August 28, 2003
By SKY BARSCH, Times Argus Staff Writer
WAITSFIELD – If you think the Appalachian Gap is difficult to drive over, you should meet Andrew Knight, and you’ll stop complaining.
He and about 800 other cyclists will be competing in this weekend’s Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce Green Mountain Stage Race, a bicycle race that requires competitors to peddle over Rt. 17, also known as “App Gap, ” a series of switchbacks up and down a steep hill. Knight is pleased the race brings riders over the gap, because last year’s Sugarbush Access road wasn’t challenging enough, he said.
The first race, the prologue, takes place on Friday at 3:30p.m., and will rank the competitors as they climb from Waitsfield to Huntington over the gap. It takes Knight just 15 minutes to complete the gap. On the second day, the race brings riders over the Middlebury Gap, the third is the App Gap but from the Huntington side to the Waitsfield side, and the fourth and final day brings riders to Burlington
Knight, 25, has only been seriously cycling for a tad more than two years, and has already earned enough points to be classified as a second tier contender by the United States Cycling Federation.
The South Burlington man placed fourth out of 600 competitors at the Mount Washington (N.H.) Hill climb Aug. 16, even though he got a flat tire four minutes before the start. Not bad, considering he only picked up cycling for fun after he injured himself running in college. Even the race coordinator, Gary Kessler, said he is impressed by Knight’s quick rise in the ranks of the cycling world.
Knight is looking forward to this weekend’s race that begins in Waitsfield on Friday. “It’s definitely my favorite. It’s probably my favorite because of all the climbing,” he said. Climbing is Knight’s specialty, he said.
To prepare for the event, Knight has been competing in the Green Mountain Bicycle Club’s weekly time trials in Essex Junction, climbing over Bolton Mountain, and what he calls the “ping-pong” workout: up and over the App Gap four times (that’s four times up and four times down.) Knight, with eight friends started a racing team this year, said he is excited to be sponsored by Louis Garneau, a Canadian cycling clothing company with a Newport facility.
“This is the big race for Labor Day weekend,” said Knight, who is a web developer with Gardener’s Supply in Burlington. He, along with other members of the racing community, said he is pleased the Mad River Valley is hosting the race after the Killington Stage Race fizzled a few years ago.
Visitors are encouraged to attend the event, that runs from Friday to Monday. For more information visit www.gmsr.info. Drivers should expect delays throughout the valley over the weekend.