Thursday, April 12, 2012

An Uber Local Reason To Follow This Weekend’s Tour of the #Battenkill

While he’s sort of adopted by way of Michigan and Purdue, and we’ve had quite a few locals race big pro races, another one of ours is racing the pro Tour of the Battenkill this weekend.  If there was an American Paris-Roubaix this is it, a one day 200k classic in New York featuring covered bridges and 25% dirt roads.  When you consider the pot holed mess of Binning Road and the Stonelick covered bridge, maybe our regular BioWheels Wednesday shop ride with Chris Uberti is good hard training to face the ranks of the pros at The Battenkill. 

Panther is Logistics Company
A few weeks back Cycling News revealed Team Panther/Competitive Cyclist was selected as an Elite Amateur team for the Tour of the Battenkill.  CIncinnati's Chris Uberti and the rest of Team Panther under the guidance of regional pro veterans Kirk Albers and Paul Martin will line up alongside the real big boys of United Health Care, Team Type 1, Bissell, Team Mountain Khaki’s and others.  If you’re wondering why he wasn’t on the Wednesday BioWheels group ride or Tuesday’s New Richmond Rampage this week, this is it.  I heard he joked that it was too hard before this big race.  In a twisted way, Chris is about to get a taste of the medicine he’s been dishing out to us over the past few months.  Or, will he be the one dishing?

“Who is that guy?”  People don’t notice him till after the ride.  He’s not a flashy rider or chest thumper.  Very approachable, he’ll roll up to the start of a local training ride, put his foot down like a kickstand and chat like he’s a local club rider.  You’re completely oblivious to the pro experience he hides behind that smile.  The same demeanor comes across in his riding.  He’s smooooth.  I guess that comes from competing in The Tour of the Gila, The Joe Martin Stage Race, Fitchburg-Longsjo and The International Cycling Classic (Superweek) the past few years. 

While I’ll usually sit-on and rearrange myself within a paceline to not have the wheel of the strongest guys on a ride, I don’t mind Chris’ wheel.  When he pulls to the left on the front of a rotating paceline, it’s not a shocking quick elbow throw and a jerk to the left.  Like he’s introducing you to the road ahead, he graciously lets you into the wind.  In a race, the smoothness translates.  Two weeks ago at the local OSRS race at Harrison’s Tomb, I saw him ride from back to front in the stretch of 2-3 miles, gracefully threading his way through the middle of the bunch.  After witnessing that, I’m convinced.  If you need to ride the yellow line to the front, you need to brush up on your skills.  He’s the type of rider that forces you to be a better rider.  At 44 years old and no stranger to a bike race, I’m learning from a guy 20 years younger than me.

With the way his black curls cascade out of the back of his helmet, you wonder why there’s not 10 women on this 24 year-old’s wheel or why he’s not out clubbing it downtown.  He’s a skinny kid with wide dark eyes and a magnetic smile.  At 28mph he churns the pedals with knees in and his toes pointed down.  His back is so low you have to emulate the posture and seemingly ridiculous high steady cadence to even get a whiff of a draft.  His Strava profile lists three full pages of KOM’s, usually a full mph faster than the next guy.  I’m ahead of him on only one, hanging on to the KOM purely for the fact that the Highwater climb in Kenton County, KY is under construction at the moment.

Click Here for Tour of the Battenkill Website
You’d like to think he’s some sort of out of nowhere gifted rider, but when you look him up, he's just like you and I (had we started racing at 18.)  He was racing cat 4 in 2006.  Raise your hand.  Sure he’s young, but he trains his ass off, even riding 25 miles to local races, winning them and then riding home.  He won his first race as a Cat 3 in May of 2007.  In ’08 and ’09 he placed 9th at Collegiate Road Nationals, was on the podium of smaller 1-2 races and posted 70th and 80ths on bigger races like Joe Martin, Fitchburg and Superweek.  In ’10 and ’11 he started bagging the bigger races finishing 3rd in the Hyde Park Blast, a 4th on a Superweek Stage and a 2nd on a stage of the Gateway Cup.  All the while he continues to test himself, dipping his toes in the deeper waters of the 2011 Tour of the Gila, (won by Francisco Mancebo) finishing no better than 73rd on his best day.  There’s still more work to be done.  

Now here he is with a couple early spring wins, a short cyclocross season under his belt, and an invite to the dirt roads of the Tour of the Battenkill, a race on the Director Sportif radar of Pro Tour teams.  We wish Chris, Ryan Knapp, and the rest of their Panther teammates the best.  Surely it’s still ahead of them.

(Post Race Note:  Chirs Uberti finished in a group of riders placed 15th-49th 12 minutes down from winner Francisco Mancebo, officially 40th.  162 riders were on the start list.  59 finished.  For race results and recap click here.)


JMott said...

Some of those descriptors leave the hint of a BBBE man crush there.

Joe Biker said...

oh shut the hell up Mottsauce. He's a good guy. I'd cheer for a ginger like you if you lined up with the pros!

JMott said...

Just joshin' ya...good post and good to bring attention our local fast guys. Hell of a finish for him and Knapp out there.

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