Rapha at the Tour of Utah

Brendan Quirk, Rapha President - North America and the co-founder of Competitive Cyclist, has long been a stalwart of the US cycling scene. Ahead of the Tour of Utah, he offers his expert advice on how to best enjoy the race, and where to find Rapha.

Rapha Rides

Join us for a group ride

  • Friday, August 5:
    Brown’s Canyon Loop meeting at Ritual Chocolate at 9am. RSVP »
  • Saturday, August 6:
    Little Cottonwood Canyon to Tanner’s Flat meeting at 3 Cups Coffee (SLC) at 9:30am. RSVP »
  • Sunday, August 7:
    Guardsman Pass Loop meeting at Ritual Chocolate at 9am. RSVP »

Watch the Race

Enjoy the race on the course with Rapha

  • Friday, August 5:
    Finish of Stage 5 in Bountiful.
  • Saturday, August 6:
    Final climb of Stage 6 on Tanner’s Flat.
  • Sunday, August 7:
    KOM of Stage 7 on Guardsman Pass.

Party

Then, celebrate the finish of the Tour of Utah at our party at Ritual Chocolate, 7pm.

How to best enjoy the race

With the recent demise of Colorado’s US Pro Challenge, the Tour of Utah is now firmly positioned behind the Tour of California as America’s second-most important race. From a spectator’s point of view, it’s arguably the best race. The stages that matter most at Utah –Saturday up to Snowbird, then Sunday in Park City – cover some of the most picturesque roads in America, they provide a more brutal climbing test than anything in California, and unlike California’s insane post-stage transfers, the final four stages are within cycling distance of each other if you’d like to ride them on your own.

Mountainous stage racing is at the heart of the global sport of cycling, which is why the Rapha Mobile Cycle Club will be at the Tour of Utah. We invite you to join us, in particular for the raucous final weekend around Park City. And to further tempt you to make the trip, here’s a list that will grow throughout the duration of the race that will help you enjoy it like a local:

Tip 1

Bringing your bike? Here are the three best climbs to explore.

Park City is a jaw-droppingly picturesque ski town, and it’s where we’d suggest you base yourself. Its “sister city” is Courchevel, France, which should give you an idea not only of the sublime scenery, but the wickedness of the surrounding climbs. Here are a few of the best:

Guardsman Pass from Midway (Strava here and Google map here). The final climb of the Tour of Utah, and arguably the hardest climb in America. If it’s not the steepness that ruins you, it’s the horrific condition of the road. Seven months every year it sits under literal tons of snow, closed to all traffic except snowmobiles. Its steepness makes it impossible to resurface during the summer, so year after year it goes into worsening decay. Near the top take the turn towards Big Cottonwood Canyon and get a breathtaking view at the peak. Then turn back towards Park City and on the way down get a hot chocolate at the Montage if you’re get chilled (yes, this can happen in the summertime).

Royal Street (Strava here and Google map here). The classic LT-test-type climb. 20-ish minutes long at a civilized pace, but it’s as hard as you’d like to make it. Almost no traffic, steady gradient, lovely views.

Utah Olympic Park (Strava here and Google map here). Marvel at the 2002 Winter Olympic Ski Jump hills, then flick around the barrier (it’s there to stop cars, not bikes, right?) to trace your way along the bobsled track to get to the tippy top.

Tip 2

The best places to eat.

As is the typical case with ski resort towns, the food in Park City is often sub-par and overpriced. Consider yourself warned! That said, there are some gems:

For breakfast you can’t beat Good Karma for Indian-inspired food. But if you’re inclined to more traditional fare – meat and eggs and so forth, then check out No Worries Café over in Summit Park.

For lunch Cortona has rock-solid paninis and the best affagato in Mountain Time Zone. On the other side of town, check out the Deer Valley Café. The building looks uninspired, but inside are some of the best sandwiches around. And if there was a yellow jersey for bacon, they’d win it. The BLT may make you faint with delight. And the outdoor seating is top-notch.

For dinner the most important thing is to avoid the bland-yet-extortionate Main St in Old Town. The High West Distillery is always reliable and very, very alive. The Silver Star Café is another good option. It’s a bit off the beaten track, but that’s sometimes a good thing. If you’re lucky you can get a table outside and catch live music.

Tip 3

Who to cheer for at the race.

Local Park City option: If we could invest in US Pro cyclist futures, we’d go longest on Tanner Putt.

Born and bred in Park City, he’s made a stellar progression through the international ranks of cycling. Only 24 years old, he’s a two-time U23 US National Road Race Champion, had a top-ten at the U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and countless other impressive Euro results that make it clear that when his current stint on United Healthcare is complete, he’ll be a full-time stalwart on the WorldTour. And for the trivia hungry – his younger brother Chris is a pro for Jelly Belly.

