Tales from the Lardbutt Peloton, October 18, 2005
There are some things that everyone can agree on constitute a 'Lap of the Gods.' The Tour - which is essentially a three-week long lap around the runny cheese factory they call 'France' - is most certainly a 'Lap of the Gods.' The Vuelta? Of course. Totally epic. The Giro? Ditto. Each one a 'lap' of God-like proportions. Greg Taylor examines the Lardbutt's own 'Lap of the Gods'.
So, okay, maybe by comparison calling a race that covers only a single lap of 1.228 miles around a local park "The Hot Lap of the Gods" is pushing things just a tiny bit.
But it is a very fast lap. And if at the end of the day you have covered those 1.228 miles in the lowest overall elapsed time, you definitely attain god-like immortality when your name and time is inscribed forever on the highly-coveted Team Lardbutt Trophée Le Grande Derriere.
Oh, and you get some doughnuts when you're finished.
Located South of Washington, DC, Fort Hunt Park is home to the annual Team Lardbutt Sprint Contest. Maintained by the National Park Service (who will no doubt be very pleased to hear that their facility is being used for a strictly under-the-radar club time trial), the park is circumscribed by a perfectly smooth 1.228 mile loop. Fort Hunt Park is situated overlooking the Potomac river, on the site of a former heavy artillery emplacement that was constructed to defend Washington, DC, from invasion by the perfidious Spanish in the late 1890's. During World War II, the fort was used to house "high value" German prisoners of war, mostly captured U-Boat personnel. The guns and barracks are now long gone, and the facility has made a wonderful transition from fortress to tree-lined neighbourhood park.
The road around Fort Hunt Park is a magnet for local riders wanting to test their fitness against the clock. All strictly informal, mind you. Don't want to do anything too big, too organised that would draw the attention of the Park Rangers. That would be a bad thing. No, officer, there's nothing at all sinister about a bunch of riders who just happen to gather at the park early on a Sunday morning and start doing laps. It's all just a happy coincidence, really.
What's really cool is that just this type of "coincidence" has been going on at Fort Hunt Park for as long as anyone can remember, with some very strong riders showing up to test their legs against the clock. We recently heard from a gentleman who had clocked himself around the park back in the early 1970's, reporting a best of 2:50.00. The Lardbutt Era arrived at Fort Hunt Park in 1997, and a plaque bearing a XXXL leather saddle and bronze nameplates that commemorate the club hot lap record holders hangs proudly in the Spokes Bike Shop in Belle View. The current absolute record holder - not that anyone is keeping track of these things - is Ian Dille, who now rides with the Sierra Nevada/Kodak Gallery squad here in the United States. While preparing for the "Tour de 'Toona" a while back, Ian ripped off a lap of 2:32.8 from a standing start, a time that he set with some top-of-the-line aero equipment. For us mortals, a sub-three minute time is very respectable.
The 2005 edition of the Team Lardbutt 'Hot Lap of the Gods' was, as always, exciting to right down to the finish. Despite some talk among the riders that Dille's absolute record could fall on Sunday, it remained intact for another day as course conditions were challenging, with a strong, gusty east wind blowing throughout the morning. The weather didn't seem to phase "Slippery Pete" Czapiewski, however, who cracked off a time of 2:48.96 (26.4 mph average), for the day's winning time and a new club record. What makes Czapiewski's time even more impressive is that he turned his hot lap astride a vintage Tommaso set up as a fixed gear, tricked out with aero bars and a set of pristine Campagnolo Shamal wheels. Impressive stuff. Second place was captured after a mighty effort by John "JT" Terpinas, the reigning 2005 "Team Lardbutt Beer and Doughnuts" 10km Time Trial champion. Rounding out the podium (again, not that this was a race or anything) was "Tree Man" Todd Nedorostek, who has vowed not to rest until he discovers a way to have as many consonants in his last name as "Czapiewski."
Asked how he would compare the prestige of holding the official Team Lardbutt Fort Hunt Hot Lap record with something like wearing the Green Jersey at the Tour de France, Czapiewski responded with the typical forthrightness for which he is known. "No question here," he replied while munching on a tasty glazed doughnut, one of the spoils of victory, "having your name on the Lardbutt Time Trial trophy puts you into one of the most exclusive clubs in all of competitive cycling. Hundreds of riders have worn the Green Jersey at the Tour de France - so far only four different names have appeared atop the coveted Trophée Le Grande Derriere. You do the math."
Team Lardbutt Hot Lap Top 5
1 Pete Czapiewski - 2:48.96 (26.4mph) (Fixie/club record)
2 John Terpinas - 2:50.91 (26.1mph)
3 Todd Nedorostek - 3:01.43 (24.6mph)
4 Greg Taylor - 3:02.15 (24.5mph)
5 George Schultz - 3:05.19 (24.1mph)