Wind: 0 mph
By Peter Oliver
All is well in Hubbardville. The mighty Taylor has struck back. After two months of near misses -- nicked by nemesis Jim Komarmi in May's time trial and languishing four points behind nemesis #2 Jamie Belchak in the overall series standings after June's time trial -- Taylor Hubbard has finally found himself where he has wanted to be all season long in the Mad River Riders monthly time trial series. Top of the podium, top of the standings.
In the grueling grind to Granville and back (starting in Warren) on Tuesday evening, July 28, Hubbard spanked the 18.4-mile distance with a speedy clocking of 46 minutes, 41 seconds. That was 11 seconds quicker than Scott Woodward, a thick-thighed fellow from across Lake Champlain who was using the race as training to defend his title in the upcoming New York state championships. Third went to Steve Utter, who prepped for the ride by skipping last month's slog up Roxbury Gap. Simple reasoning: Flatter is better for Utter.
As usual, the entire bevy of Hubbard babes -- Kara, Ella, and Grace -- was out in force on a beautiful, summery night; as soon as Papa left the start, a van full of squealing Hubbardites disappeared up the road with him. This led to unfounded suspicions among competitors and bystanders that the van was aiding the rider's progress with a little drafting hanky-panky.
But no, the Hubbards are unambiguous in playing the game fair, although there was some eyebrow-raising at the sight of Papa depositing packets of revitalizing steroids at key points along the route. This, the fast man explained, was a prophylactic measure taken by someone highly allergic to bee stings. But then there were those bulging muscles and the blazing speed.
In the women's competition, ageless wonder Marilyn Ruseckas, a dominant force so far in the series, finally met her match. Ruseckas had won the first two races in the series, but this time round, Carole Hakstian, a ringer from Burlington, showed up, and it was game on.
Or more precisely, game over. Riding on a speedy new bike equipped with aero-bars, Hakstian quickly snuggled into a streamlined time-trial position. It was not far into the race that she caught Ruseckas, who started a minute ahead but without the aid of any time-trialing razzle dazzle. When Hakstian later came charging across the finish line, her time of 51:05 was good enough, by four seconds, to break a course record she herself set four years ago.
But fear not -- all remains well in Ruseckasville, too. The crown princess of Valley cycling continues to be way out ahead in the series standings, and next month's race, on August 25 in Moretown on Route 100B, will give her a chance to strike back. Watch out, Hakstian.
For series details and results, go to madriverriders.com. Any rider with a helmet and a bike (though tricycles and unicycles are permitted, too) is welcome to participate, and entry is free.