Events: Tour of the Battenkill 2017 and Why You Should Do It
(2017) (Especially if you’re from Bucks County)
If you’ve been ramping up your 2017 cycling season using Kermesse Sport events, then there’s a good chance you’re nearing peak form to participate in Great American Cycling Series’ Tour of the Battenkill in Washington County, NY. But if we’re to challenge some Bucks County racers to a game, we could select an easy version of Six Degrees of Separation to link the Tour of the Battenkill to Bucks County. And it all starts with the strange road name of Schuylerville Road.
Head into upstate New York and it is easy to notice the history of the area. Saratoga County, where the town of Schuylerville is located, is associated with one of the most infamous characters in American history: Benedict Arnold. In a strange dichotomy of thanks and anger, one can find the second allusion to Mr. Arnold in Saratoga. Located on the battlefield, I am told of a monument dedicated to him. Inconspicuously the monument for Mr. Arnold bears no name. Its reference is inferred. But let’s keep moving toward Bucks County.
In 2015 I participated in the Tour of the Battenkill. To get to the new race start we had to take the road mentioned, Schuylerville (pronounced skie-ler-vill) Road. Of course other roads names in the area are steeped with American and Native American history such as Horicon and Gates. But the name I turned over in my mouth several times, Schuylerville, intrigued me. After the race in 2015 I mostly forgot about the name until I decided to start exploring another piece of history in Bucks County.
A few years back, before the Missus and I married, we attended a wedding in the quaint town of New Hope, PA. Despite living close by, we decided to take advantage of the discount rate at a bed and breakfast in the middle of town. It was a bit of a famous house in not just the town of New Hope, but American history. In an attempt to create a romantic setting, I confused the fireplace’s flue vent, lit a fire, and proceeded to smoke out the entire house. The smoke alarms went off, yet concernedly no one raised the alarm beyond that. After a few minutes of opening and closing the flue and fanning the smoke detectors, the situation returned to normal. I could have damaged the Aaron Burr house had I been more ambitious.
Aaron Burr, for those who remember a famous milk commercial, is also infamous in American history. He was Thomas Jefferson’s vice president. He had served in the presence of Benedict Arnold at one point. History, though, remembers Aaron Burr as the man who famously killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in New Jersey in 1804.
From left to right: Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, General Philip Schuyler
But fate had been brewing for over a decade. Aaron Burr had won a seat in the US senate in 1791. This senate seat set in motion the duel that would take place some thirteen years later. The spark that started it? Aaron Burr had defeated Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law for that senate seat. Hamilton’s father-in-law was none other than General Philip Schuyler from upstate New York. Though Schuyler would get revenge six years later, the feud did not settle.
Burr would blame a series of unsuccessful public office attempts on Hamilton before challenging him to a duel. Immediately after killing Hamilton in the duel, Burr fled to the small town of New Hope, PA, where he hid out for a time. Interestingly, Burr returned to Washington to complete his term as vice president and never faced trial over his killing of Alexander Hamilton. His following years resembled a fall from grace before he ultimately died on Staten Island in 1836.
Perhaps the ghost of Aaron Burr knew of my dealings near the old Schuylerville area in upstate New York and tried to send a message by smoking the Missus and myself out of the building he supposedly ran to in New Hope. But each year, when the Tour of the Battenkill is set to take place, I am taken back to Schuylerville Road as well as the moment I researched Aaron Burr. It was the moment that made me think how remarkable it is to be a cyclist from Bucks County who has taken part in the Tour of the Battenkill several times. If you’re in the lead group, don’t throw away your shot. Alexander Hamilton probably didn’t think Aaron Burr was taking the duel seriously.