2011 Tour of the Battenkill

Today was the fourth time that I’ve ridden the Tour of the Battenkill. The Horst Engineering Cycling Team had a great turnout. Our squad consisted of Arlen Zane Wenzel, Spike McLaughlin, Mike Wonderly, Pat Cunningham, Gerry Clapper, Paul Nyberg, and me. We all raced the 64-mile (102km) Masters 30+ event. Battenkill had a ton of races as usual. The race started five years ago, but has exploded in popularity thanks to the unique and challenging course.

I don’t get the Battenkill bashers. Some folks refuse to race the event. Sure, the $95 entry fee is steep and you can ride those same roads at no cost, but there is still something special about going to a big race. I had my best Battenkill to date, which was surprising. Arlen was our strongest rider and we rode to support him. The truth is that the rest of us road to survive, but Arlen was riding in the front group up every climb.

Gerry succumbed to a puncture at mile 10. Pat stopped to help him. The two of them spent the next 54 miles riding in various groups. Spike also came off early and he road with a small group for much of the race. Paul, Mike, Arlen, and I stayed with the main field for most of the race. Paul, Mike, and I got popped off the back of the field after every significant climb, but we hung on long enough so that we could chase back on the descents. This happened at least five times. The nine dirt road sections were awesome. One new section caught me by surprise, but fortunately, I was well positioned going into the climb and was able to fade back and stay in touch with the group. I hung tough on the big asphalt road climbs as well.

However, bad luck struck again at mile 42. Arlen punctured and drifted back through the field. He called for a front wheel, so I stopped and gave him mine. He tossed his to the ground. I picked it up and planned to wait for the next neutral support vehicle. A car pulled up while he was struggling to get my wheel on to his bike. I noticed that his front tire was not flat after all. Then he realized it was his rear tire that punctured. He got a rear from the mechanic. I put his front wheel on my bike and we both started chasing, but the two-minute gap was my doom. Arlen took off like a shot in hot pursuit of the field and nearly connected. He passed a lot of riders who were spread out over the course after the last few climbs, but didn’t get to the front. He did pass Paul and got up to Mike’s group and they finished together.

I rode alone for a long time before finally hooking up with a small group of riders. We stayed together until the final climb and then we split up again. I was bummed that I didn’t get a chance to try to hang on with the main peloton, but I’m glad I was able to help Arlen out. That is what a domestique does for the team leader!

We all had a good time and several of us showed positive form, which bodes well for upcoming races. I was happy to survive a bike race. I haven’t raced on the road much in recent years due to my focus on triathlon and trail running. Battenkill is a race that I don’t plan to miss. The course intimidates some, but I thrive on it. The country side of eastern New York State is gorgeous. We had nice sunshine today, which made the cool temperature feel warmer. There was snow in spots, but not on the course. It has been a long winter and the roads (both dirt and asphalt) were in disrepair. Frost heaves and plowing weren’t kind to them. That just adds to the fun.

Race Results

1 Response to “2011 Tour of the Battenkill”

  1. 1 2014 Bimbler’s Bash | Life Adventures Trackback on 6 April 2014 at 7:09 pm

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