Tour of Utah Highlights
When I kitted up in Drapac colours for stage 1 of Tour of Utah I really didn’t know what to expect. There was no way I was about to start ‘America’s Toughest Stage Race’ next to world professionals of cycling. I couldn’t believe it. I was standing next to Cadel Evans about to race against him. And while watching him sign autographs I thought it would be nice if he could also sign the poster in my room from his 2011 Tour de France win. But it did happen, and I did finish my first UCI 2.1 Tour!
Summary from the tour
KM’s 1250km in 7 days
Duration 33 hours
While I could go on and write about each stage and what happened I think I’ll keep this short and simple and share my favourite experiences from the Tour, both on and off the bike.
Signing Autographs This was something I had never done before, and it took me by surprise on the first day when people came up asking for an autograph. Clearly they didn’t know me and had they known me, I suppose they wouldn’t have asked for my autograph. But this kind of gesture goes on to highlight the support and enthusiasm the crowd in Utah gave the riders. It was awesome!
Donuts on Snowbird At the end of the toughest stage up Snowbird Mountain there were some great crowds who were offering support to riders including water and coke. These two items were not as popular as Donut-on-a-stick, or a quick Beer. Unfortunately as much as I love donuts I didn’t grab one or a beer because either one of these items would have resulted in vomiting at that point of the stage. Check out a short clip showing a Hincapie rider opting for a Donut-on-a-stick. http://instagram.com/p/rgS8-yJATT/
Listening to Jens Voigt in the peloton This guy is very friendly and loves to chat in the bunch. During a short but steep cat 2 climb we were doing during stage 7 I was riding next to him when he said “I forgot how steep this mother f%*king hill is”. He was quite right, as it averaged about 10% and I was grinding away in my 32T cassette. Later in that stage I had to apologise to Jens for bumping into him as I was bringing bidons up to service the Drapac guys. I suggested that the bidons were too heavy for me and caused me to ride sideways.
Everyday Massages From day 1 at Melbourne Airport to my arrival back home we traveled with 2 swannies who did a fantastic job of looking after the riders. This included giving riders a massage in the afternoon after every stage and also during the week before the tour has even started.
Cadel Evans Riding with this guy in the bunch was a highlight for sure. I remember watching him win the Tour De France in 2011 and I have some of his memorabilia on the wall in my bedroom. Being on tour and staying at accommodation with all the other teams you see all the riders around the place, particularly during buffet breakfast and dinners. I spoke to him a couple of times in the peloton asking him how we was feeling etc. and there was one time I wished I wasn’t riding near him. You can use you imagination as to why this was the case. I’ll give you a hint: It involved a rather bad scent.
Buffet Meals I ALWAYS felt happy heading down to breakfast or dinner with all you can eat buffet meals. For dinner the main meal usually consisted of either pasta or rice with different meats, salads and vegetables. And I ALWAYS went back for seconds and then desert. It took me a few days to realise that at breakfast there was a waffle and a pancake machine. After I saw Chris Horner making some waffles one morning I found myself consuming them everyday too! Drizzled with maple syrup, fresh berries and yoghurt…
Giving out Bidons I remember when I went down to the Bay Crits in Australia and watched Orica Greenedge race a couple of years ago I was thrilled when I managed to get my hands on a couple of their team bidons. Here in Utah I was able to return the favor when kids ran up after the stage finish and asked for mine. After each stage a swanny gave the riders a bidon filled with protein shake for us to drink immediately after the finish to help recovery. Unfortunately I accidentally gave a kid my protein bidon before I had finished it. I hope he didn’t drink it!
Going Fast There were some points in the Tour on descents where we went fast. Really fast. Having less experience and bike handling than most of the guys in the peloton I didn’t know how things would go on some of the really fast and technical descents. At one point I found myself going over 100km/h for almost a minute! Our performance manager Keith mentioned that some of the guys were getting dropped during descents out there and was happy to see that I was managing myself. That’s not to say I would have stayed on Cadel’s wheel around hairpins or tight bends, but then again not many people can!
Finishing The Tour of Utah This is definitely the biggest highlight of the tour. My biggest concern about doing this stagiaire ride with Drapac was that I wouldn’t be able to contribute or worse, finish the tour. I was worried that I was biting off more than I could chew. Upon finishing the Tour, I’m extremely glad Drapac gave me this opportunity, and even more glad that I accepted the challenge. Sure, I finished over an hour down on the overall Tour winner Tom Danielson and I never really looked like staying with the front group late into a big climb. I never really got to a major climb with much in my legs to begin with! But then I think about the fact that my previous biggest stage race I had completed before this tour was 156km… And 6 out of 7 stages in the tour of Utah were over 160km! I’ve learned so much from this experience and have come home with a new perspective of where I’m at and what I’m capable of.
Support from Friends and Family It was unreal that Dad was in Utah to support me during some of the stages. After the tour had finished we caught up the next day in the Main street of Park City and ate lunch before I had to make my way to the airport! Thanks Dad. Additionally, many people were contacting me on social media and following my progress either via the Tour Tracker or Strava. Some guys from Peak Cycles named their ride titles after me, and I even saw that I had motivated someone to get outside and go riding. I have to say the support makes a huge difference, so thanks for everyone who checked up on me while I was away.
Here’s a link to a professional gallery of the Tour from cycling tips. It’s really good! you should have a look: http://cyclingtips.com.au/2014/08/tour-of-utah-in-photos-2/
Below are photos taken either by myself or my dad
Now I can put my legs up for a little while before getting back into some serious training. Next up on the calender my focus turns towards to Tour of Tasmania that starts later in September. I’ll be racing this with my original team this year – Search2Retain. I also plan on racing the Capital Tour in Canberra which starts on the 19th of September.
Thanks for Reading!