Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Show

We (meaning my team, Spooky/NCC/Kenda Elite Cycling) finally got the official invite to the Pro Men's invitational race at the Tour Of The Battenkill, to be held on 4/19. This race has grown, thanks to the efforts of founder and promoter Dieter Drake, from a small but cool regional affair in 2005, to one of the larger and more talked about amateur bike races in the US. This year, in addition to the amateur, Juniors, and Masters category races to be held on Saturday 4/18, there will be an additional pro men's race on Sunday.

The race has grown (in)famous for its extended sections of dirt roads, steep climbs and beautiful scenery winding through the towns of Salem, Cambridge, Greenwich and Eagleville in Washington County, NY. For those of you not from these parts, that's basically the same thing as Southern Vermont, and it's beautiful country.

In addition to being 200+ kilometers this year, (an actual distance of just over 126 miles) the pro men's race will include most of the top domestic professional teams in the US. There will be riders who have ridden in the grand tours of Europe; riders fresh off the Tour Of California, and many, many guys who have won many, many pro-level races--in short, it is quite likely that it will be the hardest and most legitimate bike race I ever participate in. For those of you who follow cycling, some of the teams that will be there include OUCH pb Maxxis (rumor has it Floyd Landis himself will be there), Colavita, Rock Racing, Bissell, Kelly Benefits, BMC, and every other elite amateur team in the Northeast. 200 riders in all, and none of them are chumps.

If you live within driving distance of the race, I strongly recommend coming out to spectate. It is going to be the coolest thing to happen to bike racing in this part of the world since the Tour De Trump in the 1980's. And I remember those days, in fact a stage of that race, some time around 1988 was the first bike race I ever saw up close and personal. It definitely left an impression.

So it's a pretty cool full circle for me, considering that the first Battenkill Roubaix, as it was then called, in '05 was my third bike race ever. I was a category 5 racer then, brand spanking new to the sport, having just quit smoking cigarettes and lost 70 pounds over the course of the previous seven months. I took 2nd place in the race, winning the small group sprint from what was left of the shattered field and if I had had the nerve to follow the guy who soloed in for the win, I quite possibly would have won the race. Woulda coulda shoulda, that's beside the point. But it was that day, still surprised to discover that I could possibly be good at this sport that I started to believe in myself a little bit and think maybe I should keep at it and see what I could do. My attitude today is more or less the same, I just do longer races against faster guys.

Today was my first real rest day in awhile, following 25 hours on the bike this past week, Sunday-Saturday and ~440 miles. I'm not sure how ready I am to take my racing up a level, but I'm getting near to being as ready as I can be.


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