It was a great day for a bicycle race . . . but not a record day.
Nearly 600 cyclists pedaled up Little Cottonwood Canyon in the 12th annual Snowbird Hill Climb, but none was able to break any of the existing records, this despite a strong tailwind that gave riders a little push up the hill.It was, however, very close. Steve Tibbetts of Kaysville, led the pack of riders up the 10-mile climb in 45 minutes, 56 seconds. This was only 45 seconds short of the record set by Steve Johnson back in 1989 at 45:11.
Second in this event was Tibbetts' teammate, Burke Swindlehurst of Logan. His time was 46:09.2.
The race started from a parking lot near 20th East and 9400 South early Saturday. By the time the group hit the mouth of the canyon, though, it was obvious who was fast and who was not this day.
Tibbetts led a group of about two dozen riders around the turn and up the canyon. Not far behind came the rest of the riders.
From that point on, Tibbetts said he often looked back at his followers but never relinquished the lead.
He admitted, though, that it was tiring and at times difficult.
"Especially the winds. Sometimes there was a tailwind, sometimes a headwind. You just never knew what was coming. That made it more difficult," he said. Holding the lead the entire race didn't allow Tibbetts the opportunity to draft.
His strategy, though, for this race was to take the lead and hold it. Swindlehurst noted that it become evident as the group reached the canyon that his teammate had this race, "and all I tried to do was to stay as close as I could."
Third was Michael Henson with a time of 46:15.5, followed by Mark Logan in 47:01.0.
Fastest time in the women's classes was Colleen Hoffman with a time of 58:09.7, which was also short of the record. The women's mark was set by Laura Howat back in 1988 at 53:55.
Second fastest woman was Tanja Kjeldsberg in 58:52.3.
According to race officials, this was one of the strongest fields ever for this race. The lure of more than $7,000 in cash and prize money helped.
The different levels of riders in this event was evident by the long line of riders in the canyon. As Tibbetts was crossing the finish line there was a line of riders strung out down the canyon for about seven miles.
The race covered 10 miles and had a climb of 3,500 vertical feet.