Wind: 0 mph
It was a beautiful night in the neighborhood and the speed boys came out to play. On Tuesday evening, August 14, riders assembled in Warren Village for a practice time trial on the course that will be used for the upcoming Green Mountain Stage Race and among them were several of the fastest time-trialers in all of the great state of Vermont.
There was Bobby Bailey, the Burlington-based bomber who wins just about every time trial he gets a sniff at, often in dominating fashion. There was former Valley resident Charles McCarthy, fresh from his honeymoon and betrothal to his radiant bride Julie and going into the Tuesday evening ride as course-record holder (at least in the practice races).
Sadly, for anyone with a rooting interest in the efforts of local riders, the time-trialing Hubbards, Ella and Taylor, were absent – last seen cavorting with elephants in Africa rather than riding bikes on East Warren Road. But that’s another story. On hand, however, was the tall, slender figure of Steve Francisco, resembling some whippet-thin, red-clad superhero in his sleek skinsuit and tapered aero helmet. Francisco can ride like a knife through the wind and he did just that on Tuesday, conquering the 5.7-mile ride along Brook Road and East Warren Road in a new (practice) record time of 14 minutes, 43 seconds.
That relegated Bailey to the unusual position of runner-up, just two seconds in arrears of the flying Franny. (In the spirit of sportsmanship, Bailey still gave Francisco a post-race ride home.) And having to settle for third place on the podium was McCarthy, whose snappy time of 15:07 matched his winning time in last year’s practice TT. Not far back in fourth place was the young UVM stud Matt Buckley, whose time of 15:32 was almost a minute faster than the time he recorded three years ago when last he rode this race. The boys were putting some serious pedal to the metal.
Just how fast were the fellas riding? Well consider this: The 16:37 time of local hero Terry Kellogg would have put him on the podium in third place in last year’s race. This year, however, it was only good enough for 13th. Other riders known for their local time-trialing heroism, Bob Dillon and Marc Hammond, both brought their A games and set personal-best course records, only to find themselves looking at the final results from the bottom up.
So there you have it – the heat is on. With just over two weeks to go until the first rider puts rubber to the road in the 12th annual GMSR, speed is in the air. Given the results of this week’s practice race, the TT course is demonstrably and unequivocally smooth and fast. Times are always faster in the actual race compared with the practice times – an extra charge of adrenaline kicks in when the competition starts for real – so the chances of someone busting the real-race course record set by European-based pro Ted King two years ago seem pretty good.
The GMSR is at hand. Let the games begin.