Spencer, Lang, and I are here in Park City getting ready for the Tour of Utah. The elevation of this tour is a major obstacle, especially for guys like us who live at sea level. The importance of arriving early and getting acclimated to the altitude is huge. Our house here is at 7,000 ft, which is already doing the trick. Our first couple days here we all felt like crap–granted we had just come off the Cascade Classic, but the elevation made our legs even worse.
We’ve done a few big rides during this first week and previewed some of the major climbs that we’ll go over in the tour. One of the climbs we’ve done was eight miles long, six of which were gravel/dirt that averaged 9%. Lang didn’t stop crying for two days afterwards.
Being much more hard core than my wimpy teammates,I decided to get in some race miles while getting acclimated for Utah by entering the Tour of Park City–a 150 mile race. Yeah, 150 miles. I had never ridden that far in my life. It only took us 6.5 hours, though, so it wasn’t too bad.
The race started ridiculously early at 6AM. I only slept for four hours that night since the stench of Spencer’s dirty cycling kits in the room were keeping me awake. I got to the race on time somehow after getting lost and trying to find my way back on course with a California road map, drank another water bottle of coffee, and lined up at the start line in the dark.
The first ten miles were raced pretty un-aggressively. One guy got up the road by himself and gained about three minutes on us. I don’t know what he was thinking. Maybe he had a moment of dyslexia when hew was signing up for the race and read that the race was 15.0 miles long, not 150.
Anyways, I just sat in and made sure not to get gapped off on the climbs. The only thing of significance that happened to me in the first 90 miles was that I broke a spoke in my rear wheel. I rode it for about 10 miles while the un-true wheel rubbed a groove in my seat stay (the wheel car was up the road with a breakaway of six or seven guys). I finally got a wheel change and chased back on. But I realized that the replacement wheel was so un-dished that it also was rubbing my seat stay. I stopped to see if I had just put it in crooked, had no luck, chased back on and rode it for another 10 miles or so (wheel car was gone again) before finally getting a new wheel that worked.
Then came the climb at mile 85. I got gapped off during an attack about a mile from the first summit and I was at my limit so couldn’t quite close the gap. There was a short downhill section before the road went up again and then another two miles before we hit the second and final summit at an elevation of 10,700 ft. I was feeling the affects of the altitude pretty severely at this point in the race and I’m pretty sure I was turning over about 200 watts, though it felt like 500.
I chased back on pretty quickly during the descent and caught the group of six that had made it over the top together. A couple more guys chased on after me and we had a group of 11. Only 50 miles to go now. Luckily a lot of it was down hill. We all worked well together until the attacks started coming with 12 miles to go, but I could tell that everyone was close to their breaking point except for one or two other guys. I marked them and countered one of their moves with 3K to go and stayed away to take the win. The best part was that there were free massages and sandwiches at the finish line.