By PEDRO VELAZCO KOKOMO TRIBUNE
---- — The Kokomo Break Away Bicycle Club will get a sneak peek at the new U.S. 31 bypass on Sunday.
The club worked with a race promoter and the Indiana Department of Transportation to pull off a unique event this weekend. The club’s monthly time trial will be held on the pristine pavement of the new, and so far unused, bypass.
“We just thought it would be a neat idea if we could make it happen — likely it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Break Away race director Francis Manfred said.
He and Markus Naegeli did the club’s heavy lifting, working with Ohio race promoter Roger Bowersock and getting approval from INDOT.
“We had thought about the idea of trying to do a time trial on the bypass before it opened, so we were kind of loosely working on that possibility and then we were approached by [Bowersock],” Manfred said. “That got us really excited because he brings over a professional starting ramp and chip timing, a lot of door prizes, cash payouts. It’s going to be a much bigger event than we normally put on.”
The time trial is at 9 a.m. Sunday with registration at 7:30. The cost is $25. Racers will congregate at the Kokomo Howard County Public Library’s South Branch, 1755 E. Center Rd., where they can park and will have access to the facility before or after heading out to the bypass approximately a mile away.
The time trial itself will be a 12-mile circuit, with racers going six miles up then six miles back to the original starting point. Cyclists will be sent out at 30-second intervals with no drafting allowed.
The clean, open road of the U.S. 31 bypass is the special attraction for this edition of the monthly club event.
“I think that’s what all the people are excited about because our typical events are not on closed roads, so there’s always some traffic or obstacles that you always have to pay attention to,” Manfred said. “Whereas we will have a brand new road with no cracks, no potholes, no roadkill, no traffic of course. The pavement is obviously pretty new and it’ll be fast.
“I have a number of teammates and friends who do these races and they’re all very excited about doing it.”
The event is open to anyone interested, local or from outside the area, whether they’ve ever participated in a Break Away event or not and whether they expect to post a fast time or not.
“Our biggest thing is we don’t want people to be intimidated by it,” Manfred said. “We’re all friendly and helpful. If they want to give a short race a try, this would be an opportunity.”
The Break Away club hopes for a bigger turnout than usual. The time trial features several divisions, and also a total prize fund of $1,000 will be divided among the top five men and top five women.
“With our local time trials, we typically get anywhere from 20-40 on a given Sunday per month,” Manfred said. “I think the promoter is hoping for somewhere between 100 and 150. Unfortunately there’s some competing races around the state that may draw some of the racers away from Kokomo.
“I’d be happy I think with 100.”
Online registration has already closed but people can still register on race day. For more information on the event, visit www.midwesttimetrial.com, or call Manfred at 765-860-6989.
“Most people I’ve talked to are pretty excited about it because, again, it’s a rare opportunity to race on such an open course with no traffic and nothing else to worry about except going fast,” Manfred said.