Fabienne Gerard continued her winning ways from last year by winning the Battenkill Cat 3 women’s race. Her account follows.

Battenkill is always hard core: it is the first long race of the season and race fitness is still hibernating under big time layers of white winter marshmallows… So no surprise, the race did feel very hard and while racing it this year, I absolutely talked myself into quitting bike racing right after the race was over, and when my chain started making some strange noise, I remember wishing that the chain would explode on the spot so that I could stop and lay on the grass… Oh well, I did finish the race. And I really needed to win that chocolate milk for my recovery! Here is the quick story of my Battenkill 2010.

We had a full field of 50 Cat 3 women. Surprisingly, I thought, there were few CRCA women. There were lots of women from all over the North East though and several from Canadian teams. Super teammate Colleen and I went to the starting line on time to get a good position for the little fancy bridge at mile 5, and also to avoid possible dramas on the first dirt roads. Who likes drama on dirt? Unexpectedly, a good number of women started to push the pace hard from mile 5 on. This was very different from last year where the race stayed pretty mellow and the group stayed together for the first half of the course. On Saturday, it was not mellow: it was fast and hard from the first hilly miles on (Perry Road). Or maybe it was just me still being in a siesta tapas goat mood after just getting home from vacation. Anyway, we kept pushing it on Juniper and during the following miles.

As a result, at mile 15, the whole field was already stretched. I was in the front group with 10 other women. We had a decisive break. They kept pushing. I was thinking — did they study the cue sheet? Do they know that we have 45 more miles to cover with the hardest climbs still to come up??

Well, we lost 3 more women on the next hilly stretch at mile 16-20 and then 1 more on Joe Bean. At mile 28, we were 7, and no one in the back to be seen. We kept going. The strong wind made it hard, but we had a nice rotating group. We lost 3 more girls on the next hilly section (Mountain Road), and we lost friend Bryna (Anthem) on that sweet last climb (Stage Road).

Five miles from the finish line, we were 3 left in the front: Jennifer from Fuji Team in DC, Alejandra from CRCA/Comedy Central and I. We had been racing the 57 miles very hard; those 5 miles on the flat with a head wind felt very hard too! At that point I just put my head down, making sure I was staying in a wheel, taking my pulls, and trying to gather myself together for a focused final 200 meters.

Right before the final turn, I make the point of staying in 3rd wheel. We take the final turn to the finish line; Jennifer and Alejandra seem to hesitate; I am on the other side, I gear up 2 rings and just go, in the saddle. I have no idea why they don’t catch me (Alejandra is a much better sprinter than I am), but here it is, I pass the line first and win.

Yes, a great race which started as a very cold and windy day, but that brought a big great blue sky on the finish line. And the best chocolate milk!! Thank you very much to Dieter Drake and the community of Cambridge and all the surrounding towns to organize such a fantastic and friendly race. This was also the first win for our new team, Fuoriclasse Racing – Discover Chiropractic. Thank you so much to my teammate Colleen Conway, to my coach, David Taylor, to our sponsors, and to anyone who inspires me to always race harder and smarter. IT IS SO MUCH FUN!