Heather in Eagle, ID – This is the first year of the Felt Tour de Park City, which has a 170 mile USCF race and different tour options (52, 108, or 170 miles). There was preregistration and day of registration. There were 900 people who preregistered and another 300+ who did race day registration. The race promoter, Riley Siddoway, tried to make the race such that you didn’t have to have your own support. He had feed zones at Miles 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, and 150. He said that volunteers would hand up water, drink stuff, gels, bars, and fruit at every station. You could also put your own bottles and other food into sacks and label them with your bib number and what mile feed zone you wanted to pick them up and they would be shipped to that feed zone. The only thing is you had to stop and pick it up. The promoter implied that you could not have your own support, which helps ensure that everyone will go slowly through the feed zones.
Last night Uhl put bags with bottles and boiled potatoes to get at mile 50 and 100. They gave us timing chips to get our exact time. I used a 12-27 and was so glad I had that 27. I started with two bottles of Accelerade, 8 PowerGels (non-caffeine), and two bags of Blocks. Uhl started with two large bottles of Accelerade, 8 PowerGels and 3 PowerBars. They decided to combine the Cat 1 and 2 men with the Cat 3 men. Right as they lined up Richard announced that they would be scored together and share the same purse. There were five Women 1-3; I was the only Cat 1 and the others were Cat 3 riders. I talked with Richard Blanco about combining us with another category. He said that we could ride with the Cat 4 and masters women. We lined up behind the Master’s 45+ men. I asked Richard if we couldn’t go with them. He delayed their start time by 5 min and started us with them. That was nice since they had a pack of 25 or so.
We started out at 7:25 am for our 170 mile race. We had a kicking tailwind for the first few hours. I tried to stay up front because gaps kept opening up. There was a Cat 4 guy in our pack who kept going crazy on the front. I figured that he doesn’t know how long 170 miles are. Uhl and I reviewed the course last night, which was so useful. We approached the turn to Brown’s canyon and there a couple of police cars with lights flashing, but there was no policeman directing the racers or stopping traffic. There were two guys with a gap ahead of the pack; one of them was the overactive Cat 4 racer. There was one guy and myself telling the group that we needed to turn left and go down Brown’s Canyon. We didn’t really make use of the speed down the canyon so the two that went the wrong way could catch us. An official on a motorcycle came up and asked why we were going down Brown’s Canyon (always a good sign). He drove ahead to verify we were going the right way. We passed him a few miles later and he said we were going the right way. The two guys did catch us.
Once we turned onto Hwy 32 we started taking advantage of the speed. It was amazing. There were 6 of us who would pull through and everyone else refused to see the front of the pack. We were going downhill with a tailwind, so it wasn’t that hard. I tried to motivate people to paceline through, so they would only be in the wind for 30 seconds or so. No such luck. Sometimes I don’t understand how people think they are going to do a 170 mile race and never see the front of the pack. I drank one bottle by the feed zone at mile 25. I came through asking for drink stuff and they had almost all plain water. I did happen to get a small bottle of stuff that wasn’t very potent. There wasn’t a lot of action to mile 50. We stopped and had a pee break. When I brought it up, the guys agreed but seemed like it was an inconvenience. The women stopped in one place and the men stopped up the hill. They all stopped for the pee break. I met two of the other women. Inge is from Park City. She races a little and her husband is her sponsor. She raced LotoJa with Jenn Halladay. She was amazed that Jenn, who has 5 children, is so strong. Inge did a lot of work in LotaJa; she led up the climbs and talked a lot. Inge has two kids and mentioned that maybe she should have another three children to help her racing. Then I met Maria, who is a speed skater. I told her there are a lot of great cyclists who came over from speed skating. She said that this was her second race. She raced last week, and this race is only 140 miles longer than last week’s race.
