Published on May 5th, 2013 | by Phyl Newbeck0
Trial by Tire | Want to See How Your Cycling Times Stack Up? Try These Time Trials
For many cyclists, the ultimate in racing is the time trial: just you and your bicycle competing for the fastest time on the course. Time trials don’t have the frenzy of a criterium race, going round and round a loop, and they lack the potential for jostling you might find in mass-start races. It’s just you and your bike, going as fast as you can.
If you think time trials are for you, you’re in luck. There are several series across the state from northwestern Vermont down to Putney, and many are free to boot.
The most extensive time trial series is run by the Green Mountain Bicycle Club. Races take place on Thursday evenings from mid-April to late September on a variety of courses; some flat and some quite hilly. The races are free and open to members and non-members. The hilly routes include a trip up the Jeffersonville side of Smugglers Notch and another up the access road at Bolton Valley. Three flatter out-and-back courses—Greenbush Road in Charlotte, Route 2 from Waterbury to Jonesville, and Main Road in Huntington—make up the championship series and are repeated three times during the course of the season. The fastest time by a club member in each age/gender category for the three courses wins a trophy. The GMBC has been running the series since the mid 1970s and it has been growing ever since. Last year there were roughly 500 race entries, averaging 28 racers per event. Cyclists typically start at one minute intervals but one course had so many entrants—70—that they had to shorten it to every 30 seconds. thegmbc.com
The Stowe Bicycle Club has a time trial series which runs from May until August and also features a climb up Smugglers Notch, albeit from the other side of Route 108. Stowe varies the routes and includes both flat and hilly options over the course of the season. The Stowe rides take place on Wednesday evenings with an average of 20 cyclists per race. Non-members can do two races but if they go for a third, they are required to spend the $30 membership fee to join the club. At the end of the season awards are given out at an annual banquet. onionriver.com/community/local-clubs/sbc
The West Hill Bike Club in Putney has two different time trial events. In 1978 they inaugurated a 9 mile out-and-back route in Brattleboro along the West River. The race takes place over four consecutive Thursdays and this year is scheduled for the month of June. The series is sparsely attended with only five or six riders per race. In 2008, the club began a more challenging and better attended race called the Kurn Hattin climb. The Kurn Hattim is just over 3 miles but the climb averages 4.5 percent. The 2013 Kurn Hattin is scheduled to take place on four consecutive Thursdays in August. All rides are free of charge. westhillshop.com/races.html
The Mad River Riders Time Trial Series is a monthly one, taking place on the last Tuesday of every month from May to September. The five routes alternate between flat terrain, rolling terrain, and steep climbs. Prizes provided by Mad River Glen, Stark Mountain Bike Works, the Bridges, Ole’s Cross Country Center, and others are awarded to the top finishers in each race, by gender, with trophies for the overall winners and a season-ending awards dinner. This is the sixth year for the race series which is free to members and non-members. Roughly 15 cyclists take part in each race. madriverriders.com
The Bennington Cycle Club is another group that likes to make their time trialers sweat. During the course of the summer they host three uphill time trials known as the Woodford Hill Climb Series. Run on the third Tuesday of each summer month (June 18, July 16, and Aug. 20), the races begin at 6 p.m. Competitors are asked to arrive early so they can be seeded in a manner that allows most of the racers to finish around the same time. The course is only 3 miles but has a grade of 6 to 8 percent. There is no cost and racers are not required to be members of the club. As many as 20 racers compete in each race with most being local but others coming from northern Massachusetts. benningtoncycleclub.com
In addition to these races, there are time trials which are part of larger events, each of which requires an entrance fee. This year, there will be four Vermont routes in the 11-race Bike up Mountain Point Series, or BUMPS for short (more info at hillclimbseries.com). Cyclists can race up Ascutney, Burke, and Okemo, as well as the Allen Clark Memorial Hill Climb which goes up the Appalachian Gap. Both the Killington (killingtonstagerace.com) and Green Mountain Stage Races (gmsr.info) have time trial components. To take part in the Killington race you need to purchase a racing license. The Green Mountain Stage Race is only open to licensed racers.
You don’t need aero bars, disc wheels, or a time trial helmet. All you need is a set of strong legs and lungs and a little internal motivation to race the clock. No matter where you live in Vermont, there’s a time trial series for you.