Local London option: Rapha was founded in the heart of London, and it’s still the nerve center of the brand. The most interesting Londoner in the Tour of Utah is another young star-in-the-making, Tao Geoghegan-Hart of Hackney. He’s a mere 21, rode as a stagiaire for Team Sky in 2015, and just a few weeks ago won the U23 British National Road Championship. Currently he rides for Axel Merckx’s Axeon Cycling Team. Twice he’s finished on the podium of the U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege, along with a grocery list of top-10’s in races the sorts of races that reveal real talent, such as the Tour de l’Avenir and the US Pro Challenge. He’s as genuine of a character as they come, possibly the easiest guy to cheer for in the global pro peloton.

Tip 4

The best places to watch the Tour of Utah.

We’re putting our money where our mouth is. This is where the Rapha Mobile Cycle Club will be:

Friday: A sprint finish in majestic Bountiful, UT.

Saturday: Alpe d’Huez has Dutch Corner. The Tour of Utah has Tanner’s Flat. This is the Queen Stage, and Little Cottonwood is the final climb. It’s just a few km from the finish line, and you get the drama of the front-runners, the grit of the small groups not far behind, then the comedy of the laughing group. Get there early, as this is THE spot.

Sunday: The final km of Guardsman Pass is sure to reveal suffering on the rider’s faces like no other race in America. By Sunday, you’ll have done the climb (right?) so you’ll understand the severity of Stage 7’s test.

Tip 5

What to wear?

The Pro Team Training Jersey is glorious. From a fit perspective, the cut works for people who lack in a Team Sky physique. If you drink the occasional beer or two and don’t quite measure your annual mileage in the tens of thousands, then it’ll fit as beautifully as a custom frame.

In terms of all the other things that matter – fabric, construction, and flat-out handsomeness – it’s hors categorie. And, most relevant for the week of Tour of Utah where it’s Hades-hot, the lightness, breathability, and wickability are stellar.

The only alternative is the Pro Team Climber’s Jersey. It’s identical in many of its details, except it’s that much lighter, which is an obvious plus when the mercury spirals out of control. Perhaps it’s not as versatile throughout the year as the Training jersey, which is why the Training jersey wins out.

Pair up the Training jersey with a Pro Team Sleeveless Base Layer and a pair of Pro Team Bib Shorts, you’re set. Park City in August isn’t about under-ambitious riding. It’s the time and place where many folks push themselves furthest. The Pro Team collection is like a set of carbon tubulars: Technical superiority aside, merely owning it is to feel better trained and more emotionally equipped to suffer.

Tip 6

Best coffee.

The tourists hit Starbucks. The locals go to Ritual Coffee on Iron Horse Drive. Ritual Chocolate was founded by cyclists and is staffed by cyclists. As a result of their passion for the sport and obsession with quality, the Ritual Chocolate café has become a hub for local and visiting cyclists that are looking for a place to start or finish their ride, and enjoy some coffee and snacks too. Plus, even better then their coffee is their hand-crafted chocolate.

Tip 7

Best family fun.

Watching pro bike racing can be an awesome family afternoon, but that leaves you with plenty of spare time over the course of a weekend. So pay your family back for their roadside time by taking a ride on Park City Mountain Resort’s Town Lift. It takes you about mid-way up the total height of the mountain, high enough to get a heck of a view of “Old Town” along with access to loads of hiking trails.

Tip 8

Best cocktails.

The no-brainer option is High West Distillery. Is it really a distillery? Does it make its booze in Utah or is it farmed out to a mega-factory in Indiana? Ah, details, details! Marketing always wins in the end…as does a great cocktail. So definitely check it out.

If you’re craving a Bloody Mary, then definitely head out to the J&G Bar at the St. Regis Hotel in Deer Valley. Half the fun is the funicular ride up to the hotel, then grab one of its half-dozen Bloody Marys and sit out on the outdoor patio. The drinks are classic, and the view is glorious.

Tip 9

Mountain Biking?

We’re Rapha, so we try our best to not acknowledge the existence of fat knobbies. But, good lord, the mountain biking in Park City is some of the best in the world. As with the origin of High West booze, let’s not get bogged down in fact-checking, but it’s been said that there’s 1,000 miles of singletrack within Park City. It’s hard not to believe it.

In the summertime the trails are generally perfectly tacky, the absence of rocks & roots is a roadie’s dream, and it’s the very best way to see the glorious views Park City offers. In fact, the only downside is that mountain biking is so crazily popular that traffic jams and the risk of head-on collisions are constants. The Mid-Mountain and Flying Dog trails are the stuff of legend. And if you’re feeling frisky then do the Crest Trail. It’s a brute of a climb, and from 10,000 feet the world looks wholly different. Just do yourself a favor and skip mid-day rides on the weekends. It’s just too damn busy.

Tip 10

Best bike shop.

For basics you can’t go wrong with Storm Cycles in the Junction. It’s next to Park City Roasters, and they’ll have all the staples you’ll need, plus some. It’s a super-legit shop, definitely preferable to Park City’s pan-outdoor stores like Cole Sport and Jans. Another option closer to Old Town is White Pine Touring.

If you need a serious pro shop, then do yourself a favor and head down to Salt Lake City to visit Contender at 9th & 9th. It’s one of America’s great bike shops, and whatever you need – stuff or service – they will get you styled out.

Follow us at @rapha_n_america