cycling utah September 1999
By Robert L. Truelsen
Outsiders must think bicyclists are gluttons for punishment when they see hundreds of riders pedaling up Little Cottonwood Canyon to the eventual finish of the annual Snowbird Hill Climb.
Such was the case on Aug. 21 as Burke Swindlehurst (Saturn) and Heather Albert (Nissan) led the men and women up one of the nation's toughest climbs.
Fifth-place men's finisher Thomas Cooke described the Snowbird Hill Climb as a race of 2-second gaps. The really hard part is bridging those gaps.
"You look at the wheel two feet ahead and wonder why I can't make up the gap," he explained. "If you go harder, you can go backwards faster."
Swindlehurst knows the drill. Not only did he make his opponents practice their addition; he offered some practice in multiplication too. And this after he realized that a record was not in the cards. He simply rode people off his wheel.
"I wanted to try for the record," Swindlehurst admitted after the finish. "I knew about half way that the record was out of the question. I just rode steady tempo. I spent too much time in the 23, I should have been in the 19."
Swindlehurst came into the race with a week's rest after returning from the Tour of Denmark. He'll begin preparing for Killington and the Houston Grand Prix, the last race for team Saturn.
"Racing in Europe was a totally new experience for me," he continued. "The race in Denmark was the fastest race I've ever done. I was holding on for dear life. Nobody gives an inch and then you look over your shoulder and there's no one behind you."
Making up some of those 2-second gaps was John Osguthorpe (Rhodes) who overtook Tom Buckley, eventual third place. Osguthorpe had lost touch of Swindlehurst and Buckley about midway but kept Buckley in sight and kept chipping away.
"I focused on catching the Logan rider (Buckley), Burke was about a minute up the road."
Heather Hall-Albert turned in a quality time of 54:30.04 to claim the Women's crown. Daphne Wilhelm followed in second place (55:40.44) with Laura Howat third at 57:25.62.
In her first Snowbird Hill Climb Wilhelm was very happy with her time.
"I was faster than I thought," Wilhelm admitted, "I'm disappointed I didn't stay with the main pack at the bottom. I had to go my own pace; I can pick people off. I'm a strong finisher.
"I've always thought about Snowbird but it was always in September and I'm usually through with cycling by then."
Other licensed category winners include Men's Cat 4-5 winner Richard Hatch at 48:46.69, Men's Masters Zan Treasure at 48:49.09, Women's Cat 4 Mindy Gillespie at 57:44.08 and Women's Masters Margaret Douglass at 1:06:14.28.