Sidney cycling club's Tuesday Night Time Trials on starting line

The individual time trial is known in cycling as the race of truth. It’s just you, the road and the clock.

The Sidney Velo Club’s Tuesday Night Time Trials have been a rite of passage for almost anybody who became anybody in Island cycling since 1980. Past champions or fastest-time cyclists in the event have included Olympians Ryder Hesjedal, Roland Green, Erinne Willock, Gillian Carleton and Gina Grain, projected future Olympians Jay Lamoureux and Erin Attwell, pros Riley Pickrell, Adam De Vos, Curtis Dearden, Rob Britton, Craig Richey and Annie Ewart.

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The event has now beaten the clock once again as the first officially organized Island sporting event to return after the shutdown of all sports in March due to COVID-19.

Only lone riders hit the road at a time, in one-minute intervals, making the time trial the perfect pandemic sport. So not even the coronavirus can stop it. The only time the Tuesday Night Time Trials have been cancelled in its four-decade history was in 2010 due to the construction of the McTavish Road Interchange.

“The time trial allows for social distancing,” said Bruce Falk, a director of the Sidney Velo Club, who has been the finish-line timer for several years.

“The riders are bunched in other cycling races, so the time trial is an ideal race for the current [pandemic] situation.”

Riders must adhere to the Tuesday Night Time Trials’ two-page safety plan. Among the guidelines are that there are no holders permitted at the start line and riders must start with a foot on the road. There are also no podium ceremonies as in previous years.

Despite being a venerable fixture for cyclists over 40 years, with a notable alumni list, the Sidney Velo Tuesday Night Time Trials might be little known outside the tight cycling community.

“It’s a grassroots sort of event,” said Falk.

“It has helped develop a lot of cyclists who have gone onto the Olympics and become pros. It’s good training. It gets you into the racing mindset.”

The route is 17.4 kilometres, with the start and finish lines on Lochside Drive at the McTavish Interchange. The first race was last week with races every Tuesday evening at 7 to Sept. 1.

“It’s an amazing history right up to somebody like one of our past winners Riley [Pickrell] racing this week in a UCI pro event in Switzerland,” said Willi Fahning, who founded the Sidney Velo Club, and the Tuesday Night Time Trials, and is now club vice-president.

“The whole Victoria cycling community was looking forward to these races starting up again.”

And, once again, they beat the clock.

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