For years I’ve driven by the Vrooman Road exit off I-90. I always thought it sounded as if there should be a drag strip off that exit. You know, Vroom-man Road.
Actually there is sort of a drag strip off that exit.
Thursdays at 6:30PM during the summer months, Jim Behrens hosts a low-key time trial starting at the Leroy Township fire station. Jim shows up at around 6:20, and if there are guys there, the race is on. Otherwise he drives home.
Most people ride to the race. Some show up with full-on time trial bikes and aero gear (that would be me). There are some with clip-on aero bars or triathlon bikes. And there are some who show up and ride Eddy Merckx-style on their normal road bikes.
Depending on who shows, Jim may decide on the start order. It’s training, and there’s no sense in ruining someone’s morale by getting passed. (But then again, sometimes the fear of getting passed is a good motivator). Or he may have you draw for a starting place by picking from the bunch of popsicle sticks he holds out.
Jim holds your bike while you clip into the pedals, and then lets you go at 1 minute after the previous rider. After everyone has started, he walks to the other side of the road and waits to record the finishing times.
The course is just under 4 miles out to a turnaround marked by an ‘x’ in the road, and then back again to the fire station. No marshals. You have to watch for cars behind you when you make the turn.
There is no prize money. No medals. But no entry fee either. Just bragging rights. And your time recorded on the popsicle stick that you drew for your start time. Everyone who’s heard about the results-on-a-stick thinks it’s a pretty cool idea.
I think it’s cool, period, that Jim puts this race on. These little grass-roots events, like our local Tuesday night training race, are what keep bike racing living and breathing. Without them, many of us would just be doing the club ride to the coffee shop.
The conditions were perfect on July 10: 82 degrees, not too humid, only a light breeze. I brought out the disc wheel, shoe covers, aero helmet, skinsuit. I thought I had a chance to at least get close to the course record, if I was willing to suffer a bit. I suffered enough: