By timing, that means the time of year: July, August and September are perfect, with heaps of sunshine and no risk of the frigid descents or surprise snow that normally comes in a town that sits at 7,000 feet elevation.
And by timing, that means time of day: Park City is a defunct silver-mining town gone luxe thanks to its three ski resorts. Its sister city is Courchevel, France, another remote village coping with a sudden and severe onset of affluence.
Because of this, Park City’s construction boom is a hypersonic one. The roads get clogged with trucks of every species – dump, flatbed and cement, not to mention the loaders, scrapers and excavators of every imaginable type. And the summertime tourist traffic gets thick, so leave for your ride early to get the roads at peace.
During the 2016 Tour of Utah, that’s exactly what we did. Rapha led three morning rides during the race weekend. On Friday it was a Brown’s Canyon loop. On Saturday we ventured up Mill Creek Canyon, then Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake City. Then on Sunday we looped around to Guardsman Pass from the Midway side, groveling up the most brutal climb in America.
The mountains, the altitude and the midday heat brought about an unholy trinity of suffering for the group of people who joined us each day. But the laughs, the scenery and the roadside views of the final three stages made this one of our most memorable weekends since last year’s World Championship Road Race in Richmond, VA.
Each day our rides started at one of Park City’s coolest businesses: Ritual Chocolate. It’s a chocolate factory (think Mast, but with none of the controversy) centered on a 100-year-old machine that co-founders Robbie Stout and Anna Davies found rusted-out in a barn in backwater Germany. Alongside its machinery is a café serving the city’s best coffee.
Ritual was also home to our after-party on Sunday night. The night time temperatures were cool enough to warrant a bonfire, but what really lit the crowd was a visit from Team Jelly Belly’s Lachlan Morton – wife, mom and yellow jersey in tow.
While the Tour of Utah might lack the WorldTour status recently awarded to the Tour of California for 2017, the racing is consistently more interesting, the courses more lovely, and the parcours undoubtedly more difficult. It’s a spectacular week, and you can count on seeing Rapha there again in 2017.