A unique trial on the trail

Published 11:29 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A myriad of bikes sped through High Bridge Trail State Park on Sunday morning as the High Bridge Trail Roubaix Time Trial event, in its second year, continued to draw a significant level of participation.

USA Cycling’s Robert Cone, who served as chief referee for the event, noted that 61 people participated.

“We had about this many participants last year, so it’s steady,” he said. “I think this is such a wonderful venue for it. … It’s really good for kids, juniors to race, because it’s a nice, safe race. I think it’ll grow over time …”

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Sunday’s time trial featured cyclists of a variety of ages going varying distances through the park.

“The young kids did three miles, and then the teenagers did 11 miles, and everyone else did 16, so they had different turnaround points,” Cone said.

Among those going 16 miles, he cited the fastest time as being 37 minutes, 20 seconds, with another cyclist finishing in 39 minutes.

“So there were two under 40 minutes,” Cone said. “That’s really fast.”

Three of the 61 cyclists lingered around the finish line after completing their races and shared what brought them out for the event.

Frank Deal, of Salem, said he went to school in the area.

“It’s always good to come back to Farmville, and my family grew up near here, so I’ve come here my whole life, and (it’s) just a convenient little family trip,” he said. “Plus, I’m buddies with Jordan (Whiley), so I’ve come out to support him.”

Whiley, of Farmville, was the event director.

John Gray, of Chesapeake, said he just came out to support a state race.

“A unique state race,” Deal added.

“Yeah, very unique,” Gray agreed. “Most of our time trials are done on roadways, so this is a different challenge and just nice to support another event that’s in the state here …”

Cone noted that initially, cyclists are not really sure what bike to bring to the High Bridge event because the trail surface is different.

“Now enough people have done it that they can say, ‘Oh, just bring whatever. Bring your road bike,’” he said. “This trail is actually smoother than a lot of the paved roads that we ride on.”

Cyclist Dan Netzer, of Norfolk, pointed out that the event was not about qualifying for a larger event but rather about furthering the discipline of cycling.

“Time trial is the discipline of cycling, so it’s just a race against the clock,” he said. “Everybody races the same course, but you start out individually. Today we had a minute gap. Sometimes you have a 30-second gap, but it’s just you against the clock. You go as fast as you can. You can’t draft off of anybody. Drafting gives you an advantage, saves energy and stuff. No drafting allowed. That’s the time trial.”