Do you ever have the nightmare where you show up to take a test and realize that you’ve never opened the text book nor gone to class, and you’ve also forgotten to get dressed? Yes? Well that was my experience in this year’s edition of the Battenkill when I signed up with my friend Skip Thomas in the CAT 1-4 35+.
It all started out pleasant enough with 41 guys rolling easy through a sunny 30 degree morning. Pleasant until the first 35 mph dash down through the Eagleview Covered Bridge and subsequent dirt section let us know that our race would be a test of who would be the strong man.
Test… Each technical section, each pitch, would lead to massive surges in and over the hills that were brutal and seemed calculated to keep blowing everything apart. But then on the flats everyone would sit up and regroup. The pace/style of racing continued to make withdrawals from my bank of winter training (you see, I thought I’d gone to class) and I made Perry Hill, Juniper Swamp, Route 64 . . . and although attrition had begun I was in the lead pack with the majority, and I felt in control.
Until my pants fell off at Joe Bean Hill (mile 27 http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3511335) and suddenly it was a little dark. But I worked with a few guys and caught back on just in time for the next climb. This happened over and over again – hill, dropped, furious chase, regroup, drop . . . each time losing something. Finally at Herrington Hill (mile 42), the strong men began to race and I found I had no clothes. I saw the peloton split and accelerate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD45k-BrSMU at over 700 watts and the nightmare was complete.
A few stragglers gathered, which I’d known from previous chases, and wobbled for the next 20 miles (thanks Johan and Steve). At one point the pace car for the 45+ leaders was just one corner behind, but we somehow managed to stay ahead and finish together for 20-22 place, and a little over 9 minutes off the leaders.
Looking at the results:
The attrition on our group was significant – especially compared to the other fields – no wonder it felt like hell.
Results for the M 35+ Open are better than expected, especially when compared with how many CAT 1 & 2 riders there were. I was the 4th CAT 4 rider finishing within 5% of the winner by time. So while I felt like I flunked, grading on the curve might make me try again next year.