Battenkill weekend induces both love and hate with much of the New England cycling community.
The chance to compete on one of the hardest courses filled with dirt climbs can many times be
outweighed by the risk of crashing, flats, and equipment failure. This sentiment was no different inside
the team, where MetLife-NorEast only sent three riders to participate (Landen Acebo, Andrew Gardner
and Ben Liang). The weekend was to begin with Battenkill and would finish with the Myles Standish
Road Race on the tail-end.
Saturday morning began with a big breakfast to prepare for four-plus hours of suffering on the
bike (which unfortunately meant a 4:50am wake up to ready for the 8:30am start). With numbers
pinned and legs shinning of embrocation we made our way to the start line. Before the gun went off
we had already lost a rider to back injury. New team member Ben Liang had been suffering nerve
inflammation all week, and chose not to compete in order to recover properly.
The first twenty miles ticked off quickly as riders fought for position going into the first accent of
Juniper Swamp Road. Over the top of the climb and on the first decent of the race Andrew Gardner
flatted, and was forced to wait for neutral support that was already delayed from the shards of riders
who had already come off the back. Luckily, his experience and strength was enough for him to make
it back on board within ten minutes.
The race from there slowed as the field realized the race would not at all be decided with 60 miles
remaining. The entire field sagged the second accent of Juniper, and for the next 10 miles made their
way to the first feed zone of the day. A fast run in, followed by a flat stretch of road before feed one
forced the bunch to slow drastically at mile 45, and caused the first crash of our season as Landen hit
the deck along with 15 other riders. Despite good timing in regards to the field slowing, Landen’s
shifting was affected greatly. He was forced to stop three times during his chase to fix his bike, which
ultimately meant that his day was over.
Andrew ended up being the sole survivor of Battenkill coming in with a small group. His efforts early
on in the race, in addition to lack of racing miles in 2012 made it a great day for training. As always
look forward to his climbing later in the season as Vermont becomes ride-able again!