I read The Park Record’s recent article on the Tour de Park City with my mouth agape. It was a lovely piece of fluff that clearly ignored, or showed ignorance of, the severe problems that occurred with the logistics, planning and execution of this event. Shame on The Park Record for lauding this event as a "success" and its planner as "vigilant."
I have a great deal of experience not only participating in events of this type, having ridden dozens of centuries and charity rides around the United States, but also planning major cycling events. For the past six years I have been a member of the planning committee for the MS150 Bay to Bay Bike Tour (including two years as its chairman), a two-day event, with more than 2,500 participants. I have also been a member of the Utah Tour de Cure planning committee, serving as its safety chairman.
In all my years of participating in and planning cycling events, I have never encountered the number and severity of miscues as I did last Saturday. As a participant in the 100-mile portion of the event, I and many other riders spent most of the day flirting with dehydration thanks to the lack of proper planning for such a large-scale, multifaceted cycling event.
There were a number of minor hiccups such as problems with packet pick-up, last-minute changes in start times, and other little issues. The most critical and inexcusable errors, however, had to do with inadequate rider and racer support, including too few aid stations, improper aid station supply, and support vehicles that lacked the most basic necessities.
The 100-mile route traveled Mirror Lake Highway from Kamas to Bald Mountain Pass. Along the way I encountered many riders who were out of food and water, a potentially deadly combination. There simply is no excuse for not providing at least one more aid station on this 20+ mile climb to help the riders deal with the predictably warm weather and high altitude conditions.
The aid stations that did exist were inadequately supplied and staffed, and did not have enough restrooms to support the number of participants. Long lines and a dearth of food, water and energy drink forced riders to wait much longer than necessary, or to ride extra miles to local stores to pay for the hydration and nutrition that had been promised. Support vehicles lacked the most basic supplies such as tubes, patch kits, pumps, food and water.
All of these failures in planning and execution led to a serious situation on the road that could easily have led to major health and safety problems for the riders and racers. All were promised a safe, enjoyable and well-supported ride.
As noted in your article and in a post-ride email from Mr. Siddoway, the number of registrations swelled in the days leading up to the event. What is clear is that the "adjustments" noted in your article were insufficient to provide for the safety and well-being of the participants.
Mr. Siddoway’s assurances about next year, and his apologies about this year are, quite simply, too little too late. This cyclist will not be another guinea pig for Mr. Siddoway as he learns how to properly and safely run an event.
I have also learned from this experience that I need to take The Park Record’s articles with a huge grain of salt — a good thing, since I am still replacing electrolytes lost during the Tour de Park City.
David Bernstein is a former bicycle industry executive and current director of an international trade association. He is also the producer and host of The FredCast Cycling Podcast, the most popular cycling-related audio program on the Internet.
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