Fun is guaranteed at Tour des Suds
A month and a half before Halloween, Park City residents, dressed in costumes, headdresses and capes, will fill Main Street for the Tour des Suds bike race. The annual event, now in its 37th year, will take place on Sunday, with riders of all skill levels trekking seven miles from City Park to the top of Guardsman Pass where a party, of sorts, will be waiting for them to celebrate the finish.
“It’s a local gathering of similarly-minded enthusiasts, whether you want to go fast or slow,” said Mountain Trails Foundation Executive Director Charlie Sturgis. “It’s really become, for a lot of people, the only kind of race tour they might do, including myself.”
According to Sturgis, the event came to be when dedicated riders decided they wanted something more than just the excruciating pain that comes with climbing 2,700 feet in elevation. This led to said riders parking a keg at the top of their climb to celebrate the end of the summer months and kickstart the fall season, thus beginning a long-lasting tradition in Park City.
To this day, the event remains much the same – easy-going and cheerful. It attracts both competitive and non-competitive riders of all ages (kids under the age of 18 ride for free), with finishing times ranging from 47 minutes to just over two and a half hours in 2015. One thing, however, is constant with all of the riders who show up in various themes and costumes: having a good time.
“It’s everything from the non-seriousness of it all, to go have fun, show up in themes and costumes. That certainly makes it a lot of fun,” Sturgis said. “It’s a great fall day because you do a short race, come down, have burgers, beer, raffles. … The whole thing is about having fun. There’s not a super serious level to it.”
Tour des Suds is sponsored by Skullcandy and has been for the last few years. The Park City-based company puts together the party at the top of Guardsman Pass, which provides even more motivation to complete the race.
Roughly 130 riders are already preregistered for the event, and Sturgis and company are expecting to field around 300 riders this year. The high number of participants who have already signed up is encouraging, Sturgis said, but they are preparing for the day-of rush that surely will occur.
“Most people wait to see what the weather looks like and the colors or what they’re kind of into that day. We easily get 100 registered the day of,” Sturgis said.
Whether you want to complete the trail as fast as possible or leisurely make your way through the course in a costume while stopping briefly for a shot of whiskey (which can be obtained shortly before the finish line to provide the extra jolt one might need) on the way, the Tour des Suds is a guaranteed good time. The unique setting and vibe of the event is something that won’t be found in road races elsewhere.
“I think my favorite part is riding up Main Street with 300 other cyclists,” said Sturgis, who usually participates but will be unable to do so this year. “To be able to kind of rally up Main Street and not have cars coming down and people along the way cheering you on, that’s as much fun as any part of it.”
Registration for the Tour des Suds opens at 8 a.m. and will be open until 9:30 a.m. The race will start at 10 a.m.
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Tosh Martin, a Park City High School junior, was the Miners’ sole selection to the Class 4A UHSAA All-State soccer first team.