• Mind against matter Time trials give us a chance to test ourselves
    July 13,2014
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    Itís a great time to kick back in your favorite chair, a cold bottle of something in one hand and your remote in the other.

    The home screen offers us one or more of the following to stare at, cheer for, and support: Wimbledon, FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, MLB All Star Game, British Open. Suddenly everyone becomes an expert from tennis to soccer, from cycling to baseball to golf.

    Am I knocking this? Of course not. Thereís a time and a place to jump the fence from participant to spectator. Cheering for a team, learning about an athleteís personal life, even shouting at the ref (Why not? He canít hear you anyway.), especially in the company of others, builds a network of camaraderie based on similar interests and expectations, disappointments and victories.

    Arenít these the same elements of participatory activities? Doesnít motivation thrive in a multitude of varying situations? Perhaps, however, spectator sports are best balanced and enjoyed when active participation is also present.

    ďBut,Ē you may say, ďIím not capable of such a high level of achievement. I have neither the time nor the talent.Ē You do, I contend, have several choices of opportunity should you decide to take them.

    Think about it. Itís not hard to find a tennis program, soccer league, cycling event, softball game or golf tournament in your area. Most welcome all levels from novice to expert. Most offer what is best about community in sports and friendly competition.

    As you read this, you may be preparing to watch the final match of 2014 World Cup Soccer in Brazil. (This is the menís version. Next year you can tune in to the womenís in Canada.) You may have already gone for a run or at least walked the dog. You may be so motivated by watching the play that after the game you grab a soccer ball and head for the backyard or vow to become active in a way of your choice. If so, being a spectator has served you well.

    You may be addictively glued to each dayís coverage of the Tour de France. Whatever you may think of the world of competitive cycling, itís hard to deny the athletes admiration due to their training, dedication and seemingly incredible strength and endurance.

    Can you compete with them? Unlikely. But, you can compete locally. Read on to learn of a recreation-friendly race for you, the real-life athlete who must dovetail your training with a busy work and family life and within the boundaries of physical and sports skills that you possess.

    What is a time trial?

    If you ride a bike, preferably a road bike, you might want to learn more about a TT or time trial. There are individual TT races and team TT races but in each case you are on your own. You start, ride and finish alone. You do not have the benefit or responsibility of riding in a pack, practicing the skills or learning the strategies connected with riding within touching distance of other riders. You do not need to worry if someone will knock you off balance and you have only yourself to congratulate or blame for your performance. TTs, therefore, are user-friendly and accommodate just about any level rider.

    Tori Bortman, in Bicycling magazineís new Big Book of Cycling for Beginners (Rodale, 2014), defines a TT as: ďthe only road race that does not have a mass start. This time, itís you (or your team riding as a group) against the clock for the fastest overall time.

    The courses are usually 10-25 miles in length, can be flat, hilly, or entirely uphill, and often play to the strengths of endurance riders who can hold a very hard pace steadily for a long time. In triathlons, time trials are the biking portion of the swim-bike-run race. In this racing, there are no packs to rest in and no sprints or surges to keep pace with. You are going it alone, and there is a mind-over-matter style of racing.Ē

    Often local cycling clubs offer their participants an opportunity to race and TTs provide the ideal platform to do so. For example, in Central Vermont the Stowe Bike Club has a long history of organizing and perpetuating a TT series that invites competition and camaraderie. Held every Wednesday (weather permitting) from May through August, these events have become a staple of road cycling activity in the Stowe/Montpelier area. A quick look at results indicates hard fought battles for the lead as well as a range of finish times that prove to be inclusive. (www.onionriver.com/stowe-bike-club-time-trials/)

    By Linda Freeman
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