Worcester, Mass. 
May 13, 2001 

Time trials push riders to personal limits

By Lynne Tolman 

  Even if you've never entered a bike race, you've probably raced the clock on your bike. You measure how long it takes you to pedal a certain route, and next time you see if you can do it faster. 
  That's all a time trial is: cyclist vs. stopwatch. 
  Weekly time trials in the area allow riders of all types to test their speed and strive for improvement. Some people ride TTs as training for road races or triathlons, and others ride just to gauge their own fitness. While comparisons among cyclists are inevitable, most TT riders say they're not competing against anyone else. 
  "If you mess up or bonk in a TT you have only yourself to blame. No leadouts, no drafting, and no excuses," said Dan Butler of Arlington, a racer in the Minuteman Road Club who is a regular at Tuesday night time trials at Wachusett Reservoir in West Boylston. That's why the TT is called "the race of truth." 
  Butler, 30, became the state's Category 4 TT champion last year and will defend the title at the North Atlantic Time Trial Championships on June 23 in Winsted, Conn. But one reason he likes the West Boylston events, which have drawn more than 300 riders over the past six years, is that they're not only for speed demons like him. 
  "Doing a TT is both physically and mentally challenging, no matter what your level of riding is, and the riders at West Boylston respect all the riders' efforts, not just the fastest riders," Butler said. 
  Times on the West Boylston course, 10.2 miles with a few smooth right turns and a hurtful hill near the end, range from 21 minutes, 5 seconds (the course record, set in 1996 by pro racer Frank McCormack of Leicester) to more than 40 minutes for some first-timers. 
  Software developer Mark Reid of Hudson keeps the stats and e-mails a weekly rundown to all participants, listing average speeds, personal bests, and annual and all-time records, including "non-aero" rides -- those without wind-cheating equipment such as handlebar attachments for a low, tucked-in position. 
  Last year Reid even started a "Clydesdale" category for riders who weigh over 200 pounds. "We figured out who was the fastest per pound," said Thomas DeLoriea, 38, of Oxford, an information systems technical specialist. "It was a fun way to let us heavy riders compete." 
  Riders line up single file at the start and get the countdown to "Go!" at 30-second intervals. Some find motivation in chasing down the rider just ahead. 
  That's what Karl Hanner, 57, of Southboro, was doing on a memorable Tuesday last year. "I was running down my son-in-law, who had beaten me a couple of weeks earlier. A tractor-trailer truck cut me off on Route 140, and it cost me dearly. I lost sight of my son-in-law, but then I caught him, and beat him for the day," said Hanner, a real estate investor who uses the West Boylston TT to train for mountain bike races. "And I still had a personal best." 
  Once and future racer Diane Tower of Hudson loves the all-out feeling of riding "on the edge." "I just like being able to push my body as far as I can," said the 36-year-old nurse. "In TTs I like to pretend that my legs are pistons ... like in the "Titanic' when they're showing the engines revving up." 
  Computer engineer Marion Garver of Marlboro takes pride in having pedaled the West Boylston TT more times than almost anyone. Ten times last year equaled "100 miles at pace," she noted, and one of those rides set the women's non-aero record for the year, 28:51. No longer a racer, Garver said the Tuesday speed workout keeps her from getting stuck in a rut, a fate she fears when her lunchtime riding buddies don't push her hard enough. 
  Not to worry, according to the TT record keepers. Virtually everyone who keeps trying does get faster. 
  MassBike's third annual Crosstown Challenge, in which motorists and bicyclists travel the same routes to Worcester's Earth Day Festival, showed once again that cycling is a good way to go in the city. Riders and drivers all have to obey traffic rules -- no running red lights or stop signs, no speeding and so forth. This year, for the first time, two bicyclists reached the destination, Institute Park, before the corresponding drivers. 
  Starting from Bicycle Alley in Webster Square, Bo Daley biked to the festival in 14 minutes, and that was 6 minutes ahead of the driver. Terri O'Connor pedaled the same route in 15:40, arriving less than 2 minutes after the motorist. Chris Bull started biking from Olean Street, near Tatnuck Square, and arrived in 16 minutes, vs. 23:36 for the driver. 
  TIP OF THE HELMET to the Simple Living Community at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 90 Holden St., Worcester, for promoting "Don't Drive Alone Sunday." The group is urging everyone attending next Sunday's service to walk, bike or carpool to church -- anything but drive alone. The idea is to get people thinking about how they can improve their health and the environment by reducing dependence on automobiles. 
  The Penn State cycling team won the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference championship two weeks ago in Vermont and led the conference in season points to earn a berth at the national championships next weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo. Other ECCC teams in Division I that qualified for nationals are UMass (Joe Alachoyan from Millbury is the only UMass rider going to the races), University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire, Harvard and Boston University. 
  Division II qualifiers were Princeton, the conference champion, and Yale, Dartmouth, Army, Wesleyan and St. Michael's. 

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