Upstate New York is definitely not thought of as a cycling mecca. But each spring, both professional and amateur cycling enthusiasts invade the tiny town of Cambridge, NY for a very unique Pro-Am event…. The Tour of the Battenkill Road Cycling Race. This past weekend, April 14-15, was the 8th annual Tour.
This event has come to be known as “America’s Queen of the Classics,”, and is seen as a one-of-a-kind race by many.
Taking its name from the region, riders wind through the farmland of the Battenkill Valley. The Valley surrounds part the Battenkill River which flows from Vermont to New York and is a tributary of the Hudson River. The Tour of the Battenkill course features rolling countryside, covered bridges, and direct passes through several small villages. There are many challenging climbs - total climbing is nearly 4000 feet - with a maximum gradient of 18%!
Race distance for most of the amateur categories (except for Cub Juniors) is 62 miles/100km. Race distance for Pro/1 and Cat 2 men is 80 miles/129km. The UCI 1.2 Professional Invitational remains at 124 miles / 200 km.
Events kicked off on Friday with a book signing by Greg LeMond and Bill Humphreys. Greg LeMond was quoting as saying “You had 3,000 people racing, I mean, I’ve never seen an event like this. I think it’s the future of road racing in the U.S.”
The Pro/Am on Saturday featured the 62 mile competition. And Juniors ranging in age from 10 – 18, competed in 14 and 22 mile rides. With waves starting roughly every 15 minutes, in total, 40 amateur races were scheduled through the day. Team LUNA Chix Albany Triathlon put together a team of 10 volunteers for the Amateur races this year, and we dotted the course as road marshals guiding the cyclists through the many intersections. In exchange for our day’s work, a donation of $300 will be made to the Breast Cancer Fund, and we’re thrilled about that!
Riders came streaming by in peleton form every so often. This was pretty exciting stuff for spectators & volunteers alike! As a road marshal near the “feed station” which was located on a short climb right near a dairy farm, it was interesting to hear what the cyclists had to say as they fished through their nutrition bags. One man commented we had the “most odorous” intersection. I assured him that smell was not me .
The highlight of my day was witnessing the female racers rip up the hill & around the corner in what seemed like a synchronized effort. Many of them mentioned they were just happy to have avoided a bad crash earlier in the race.
Seeing the support vehicles that included ZIPP, Adidas & the bright yello Mavic car was also pretty exciting. This is generally something we only see on television.
On Sunday, the pros hit the road for a grueling 124 mile race!! This year’s winner was Francisco Mancebo of Spain. We anticipate another great weekend of events in 2013.