But in spite of the incessant pain and anguish, competitors in this year's Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah couldn't help but praise the culmination of what many consider "America's toughest stage race." The sixth and final stage of this year's event shook some riders; following the race, some laughed in amazement, while others simply couldn't catch their breath.
Here in Park City and Summit County, we take pleasure in watching talented athletes push themselves to their limits. The Olympic legacy, born more than a decade ago, lives on in top-shelf events such as the VISA Freestyle World Cup, Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix and, now, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Sure, the mountains aren't frosty at the moment, but we appreciate effort no matter what season it is. At the exertion displayed in Sunday's Tour of Utah finale cyclists rode more than 76 miles after having already taxed their minds and bodies covering 470 miles in oppressive heat we watched in amazement.
At some points, riders slowed to less than 12 miles per hour, weaving through the treacherous switchbacks of Empire Pass. Spectators ran alongside Levi Leipheimer, encouraging the two-time Tour of Utah champion, shouting words of support.
Summit County is chock-full of athletes who want to test the limits of their bodies on a regular basis, so it should come as no surprise that fans at the finish line on lower Main Street hollered for nearly every rider, rolling names and pronunciations off their tongues as only an online translator could do.
We've hosted the Tour of Utah before this was not our first rodeo but having the final stage on our home turf is a different story. An appreciation for the process of the demanding six-day long event that has brought such worldwide popularity to the Wasatch Back is exactly why we hope to see the Tour return for another go in the dog days of 2013.
It's hard to visualize a more indelible summertime scene, that lasting image of stage winner Leipheimer riding up lower Main Street through a powdery cloud kicked up from the street art chalked by youngsters earlier that morning. The snow isn't here yet, but we'll take that moment and tuck it neatly away until next year.