Park City

It has been nearly 10 years since I last set foot in Park City. My last visit was in winter and this latest visit began at the absolute tail end of summer. It was a perfect time to return to Utah, and especially Park City. We drove up from Salt Lake City via the Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway. I was extremely jealous of all the cyclists riding from SLC up to Brighton Ski Resort and beyond. Utah is an endurance sports mecca and a drive up one of the canyons into the Wasatch-Cache National Forest offers a lot of proof. The road was dotted with numerous trail heads that were packed with vehicles indicating a lot of folks had gone hiking and mountain biking in the wilderness. We stopped on one of the switchbacks and got out for a pottie break. Shep spotted a climber way up on one of the rock faces, confirming that this area is awesome for rock climbing to. The drive was technically challenging, especially in a rental, and was a bit sketchy going through Guardsman Pass where the road changed to dirt (mud) for a while. We had stunning views east just before descending into Deer Valley.

Our first stop in Park City was at the The Canyons resort to catch a bit of the 48straight Falling into Cross race. I still haven’t figured out what 48straight is all about, but they did have a cool race vehicle that ran on 100% vegetable oil. Jon Gallagher, a long time friend and former teammate, was the race director. Jon has been in Utah since 1998 and is a fellow Boston College alumnus. I raced bicycles all over the Northeast with John in the early-1990’s. We even spent the summer of 1994 racing bikes in Belgium, the first time racing abroad for both of us. He returned to Belgium several times and went on to to have a fabulous amateur and age group road cycling, mountain biking, and cyclocross career. He now makes his living as a cycling event promoter and as the owner/operator of Sports Base Timing, a cycling event timing and finish line logistics service.

The race was the kickoff event of the Utah cyclocross season and a warm-up for the Utah Cyclocross Series which begins in October. For the second time of the weekend, I was envious of those with bikes. Summer officially wasn’t over, but the leaves were already changing in Park City, further proof that cross season is here. It is likely that I won’t get on my cross bike until November, but I’m already looking forward to it. We checked into our Park City inn, relaxed a bit, then met up with Jon and Ellie Gallagher again for dinner. We had fun walking the strip of Historic Park City.

On Sunday, we rose early and hit the trails for a long hike. Shep woke up a little under the weather (altitude sickness), but he soon recovered in the fresh air of the mountains. He was a trooper as we trekked a little more than 12 miles, covering 3000+ feet of elevation and topping out around 8800 feet. The trail network in Park City is unmatched. The singletrack was amazing. We were walking it, but it was evident that it was supremely ride-able. Sure enough, by 10 A.M., the mountain bikers were out in force and for the third time, I was regretting not bringing my bike to Utah. The weather was gorgeous and we explored many of the trails that are part of the Park City Mountain Resort. A $2.00 donation to the Mountain Trails Foundation had gotten us a detailed map of the trails, which proved invaluable because there were like a thousand trail junctions.

After the nearly six hour hike, we descended back to Historic Main Street in Park City and walked through the Park Silly Sunday Market on our way back to the inn. This has to be the most irreverent market I’ve been too. It was a combination craft fair, farmers market,  and advocacy fair with a Mardi Gras atmosphere. I was disappointed to learn that last week’s market was the second to last of the season and that this coming weekend’s will be the last. The disappointment is mainly because the last one is going to end with a blow- out Oktoberfest.

All week, Park City environmentalists were on a campaign to communicate the wastefulness of plastic bags. It was cool to see that there was a strong message being sent during this fun filled fair. 

Park City was a fun trip. The upscale nature of the place is very obvious. It was also clear that the ski season drives all the growth and that most folks coast through spring, summer, and fall in anticipation of the big white out. The place is all about tourism with loads of hotels, restaurants, and chi-chi shops. It doesn’t get much more ski town posh than at the Stein Eriksen Lodge at the Deer Valley Resort. It was a beautiful spot to check out knowing that a lot of folks would never get to see a building like it. In summary, Park City may not be as cool as Chamonix, but it has a lot more going for it than a lot of other mountain towns.

1 Response to “Park City”

  1. 1 Wayne 24 September 2008 at 7:43 am

    Didn’t know there was a connection between you and Jon Gallagher. He has raced Fitchburg at least once in the past few years. I chatted with him some maybe 3 years ago? A really nice guy. It was probably “pre-Horst” on our jerseys so he didn’t know the connection. Good rider still…I remember him being solo off the front for quite a while in the road race that year.

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