Uhl in Eagle, ID – While Heather has a tendency to write a dissertation for her race report, I'll try to make mine shorter. We drove to Park City on Friday and checked into the Newpark Hotel. Since they're a race sponsor we got a pretty good deal on a "luxury" suite and it was just that, luxurious. We picked up our packets and because they were understaffed we helped a little bit with registration. We also deposited our spare wheels and I gave them two personal feed bags for the 50- and 100-mile personal feed stations.
My race started at 7:00 AM. With only 14 Category 1–2 racers they combined us with the Category 3s. I was glad they did because doing a 170-mile race with a small pack would have sucked. So with the 3s we had about 35 riders total. We headed out northwest towards Coalville. The temperature was fairly cool but I knew it would get pretty warm so I went without arm- or knee-warmers. The pace was really mellow for the first couple hours so there was a lot of chatting going on...felt like I was on a charity century.
Then we all agreed to stop at the 50-mile feedzone, as opposed to just riding by and grabbing handouts. I needed to stop anyway as the first of my two personal feedbags was supposed to be there. So we stopped and I looked through each of the piles of feedbags which were organized by category, but nowhere was mine to be found! So I went over to the tent and asked if maybe they had it there but still no luck. So I grabbed half a banana and a couple bottles of plain water. I also needed a bathroom break so by the time I got back on my bike, most of my group was gone so I had to chase to get back on. Fortunately they weren't motoring, but I did push it harder than I should have and unnecessarily burned a match.
A little while later things started to pick up; riders started attacking and pushing the pace. We rode a 6-mile section of dirt road, but it wasn't that bad as it was treated so it wasn't loose or washboarded. The attacks continued and eventually a couple riders got off before Evanston. There was a neutral feed station so our group slowed down and grabbed bottles. Again, just plain water so I was really glad I brought a lot of gels and PowerBars with me.
From Evanston we turned south onto the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway and had a pretty strong headwind. A few of us wanted to keep rotating but the Ski Utah boys were thwarting that effort since they had a rider up the road. A few attacks and another couple other riders escaped. Eventually I got away by myself and another rider bridged up to me. Then we caught two more who were up ahead and we had a nice 4-person rotation going. But ever since Evanston my legs were feeling worse and worse and I really had to dig to take my pulls. I think I was feeling the effects of the altitude as Evanston is almost at 7,000 feet and it's a gradual climb to the base of the Bald Mountain Pass climb.
We went through the 100-mile feedzone I checked again for my bags and again they weren't there. I didn't have time to even grab a neutral bottle, but fortunately a motorcycle guy gave me one. As the road's incline increased ever so much eventually our group broke apart and I found myself climbing alone. The road continued to get steeper and my legs felt worse and worse. I could see the barren, rock peaks way up ahead so I knew there bit of climbing to do. Did I mention the top of this climb is 10,700 feet above sea level!?! I was starting to feel dizzy and my skin was no longer moist with sweat...I could tell I was dehydrating. I just focused on my breathing and tried to keep the bike straight. Between the gusty wind and my dizziness, even riding in a straight line was chore.
At some point, maybe a few miles to the top, I was caught and then quickly passed by the remnants of the pack. But this was at about the point where the climb became steeper so even that group shattered and I ended up meeting up with Brandon L. from Sun Valley. We rode the climb together and stopped at the feed station at the top. This was the last place my personal feedbags could be but I wasn't surprised when I didn't find them. So I grabbed another half banana and a couple more bottles and took off after Brandon.
It was so nice descending without having to pedal but my body was hammered at this point and I knew I would be in trouble if I didn't pound more calories. There's just so many calories you can take in while racing and since I only got plain water, I knew I had to eat. So I forced a gel and starting eating a PowerBar over the next few miles. As the road leveled out, we were still cruising from a nice tailwind we had. Thank goodness for that because those 30 or so miles to Kamas would have been torture with a headwind. Brandon's pedal broke at some point and so he had to stay seated for the rest of the ride. His foot would slip off once in a while, but I was impressed at how hard he could push it with only one foot clipped in!
We eventually caught a couple other riders and rotated all the way to Kamas. We flew by the last feedzone but this time there were no volunteers to hand out bottles. I would have had to stop to fill a bottle if I wanted water so I just stayed on the 4-person train I was on and sucked it up.
In Kamas I knew we needed to make a left so I told Brandon when he went ahead of me. We flew through the turn then made the quick right onto the old Utah State District road race course. I'm glad I went over the course turn-by-turn using Google Maps with Heather the night before. I learned my lesson on that one at this year's Idaho State road race!
Riding up the first hill out of Kamas was tortuous as we had a stiff head/crosswind. Brandon and I traded pulls but we were both ready for the race to be over. I was out of water at this point and when I saw a car at the top of the first hill I was hoping they'd still be there so I could ask if they had water. But as we were still climbing, the car took-off! We descended down by Jordanelle Reservoir then up the last major hill. On the Old Highway 40 frontage road I was sucking the last bit of water out of my bottles. I was feeling severely dehydrated, but it was only a few miles to the finish.
Then for the second time I was thankful I studied the map as we had to turn right onto Highland Drive to finish, which was different than the way we set out. Brandon and I caught another couple riders from our category and we politely rotated until 500 meters to go when Brandon pushed it hard and gave me a perfect leadout. I jumped out of his draft with 100 meters to the turn into the parking lot and since I studied that turn in the morning, I knew exactly how to take it. So I got a major gap and held it to the line in our 4-up sprint.
After I came in I went straight to the water and downed probably a quart in no time. I quickly went up to the room to shower, grab some bottles, then hopped in the car hoping to catch Heather on the climbs out of Kamas. What I would have given for someone to feed me on that climb out of Kamas! As I drove out, backwards on the course, I was surprised to find her already on the frontage road with only a few miles to go. I offered her a bottle from teh car but she said she was fine so I went back to the finish. Taking different roads and having to park I missed her finishing but caught her as she was getting her timing chip removed.
I went to look at results and the preliminary results had the 1–2s separated from the 3s. I got really excited since the 1-2 prize purse was really good and 4th would have been a good amount of cash. But then they did eventually combine the results and I ended up getting 9th. Not bad, but the money is not as good as 4th! I didn't ride with a power meter but for the 171-mile race my time was 8:25:28 according to Milleseconds Sports Timing.
It was a tough race. Between the altitude and missing the personal feeds I really suffered, especially on that climb. Oh well, not much I can do about the altitude, unless I can get Heather to agree on an altitude tent. But next year I'll have a personal feeder, even if I have to pay them!
But glitches aside, as a first-year event it was a great race. Supposedly they had about 900 riders in total, counting the various length citizen rides. I talked to the promoter's wife today and found out the mystery of my missing feedbags. They ended up getting forgotten in the refrigerator with a few others. She was very apologetic and I realize how hard it is to put on races, especially of this magnitude. So all my frustration was gone today and I just chalked it up as another learning experience.