Fifty-five mph on Park City roads, and without getting a speeding ticket.
The bicyclists riding in the Tour of Utah could reach 55 mph when they are in Park City on Sunday for the final leg of the race, well above the posted speed limit drivers must adhere to when they are on the same roads. The cyclists on some stretches of road might double the posted speed limit.
In a place where the Police Department this summer has been aggressive with its traffic patrols, the bicyclists will likely be pedaling above the speed limit through much of a course that runs from the upper reaches of Deer Valley to Old Town.
The posted speed limit is 25 mph on lengthy sections of the bicyclists' route. The riders will be bicycling downhill, giving them the advantage of gravity, after a grueling tour through the northern part of the state that was riddled with thigh-burning uphill climbs. They are expected to fly down parts of the local course.
The Tour of Utah route in the Park City environs starts on Main Street and then heads to the East Side of Summit County and Wasatch County. The riders will climb to Guardsman Pass and then enter Park City again at that high elevation. They will descend from there to the finish line on Main Street. There will be temporary road closures along the route.
"It's a walk in the park. They do that every day," said Gord Fraser, the sports director for the Competitive Cyclist Racing Team.
The Competitive Cyclist team reached speeds as fast as between 65 mph and 70 mph elsewhere during the Tour of Utah, he said, pointing to a section of the course in the Ogden region. He said the riders are not expected to reach the 65 mph to 70 mph range in Park City since the local course features a greater number of sharp curves than elsewhere.
But the riders will be pushing themselves in the Park City area for the last miles of the race, Fraser said. There could be "a lot of aggressive racing" in Park City as teams attempt to make up time on the leaders, he said. Fraser said the Competitive Cyclist team rode the course in Park City for training purposes just before the Tour of Utah started.
"The speed on the descent is nothing new to these riders," he said.
Todd Hageman, a Parkite who designed the Tour of Utah route through the Park City area and is serving as the course director, said the fastest section of the Park City-area course stretches for approximately two miles on Marsac Avenue between Empire Pass and Silver Strike, in upper Deer Valley. The riders could reach 55 mph on that stretch if the conditions are right, he said. The sharp curves elsewhere in Deer Valley will slow the racers down slightly, he said.
The Tour of Utah organizers and state transportation officials are teaming to ensure the road surface is safe for the bicyclists. Hageman said 75 course marshals will comb the route six hours prior to the race. They will sweep the road of debris and patch any depressions in the asphalt. The roads will be temporarily closed to drivers while the racers are on the course.
"It's amazing . . . These are the top cyclists in the world," he said, adding that the riders sometimes reach close to 70 mph when they are racing in Europe.
Hageman said the Tour of Utah travels with a medical crew consisting of doctors riding motorcycles and in a vehicle. They are on the scene to respond to a bicycle wreck.
In a description of the Park City course, the Tour of Utah organizers said to expect a "blistering alpine descent of Royal Street," known for its curvy route between upper and lower Deer Valley. A Tour of Utah video featuring the Park City route describes a "wicked descent" during the stage.
"This is part of top-level international racing," Hageman said.
The Park City-area stage, the final one, is scheduled to start on lower Main Street at 12:10 p.m. with two laps in Old Town. The bicyclists will leave Park City toward the East Side of Summit County and Wasatch County before returning to the finish line on Main Street. They are expected to complete the stage at approximately 3:30 p.m. City Hall is preparing for a crowd of between 15,000 and 20,000.