Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cadence Battenkill Reconnaissance Ride

Well this weekend we got to experience the Battenkill course in the best and worst conditions, 60 degrees with sun and 45 degrees soaking wet. This course will be hard under perfect conditions and down right carnage if it is wet.

Saturday we were greeted with beautiful skies and 60 degree temps. If not for the pre-loaded map on my trusty Garmin 705 we would have had some problems given my nack for passing by the correct route. Even with the Garmin the distractions of a fun group caused me to miss a couple turns. For a new group of riders I was shocked at how well everyone performed double and single pace lines. There were some occasional etiquette mistakes which we talked about later that evening but overall I was very impressed with how the group riding went.

The course is everything that the website details, a leg burning grind fest on less than stellar roads. This was exemplified by one of our clients. After cramping near the end of the ride an anonymous rider in our group took advantage of a head start on the last major climb. We came around the corner to find him squatting behind his bike in the middle of the road, as if trying to hide from the hill’s evil. He was unable to stand because his quads had gone into full tetanus! After 10 minutes of crouching they relaxed enough to climb back on the bike and he was able to make it over the rest of the climb (compact gearing next time Ryan, take it from Charlie… ;)

In dry conditions the dirt road sections were not all that bad minus a couple 30-60 yard swaths of “golf ball” sized gravel that layered the road way like sprinkles on frosting (except for Meeting House Road…a proper nasty dirt road just as you would imagine it). Hopefully these gravel sections will be
cleared by race time because race speeds they are
nearimpossible to race over. News flash, flats will be a factor. We had 7 total flats in our 2 days and one pair of cleats that needed some screw swapping. Fast speeds and loose stones will make ill chosen tires pay the price. My Hutchinson tubeless made it unscathed through the weekend and performed like champs on all road conditions. In most categories the Juniper Swamp road will be a selecting point but the climbs just before are no joke. Even though they are paved the downhill after is short and if a group gets a gap you better close it quick because Juniper will come fast. If it is all together after Juniper it may come down to a race of attrition as this course will surely suck the life form your legs in “Baton March” fashion. There really is no easy part of the course. You are up or down and on the flat and rolling sections there always seems to be wind blasting you in the face. A small break will have a hard time if it is windy in the middle of the course. Watch out for the descent off of Joe Bean Road. This is where we got 3 flats within 15 minutes. The Willard climb is not so bad but a fast pace will make you hurt and if your legs are hurting here attacks on Meeting House may be the deathblow. If you are a small group going into Meeting House the initial climb is a good opportunity but after that you might as well wait for Stage road to deal the pain. Six stair-steps up this climb and you are home free. The run in is flat and seemed to be the only place on the course with a tailwind, perhaps the only reward for a long hard day in the saddle for many riders!

Sunday was a chance to experience the course all wet, and we rolled out just as it poured. It was not long before getting comfortable but in low 50 degree temps and steady rain it’s riding a fine edge teetering on “just bearable” and “lets go home”. The pace was spirited to keep the blood flowing and the only thing that could ruin it was stopping for a flat...Murphy’s law rules at the Battenkill. After 10 minutes of standing in the rain we got going again and this was the worst part of the ride. At least the Mad Alchemy embrocation kept the legs feeling toasty, if only a placebo, thanks Dave! But we soon got the blood flowing and the rain lessened. Even in the dry the roads seemed to suck your wheels into the earth but in the wet you created ruts and had to negotiate sections of quick sand that virtually slowed you to a stop. For anyone doing the Pro 1 or 2 race the initial “extra” loop may sort things out from the start if it is as wet as it was today. However, as was explained to me later this was a “dark” road and just thawed out from the winter so there has been little traffic this year. By race day the sand should be a little more packed. In the wet the traction was not so bad going up the hills but you had to push even harder because of the “road suck” and on this climb the road “sucked hard”.
Wet or dry the race will be hard, but pray for dry.

Thanks for the great company and riding Dave, Bruce, Bryce, David, Kristan, Ryan, Bryan, and Charlie. Many thanks to Christine Hoffer at the Rice Mansion Inn for helping with the weekend, it was an exceptional place to stay and I highly recommend it if you ever come to Cambridge!

1 comment:

  1. Cycling is a grueling sport ,And one follow the appropriate rules and regulation or proper coaching and training !!!
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