Team Athletix Benefitting globalbike made their way up to Cambridge, NY for the 2012 edition of the Tour of the Battenkill this past weekend. Battenkill is a race notorious for its challenging sections of dirt roads and the twisting, hilly path it takes over 200 kilometers in upstate New York. This year the race was categorized as a UCI 1.2 race which attracted the best American domestic teams, the ProContinental teams UHC and Team Type 1, and even several European teams. The rest of the field was filled out with talented and hungry amateur teams like our own.
The roster for the weekend was Josh Whitmore, Simon Bennett, Jimmy Schurman, Coulton Hartrich, Shane Braley and myself (Christian Parrett). After meeting up in Greenville, Simon, Jimmy, Josh and I caravanned up the country towards NY. We were joined by our awesome support staff of Sara Jarrell, mechanic extraordinaire, and Sandy Krief, soigneur/feed zone support/dishwasher for messy hooligan bike riders.
After one night in Virginia we made it to NY Friday night and were joined by Coulton and Shane, who flew up from Florida. We were all able to relax, see parts of the course, and plan for Sunday. This was our teams first UCI race. However, Coulton and I were confident of a result as we’ve both accrued 17 days of UCI racing already this year, in even tougher fields than Battenkill would see, with generally good results. Shane was coming back from injury but has more experience than any of us. Simon, Jimmy and Josh weren’t as sure what to expect but are all very strong and experienced bike riders.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. Sunday I managed to slot myself towards the front fairly early. After the first dirt section I barged my way into the first 20 or 30 riders and had no problem making the early splits. No teammates were to be seen, unfortunately. I’d later learn this was due to flats (Jimmy, Shane, Coulton), sickness (Josh), and a crash (Simon). Eventually I saw Coulton, who worked his way into a small move. After it came back he suffered more flat troubles.
On the longest dirt road section the race exploded under pressure from Kelly Benefits and the numerous flats. I managed to make the front split of fewer than 20 riders. Several riders came back on but the lead group stayed small. Unfortunately, I suffered a slow leak in the front tire at this point. There had been so many flats that neutral service ran out of wheels, and the race caravan was minutes behind with the chaos in the peleton on the small roads. By the time I managed to get a wheel from our team car, I was well behind the group. Our team car tried to motorpace me back to the group, but the commisaire didn’t allow it, and that was my day over.
Overall, the race redefined the word “epic”. Out of the 170 starters, only 40 or so finished. The majority of teams including several of the large well funded professional team in the race did not finish any riders. Just getting to the finish line was proved to be a combination of luck, fitness, smarts, and just plain hard man racing.
With all of our days ended by some form of bad luck, we packed up and headed back to the Southeast. Sometimes bad days can be learning experiences. Sunday, we learned very little other than what to expect for the same event next year. It was just a simple case of bike racing being an unforgiving sport. However, if you can’t suffer through the bad days, you don’t deserve the good. We will be back starting in just over a week at the Joe Martin Stage Race.