Returning to Vermont after a several-year absence, the Vermont State Time Trial Championship covered a distance of 40K (20K for juniors) from Roxbury to Randolph and back. Organized by Onion River Sports in Montpelier, more than 70 competitors took part with cyclists divided by racing category, gender, and age. Michael Hopwood, a Category 4 racer from Jericho, finished second in his division.
VS: Was this your first time doing the State Time Trial?
MH: My understanding is this race hasn’t been held for several years, and this year they decided to bring it back, so this was my first time.
VS: Was the course challenging?
MH: I was really nervous that it would be a grinder, but it turned out to be in a river valley south of Montpelier, and it was pretty darn flat for Vermont. The only issue is there was essentially no shoulder, but there wasn’t much traffic and two-thirds of the pavement was good. Drivers were really nice when they passed, but it was mostly a farming community so traffic wasn’t a problem. I can imagine a strong north-south wind would be an issue, but it was a relatively wind-free day.
VS: How was the weather?
MH: It was one of our perfect days. It was chilly in the morning, so people were bundled during the warm-up, but the valley fog lifted and the sun came out. It was probably close to 70 by the time we had the barbecue.
VS: What was the best part of the race?
MH: For me, it’s the coming together of cyclists more than the course or the event. It was a bunch of people I’d never met before. People were competitive but friendly, and there was a lot of camaraderie and joking around. The other high point was being able to watch my son and two other juniors race. It was fun to see the kids get so excited. They did the 20K, so I was able to watch them start.
VS: How did the race compare to other time trials you’ve done?
MH: This was a new experience for me because of the length. I’ve never done a time trial that took more than 40 minutes, and I knew this would be over an hour [Hopwood finished in 1:02:21]. Since it was significantly longer, I had to figure out the pacing and how hard I could go before I blew up.
VS: How was the après race?
MH: They made a day of it. We had to register at 9 a.m., there was a riders’ meeting at 10, and we didn’t start until 11. The awards were at 3 or 3:30 p.m. Normally, I’m more of a “ride and go” guy, but my son and I stuck around for the barbecue and the prizes. Both of us got to be on the podium [Bo Hopwood finished second in the men’s 15–16 category]. We were sunburned from being out all day, but it was fun and they had good food.
VS: Would you do it again?
MH: Absolutely. One of the things I really liked was the fact that the low traffic made you feel like you weren’t inconveniencing people. On some time trials, you feel like you’re in the way, but here, we didn’t feel like we were putting the locals out.
VS: If you were in charge of the race, would you do anything differently?
MH: We didn’t really know the course as well as I would have liked. Riding an unknown course for a long distance you like to know where you are, so it would have been nice to have some markers saying 10K to go, 5K to go, etc. I think they planned to do that, but they didn’t have enough time to get around to it. Maybe they could post a Google map with a street view. That would help psychologically with pacing. There was also some confusion about where to park relative to registration, but other than that, it was fine. Registration was simple and they had Port-o-lets.