Monday, September 6, 2010

We're Back.

Barry and I are fresh back from NY.  Well, not really fresh as last night's campsite didn't have any showers.  Regardless, what a killer trip.  To say that the weather, the vistas, or rides were anything but spectacular is a crime.  Hurricane Earl stayed away, temps dropped into an autumnal range, and the new folks we met are genuinely kind. 

I'll sum up the trip briefly here, then return in a day or two with a full preview of the 2011 Tour of the Battenkill course.  Dieter Drake, race director, was beyond gracious in his invitiation to show us around the 2011 course. Changes for next year, as judged from my saddle, are significant in effect if not in size.  More to come...

As for the trip, my lovely sister-in-law offered up her Manhattan apartment as our 3/4-way house, allowing us to break up the trip and enjoy a wonderfully schizophrenic combination of city and country.  We enjoyed the surreal views from her balcony and the flavors of Little Italy.

The next morning, we picked up the car from the parking garage.  Let it be known that if we were to park a car at said garage for one month, we would owe them roughly $340.  What is the fee for two bikes, I wonder?

Nevermind that, we had miles to make.  We hooked up with Dieter and Andrew (Andrew Bernstein is from the excellent Goodbye Blue Mondays blog, among other sports-related publications) at the Cambridge Hotel at high noon.  The plan: Recon the course and, if we survived, offer some feedback on the changes for 2011.  Currently, Dieter plans to release the full details of the course and host a supported pre-ride in October. 

Our Cat 2 guides were kind enough to show some mercy on us, and we returned the favor (tongue in cheek, here) when Dieter suffered two flats and a broken rear shifter cable around mile 40. 

This was cruel fate for yours truly as I pulled out of the 2010 edition of this race with - that's right - a broken rear shifter cable at mile 40.  Now I have the pleasure of watching Dieter finish off the course with relative ease in his 11-tooth cassette.  I'll just chalk it up to it being his home turf. 

We finished off the ride and hit up the Cambridge Hotel for lunch.  Great food and cold beer to boot.  The four of us killed a pile of nachos then wolfed down some burgers.  Andrew had to get back to work, while Barry and I needed to get to our campsite and settle in.  As a side note, we 'greased' this whole deal by agreeing to bring some Duke's mayonnaise north of the Mason-Dixon.  I won't name names here, but someone in the Drake family really likes the stuff.  A parting shot from the historic Cambridge Hotel.

Once back at the campsite, we pitched tents and built a fire.  The skies cleared off and the temps dropped significantly, right into perfect camping weather.  We sat for a long while, reviewing the day and laughing at the near-death experiences and ripping-fast descents. 

The next morning, we hit up the roads around Cambridge, Shushan, and even a bit into Vermont for a spin before heading south.  Barry and I were to be found full of oatmeal and french press coffee.  We had time to revisit the first three dirt sections of the course before making tracks back to the south.  A quick shot as we rolled out for the Sunday morning spin, sporting our new lids.

Now pressed for time, we grabbed a quick lunch at the Cambridge Hotel and headed south.  Our journey coming to an end, we reflected on the trip.  So much can be said for the warm welcome we received in Cambridge, and riding the course with the race director was an experience to savor.  Andrew's perspective made for fascinating discussions on the race and cycling as a whole, and Barry is a rockin' road trip partner. 

Tonight, we're back in NC - but already thinking of the journey that will come again next spring.  Until then, there will be many cold days and nights, sessions on the trainer, dietary modifications, gravel grinds and heart rate monitoring. 

We can't wait.


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