This years Tour of the Depot road race had an excellent course and changed from the previous “Stage Race” format to a one day road race. The course started in the same location as the previous years road race, but went over Johnson’s Pass towards the Dugway proving grounds, out in the middle of the Utah desert. The course was great though, with two big climbs, at least compared to what we usually see in Utah road races. The climbs were spaced far enough from each other and the finish line that would allow for some great tactics, with the harder climb being the final one and 20 miles from the finish.
Earlier in the week, Art O’connor and I drove out there to recon the course, which was a great idea. On paper, climbs usually seem easier than they are when you ride them, so it was a good idea for us to scope them out. The first climb was the easier but longer of the two, it wasn’t incredibly steep but probably like the steep part of Emigration canyon. The return climb was a beast, only 4 miles but pretty steep at around 8% grade, I knew it would be very decisive for the race. When we went it was very cold, I only had a jacket on but no tights and the temps got into the 30′s during our recon.
The race was very exciting leading up to it, with a lot of pre-registrations happening and over 30 people signing up, which is great for a masters race. There were also some really strong riders there including Louie Amelburu, Mark Schaefer and Mark Zimblemann, as well as a national track champion. I was excited for the race but knew it would be a hard effort. D
The pace started out strong with a few attacks going off the front, but when it hit the climb I was able to work my way up to the front and stay there, getting up to the top with relative ease. I didn’t realize it but we did cause a split in the pack, and good thing because coming down the steeper back side I blew out my front tire. Luckily I had a tubular on so the glue was able to hold the tire on and I kept upright and let riders go around me. I pulled over to the side of the road and the wheel car helped me get a new wheel, which we changed pretty quickly. Just then two of my teammates cruised by me and helped pace me back to the pack in about 20 minutes. I couldn’t believe that I was able to get back to the race!
The next 18 miles were in the desert part of the race, no trees and just flat, dirty roads. The pace was modest for a while until the road turned back towards Tooele, then the pace picked up and there were a few attacks. I had to push hard to get onto the front group, and right as the race got back onto the main return road, things started to heat up. I was up towards the front with Ira and the pace was hot. The attacks really started happening and I couldn’t keep with the main group and settled into my own pace, pulling a few people along. I could tell Ira was getting into the red zone and I slowed down a bit to wait up for him, he waved me to go on and catch the rest, so i started pushing a bit harder. We dropped most of the people in the group but I had 3 other guys going over the top with me, all great cyclists.
When we went over the top, it was Art, me, Zan Treasure and Doug Armstrong. We soon caught up to two other riders that were up the road and then became a group of six riders and started working in a pace line to chase down the 3 cyclists up the road which included Louie, Mark Schaefer and Mark Zimblemann. I believe they went over the top with about 2 minutes and we found ourselves on the flats at around 60 seconds. The pace was brisk and Art kept urging the riders to keep the pressure on. About 5 miles out I could sense that some of the riders were becoming weaker and skipping pulls, so Art and I just kept pushing.
We came into the final corner with 1k to go and a decent climb to the finish. I went around on the outside and ramped up the pace, everyone started to fall back except for Art. Just before we came into the final straight we could see the 3 leaders, but it was too late to catch them. As soon as Art and I crested the top of the short climb, we could almost see the finish line, I took the front position with Art behind me. We had a good distance from the next riders so we sprinted it out and Art got me on the line, but I had a late surge and got in at the wrong angle and actually went outside the cones. Luckily I didn’t get disqualified and ended up in 5th place, the last spot on the podium. I was happy to be there with some outstanding competition, ended up getting some upgrade points and had a great time. It was one of the funnest road races I have done and I am excited for future episodes of this race.