Get ready: Tour des Suds is less than a week away
Those living in Summit County can probably hear the rustling of cyclists digging through their closets. That’s because Tour des Suds, the combination costume party and 7-mile mountain bike race, is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 16. Already, more than 140 people have preregistered for the race. That figure is substantially larger than usual.
“Normally, we’re at 10 or 15 preregistered,” said Charlie Sturgis, executive director of the Mountain Trails Foundation. “People want their socks.”
With pre-registration, participants get a pair of 2018 Tour Des Suds socks, which feature the race’s symbol – a moose riding a bike.
The winners will also receive commemorative T-shirts, and other prizes.
Many are also preregistering out of enthusiasm for the party atmosphere and the race itself, which gains 2,700 vertical feet on its way from City Park to Guardsman Pass. The race is followed by a party, complete with a beer garden and bands, down in City Park, where awards, including those for best costume, will be announced. Last year’s costumes ran the gamut from the ubiquitous “poop fairies” – a perennial reference to Mountain Trails’ campaign to keep trails excrement-free by asserting, “There is no poop fairy” – to Vikings, Power Rangers, skeletons, squirrels and unicorns.
Though most racers complete the ride between one and two hours, Keegan Swenson holds the course record at 39:45.2, which he set in 2011 when he was 19.
He rode last year, but wasn’t in much of a position to set another record. He and Chris Putt rode a steel-framed tandem bicycle up the course, finishing in 57:34 in 18th and 19th place – Putt finished .3 seconds ahead of Swenson, who was on the back of the tandem.
Sam Sweetser, who recently took ninth in the Point 2 Point, was last year’s winner. He crossed the finish line wearing a blond wig and an American flag tank top in 46:24.3.
While this year’s race promises the same festive atmosphere as previous years, there are some changes.
First, there will be a packet pickup for registrants on the Friday before the race. Also, Sturgis wants to remain on schedule.
“We are going to make it less confusion on the morning of, and hopefully people will take advantage of the pickup,” Sturgis said. “We are also hoping to start the race on time, which hasn’t happened last two years.”
There will also be a quarter mile of additional course, as the track reverts back to the route it took three years ago, as per agreements with local property owners.
“We had just a very minimal reroute last year, but we will be back on the route we used in previous years up in the Flagstaff area at Deer Valley,” said Rick Fournier, the foundation’s field manager.
Fournier said the most difficult section of the trail is likely the eponymous Tour Des Suds trail, which he said has a few short, punchy climbs on it, while Sturgis said the most crucial part of the race getting up Main Street from the mass start in City Park, where a racer’s good performance can mean the difference between an uncomplicated ascent and getting stuck behind a crowd.
The race is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 16. For registration and more information go to: mountaintrails.org/event-race-mtf/tour-des-suds/
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Returning to Park City’s Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church on Saturday is the annual Bike and Hike fundraiser in support of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry.