PARK CITY Nearly 1,000 cyclists took to the hills and mountains of the High Uintas on Saturday in one of the most challenging races to hit the Beehive State.
The inaugural Tour de Park City was a 170-mile festival of suffering for the 400-plus athletes who chose to race the full distance. Others chose shorter, but not necessarily any less difficult, options of 100 or 50 miles.
The heartiest, however, signed up for the honor of pushing themselves to the limits as the race started in Park City and made its way to Coalville before taking the back roads to Evanston. From there, the race went uphill and into a stiff headwind as racers ascended the 10,759 foot summit at Bald Mountain Pass along the Mirror Lake Highway.
"I died at least five times today," Salt Lake's Brian Boudreau said. "I felt bad, felt good, felt (crappy), felt OK. Hurt bad on the 6 1/2 miles of dirt, felt good, hurt bad, felt good again at about 100 miles. Felt bad, felt really bad, was in survival mode with no water trying to top Bald Mountain, almost didn't make it, got a feed, felt good, dry mouth again, felt bad, real bad, crashed because I was delirious about 1 1/2 miles from the finish, then finished.
"What a ride."
Boudreau was one of the quickest in the field on Saturday, finishing in about nine hours. But for many, the race was not one against the others they lined up with at the start.
For those, it was a race against the mountain and themselves.
With a 45-mile journey from Evanston to the Bald Mountain Pass with a stiff breeze in the face, coupled with another strong headwind on the descent to Kamas, speeds were kept in check for many athletes. And although the 30-mile plummet down the mountain was much faster than the climb up it, it served only to lull many athletes into a sense of completion.
There were still nearly 20 miles to go with two more significant climbs coming out of Kamas and traveling the east side of Jordanelle Reservoir approaching Park City.
Once that was over, though, the cyclists could shift their gears and make a final push if their legs had the energy to do so over the last 10 miles to the finish line.
"Fun race, huh?" Masters 55 competitor Shannon Storrud said as he made his way down the mountain. "I think we're going to feel this one in the morning."
The race is seen by many as an alternative to the annual Logan to Jackson race held in early September. For others, it is a training race for LOTOJA. And although the Tour de Park City is about 35 miles shorter than LOTOJA, the climbing is longer and covers significantly more total feet of ascent per mile Tour de Park City boasts 9,544 feet of climbing while LOTOJA touts nearly the same amount of climbing but spreads the climbs out over three mountain passes rather than one monster mountain with a summit approaching 11,000 feet.
With a large field of competitors, the Tour de Park City will likely grow in coming years.
The first running of the race, however, was not without its glitches. Food stations ran out of water at times and some racers were unable to fill their water bottles. Start times were listed differently in different areas and some participants missed their designated start times and were a few minutes behind before the race even began.
There were also a handful of crashes, including one on the fast descent from the Bald Mountain that required emergency medical treatment.
Note: Jared Eborn competed in the Tour de Park City, completing the 170-mile race in just over 11 hours.
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