Wind: 16 mph
There was a cosmic message swirling in the cool breeze of a perfect Tuesday evening: Youth shall be served. The kids came out in force on July 30 for the Mad River Riders time trial from Warren Village to the summit of Roxbury Gap, led by the terrible twosome of Ellie Curtis and Ella Hubbard.
Harwood senior-to-be Caleb Kessler, the oxymoronically elder statesman of the younger set, arrived early to be sure he had a sufficiently comprehensive warm-up for the tough 4.2-mile ride. And Toby Lanser arrived more or less accidently, passing the start while on a casual evening ride with his dad and finding himself talked into racing. Ya gotta love the kid's enthusiasm and spur-of-the-moment spunk.
Meanwhile, a few grown-ups came out to play, too, with the best among them being Pat Campbell and Audrey Huffman. For a while, it appeared that the winner might be that grand old gent, the now-skinny Bob Dillon, who has been training and racing so hard that it looks like he could hide behind a blade of grass. Dillon's mighty speedy time of 25:11 stood atop the scoreboard for a while, three seconds quicker than the time of archrival oldster Bruce Bell. But Campbell, 27 years Dillon's junior and starting late in the order, put a serious hurting on Dillon's daydream, arriving at the top of the gap in a winning time of 22:54.
Huffman, of course, is the Natural. There have been no known sightings of her out on the road training and the last evidence of her engaged in any athletic activity was a Facebook photo of her putting at the Sugarbush Golf Club. (Whether she made the putt or not is an unknown.) Presumably this was not how she prepared to make her way onto the U.S. world-championship mountain bike team in 2001. But so what? She is always, preternaturally, ready to rumble. The result: a time of 27:34 that challenged the course record. Go figure.
But back to the story of those crazy kids. The terrible twosome of Ella and Ellie got a jump start on the rest of the field, heading up the gap early at a robust pace with the patriarchal Taylor Hubbard serving as an escort to be sure the game between the two was not disrupted by rivalrous shenanigans.
Ellie, as it turned out, had a considerable technological advantage. Pulling a sleek, Ferrari-red road bike out of the ample Curtis family stable of high-tech, two-wheeled machinery, she was riding the far faster steed, with Ella aboard her trustworthy but speed-challenged mountain bike. Ellie gritted her braced teeth and pulled out ahead, eventually charging to the finish a few minutes ahead of Ella. Ella's consolation was knowing that, having registered her personal-best time for the course, she beat her dad by more than a minute.
Kessler, given that he is now on the cusp of adulthood, rode with the authority of a grown-up to finish on the cusp of the podium, with the impressive fourth-place time of 25:39. Maybe if his pit-crew chief, father Gary, had prepped his bike with proper climbing gears, the manchild might have just nudged his way into the top three. Regardless, a fine ride. And the gumption, if not necessarily the speed, of the yellow-jerseyed Lanser was something to behold. His energy stores depleted from his earlier ride, he still stomped on the pedals with force and fury to make it to the top.
Next up in the series will be a race on Tuesday, August 13, on the time-trial course that will be used for the Green Mountain Stage Race. Starting in Warren Village, the 5.7-mile route goes up Brook Road and onto East Warren Road, finishing at the Common Road intersection. Start time is 6:30 p.m. There is no entry fee and anyone with a bike and a helmet is welcome. For details and full results, go to madriverriders.com.