When we arrived at the park, we discovered that the entrance gates were closed. Thinking that they must just close the park to cars at night, Jason parked his car next to the park (he drove so we'd have water and a place to have rest stops out of the back of his Impreza.) We saw joggers and such running, strolling and otherwise utilizing the park with no impediment, so we figured, so could we.
We set off at a little after 7 AM. When we got around that big loop at the bottom right of the map (where it turns back to the left after approaching I-80) we saw some kind of sports events people setting up something and I thought, looks like they're going to have some sort of sports event here today. On the second loop, they were setting up what appeared to be a stage to the right of the roadway and I thought, they're going to have some sort of sports event here today. On the third or fourth lap (at this point I'd already grown tired of counting laps and decided to trust the mileage indicator on the Garmin) They were laying down some sort of finish line and setting up cameras and I though, they're going to be having some sort of bicycle race today. It was not long after that that young men on expensive bikes began showing up at the park.
Well, it turns out that Saturday was the Sugarhouse Crit.
This race as it all! Hills, Flats, Turns, and the entire road to work it all
out!!We have the whole park... Bring a picnic, play on the slides, lay on the
grass,this is a great race for the whole family.It is a great event... come out
any have a good time!!
Little did they know that they most certainly did not have the whole park, it was home to the 100 Miles to Nowhere! Well, we decided not to say anything and just keep riding (when I say that we "decided" I don't recall a specific discussion of anything, but we kept riding, so I'm assuming that a decision was made, albeit, possibly at the subconscious level.)
Well, when the Juniors lined up to race and the race officials began yelling at us to not cross the line, we rode over and explained what we were doing and how much more important what we were doing was than some silly bike races. Well, actually, Jason was ahead of me at this time so he did the explaining. Since we didn't have timing chips on our forks (and it's apparently very important to have the chip on you fork and NOT in your pocket - they announced this repeatedly, as if this was some kind of pie eating contest or something. I never got to ask what would happen if I kept my fork - with timing chip - in my pocket...) we wouldn't interfere with the race timing, we were admonished to stay to the left and try not to get in the racers way on the course, but since they didn't actually "have" the park and it was still open to use, they couldn't stop us from riding. We win!
So, for the next 60 some odd laps, we had an unofficial cheering section each time we passed the finish line. When we first went through, they actually announced that we were riding a century in the park and that's why we were allowed to go on. Only once did we have any of the riders yell at us (well, at Jason). I think it was the Cat 3 men, one of whom yelled at us to clear the course. I think they were very confused. I believe that they looked at us on our old bikes and with our hairy legs and with our obvious race hardened physiques and assumed that we must have been Cat 1 racers warming up. We didn't concern ourselves with this too much. Cat 3 racers are known to be temperamental, being the "middle children" of the race category system.
We stayed off the course completely for the Cat 5 race as everyone knows Cat 5's can be unpredictable and often crash. Sure enough, there was a crash right at the finish. No one seemed hurt, though I did see what I believe was a rather twisted up mass of carbon fiber being dragged from the course. Ouch.
The race officials would occasionally announce how we were doing, and toward the end, one woman spectator seemed to really get in to ringing her cowbell as we passed. (She was not wearing said cowbell, it seems to be how spectators show support at one of these events.)
Overall, the ride went really well. Only a little pain from the repetitive stress on the knees on the two short climbs: