What do you think of when you hear Utah? Great Salt Lake? Mormonism? Olympics? Rocky Mountains? Park City? Sure, all those things came to my mind when me and the wife were heading up North to visit friends in Sandy, UT and race the 2-day, 3-stage Tour of the Depot Stage Race in the greater Salt Lake City area. One thing I was not really thinking of – well, at least not in April - was snow, LOTS of snow. More to that a bit later, though.
Upon arrival to SLC we were treated to some “balmy” 50˚F and we had some spotty sunshine. Later that day, though the winter came back and we were reminded that we are indeed in the Rocky Mountains and snow is always a possibility – even in mid-April. So it was trainer time for 2days. Riding in the basement I felt like I was back home in Germany. We made the best of it, though and headed up to 7000ft. to Park City and checked out the snowboarders & skiers enjoy the fresh white stuff.
Sunday’s final Circuit Race was held in much better conditions. We actually got to see the mountains this time, and the lost sun was back – making it a nice 50˚F again for the 5mile circuit, to be raced 8 times. 250 ft. of elevation per lap wasn’t bad at all. With the time bonuses etc., I was down 26 seconds to first and 10 seconds or so to 2nd GC. With my handmade clue sheet taped to my stem, I was ready for 90minutes of tactics to be played. Attack after attack went and finally Pinkham of Bissell got away with a Canyon-Bicycles rider (they still had 8 guys in the race) while 1st and 2nd GC looked after and at each other. Perfect. 5 laps in, I thought if I wanted to win that thing, I’d better be start doing something. So after a bonus-second sprint with 3 to go (which 1st and 2nd GC went for at 100%) I upped it up a bit and took another Canyon-Bicycles guy (7th GC) with me. Nobody reacted really so I put my head down and kept going. 2 laps to go and we’re about to catch up to the break of two which been out front most of the stage. After sitting on for 1 ½ laps my “armchair-ride” companion decided to attack and tried to bridge solo to the break. Well, that didn’t sit well with me so I digged a bit deeper and after 5minutes I catch him just as he caught the break. The Bissell guy (Pinkham) was still riding well and the two Canyon guys were sitting on, hoping that their GC man would come up eventually. So it was my turn again, pulling for most of the remaining 1 ½ laps and telling Pinkham that he should go for the win since I’m just looking for the GC. He finally made his move with 2 K to go, won, and I crossed the line 10seconds back in 3rd. No reason to celebrate yet, as I had no idea how far back 1st and 2nd GC guys were. They didn’t cross line for another 1:30 minutes so it was finally in the bag.
Thanks to the following people: Paul & Tanna for being a great host in Utah; Jeremy Smith for putting on a great event and despite the conditions keeping his head clear and delivering a fine race weekend; ROL Wheels for giving me a comfortable ride both days on the Carbon 38mm Tubulars.