Miller School of Albemarle

Tour of the Battenkill by Andy Guptill

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Touted as the largest bicycle race in the United States with almost 3000 competitors, Cambridge, New York’s Tour of the Battenkill promised to offer some of the best competition the MSA Endurance Team would face all year. Consisting of both paved and gravel roads, the notoriously difficult event is a brutal test of attrition, tactics, and bike handling all in one. With daily training rides utilizing the numerous gravel roads surrounding the Miller School of Albemarle campus, every Endurance Team member competing was well prepared and motivated!

The first riders to tackle the course wearing the MSA teal and green where Chris Keeling and Summer Team rider Matthew Phillips in the Junior Men 17-18 race. After a quick warm up, Coaches Phillip Robb and Andy Guptill met them at the start line to collect their wind vests and leg warmers, talk last minute race tactics, and then they were off. As the 63 mile event unfolded, Chris and Matthew were on the front end of every split and appeared to be comfortable following all potentially dangerous moves. As they approached the second feed zone at mile 45, they decided to take matters into their own hands and forced a split of just 10 riders. Driving the group to the bottom of the final climb, the duo knew they would have to make another move if they wanted to have a shot at the win. With Matthew keeping the pace high, Chris waited patiently and finally jumped with everything he had to crest the climb in the lead. While he was able to open a small gap, the drag to the finish proved too long and four other riders were able to bridge up to him. With his legs still burning from the effort, Chris was unable to match the other rider’s finishing speed, but still finished a remarkable 5th! Matthew had limited his losses on the climb and crossed not far behind for an impressive 8th place!

Next to take the start were the Junior 15-16 men with Sam James and Summer Team rider Parker Brookfield. Similar to the 17-18 race, both riders both were well represented at the front of the race as attacks flew and splits formed. As planned, Sam began pushing the pace in the final 20 miles and quickly whittled the front group down to just 8 riders. Several attempts for a solo escape were in vain and Sam entered the finishing stretch with five other riders. When one rider jumped early, Sam reacted immediately but wasn’t quite able to come around by the line, but still finished an incredible 2nd place, less than a bike length behind! Parker rolled in moments later with a strong group of riders to finish a very respectable 18th place!

Later that afternoon, MSA’s Ashlyn Woods took the start in the Women’s Cat. 4 race. Fresh off early wins in North Carolina and the recent Jeff Cup, Ashlyn was looking to continue her success with a strong result in New York. Unfortunately, an untimely crash took her out of the race at mile 43, and she was diagnosed with a broken right clavicle. Ashlyn is as tough as they come, however, and was optimistic as she saw an orthopedic surgeon back in Charlottesville several days later, where she received the news that everything looked okay and she would be back on the bike in less than two weeks!

All in all, it was a very successful trip for the MSA Endurance Team and great learning experience for all of the riders. The Team also owes a big “thank you” to their hosts, JT, Lucy, and Aiden, for great meals, plentiful stories, hearty laughs, and comfortable beds!

Written by Miller School of Albemarle

April 26, 2012 at 9:26 AM

Posted in Posts

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