 24 minutes with two short punchy climbs. I have never been a great climber, so my plan was to try and be at the front going into the climbs and give ground slowly to stay with the group. My biggest concern was a 600 yard climb at 18 percent starting just before mile 12. I hit the climb sitting 4th or 5th wheel which was perfect. During the climb I was slowly giving up spots and before I knew it there was a gap between me and the group. What I didn’t know was that the first two climbs had torn the group to shreds. At the top of the climb the gap was about 25 feet between me and the last rider. I spent the next five miles trying to close that slowly growing gap. On the fourth climb starting at mile 18 someone was dropped from the group and I started working with them. By the top of the climb at mile 20 we had become a chase group of 4, but were still losing ground. There was another short steep dirt climb around mile 28 that ended any hope I had of getting back to the lead group. I was dropped by the chase group and ended up doing a individual time trial for the last 34 miles. In the end I was just over 30 minutes back from the winner, but only lost 5 minutes to the chase group by the end.
At the end I swore I would never do this race again. By time I got home 4 hours later I decided I could be talked back into it. The next morning I started looking at my training program to see what I needed to change to improve my performance next year. Yeah, I’m hooked.
Some of the funny things that happen during the race was the guy that just before I caught him on Wrights Road, he got off his bike and tossed it into the woods and walked off. There was another person bent over his bike, so cramped up he couldn’t move. I felt pretty bad for him because I was fighting cramps myself.
Next year …