I was bummed when the Mt. Ogden race got canceled, because even though it had some tough climbs, it looked like a great course, and i did not necessarily want to race the 170-mile Tour de Park City, which was being held the same weekend. Even after Mt. Ogden was canceled i was still debating whether i wanted to race the Tour de Park City. 170 miles in August temperatures did not sound like too much fun. But with a little persuasion from Dave C. i eventually decided to sign up. I'm still not sure how i feel about it. By far the toughest race i have done, and i was far more spent at the end of the race than i ever have been, even after Lotoja.
The race started out mellow enough, everyone was saving energy for the long climbs and long miles. We had a group of about fifty (for some reason they raced the cat 5s and cat 4s together), but when we hit the dirt road section at mile 75 i kept my pace up rather than slow down and that split the group up. Going into Evanston we had about 20 people, which was good because from Evanston to the climb we had a nasty headwind, so having a good-size group was helpful, though there were a couple of times when our paceline fell to pieces and no one wanted to work in the wind. Dave C. attacked once we started up the final climb to Ruth Lake and i jumped on his wheel. We opened up a fair size gap, but it wasn't too long before a chase group organized, and knowing we still had 60 miles to go with lots of headwind going down the canyon Dave and I settled into a steady pace and let them catch us. About six guys caught us right at the Ruth Lake pass and so we rode the quick descent and then up to Bald Mountain pass and started the long descent together. We reeled in one other guy who had gone off the front and another, Rich B., bridged up to us, so fighting against the headwind down the canyon there were about 8 of us. The wind was brutal, far worse than the climbs.
Even though the long climbs were behind us, i knew the two final climbs out of Kamas and then past Jordanelle were going to be painful (they just look like little blips in the elevation chart compared to the Bald Mtn. pass climb, but i assure you, they were painful after 150 miles). Sure enough Justin W. and Jason S. moved to the front and pushed it hard up the first climb. Luckily for me they rode right inside the white line (we had a good size shoulder) and so i had enough space to sit in a little pocket just out of the crosswind and kept pace. At that top of the Kamas climb we had reduced the group to five. On the descent to Jordanelle we lost two more and were down to three, but one of guys, Alex from Spin, caught back up on the final climb. By the time we hit the top of the final climb i was spent. I had relied on the neutral support and they had only supplied water at each feed zone, rather than any gatorade or electrolyte-replacement drink. I had taken some GUs, some Cliff blocks, and some food bars, but i was starting to feel completely fatigued. My body had used up all my energy sources.
As we rode the last ten miles i was doing everything i could to just hang on to the wheels of the three other guys. I was seeing stars and felt like i might fall asleep on my bike. I gave it everything i had to stay with them to the end and managed to just keep on their wheels. I had a few thoughts about sprinting the finish, but those ideas were quickly vanquished by the fact that i was having to put everything i had into just staying with them for the last two miles. I had the interesting sensation of standing to sprint to get back onto the wheel of the group, and immediately feeling pure pleasure and contentment when i finished the effort of the short sprint and sat back down in the saddle. It was unfortunately short-lived, however, as i had to immediately keep up my pedal stroke.
The other three sprinted for the win, but i had nothing so just rolled across the finish. Once i got my feet on the ground i could barely speak or think. I was fried.
So there it is, another 4th place finish. I'm getting really good at those.
A few minutes later Dave C. rolled across the line and we found a place next to a cooler to lie down on the pavement in the shade of the Suunto tent. I remember turning to Dave and telling him i was so tired i think i could fall asleep right there. "You were already snoring," Dave replied.
Coming in 4th i won enough money to almost pay for my registration fees, but best of all i got this awesome tan.