Saturday, April 13, 2013

1st race for Py of 2013 -- Tour of the Battenkill 2013 -- patience!

After a stressful and very wet "two car convoy" drive up to Cambridge, NY including heavy flooded roads, major splashes of water from truck to be blinded out for seconds... snow covered cars in sight later, a touch of sleet in the air -- ugh??? -- a last minute stop at a bike shop as one GAB reconsidered full fingered gloves... and a few more essentials. The sides of the road turned slightly white and a unexpected nasty salty spray turned cars dirty -- including Mike&Owen's bikes which were kept on a hitch rack.

Arriving on Cambridge by about 2pm. Wet, chilly, but it stopped raining. Number pickup. And a little looking around. Finding some of the great Battenkill Chocolate milk :) Only downside -- no proper sized T-shirt, taking a small over XL.

Then heading on to Salem, "Beattie Inn", a quite very nice and remote place the team is stying now since 2009??.

Mike and Owen started taking care of there bikes... a little chilling out on the couch, watching some randomly running bike race (Bask/Pyrenes/Spain?? some thing in wet conditions -- what an irony). Then Py started preparing dinner.


Owen already pinning numbers... next morning getting ready. Still pretty wet after little more light rain at night. But the temperature slowly came up into the 40ties, not to bad and the sky lightened up a bit as well :)
Also some rumors the road and dirt conditions were good and fast.


Four GABs Eric, Mike, Owen and Percy signed in for the Cat4A 40+ race and lined up at the staging area. Due to conditions and what so even, skipping any warmup, hoping for a slow start as so often.

[[ hopefully a few race pictures to be found and inserted later here ]]

Py had honestly no big expectations this year due to a less ideal preparation, travel and prolonged cold symptoms, just did what was reasonable and possible.

But lets review how things developed now.

The race rolled out neutral and fairly slow pretty much all the way to the first turn towards the covered bridge to get things rolling a bit. Sitting some where in mid pack with team mates. No dedicated plan but exercising the usual strategy to be up front before hitting any key sections and staying there, then tuck back in to conserve.

This simple plan in mind some how it worked out smooth and with ease rolling up navigating through and around the field to top ten just before hitting the 1st turn towards the bridge. This is good, ideal line to turn, plenty of safe space, no need to catch up on. Passing the bridge with a little wohoo... LoL :-)

Immediate right turn speeding up a notch towards the first dirt section. Hard packed like concrete and smooth, few little minor hole easy to avoid, no issues with flying bottles. Good.

Was it me or the field going only at moderate gas? Floating up and down the obviously nicely smooth and fresh paved road section toward. may be the smooth road? Up and over the first climb near front. Then a fast short downhill with following slight right hand bend -- never been an issue but some how sensing trouble ahead, some screaming, a crunching sounds a tire pop and bikes flying into the air just a few bike length ahead... good to have left a little more room and finding a emergency path around the mess, slowing carefully, navigating around on the left side soft shoulder off-road between a tree and other riders flying... woo, that was close, glad to be back on pavement without putting down a foot! Let go hang on and get out of this. All four team mates found back together, good to know every one made it around just fine. Not sure how many that left behind.

Just past this left hand turn into the 2nd dirt section towards the steepest but short Juniper Swamp Rd dirt climb. Moving up OK, keeping power down moderate as here usually not much happens. A little field stretch out but not for long. Moving on, staying up near front. The lead car in sight all the time. Merging up with front few riders one guy a little dangling up front with a gap, field going slow behind. As there was nothing really coming up a for a while moving up a bit slowly closing up to this rider. Everyone is going now with good caution, may be still a little scared by the previous incident. Taking the following short fast decent from up front with plenty of room. Still a few miles to go until hitting Joe Bean Rd -- the possible longest climb, but paved. Still up near front, moving up a little more. Watching riders dropping back, mostly riding wheel on wheel with the obviously dominating climber(s) of the field. Still feeling good, not even near limits. Watching the developments. But nothing really -- there were most likely a few riders dropped off behind, but the main field only got stretched and re bunched at the flats. Some what disappointed, but there is more to come. Good and safe up front able seeing and finding the best line on dirt roads avoid any trouble. A few muddy and slick spots, but no big deal at any time. Flying on hard packed dirt is always fun! Ferguson Rd. Passing a few towns, minor rollers, dirt and pavement sections, but nothing really happened. Mostly fairly slow going. Not sure how this is going to unfold -- mass finish? -- very unfavourable for Py.

Still up front, even feeling comfortable taking turns with the few top riders, surely not over doing it, but putting a notch power on at times going up.

Passing the feed zone two.

At some point we were approaching the Meeting House Road, but no big deal, not sandy, hard packed. Still no break happening. Hmm.

OK, fast run down the roads, last 20k. Still seams a fairly big field behind.

The pace may be upped a notch, but not much. OK, there will be one final dirt climb to show off after a fast road decent turning left into the section towards Stage Rd. Up front. Good. not sure what this was about, for some reason a brief neutralization, may be because of traffic/other team cars mix ups (!?!??! odd) why here damn. OK this resolved, stepping on the gas with a few riders. Some how four riders got a little gap just ahead the 5th guy Py was on/ahead with. A little chase (or not chase:( ) group of 7 riders formed and got finally Yes!!! got a gap and left the big bunch behind. Guys...., let's keep that up and build on it -- some 10k to go -- go go go! A little struggle of position to manage any organized move. However taking a little initiative with two other riders (thanks, good job!!) Py did a good part of this... we pretty much kept the little lead group in sight. Managed to solidify the gap behind and moved into town. A final sprint put Py to 8th.

At that point not exactly sure what place, but finding out soon.

Team mates rolling in just little later. Good job every one brining this home.



Post race thoughts about participating in the Championship race, but after looking into it figuring this "quick" 22miler next morning of all Cat 4's top riders less suited and disregarding the idea. Also was not able to figure out details about the route.

Then just packing up and going for the long journey back home, taking 22 South via Mass Tpe to the Taconic Park Way -- a very scenic and relaxed near traffic free drive! Stop at a old friend not seen for near 10 years on the way who is now temporary living in White Plains. Figured the small shirt fit's one of his kids! Also good, hope they like it.

Late home some time close to midnight.

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