Tuesday, August 12, 2014

(Another) Bicycle Race Runs Through It

The Tour of Utah is one of only five UCI-sanctioned, multi-stage, North American pro cycling events in 2014. Sponsored by the Larry H. Miller Dealerships, the race showcases some of the world’s most prestigious teams and cyclists for seven days in August.  This event attracts worldwide attention as the top international cycling event that follows the Tour de France. Nearly a decade since its opening circuit, the Tour of Utah, today, stands shoulder to shoulder with the most prestigious professional bicycle stage race events as our answer to the greatest cycling challenges the world has to offer. (www.tourofutah.com)

Actually, the Tour of Utah didn’t run through our campground, but it did run right past it.  Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour of Utah, on August 8, 2014, started at Evanston, Wyoming, and ran down the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway to finish at Kamas, Utah.  This put the racers on a 101.4 mile course with 5,706 feet of elevation gain.  The good news for the racers – once they get over Bald Mountain Pass, it’s literally downhill from there.
The racers left Evanston at 11:20 AM.  A course Marshall arrived at the entrance to Shady Dell at about 1:15 PM, so we knew it was getting close.  Justin, the Marshall, is from Las Vegas.  A cyclist himself, he thought it would be fun to volunteer for the race.  He got the thankless job of telling the drivers along the race course that they would have to pull over and wait for the racers to pass.  He said most people were nice, but a few, well let’s just say he was glad when they finally rolled up their windows and pulled off the road.  Hmmm – we’ve had a few like that in our camp hosting adventures.  We could relate.
So where, we asked him, was “off the road” on this stretch of the course?  “We’ll need to have them pull into your campground and wait,” was his reply.  We weren’t expecting that, but since we didn’t have another option to offer, we went with it. 
About half an hour after Justin arrived, we started seeing signs that the racers were close.  Support cars came down the mountain.  We heard the airplane flying overhead.  Then finally, several police motorcycles came down the road, and right behind them, the leaders of the pack.  The six racers in the lead were a good five minutes ahead of the rest of the pack.  Another set of support vehicles, another set of police motorcycles, and the bulk of the racers came flying down.  Two ambulances brought up the rear.  We saw a couple of the lagging cyclists, and regular traffic starting coming down the road. 
Then it was off to the top of the campground to tell the trapped cars that their forced stay in our campground was over.  All in all, no harm was done, except that a couple of horse trailers let their horses out while they were parked.  And since horses do what horses do, we had to shovel it off the roads.  All in a day’s work.
This was actually the first time in the history of the Tour of Utah extended beyond state borders.  Bald Mountain Pass is the highest point the Tour of Utah has ever reached – which makes sense since it’s the highest paved road in the state.
Eric Young of the United States won stage 5 of the Tour of Utah. 

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