cycling utah October 1998

Another Season Winds Down

By David R. Ward


Gazing at the Wasatch Range, I note the chameleon colors spreading across the slopes and smell the sweet scent of autumn in the evening breeze. Sensing the cessation of this cycling season, I seize the moment to reflect on the year's highlights.

The main highlight was actually a series of events done with my daughter Marielle. We had decided last year to do the Seattle to Portland (STP) event on our tandem. The STP is a 200 mile ride, with the option to do it in either one or two days. We planned for two days.

We started our preparation with the Yellowstone Spring Cycle Tour '98 April 10 -11. Riding under overcast skies and in occasional snow flurries, we covered 74 miles while touring Hebgen, Quake and Henry's Lakes. The next day, we endured wetter, cooler conditions as we thrilled to the wintry sights of Yellowstone.

Next on tap was the Cycle Salt Lake Century Ride on May 16. It was a crisp, cool spring morning as we set out from the Utah State Fairgrounds for Antelope Island and back. Still not being certain of our conditioning, we sliced off the extra mileage after the second feed stop, opting instead to ride directly to Antelope Island. As it turned out, we felt great afterwards and wished we had done the entire ride.

Our next training event was, well, actually it was the STP itself. We just never seemed to find the time to really get out on the tandem together. So, we were a little concerned as we headed out from the parking lot of Husky Stadium in Seattle. But not to fear. We had a great two days.

I have decided everyone should do a huge event like the STP. It is a major marvel to me to be among almost ten thousand riders winding their way to Portland.

Our final tandem event together was the Utah Lake Epic Century Ride (ULCER). This is an annual treat for me. With a flat and rolling course, it is an ideal event in which to casually ride, visit and eat.

I really enjoyed all the time I spent with Marielle on the tandem. It adds a special dimension to literally join your efforts on a bike with someone you really enjoy. You can feel each other's effort (especially when one decides to ease off a little!), and the extra power that comes from a second set of legs.

Aside from the events on the tandem, there were other highlights. The Decker Dash immediately comes to mind. I really appreciate those who put on weekly races series. It is an opportunity to race each week, without always having to sacrifice the better part of a weekend to do so. The Decker Dash has a competitive yet casual combination that makes it a good event for families.

A couple of weeks ago, my son and I rode in the Race to the Angel. Just the name is enticing. But once you do the event, it draws you back. It is a singular event with its combination of hometown enthusiasm, challenging course, and cross-section of participants. With categories for walkers, runners, mountain and road bikers, it really is a community celebration.

On top of that, the 13.1 mile climb to Angel Lake, which sits at the bottom of a gorgeous glacial cirque, is lovely, difficult and exhilarating. Everyone does it, with road bikers posting the fastest times (Winner Joel Kath blistering the course in 56:50) and walkers, of course, the slowest but not by any means slow (Winner Aurelio Herrera finished in 2:33:27).

I will finish off the year where I started: Yellowstone Park. I will again be on the tandem and rolling along from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful and back. With little traffic and fabulous fall scenery, it promises to be a fitting finale to a season of cycling highlights.

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