By Mike Burris, Burris Logistics – Fit Werx Team Director
I attended the Tour of the Battenkill as a spectator this year and as a support to the few Burris Logistics/Fit Werx riders that participated. One thing is for certain: it is a hard “bleep” race. I did enjoy watching and photographing, but I did feel a bit weenyish for not racing. Results for our crew were mixed. It was such a fantastic day that the pain was almost enjoyable (so I’m told). Below is a race recap from Tim Noel who raced in the Category 3 men’s field and from Jessie Donovan. Jessie had the best day by far, coming in 4th in the Categoy 3 women’s field!
Time Noel: No matter my earlier season training regimen, whether I try to get an early peak for the Battenkill or just train through it, my result is always worse than expected and the level of suffering during the Battenkill is always greater than expected. This year was no different. I went into the race with less preparation than last year however, I felt satisfied with my level of fitness for this time of year and a goal to stick with the peloton to at least Joe Bean Hill – about the mid-point of the race.
The race started out at a mellow pace, enough to consider it a good warm-up for what was about to come. After hitting the first covered bridge, things started to pick up and I was satisfied with my position in the peloton until we hit the first climb – Juniper Swamp Road. As is typical on Juniper Swamp, I quickly found myself off the back and struggling to catch back on. Fortunately, there were numerous others in my position and we quickly formed up a chase group and got back onto the peloton. No sooner did we make the catch than we hit the next series of climbs on County Road 64 – after which I was off the back a second time. Again, I was not alone and began another chase with 5 other riders. We kept the peloton in sight for a while but were unable to bridge the gap this time. We worked well together over Joe Bean Hill however broke apart upon at about mile 40 after being over taken by the field that started behind us. After this point, I was able to ‘enjoy’ the remaining miles in a solo effort, on a glorious spring day.
Jessie Donovan: Battenkill was everything a race should be, so much fun, so hard and an all out effort all the way to the line. The first 20miles were uneventful, stayed at the front of the pack and tried to figure out if I was strong enough compared to the other women to organize a break. Coming from a triathlon background I’m always looking for an opportunity to break away with a smaller group as soon as possible. I know I can go hard for a long time but I have A LOT to learn about the tactics of bike racing.
I decided to really push the pace over the top of the 2nd big climb and about 15 girls came with me. The 15 quickly became 6 after the climb up Joe Bean Rd. and the group of us really pushed the pace through all the rollers. I was feeling strong but it was clear that a few of the women were stronger on the hills while I was strongest on the flats. When we got to Becker Rd. my left quad seized up and it was everything I could do to get over the top of the hill trying to use only my right leg, if only I’d done more of those one legged drills I am always reading about maybe I wouldn’t have lost quite so much time. The front three women were way ahead but I was able to work my way back up through the flats before the final climb.
I approached the final climb conservatively, wanting to make sure I had plenty left to really push it on the downhills and flats into town, looking back I was a bit too conservative, the last climb is really pretty mellow compared to some of the other hills out there. I was probably about 2mins back from the 3rd place girl on the top of Stage Rd. and I worked hard to catch her on the downhills and flats and got her with 3km to go. I don’t have much practice with the whole sprint finish thing and what to do when so I just kept going while she sat comfortably on my wheel. We rounded the final corner and I sprinted for the line as she came around my side and beat me to the line by an inch.
The pace we held was impressive, the CAT 3 women posted a faster time than the Pro women which was an indication of just how hard our little group was pushing. Lessons learned, learn how and when to sprint for the line. That’s what I love about bike racing, there’s so much to learn and each race I come away with a little bit better understanding of how it all works. I can’t wait to race again, it’s just so much fun!
Check out the photo gallery from the Tour of the Battenkill on Flickr.