At 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, dark clouds engulfed the mountain summits and a persistent chill troubled the air. It was an ominous weather prelude to the Allen Clark Hill Climb, the annual cycling time trial up the east side of App Gap.
But by the time riders lined up for the 10 a.m. start in front of the Valero station on Route 17, the weather mood had shifted dramatically. The skies brightened and the temperature rose, with not a hint of a headwind to make a hard ride harder. Off they rode toward the shimmer of hopeful weather in the western skies, embarking on a 6.2-mile journey to the top of the gap.
First off was 10-year-old, Daphne Buzby-Mueller of South Burlington, pedaling furiously to reach the kids’ finish at Mad River Glen. Thereafter, riders departed individually every 30 seconds, testing their mettle on a climb that covers 1,600 vertical feet, with pitches approaching 20%.
When all was said and done and riders were gathering for the awards ceremony at Mad River Glen, the speediest man to the top was Alan Boguslawski of Gardner, Massachusetts, finishing in a time of 25:21.54. Boguslawski has been a frequent Allen Clark rider, and his time this year was his best yet, more than a minute faster than his time last year. The fastest woman was Chris Poliquin of Intervale, New Hampshire, another Allen Clark veteran whose time of 31:02.65 was also more than a minute faster than her time last year. Not quite as fast was the singular representative of riders of The Valley, Marc Hammond, competing admirably in the men’s 50-59 age group. Where in the heck were the other local pedalers?
As the aroma of chickens on the barbecue circulated on the Mad River Glen air, riders from the 10-year-old Buzby-Mueller to an over-70 contingent paraded up to the awards table to receive their medals and prizes. The results produced one noteworthy highlight – for the first time in Allen Clark history, the top three finishers in the men’s 60-69 age group all recorded times of under 30 minutes. Even for riders half their age, those would have been times to be proud of.
They could also take pride in the fact that their aerobic suffering went toward a good cause, raising a nice chunk of change for Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. The same pride could be shared by any of the 50 riders who signed up this year, a number of whom stayed after the awards in the warm October sun to replenish the calories expended on the ride with the tasty chicken cooked up by the Mad River Glen BBQ crew. A good ride followed by a good meal – a hard combo to beat.