Short but sweet: Tour de Park City skips Park City route | ParkRecord.com

Short but sweet: Tour de Park City skips Park City route

Matthew Piper, OF THE RECORD STAFF

Last year’s Tour de Park City race competitors finished the final ascent to Newpark with legs twitching and wobbling after 150 miles of intense riding through Summit County. This year’s version of "America’s hardest single-day road race" offered less leg aches, and less headaches.

"It was real smooth," said seventh-place men’s Category 1,2,3 finisher Eric Harrington from a quiet parking lot in Coalville after the race. "It was much safer than last year."

The circuit course began and finished in Coalville this year, skipping the Kimball Junction finish because of the congestion and frustration caused in past years by a left turn onto S.R. 224. Race director Riley Siddoway said there were no 2010 incidents, "other than a bunch of people finishing."

The only major surprise for race organizers came when cyclists started showing up at the finish in Coalville shortly after noon – almost an hour and a half before last year’s top pros. "They did it faster than we thought they would," Siddoway said.

"Starting and finishing from (Coalville) was a lot easier to orchestrate than the Park City section," he said. "Getting back in to the Newpark area is always a challenge. This is now the home of the event, just because it’s a lot easier to do it from here."

Is it really still America’s hardest single-day race, though, as the event is billed on its website?

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"When it went to and from Park City, it was," said Park City’s Jason Travis. "It was significantly easier this year not having to climb back into Park City."

The race route took cyclists from the start at Coalville’s City Park through Upton, up to Evanston, Wyo., down through Beartown, Wyo., and back into Utah for the ascent of Bald Mountain near Mirror Lake. The course then wound through Kamas and Peoa and back into City Park.

North Ogden’s Joel Rackham finished 13th in his second time racing in the event, using it as a tune-up to September’s LOTOJA race from Logan to Jackson, Wyo., which runs 206 miles. "Usually if we can finish this one, then LOTOJA will be pretty good," Rackham said.

"It’s just a challenge to get up over that Mirror Lake Highway and crest that hill, and once you do, there’s just lots of endorphins that go through you," Rackham said. "It’s a great course, and that’s what draws us up here."

Eric Harrington fell from second in the pro field in 2009 to seventh this year, losing his advantage as a climbing specialist with the course alterations. Kennett Peterson won the men’s race in 6:37:40, with a group of five riders nine seconds back and Harrington back by 15 seconds. State road champion Cameron Hoffman took second, while Cole Sport Racing team manager Todd Hageman was fifth.

"I liked those big climbs on the way out of Kamas last year, so I kind of miss those," he said. "This was really fast. From the top of Bald Mountain all the way into here, it was super high speeds. These rollers coming into Coalville were really punchy. They really hit your legs hard, because people hit those things and just ramp it up over the top."

Harrington worked in conjunction with the lead pack before losing out in a late breakaway to the finish from the leaders. At that point, he said, he was toast.

"For me, it’s almost comical to try to sprint after 150 miles of riding, because you stand up and your legs are like spaghetti noodles," he said. "I feel kind of sloppy. Both your legs will be seizing and charley-horsing, you feel nauseous sometimes . . . your brain is still saying ‘Go, go, go.’"

Salt Lake City’s Nicole Evans finished No. 1 in the women’s field, which started together across categories. "I haven’t done 150 miles for a really long time, so it was a good feeling," she said.

Evans praised the course layout, the beauty of the town and the organization.

"I never went thirsty, it was amazing," she said. "It’s nice not having to have your own support vehicle."

Travis, whose wife Ainge also took part in the race Saturday, said the tour ought to consider a name change.

"Frankly, I was thinking about this last night," he said. "If they called this the Tour of Summit County, it might go over a lot better in Kamas, Oakley, Peoa, Coalville, because it’s everybody’s. It’s not just Park City’s."