Here’s Ben’s report from Battenkill 2015 –
The weather for this round of Battenkill was a marked improvement on last year (where I got hailed on and fell off the bike in the sand), so I was a happy camper at the start line. Spent a little time chatting with Seth and Gerry from Green Line Velo and a gaggle of Blue Hills guys. Fortunately out of the 125 registered people in my field, only 90 showed up.
The first few miles were filled with some rather questionable riding from various brightly adored riders, especially after we passed a crash from the field in front of us. As we approached the Meeting House Rd climb, Seth went to the front to blow up the field with Gerry and I in close tow. He succeed. The group was quickly reduced from 90 to 30 as we crested the top. The eventual winner strung the group out on a short flat part, which was bad for me because I hadn’t fully recovered from the climb. Didn’t quite have a chance to catch my breath before we started up Stage Rd. Wasn’t able to hang with the pace over the second rise and saw the field vanishing in front of me. Mark from King Kog flew by and told me to grab on, we chased for a bit, but I started getting leg cramps and couldn’t help him any more. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we wouldn’t make it back on.
Mark and I swapped pulls for the next 15 miles wondering where everyone else was until we got picked up by a group of 30 right as the Juniper Swamp climb started. Was able to stay on the bike this year (major victory over yesteryear). Around mile 48 I was running low on water/salt but was saved by a crucial bottle handup from super-soigneur Ed. With this new found nourishment I was able to roll off the front of the trail group with 5 other guys at the top of Joe Bean. We pace lined into a punishing headwind for the rest of the race to make sure we didn’t get swept up.
After we knew we were clear we sat up a bit as the last climb approached. About mid way up my cramps returned and my hopes of sprinting for pride dwindled, but at least I could make sure I didn’t go backwards. Hung on with my lead-of-the-trail-group mates until I knew there was no chance of getting nipped from someone who had sat in for the last 67 miles. As I approached the finish I was able to make out screamed encouragement from Patrick and Ed. The commentators noted a broad smile on my face that couldn’t be helped. Would have liked a higher place, but I feel like I came in about where I should based on the competition.