TOUR OF THE BATTENKILL
In just ten years, the Tour of the Battenkill has become the largest competitive road cycling event in North America. Over 3,100 racers will contest the 2014 event in Washington County, NY. For nine of those years I have been lucky enough to be able to photograph the race each year in an official capacity for race organizer Dieter Drake.
The race has quickly become legendary among riders for its scenery and challenge, making the area near Albany into a tourist destination for cyclists wanting to test their mettle. The race started in 2005 as the Battenkill- Roubaix in homage to the famous Paris-Roubaix race in Europe.
The Spring Classics season in Europe features races that often go off road onto dirt or cobblestones. Race founder Dieter Drake wanted to adopt that style of
tough-man European challenge while capturing a uniquely American flavor in the Washington County landscape and it’s covered bridges.
From that beginning with 220 riders the race has grown every year and become the Tour of the Battenkill. Putting it on is a all-year project, with over 500 volunteers participating to make sure everything happens as planned.
The course includes over 15 miles of dirt roads and gut-busting hills on Juniper Swamp (dirt) and Joe Bean (paved) Roads, both near Salem. These spots also provide great, up close viewing for spectators, as does the lengthy dirt segment on Meeting House Road west of Cambridge and the Eagleville covered bridge east of town off Route 313.
If there is any race course in America that deserves the word “epic,” the Tour of the Battenkill is IT.