Tour des Suds 2017 – Park City, Utah

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Tour des Suds is an annual mountain bike race in Park City to raise money for the Mountain Trails Foundation which builds so many of the trail in the area. Some treat it as a real race and some as a costume party and some try to do both. The race is a 7 mile climb to Empire Pass and we were blessed with great weather this year. One of the highlights for me is the knowledge that the return to the party back in City Park means a fun descent on Park City’s excellent singletrack.

I chose to start in the middle of the pack and enjoy the climb up rather than pretend to race. I chatted with other riders and enjoyed the creativity of the costumes. Occasionally we would stop on the singletrack and wait a minute or so while riders got moving again but everyone was chill and not aggro about passing where I was riding. There was even a beer/whisky hand-up about 5 miles up the mountain which surprised me for Mormon Utah.

This guy below carved a ‘helmet’ out of a watermelon and somehow rode all the way up. He told me it was very hot but he didn’t have time to cut vents.

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We all convened back in City Park for race and costume awards. One of the awards was for the oldest finisher – he was 79 – and he finished just a little bit behind me. Even more impressive was the youngest finisher – the boy who won this was only 6!

Thanks Mountain Trails for a great event.

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Below is the author at the top of the race

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A Few More Definitions for Cyclists

Chain: Archaic method for connecting the cranks and rear wheel of a bike to provide forward motion. Dirty and greasy and the subject of continual efforts for at least 100 years to find a better alternative. Yet chains continue to combine the benefits of low cost, efficiency and relatively good reliability and have kept most ‘improvements’ at bay – at least until the ‘string drive’ came along

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salsa vest

Vest (gilet in the UK): Probably the most useful piece of clothing to own. Keeps your core warm without getting your arms too sweaty as when wearing a jacket. Can regulate your temperature with the simple movement of the zipper in temps from 45-65F.

High-vis: The popular bright lime green color worn by middle-aged cycling club members and others who want to survive on the road even if it means derision by the roadies wearing all black.


Carbon fiber: Woven high-strength material infused with resin that lightens your bike and wallet at the same time.

Kickstand: Controversial piece of hardware attached to the bike that keeps the bike from falling over when parked. Most won’t work on high-end bikes because the attachment method can crush carbon or thin-wall metal tubing. Enthusiast cyclists wouldn’t use one anyway since it is a feature similar to high-vis clothing and a dividing line between ‘racers’ and everyone else.

Fenders (mudguards in the UK): Useful piece of kit that covers the wheel reducing the amount of water spray that hits the rider. Another item that serious riders disdain unless it’s the minimalist version (such as SKS Raceblades) that can be used during training but never in a race where there is a shared joy in suffering.

Use full lane

Share the Lane sign: Cyclists think: ‘I can use the lane’. Motorists think: ‘Those bikes better get out of my way’. The more modern sign ‘Bike may use full lane’ is becoming more prevalent.

Velominati: Keepers of ‘The Rules’. 95 somewhat tongue-in-cheek rules on how to be a ‘legit’ cyclist. It gets superfluous after Rule #5 which is ‘Harden the F*** Up’. How can you talk about acceptable clothing colors, tire colors, tan lines and the like if you believe in HTFU?

Driver’s Ed: Class where motorists can learn such useful phrases as:
– ‘I didn’t see him’
– ‘She came out of nowhere’
– ‘Those bikes go too fast’
– ‘Those bikes go too slow’

Singletrack trail: Narrow trails that mountain bikers long for. Typically 4 feet wide in California and 1 foot in Idaho

Right turn hand signal: The old-school way of signaling a right turn is by using the left arm and pointing it up like you’re asking a question. Made sense in cars about 60 years ago before turn signals but makes no sense for bikes since cyclists can just indicate with their right arm. No idea why we still give cyclists this option since the only car drivers who understand this archaic signal are probably too old to be driving anyway.

Definitions for Cyclists

Lycra: Material used for bike clothing that let’s everyone know how your training program is progressing.

Bike Lane: Shoulder of the road usually demarcated by a white line where you will find glass, sand, leaves, garbage cans, parked cars, dumpsters, road work signs, abandoned shopping carts, delivery trucks, taxis and more. Sometimes there is room for a bike.

Stop light: traffic signals that are placed at regular intervals on the road to allow drivers to pause and complete the email they started at 40 mph.

Bike lock: a security device that prevents theft only for bikes nobody wants anyway.

Helmet: A safety device intended to make drivers more comfortable when they cut you off in traffic.

Race: An opportunity to pay for a ride you wouldn’t do for free while riding with people you shouldn’t pay to ride with.

Century ride: See ‘Race’ then add many more people and food stops every 15 miles.

Standard: A specification for components on a bicycle that allows interchangeability amongst manufacturers. Often updated, improved and obsoleted all in the same year rendering much of your gear useless. The only ‘standard’ that remains in common use 40+ years after I started playing with bikes is the pedal thread.

Bike path: A path separated from car traffic where runners, skaters, child walkers, dog walkers, jogglers and the like can complain that bikes go too fast.

Cycling apparel: Take regular clothing and multiply the price by 2X. 3X for brands with vaguely European-sounding names.

Los Altos History Museum Bike Exhibit

LA pencil recumbent

I waited until the last weekend it was open (anyone who knows me won’t be surprised by that) but finally got to the “Pedal Power: From Wacky to Workhorse” exhibit at the Los Altos History Museum. It had a bit of everything to appeal to avid cyclists, commuters, kids and recreational cyclists. There was some significant history on display as well as some whimsical bikes.

Having been an avid mountain biker for the past 25 years I always gravitate to the early years of Mountain Biking especially the bikes and components that I lusted after but could never have. The Ibis Bow-Ti was one of those. Something I only saw in a magazine until this visit.

LA Ibis BowTi bike

The workmanship on the bike was beautiful and you couldn’t help but want to take it off the wall and ride it out the door.

On display were 3 Rock Shox forks also from the early years. The Mag 21 on the left was really the first successful suspension fork and one that my friends and I rode back in the early 1990’s.

LA RS forks
One of the more unique performance bikes from the 1990’s was Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle’s winning bike from the 1993 edition of Paris-Roubaix. A special bike because it was equipped with a road version of the Rock Shox suspension fork. He won the race by just a few centimeters over Franco Ballerini and I have no idea if the suspension fork made the difference or not. This was Lassalle’s second Paris-Roubaix win in a row on a suspension fork.

LA Duclos-Lassalle bike

Fork close-up

LA Duclos-Lassalle fork
After looking at the bikes focused on the ‘enthusiast’ and racer market I turned to the fun bikes – bikes that people created to fit their needs or passion. It still amazes me to see the amount of creativity and whimsy that revolves around a simple 2-wheel, human-powered contraption.

There are tall bikes

LA tall bike

Scraper bikes

LA scraper bike

I met these guys up in Oakland about 6 months ago

LA Scraper bike info card
and of course everyone’s favorite bike – the Pencil Recumbent!

LA pencil recumbent

I really enjoyed this exhibit. I got a view into the distant cycling past as well as more recent history of mountain bike development. Thanks to the Los Altos History Museum, the curators and the donors of hardware for the exhibit who made this possible.