To road race aficionados in Texas, the Bat City Classic at Apache Pass road race is the race formerly known as “Walburg.” This is because the town of Walburg for many years hosted a road race known for spring classic-like conditions. Walburg’s windy conditions became the stuff of Texas racing legend: the wide open terrain & pervasive winds made for a challenging event.
In 2016, the race formerly known as Walburg moved to its new home at Apache Pass. Apache Pass is located in Downtown Texas, Texas (a few miles outside of Rockdale). This race is run by Bat City Cycling Club; 2017 was the 2nd year for the Bat City Classic at Apache Pass.
The route features a large loop that is raced one, two or three times for 28, 55 or 83 miles. The terrain is mostly flat & wide open with a couple of hills. The last couple of miles are false flat with a finish line at the tope of a hill. This race also features a rough section of road (“Texas pavé”) on County Road 302 to give Texas road racers a feel of a Spring Classic road race.
Weather at the 2017 event did not disappoint: thanks to a big storm blowing through the night before, winds were very strong on race day. Racers had to content with 20+mph sustained winds: without a doubt the winds at this year’s Bat City Classic road race were even stronger than I remember them being at Walburg.
The Women’s Cat 3 and the Women’s P/1/2 fields were combined into the same start wave, so my race was fast & hard: the field was strong with some of the fastest ladies in the state. About 2/3 of the way through lap #1, a breakaway formed with the eventual combined field 1st-4th place finishers.
The wind was relentless for all 55 miles of my race & there was little to no shelter from the wind. The ladies did not echelon at all, so it was a very long day for all of us dealing with the wind (let’s just say that heart rate & power averages were high).
I had a strong race, staying with the main pack until the last few miles just before the end of the Texas pavé section (that’s when my legs decided to finally hang it up for the day). Those last few miles were hard: it was a false flat straight into a headwind. I did get a bit of relief when Sam Goldenstein caught up with me: we worked together to give each other a bit of recovery from the wind & we stayed together to the finish.
I finished my race with a mini sprint, having no idea at the time that Sam & I were the 3rd & 4th place finishers for the Women’s Cat 3. I also thought that the P/1/2 and Cat 3 Women were racing for a single prize list (based upon info conveyed at packet pickup). So, I was pleasantly surprised when results were posted showing that I finished 3rd in the Women’s Cat 3 & 11th in the combined field. Even better, the race offered separate prize lists so the women’s Cat 3 winner (Caitlin Friesen), 2nd place (Jolene Holland), Sam & I scored a bit of prize money at the end as well.
In 2017, the Bat City Classic at Apache Pass definitely came into its own as a true Texas spring classic road race. Many thanks to the Bat City Cycling Club , volunteers and officials for a well-organized & successful event. I’ll look forward to racing it again in 2018!