After an absence of many years, Senior Games Cycling returned to Vermont on Sunday September 12, 2021, with an event staged on the grounds of Castleton University. A 5K Time Trial kicked off the day, followed by an exhilarating 20-mile Road Race through the countryside, a fantastic loop up to the Hubbardton Battlefield and back down to campus.
None of this could have been possible without the efforts of cycling coordinator Andy Weinberg, who first proposed reintroducing the sport to the VSG schedule almost two years ago. Andy not only set and marked the courses, but he also arranged for the timing and the volunteers to make it a safe and enjoyable event. Cheers to Andy!
The Time Trial was a simple out-and-back course, with some interesting balancing acts at the start so that the cyclists could take off with both feet locked into their pedals. Athletes took off at one-minute intervals and completed the basically flat 3.1-mile course in rapid fashion. After the first few competitors, there were riders both starting and finishing almost constantly in the staging area, so it was exciting indeed.
For the women, the fastest Time Trial of the day belonged to triathlete Donna Smyers from Adamant. Donna clocked 8:58, riding a borrowed road bike, to best Dee Barbic of Hinesburg’s 9:25 effort. Both won gold medals in their respective age groups. Charlotte resident Mary Clifton rounded out the top three, also breaking ten minutes in 9:42.
The times were super tight in the men’s race, with Burlington’s Sean McLoughlin posting a 7:30 clocking to barely beat out Mark Mulder’s 7:33. Nelson Hoffman of Northfield captured third in 8:11, with all three of these men winning gold in their age groups.
After a short break, it was time for the Road Race. The National Senior Games traditionally hosts 20K and a 40K Road Races, but the Vermont Senior Games received special approval to use the 20-mile course, a compromise between the two metric distances. Cyclists in other states who qualify for Nationals in the 20K automatically are eligible to compete in the 40K at NSG, and vice-versa, so Vermonters who qualified on Sunday will be able to do either or both events in 2022 as well.
The course was tremendous – check out the photos accompanying this article. The peloton took off from the Castleton campus, and did a slow rolling ride onto Main Street, where the race actually started on the east side of town. Athletes then rolled through the beautiful countryside, enjoy almost a complete lack of traffic, passing farms and forests before heading up a long, grueling climb to Hubbardton. After cresting near the town office there, cyclists dove back down to Route 30 in a treacherous, high-speed decent. Finally, near the end of the course another decent uphill challenged the field, before the riders were able to fly downhill back to the university finish area.
Course architect Weinberg was literally stunned at the times athletes were able to record, with the results much faster than he anticipated.
Kevin Ondre of Springfield was up front the entire race, and crossed the line in 57:35, an amazing effort for a 20-mile course with that kind of elevation change. Burlington’s McLoughlin staged a late charge, passing two cyclists in the final miles to finish second with a 57:52 time. Brian Conchieri from Essex posted an excellent 58:06 result, and Mauricio Rosales made the trip all the way down from Jericho worth the effort by also breaking the one-hour barrier in 58:54.
It was Dee Barbic against Donna Smyers for the women’s top honors, and once again Symers prevailed by a tight margin, as her 1:04:20 clocking proved faster than Barbic’s 1:05:16.
Complete results can be found using the link below- and, really, all the Road Race times were quite impressive.
Thanks to Castleton University, and the towns of Castleton and Hubbardton for working with the Vermont Senior Games to make the racing possible. It was an extremely successful day on all accounts, and we look forward to making cycling an annual event in Vermont once again in the future.
Click on photos below to view larger images in a lightbox.