Team TOMS Shoes p/b KindHuman Sports has been blessed with the new pressence of reknowned New York Times photographer, Ray Jones as not only a documentarion but as a hard-boned racer! Today, we feature his documentary of the 2010 Tour of Battenkill..."Well we did it, survived I mean. No crashes, no injuries. And here's how it all went down. The six of us arrived at the hotel in Shaftsbury, VT on Friday night around 11 p.m. For the most I think we were all filled with equal parts anxiousness and excitement. But we tried to get some sleep. Ellis snored.
We woke up at 7 a.m. on Saturday and the butterflies were definitely fluttering. I had done quite a bit of talking to my local friends who have done Battenkill in years past.
The one thing everyone talked was the final climb before the finish, Stage Road. It's all dirt and over 2 miles long. This was what I was most worried about. We had six riders representing Team TOMS in the Cat 5 field together. We were the largest team in our field and we knew that would be one of our biggest advantages. The biggest wild card was just how steep the climbs were going to be and how would our legs hold up? For many of us it would be the longest race we had ever done.
We donned our TOMS kits, loaded our pockets with gels and water bottles and tried to prepare ourselves for the wind and cold. We proceeded to registration at the school in Cambridge, tried to continue eating but it was hard. We used the bathroom many many times and pinned our numbers on each other in the locker room of the school. We then went on a quick warm up ride together and headed to the start line.
It was cold, cloudy and steady winds of 15-20 mph. Our primary goal was to stay organized at the front of our pack because we knew riders would start falling off the back early on and the pack would likely split. The dirt roads were numerous and the pot holes just as plentiful. Luckily everything was dry. It was a cold and windy start, the sun eventually broke through and remained but the wind was persistent and all over the place. In my group we rotated in a tight pace line and echelon when crosswinds arose.
The first two climbs were absolutely brutal. I was totally caught off guard. I knew the mileage for the climbs but I was not prepared for the grade of each. Our speed was in the single digits. As we predicted the pack split early on with about 20 riders out in front and the rest scattered behind with no organization. Matt and Greg were able to work together and maintain good position in the lead pack. I found myself alone in the middle, exactly where I didn't want to be. Tim was off behind me and Ellis alone in front. Ryan was also somewhere on his own. Unfortunately Ryan and Tim had to bow out. Ellis fought through the stomach sickness he had been battling and impressively finished the race on his own.
During a relatively flat and rolling section of the course I spent about an hour bridging a gap on my own to reach a group of four riders. I recovered and for the remainder of the race we worked together very well and made up a lot of the time we had lost. At around mile 55 we hit Stage Road, our last major challenge before the finish at 62. It was a long stair stepper climb with unfortunate casualties forced to walk their bikes all a long the way. When I finally reached the peak I was filled with relief and pride because I knew I had done it. The finish was just a few rolling hills away, on pavement.
At the finish Team TOMS gathered to reflect on the brutal race. I think each of us faced our own unique challenges but in the end we represented the team with pride and definitely had a blast."
...It's been a pleasure having Ray on board and it's always great to look through his amazing photographic work. The guy is a PRO. Of course, all photography comes to us courtesey of Mr. Raymond Jones.
For more of Ray's work please check out his Flickr page: