The first ever Park City Bike About bicycle tour was a success! A small and intimate success, but a success nonetheless.
This past weekend (staring on June 24th and ending on June 26th, 2011) myself and Exclusive Excursions owner, Jeff Manwaring, led a small bicycle touring event in the beautiful mountain resort town of Park City, Utah. It was an event I dreamed up while traveling in Peru earlier this year and pulled off with just over one month’s worth of planning. If you are currently subscribed to Bicycle Touring Pro’s email newsletter, you likely got an email asking if you would like to join me on this year’s Park City Bike About.
What I learned after that first email went out was that tons of people wanted to join the tour… but they just wished they had been given a lot more notice about the dates of the tour. In fact, I received nearly 40 emails from people all around the world who said, “I want to come out for the Park City Bike About. I just wish I had known about it 3-6 months ago.”
And this is the major lesson I learned this year from quickly throwing together the first annual Park City Bike About: If you are planning a bicycle tour, schedule it months in advance and give people time to make travel plans, take time off work, etc. Major lesson learned!
Anyway, with only one month’s notice, we were able to get one person to sign up for all three days of the tour and three other people to sign up for just one day ride-alongs.
Bill Benefield, from Dallas, Texas, was our main tour participant who rode with us on all three days of the tour. And while we wish we had been able to get more people out for the event, we were happy to have Bill in our company… and we worked hard to show him a good time.
On day one of the tour, Bill was joined by Park City local, Mark Davidson, who joined the tour at the last moment, and the four of us (myself, Bill, Mark and Jeff (my co-leader on the tour)) spent the later half of Friday afternoon cycling from Park City’s downtown region all the way to the city of Coalville, some 20 miles to the north.
We started the day on the Prospector Loop trail, a narrow single-track trail that winds its way through the Prospector Square region of Park City. After nearly an hour on the trail, we dropped down out of the brush onto Park City’s historic Rail Trail (a once-was train track that has recently been converted into a bicycle path and pedestrian walkway). The trail starts out paved, but quickly turns to hard-packed gravel as it slowly winds its way to the north, through the small country towns of Wanship, Hoytsville, and Coalville. On the rail trail, we chatted back and forth with one another, pointed at the often awe-inspiring scenery, and shared stories with one another about our various cycling exploits.
On day two of the tour, Bill was joined by his wife (Sylvia) and his 17-year-old daughter (Lauren).
Jeff and I drove our small group up to the top of Guardsman’s Pass (elevation 9,700 feet) and I led the Benefield family by bike down a long gravel road to the Swiss-inspired city of Midway, some 4,133 feet below.
Once in Midway, we cycled across town, enjoying the awesome mountain scenery that surrounded us and the cute Swiss buildings that were scattered about the town. After a brief sandwich lunch in a Midway park, we loaded up the bikes and traveled for about 25 minutes to the top of a famous Utah cycling path known as the Provo Canyon Parkway.
At the trail-head of the Provo Canyon Parkway, we unloaded the bikes and my co-leader, Jeff, led the Benefield family down the Parkway bicycle path while I followed behind in the car and took photos of our group.
The Provo Canyon Parkway is a pleasant downhill graded path that is shaded from the sun and passes along a beautiful rushing river and the famous “double-cataract” Bridal Veil waterfall. The weather was absolutely perfect as we made our way down the Provo Canyon Parkway, and we passed hundreds of other cyclists, walkers, and rollerbladers who were also out enjoying the trail.
Below, from left to right: Lauren Benefield, Sylvia Benefield, Bill Benefield and tour leader Jeff Manwaring.
On the third and final day of the Park City Bike About, Bill was our one and only tour participant and we really wanted to treat him to something special, so we took him up to Park City’s Mid-Mountain trail and spent several hours traversing this beautiful single-track trail on our mountain bikes. The Mid-Mountain trail is a 30-mile long stretch of single-track that runs from the South at Deer Valley Ski Resort to the northern-most end of Park City. Along the way, the trail passes through thousands of shimmering Aspen trees and crosses through all three of Park City’s world-famous ski resorts.
While the first two days of the Bike About were mainly downhill, day three on the Mid-Mountain trail certainly required a bit more uphill riding, but it was worth it! The views from the trail were absolutely mind-blowing and all three of us had a great time spinning through the shade and sun of the Aspen trees while looking down on Park City below.
While the turnout may have been low, we had a great time, I think that Bill, his family and local, Mark Davidson, had a great time as well, and we can ultimately call the first annual Park City Bike About a success.
Jeff and I are already talking about doing another Bike About around this time next year, but we haven’t set the dates just yet. So if this looks like something you might want to participate in next year, please stay tuned. I’ll be announcing the dates for the second-annual Park City Bike About sometime in the next week or so and you’ll surely to want to mark the dates on your calendar!
One thing is for certain: For the 2nd annual Bike About, I’m going to be sure to give you LOTS OF NOTICE as to when the tour will take place.