Wind: 0 mph
By Peter Oliver
Even for those who love a good, tightly fought race, Steve Francisco’s win by a single, silly second over Charles McCarthy in Tuesday evening’s practice time trial on the Green Mountain Stage Race course was really beside the point. Literally – because off to the side of the race finish at the junction of East Warren Road and Common Road, the point of a perfect rainbow, arcing across the eastern skies, knifed into the lower slopes of the Roxbury range.
As much as race fans at the finish might have intended to give cheer to riders rising up out of the dip near the end of the 5.7-mile course beginning in Warren Village, the display of natural artistry was an unavoidable diversion. Perhaps, too, it was a sign of some divine bestowal of pre-race approval and benediction for the upcoming GMSR itself, scheduled to take place in just a few weeks over Labor Day weekend.
Seeing as this was a dress rehearsal for the big race, some real swifties from the great wide world beyond The Valley came out to play. In the official USA Cycling rankings, Francisco, from Williston, and McCarthy, a former Valley guy now slumming it in Charlotte, are the third best time trialers in the state in their respective categories. Ripton’s Andrew Gardner, who finished third on Tuesday evening, claims a sixth-place ranking.
This, of course, upset the balance of power on Planet Hubbard, where family patriarch Taylor is accustomed to being the dominant species. Hubbard, who wins local time trials with ennui-inducing repetitiveness, had to settle this go-round for a fourth-place time of 15:55, 59 seconds arrears of Francisco’s first-place clocking.
But the big fella out of Fayston seemed unperturbed. He knew Francisco and McCarthy would be blazing fast, given that both have won this practice time trial in previous years against stiff competition. And as he looked forward to taking part in his first-ever GMSR in the Masters 40-plus field, he had reason to believe that he could register a competitive time when the real racing gets under way in just over two weeks hence.
Hopefully, he will be joined for the big race by a few women, which was not the case Tuesday evening. There was a notable and regrettable absence of womanhood for the practice ride, with the only evidence of distaff participation on Tuesday being the clipboard-clutching Danielle Hampton, recording the finish times with the able assistance of her faithful (and female) canine sidekick “Daisy.” Even the usually reliable Ella Hubbard – away at soccer practice or some such nonsensical pretense – was a no-show. Come on, women of the world – what’s up with that? Your gender deserves better. Plus you missed one beaut of a rainbow.
Next up in the Mad River Riders time-trial series will be a 9.4-mile out-and-back ride on Route 100B, starting in Moretown, on Tuesday, August 27. Start time will be 6:30 p.m. Entry is free, and any rider – of any gender – with a bike and a helmet is welcome to give it a try. Full race details and results are at madriverriders.com.