At mile 50 I came through asking for drink stuff. They said all they had was water. I then asked for gels and they said they had no gels. A few miles later we hit the 6 mile dirt road section. The dirt road had a sealant on it, so it was hard packed and no dust. We still had a tailwind. Zan Treasure and Michael from Team Mazda started pushing the pace. It was unbelievably hard. Luckily I was at the front when they took off. I was sucking wheels trying to stay on. There was a hill and I got dropped. As I was dying trying to keep pushing I started feeling my heart. I had real fears that I was going to die right there. The sensation passed after a 30 seconds so I kept going. Inge went by me so I went after her. There was an amazing downhill with a turn and then back up again. I tried to push it thought that. I ended up passing Inge and chased after the lead group. I caught another master’s 45 guy and we worked together to catch. Once we caught, everyone sat up. I couldn’t believe it. Why work that hard and then sit up? A few minutes later Zan rolled off the front. He opened up a gap really quickly. A few minutes later Michael attacked and got away alone. A few men tried to bridge. Inge always followed them, so I had to also. That was a lot of wasted energy. Michael caught Zan and they worked together.
We rode through Evanston towards the feed zone at mile 75. We had to do some climbing to get to the feed zone. That broke apart the pack. I didn’t work hard enough to stay with the front. I saw some of the men stopped at the feed zone getting some bottles. I again asked for drink stuff. She said they had no drink stuff. I then asked for gels and she said they were out. I grabbed two water bottles and took off in pursuit of the front pack. There was a harsh headwind. I could see the pack in front of me, but they just kept getting further ahead. Sometimes I would see them within reach, but then they would surge ahead. I pushed alone into the headwind. I kept passing a lot of riders, both tour riders and other racers who got dropped from their groups. It was awful to look at my power, because it was really pathetic. I was really dying and fighting leg cramps. A few miles after the feed zone, I saw Zan on the side of the road waiting for a wheel. I was alone for 20 miles. Then Zan caught me. He had another master’s guy on his wheel. Zan let me jump on. The other guy was done and dropped off, after telling me what a motor Zan was. I hung on Zan’s wheel as we motored towards the pack ahead. I was totally dying. I pulled through two times, but they were pathetic pulls. As we closed in on the pack I was really struggling to stay on Zan’s wheel. I kept counting down how long I had to keep pushing. Finally we caught.
There was one guy in the pack who was really annoying. He got mad at me for not pulling though. He said, “If you can catch, you can work.” Luckily Zan spoke up and told the guy we had been chasing for 20 miles. I thanked Zan for bringing me up to the pack. The feed zone at mile 100 was actually at mile 104. That is hard when you are counting down the miles. Again I asked for more drink stuff and gels; again no luck. Then we started the climb. The promoter said the last 40 miles were downhill. I also knew the next feed zone was at mile 125. I started counting down the miles thinking I had 30 miles of climbing. The annoying guy would attack, Zan would follow, and then annoying guy would stop, almost doing a track stand. I was fighting leg cramps and really hoping I could make it the 70 miles home. The surges would drop me and I would claw to get back on. Then we went by a woman standing outside of her car. She said something to annoying guy and he decided to quit. I almost rejoiced.
That left me with five other Mazda guys. I asked them if we could make a pact not to drop anyone until the finish. I was so afraid of getting dropped and riding 70 miles alone. I knew the descent would be so much faster with a group. They agreed. We all crawled up the climb. I was barely turning over the 39 x 27. Sometimes we had to slow down for one of the Mazda guys. I was really beginning to cramp and couldn’t believe how many miles we still had to climb. There was a summit, and then we descended for a while. Then we climbed again to the summit at 10,787 feet. Then we hit the feed zone at 125 miles. We all stopped. They had Gatorade, so I filled my two bottles with it. I also grabbed some miniature Clif bars and ate two banana pieces.
Then we took off down the descent. I was shivering for the first few minutes of the descent. We flew down the descent, averaging 35+ mph for most of it. We kept sweeping up people, who joined us. I was excited; more people to help with the work. I kept watching the miles click by. We blew by the feed zone at mile 150. We reached Kamas, UT and started the climb to Park City. We had a crosswind. We crawled up those climbs. Then we had a kicking descent with a tailwind. The last climb had a tailwind also. We crawled up that climb to keep everyone together. I was feeling much better by this time. I think the Gatorade kicked in finally. I basically lead them all the way to the finish (6 miles). Uhl drove up and asked if I needed any water of stuff. I told him I didn’t. It was so thoughtful of him. I was counting down the miles. I thought the race would end at 170, but that came and I could tell we were nowhere near the finish. I was so excited to cross the finish line at 172 miles. They took my timing chip and told me I was the first woman. I thanked Zan and the other Mazda guys for getting me to the finish. Zan gave me a hug for all the work. Uhl was there to meet me.