Return of the Big Wheels
Killington Revives Popular Event
Jack Kershlis, of Stockbridge, Vt., races on a tricycle with a toilet cover seat rest in The Killington Trike Race at The Foundry in Killington, Vt., on Saturday. Kershlis’ team, The Riverside Wrecks, came in second out of the eight teams that competed at the event, which returned after a 15-year absense. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Wilder the golden retriever seems to walk on the water during the Foundry Fly Dogs competition while chasing a ball thrown by Merle Alexander, of Scituate, Mass., left. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Right: Killington’s Tor Trivers savors a faceful of chocolate pudding after completing the trike race, which his team of Dartmouth alums, the Shagadelics, won. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Tuukka the black Labrador makes a splash landing in pursuit of a ball thrown by Glen Mandel, 13, of Rutland, left center, during the Foundry Fly Dogs competition. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
“(Organizers) must be afraid of innovation. But I understand it’s the first year back, and they’re figuring things out.” Dominic Chiarela, of Killington, dressed as Princess Peach of Super Mario Brothers fame. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Killington, Vt. — Summertime recreation in Killington is once again best served on three wheels.
The Killington Trike Race returned Saturday, renewing the popular tricycle race after a 15-year hiatus. With many competitors adorned in theme outfits ranging from Super Mario Brothers to Santa Claus, nine teams of five screeched, swerved and screamed their way down an approximately 1,000-foot course from the Summit Lodge to The Foundry restaurant and pub.
Foundary owner Chris Karr brought the event back as part of a weekend of events that also included a Great Gatsby costume party, a dog dock-diving competition, paddleboat races and a golf tournament in an attempt to revitalize summer fun in a town largely known for its ski resorts.
The weekend’s festivities centered on the trike race, which was held on longer courses down hilly Killington Road from 1973-1998 before being discontinued, in part, because of liability concerns.
“It was really one of the great events of Killington, just an awesome way to get people together in the summer,” said Karr, who moved to town in the 1990s. “The organizers just kind of let it die, and it was disappointing. One of the first things we talked about when we bought (the restaurant) last fall was to bring it back, because it’s a great space for it.”
Championed by a group dressed in tie dye and named the Shagadelics, the course featured an array of obstacles in the spirit of previous installments.
After digging their way through a vat of chocolate pudding in search of assigned medals, racers had to chug an entire (non-alcoholic) can of beer before mounting their tricycles. A hilly first stretch demanded an abrupt stop as racers dismounted and carried their trikes through a row of tires and handed off materials to officials.
Teammates taking over for the next stage of the race had to climb into a tub of water filled with rubber duckies and find one inscribed with a number designated for their team.
The second racer then sped down a paved lane flanked by bales of hay to a cardboard “toll booth,” where they dismounted and handed in their medals before spinning with their foreheads planted on the butt end of a Wiffle ball bat. Freshly dizzy, they had to hit pitches tossed by a teammate or officials before getting on the trike and speeding down the final stretch of the finish line.
Comprised of 1994 and ‘96 Dartmouth College graduates, the Shagadelics gained the upper hand when Andrew Koh, of Boston, stood on the rear side of the trike and “skated” down the third leg of the course after getting his rubber duckie.
Having won their heat, the performance set up a head-to-head final between the Shagadelics and veteran racers Riverside Wrecks, a group claiming to have won no fewer than 10 installments of the race prior to the hiatus.
With the Wrecks stalling on the exchange to the second leg, the Shags took control and won easily with a time of 1 minute, 46.6 seconds to the Wrecks’ 2:10.11
The Shagadelics, all five of whom were members of the Tri-Kap fraternity at Dartmouth, plan on competing next year under a different pseudonym. “We’re going to be the Tokyo Drifters next year and hopefully have a sponsor,” said Tor Trivers, an investment manager. “Now we have this win as means to build capital.”
Led by Stockbridge, Vt., resident and septuagenarian Jack Kershlis, members of the Riverside Wrecks were just happy to be competing in the trike race once more. It brought back memories of yesteryear, when most of the trikes were custom-built and picked up major speed on mountainous Killington Road.
“We were clocked at 50 miles per hour one year, no joke,” Kershlis recalled. “We always felt like it was perfect for us, because we were crazy and young. Now we’re crazy and old.”
The event wasn’t without its frustrations. Two trikes were disqualified, including the Dominic Brothers’ Huffy Green Machine, an elongated tricycle with steering shafts to control the rear wheels.
The trike brought in by the True Wheels team was also booted for having a mountain-bike front wheel in place of traditional plastic. Both teams were issued small, Big Wheels-style house bikes and struggled to gain traction with them.
“We were told to bring a Big Wheels-style bike with no modifications, and that’s what this is,” said Dominic Brothers rider Dominic Chiarela, of Killington, who was dressed up as Princess Peach from Super Mario Brothers. “This is the same as it was out of the box. It isn’t modified.”
Tongue-in-cheek, Chiarela added, “(Organizers) must be afraid of innovation. But I understand it’s the first year back (for the event), and they’re figuring things out. There are probably going to be things they’re going to want to (improve) for next year.”
The Foundry Flying Dogs exhibit showcased 12 canines lunging after toys off a 30-foot dock, competing for distance.
Organized by avid dog dock divers Jeff Leonard and Suzanne Ellis-Leonard, of Rutland, the couple hoped to introduced average area dog owners to the sport.
The event was won by the couple’s golden retriever, Wilder, with a leap of 19 feet, marking the 3-year-old’s first win over black Labrador peer Chester (18 feet), also owned by Leonard and Ellis-Leonard.
The couple recently returned from a sanctioned Dock Dogs competition in Scarborough, Maine, and compete in several such events each year.
“It was awesome to tie this into the trike race,” said Leonard. “I think a lot of kids enjoyed it. Hopefully, it will get people interested and they’ll sign up for Green Mountain Dock Dogs, which is Vermont’s first official dog dock diving group.”
Erica Pierson, of East Corinth, recently join GMDD and brought her 3-year old black Lab, Mason, for Saturday’s event.
Mason did well for himself, although it was difficult to get him out of the water once he jumped in.
“He just loves swimming. I think that’s why I can get him to do this,” Pierson said. “We’re going to work on his focus.”
The weekend’s festivities included a raffle to benefit the nonprofit Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports as well as the Killington Fire Department, and a recent catfish derby competition held at the Foundry forwarded proceeds to the Killington Recreation Department. It’s all part of Karr’s mission to keep the (big) wheels turning for recreation in town when the ski lifts aren’t in motion.
“We’re all about summer here,” Karr said. “It’s a great place to do things this time of year.”
Jared Pendak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3306.