Presented by Anthem Sports and Stan’s Notubes Great American Cycling Series, the Tour of the Dragons is a two-day, three-stage cycling race consisting of a 10.7-mile time trial, a 16-mile circuit race, and a road race that is 71 miles for amateurs and 125 miles for professional men. Sheila Vibert of Norwich finished third in the time trial, but had a flat tire during the circuit race and was forced to drop out. The 32-year-old Cat 1/2 racer opted to cheer on her friends in the road race rather than ride.
VS: Was this your first time doing this race?
SV: This was my third time. It’s a nice, early season race that offers a full three stages of racing in a weekend that’s early in the season. It’s very helpful to get some early racing in.
VS: Which of the three stages is the most memorable?
SV: The time trial is interesting because there are a lot of changes in the profile of the course. It’s really helpful to have ridden it in the past to know what’s coming up. The road course is brutal. It’s interesting if you like a really challenging endurance event.
VS: How disappointing was it to get a flat during the circuit race?
SV: As minutes passed and I was walking with the flat, waiting for a neutral wheel from the men’s field, I grew increasingly frustrated. When I returned to the finish area, scowling, I found friends I was staying with, one of whom was there to help with mechanical work and feeds. This person had a severe accident during a race recently and is lucky to be able to ride. That helped put into perspective that this was just a flat tire, and tomorrow, racing or not, I could still get on my bike and ride.
VS: It must be tough to do the time trial and the circuit race in the same day.
SV: It is. For most races, they are on separate days, and that’s another interesting thing about this race. Those are two pretty significant, physically demanding events on the same day, but everybody is in the same boat. If you do your time trial early, you really feel it in the afternoon. It’s nice to be able to do all three races in one weekend, though.
VS: Is the course challenging?
SV: It’s definitely a challenging course. There used to be a criterium in downtown Bennington, but the last two years, they changed it to a circuit race, which was quite challenging with the dirt sections and climbs. The road course has approximately 6,000 feet of climbing in 70 miles, which is pretty challenging as well.
VS: Would you have preferred a criterium to the circuit race?
SV: It changes the racing tactics a little bit, but it’s not good or bad. It gives you more mileage. Maybe the promoters wanted to have a more challenging race and give people more competitive racing early in the season.
VS: Would you do it again?
SV: I would love to do it again, but next year, I’ll be in graduate school and out of the area. I’ll have to cut back on bike racing. I’ll dabble a little, but school will be my primary focus.
VS: What is the location like?
SV: Bennington is a beautiful, historical part of Vermont, and one that people might not otherwise come to. There are beautiful roads and scenery, and the downtown area is a really nice place. It’s nice to be able to attract people to road racing in Vermont. We have some beautiful areas.
VS: If you were in charge of the race, would you do anything differently?
SV: I’ve never been in charge of a race so it’s hard to tell. There are so many components to it and so many factors to consider. There are probably always things you can change, but I think they did a good job.