Wednesday, September 8, 2010

2011 Tour of the Battenkill Course Preview

As promised, here's my take on the proposed 2011 Tour of the Battenkill course.  Dieter Drake and Andrew Bernstein took us around the new loop, which turned up at just over 63 miles per my odometer. 

The first 35 or so miles are unchanged from last year.  Following a 1k neutral start, the madness will begin on Rte. 313 as riders jockey for position ahead of the Eagleville Bridge coming around mile 5.  The narrow and slightly uphill lead-in to Roberson Rd., the first dirt section, will give the newbies pause, as they know IT is coming.  A soft landing on dirt and gravel begins the trademark dashes across raw earth between the relatively calm paved sections.  Tooth-rattling vibrations overtake the body as you dare to glance at the speedometer.  32mph, it says.  On dirt.  With 100 of your closest friends.

Once regrouped on Camden Valley Rd. the group's anxiety will build toward Juniper Swamp.  The smart racers will be at the front by mile 10 so as to be near the arrowhead once the rush up Juniper Swamp begins.  The steep, dirt hill will cripple those unprepared, and I predict another single-file line down the other side and into Shushan.  Fortunately, the descent is smooth and holds a gentle curve allowing nearly brake-free insanity.

The route is relatively calm until the assault on Joe Bean Rd. begins.  Last year, the peloton really shattered over Joe Bean as it has 6 or so 'humps' that make it feel like you're climbing stairs on your bike.  Ow.  Make it over these humps with the leaders and you had a good shot of recovering on the way into Greenwich before the feed zone. 

Significant, however, are the changes that follow. 

Last year, racers hung a hard right on 29 and zipped across several mundane miles of pavement until arriving in the town of Greenwich and a big, sweeping left turn toward the last feed zone.  That hard right on 29 came just after a wicked climb up Joe Bean Rd. and rapid descent along Bunker Hill Rd. to the dirt section of Ferguson Rd. 

According to Dieter, we'll hang a LEFT on 29 this year before taking what is probably a 100 degree right turn toward Carney-Cassidy Rd.  This new section, upon first glance, looks charming with its shady ambience and fine gravel.  Wrong.  Coming off of Joe Bean and powering down Bunker Hill and Ferguson is tiring, and the addition of a series of gravel hills (not unlike a dirt Joe Bean Rd.) on CC really tosses in the lactic acid.  Rest assured moves will be made here, as the views from the top will inspire the breakway artists who like to fight gravity.  Here's a peek of the start of CC Rd.  Innocent looking, eh?  Don't be fooled.  She goes up and up and up from there.  Better keep your head down and stay in the pack here or you might be lost and gone forever, son.

The remainder of the roads, as noted by Andrew, are less remarkable than the addition of Carney-Cassidy and serve just to get one back to the crown jewels of the course - Mountain, Becker, Meeting House, and Stage Roads.  Even with tired legs, these roads were a treat to ride with Andrew and Dieter, despite Dieter's bad luck with flats and a snapped derailleur cable.

The 2011 course, as it stands currently, will skip the town of Greenwich due to bridge construction.  Come next April, I might wish for that section of 29 again, but as of now I'm plotting my escape...

Big thanks to Dieter and Andrew for showing a couple of Carolina boys around a wicked course.  The 2011 edition of the race is sure to be interesting, and we all agreed the addition of the new section is an improvement, apart from the necessity of skipping the town of Greenwich. 

Verdict:  An American Classic gets even better with the addition of more of the same madness that makes the race so fascinating and challenging to begin with.  Registration opens in December, so grab some gusto and think hard about it. 

See you in April.


Anonymous said...

Looking forward to filming it.

Erich said...

Sounds great! Nice video.

Erich said...

Amazing how accurate I was in my forecast. I was lost and gone forever because I fell out of the group on C&C road...

TheTravelAngel said...

Good job by James at the end climbing the baby Devil at the WR Pond and following my wheel all the way back...


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