Saturday, March 21, 2009
Today, three of us old guys got together and made an hour drive north to Cambridge, NY to pre-ride the Tour of Battenkill course. Artie Gee, Q and I got an early start and left the Cambridge High School parking lot under brilliant sunny skies but bitter cold temps in the low 20's. The first hour or so, my toes and fingers were suffering from the cold. The sides of the road still showed some snow in the shadows and all the standing water was frozen, but there was hope the the strong Spring sun was going to warm us up. Q promised temps in the 50's. We'll see.
We made a stop at Stewarts in Salem and i sat in the sun and i fashioned some make shift booties out of duct tape. From that point on in the ride, i was fine. The route is different this year, but several favorite features remain, like the trip over the Battenkill River via a covered bridge, Juniper Swamp Road, and Meeting House Road and the usual collection of dirt roads. We approached Juniper Swamp from a different direction, which was OK by me as it somehow eliminated that painful pavement climb approaching Juniper. Going up Juniper was not as tough as i remembered from previous rides. Perhaps because the surface is nicely hard packed this year, no loose dirt to speak of, and the road seems wider. Are there road crews out here? or is everything just left to Mother Nature?
Another change in the route is a dirt road section around Willard Mountain which was very cool. There was opportunity here for a nice long big ring dirt road, gravel pinging downhill churn which was fun. Another change is doing Meeting House in the opposite direction. Towards the end of Meeting House, Q had a leaky front tire, so we stopped to fix that and Q got an opportunity to test out his fancy new tire pump which worked quite nicely. While we were stopped, several B-kill and Farm Team guys flew past, and Mark from Nav too. We got the flat fixed and were back on the road quicly and we connected with a bunch of other folks out doing the same thing as us.
Aproximately 5 miles from the finish there is new dirt section called Stage Road. Its uphill of course. It climbs and then false flats, then climbs some more and then a slight downhill to a low lying area that had been recently filled with 2 to 3 inch sized trapeziodal shaped boulders. More than one roadie had to get off and (gasp) hoof it. I had my old Redline 'cross bike with these big old 35 cc semi-road tread tires and i was able to pedal through, but it completely sapped what little energy i had at this late point in the ride. I limped back to town as back markers from the Battenkill and Farm team group blew past. It was a fun day in the saddle and we got to chat with some of the locals afterwards at the Cambridge Hotel. At the end of the day, i was pooped. I went home and took a nap. I was up way too late the night before watching the Siena game.
Photo courtesy of Rob Havemeyer