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Yura, Huffman tops in Allen Clark

By Peter Oliver

There are people who would argue, with good reason, that riding a bike up a steep hill is pure craziness and that riding a bike up a steep hill as fast as possible is pure craziness raised to an exponential degree. So on Sunday, October 6, 63 exponentially crazy whackos came together for the annual Allen Clark Hill Climb, the 6.2-mile time trial up the east side of Appalachian Gap.

They were greeted by conditions that were almost ideal for their nutty mission: cloudy and cool, with little wind except for a little tailwind, huffing and puffing near the summit, to provide a final, friendly push. Taking the most advantage of those favorable circumstances were Chris Yura, the fastest male rider, and local legend Audrey Huffman, fastest among the women.

Yura, a 34-year-old from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, had an especially happy day. His time of 24 minutes, 32 seconds was just five seconds off the course record and more than a minute and a half faster than the 26:06 posted by second-place finisher Erik Vandendries of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Second place in Yura's 30 to 39 age group was the Fayston flier, Pat Campbell, who couldn't get within four minutes of the Pennsylvanian's time. Yura was, indeed, riding in a world of his own.

Huffman, too, was a comfortable winner, 45 seconds quicker than second-place finisher Trish Karter. Karter's strong showing was understandable; she had been a regular participant in the season-long BUMPS series, which includes all the major hill climbs in the Northeast.

Huffman, however. . . . she had hardly touched her road bike all summer and sheepishly admitted that the rig she brought to Allen Clark was "a little dirty," presumably a euphemistic admission of neglect. Instead of riding, she prepared for the cardiovascular agony of the Allen Clark climb by eschewing the bike and running up the hill at Mad River Glen the day before in the Stark Mountain Hill Climb, which she also won.

That made Huffman the female winner of the Allen Clark-Stark Mountain duathlon, for which she took home a big jug of Cold Hollow Cider Mill maple syrup, to help put a little weight on that rail-thin, aerobophile body of hers. Campbell was her male counterpart as duathlon winner, with a similar jug of syrup to show for his heavy-breathing efforts.

Notable among the handful of local riders who made the Allen Clark scene was Toby Lanser, the young stud who has taken to bicycle time trials like a bee to, well, maple syrup. Lanser's impressive time of 30:59 was fastest among the under-15 riders and 18th overall. You go, kid. And notable in his absence, again, was the insurance magnate, Jon Jamieson, a generous sponsor of the race and a strong rider capable of placing among the fastest pedalers. This year, however, he cited a pinched nerve as reason for his non-participation, but no excuses next year, JJ. Be there or be square.

The race is a fundraiser for Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport and it produced a nice little chunk of change for the program. VASS program coordinator Heather Timins and a small army of VASS volunteers were the oil in the Allen Clark cogs, making the whole event roll with a smooth and seamless synchronicity. And, of course, the event would not happen without the magnanimity of a host of benefactors: Jamieson Insurance, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Waitsfield Telecom, World Cup Supply, Mad River Glen, Fitwerx, and Stark Mountain Bike Works. See y'all next year.

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