When I lined up with the Masters 50+ field at Battenkill this Saturday, I knew it would be hard . . .for everyone. Without excessive details, and after a good night’s sleep and a gentle recovery ride today, here are some thoughts:
- This is the second time that I’ve done the race. And yes, it is a sufferfest, but a great one. A well-organized, well-marshalled affair and certainly a hard distance that if nothing else is a good start to spring…or summer.
- Even on hard nights at the NHIS with NHCC and other folks, and even on hard group rides, it is not often that I can replicate the effort at Battenkill or these longer races. The thing is just too hard to imitate elsewhere. That’s why this event is great, actually.
- I raced my race – hanging in with a big group and then a smaller group, and then racing and trading off with another rider. I knew the strongest (and there were many) would be far off the front once we crested Juniper Swamp Road, and my goal was to ride with a group – any group – and hang with them. The goal was somewhat met even though it would have been better to have been with more than one other rider in the field at mile 48.
- I wanted to be near the front for the first covered bridge, and I was, probably about 30 to 40 places back, so that felt like an accomplishment.
- Battenkill is a race of “self-selection.” [My wife kiddingly says “self-delusion.”] Simply put, over 150 of us sat by our computers at 7 pm on December 21 waiting to register. Ergo, this Cat 1 to Cat 4 group of 50+ came ready to ride and race hard.
- I made a major mistake not taking the water for the field at the first feed zone in mile 22. I was feeling inside out and was almost out of my Gatorade-water combo by the next feed zone in mile 48. There was no water “at the moment,” someone said to me (was I supposed to wait a moment?). I always feel better when I eat and drink and I knew then that I was totally approaching the dehydration zone. Something I should have thought about in advance, but mercifully…
- Just at mile 50 on a downhill dirt section my front tire pinched and, bingo, “pssst,” here was the flat I had wanted to avoid. But I was spent at that point, so I took my sweet time changing the tube - I admit – about 20 minutes, and then took my time revving up again where I joined another in my field and we rode to the finish.
Total ride time: 3:24 – a shade over 18 mph, but it took me 3:44 to do the course. About 4000 ft. of climbing. 62 miles. A lot of good dirt sections that were deep in places.