Sunday, April 12, 2009

battenkill

no time for the blog, barely time to ride. been a touch burned-out the past cpl wks, riding in the cold just isn't doing it for me these days. i worked winter over pretty good, came into spring ready to ride, but just ain't into it right now and when i am, it ain't worth bragging about.

battenkill is next sat, pretty stoked about that. hoping 3wks of riding for half as much as planned has me "rested." course sounds awesome, i'll let the offical posting speak for itself. for now i'm hoping the battenkill breaks me out of this ride depression i got going-on. a cpl wks of sun and temps above 50 would help too!

Battenkill: 2009
By Anthony Mitchell
OK, so there is 1800 feet missing this time around. It has gone from 4500 in 2008 to 2700 feet of total
climbing in 2009. Guess what – It ain’t no easier. The added miles and the extra dirt changes the nature
of the course and you will probably be GLAD those 1800 feet are gone. Not as much climbing, but more
areas where the pitch goes into the double digits and more dirt to rob your momentum.
The first 10 miles are uneventful and with continuous but slight uphill pressure (maybe 1-2% average)
with an abrupt end to pleasantness with the mini-monster (400 meters, 18%) of Juniper Swamp
slamming you about mile 10. The race will viciously split at this point. Juniper Swamp is and always will
be a hallmark of the Battenkill. It can really knock you off your bike. Even if you have the legs to climb,
watch out – this hill has teeth and just might find another way to take you out of the saddle.
After the top of Juniper Swamp, the race really begins to sort itself out. There is 5 mile rolling down-hill
terrain that will keep working you hard on so as to not lose contact or even harder to catch on.
Everybody will be desperately trying to catch a wheel or maintain an advantage. Few large groups will
be coming off the crest and individuals will be strung out. Some will get back together, but this is a GC
influencing area of the course. Afterward, a steady and shallow 4-mile ascent sets you up for a lightning
fast downhill with a moderately severe s-turn in the middle. The pitch of this hill is enough to get you
over 50mph. Next to come is a 5-mile flat section that passes through the village of Salem where riders
can regroup and recover a bit. The road is flat enough to allow a small group to swallow up solo riders
unless they have a big advantage. DON’T BE A HERO HERE. Joe Bean Road is coming and you do not
want to be tired.
Mile 25 is marked by the curvy stair step 2.5-mile Joe Bean Road. This is a tough, tricky climb that can
easily deceive you into believing you are going to get a wee bit of rest when you see what appears to be
a break in the pitch only to realize you hit a false peak and the hill keeps pushing skyward. Many short
sections of between 12 and 15% grade can be found on this hill, each one taunting and insulting you. At
the top, you get a descent that is good pavement for a mile, then changes to dirt for the remaining two
[Ferguson Road]. History indicates that this road is a bit sandy and treacherous despite being relatively
straight. Potholes and loose gravel are waiting there just for you. From there, you are greeted by 10
miles of rolling downhill road into the village of Greenwich. Draft and recover. Let the heroes do the
work. It is easy to go fast here and everyone likely will be.
The village of Greenwich will be a short visit, with two left hand turns fairly close to each other. They
are both downhill, 90-degree turns. Opposing traffic is a huge concern here. Enjoy the spectators. They
seem to enjoy having the racers pass through.
We are now approaching the part that will challenge the weak minded rider’s mettle. It is going to hurt.
It is going to hurt a lot. You had better have had enough water and food by now, because it is officially
too late to do anything if you are in bad shape. You have just over a mile left before the pain begins.
Trust me, there is no guessing, you will know when it starts.
At about mile 40, you are taken behind Willard Mountain, where you are treated to shallow uphill
sections with steep risers every quarter to half mile. For a brief moment there is pavement but when it
switches back to dirt on Mountain road, even the downhill portions are work – they are technically
demanding and can ruin the day of an inexperienced or tired rider. Stay focused. Taking a corner going
downhill on dirt can get a bit nasty. The entire portion at this part of the race demands every bit of
focus you can muster.
Mile 50 by the topography seems to get easy - - Not So Fast! There are a few difficult spots to navigate
that will test your nerve and your skill. Speed on a descent can easily be lost when you slam into a tree.
Sharp technical drops and corners keep it tense. Don’t even think you are getting a break when the road
turns downward. There will be a two miles of easy stuff in a bit, but be afraid, be very afraid. What is
next is not too much by itself, but after what you have been through, it is enough to have a rider seeing
stars.
The final climb at Stage road (55 miles in) starts with a very rude reminder that you are racing the
Battenkill. The beautiful image of the covered bridge you just passed is ruined by an instant 15% grade
up a dirt hill. This is Stage Road. Stage Road follows the format of uphill pressure (3-6% average)
littered with 50 meter of 10-15 %+ grade. There are six or seven repeats of this before getting to the
top. Where the road isn’t dirt, it is rough. You are always working. The weak will perish here. Do not
be surprised to pass racers who took off earlier and bonked. This final hill is going to make big changes
in the GC.
The final descent is consistent, non-technical and on good pavement. It is fast and straight. If you have
energy left, meter it closely, and hold the best speed you can. There are 5 miles left. Time Trial if solo or
hold a wheel if not. One small rise will greet you at the bottom, but that is it. It is time to go for it.
Finish strong and try to look good. Win or not, you accomplished something just by finishing strong.
The one thing that can be said about this course, it definitely is worthy of the reputation the Tour of the
Battenkill has developed over the past few years. Those wanting an early season challenge will not be
left cold. Come prepared and pour your heart out. The challenge, the character and even the cruelty
are definitely, definitely worth the effort.

2 Comments:

At 4/15/2009 7:07 AM, Blogger Andy said...

BRUTAL! I was half wishing to have an excuse not to ride it. but now that I do I'm half wishing to be there instead of working Saturday! Sorry Jeffy...have a safe race and tear some legs off! I'll phone you later.

 
At 11/25/2010 11:30 PM, Anonymous Molly said...

A short post from a commenter for the first time; thanks for all the time put into your blog! It's great reading

 

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