Thursday, August 9, 2012

In the Land of Polygamy Porter

Or I could have called this blog entry "In the Land of the Mormons."  But in an attempt to stay with the often beer-inspired themes of this blog, I chose the former. Yes, no kidding: There is a beer called Polygamy Porter. Just like Uinta Brewing Co's Trader Session IPA it is a tasty, albeit watery beer—no wonder, as this place still has alcohol-content restrictions, and neither climbs much above 4%.

Polygamy Porter—"Why Have Just One?"
Today is Thursday, and thus it must be the third day of the Tour of Utah. Stage 3 is going to start in about two hours, and I have a few minutes in my hotel room here in Odgen before checking out, loading my stuff in the race-issued brand-new Subaru Outback, getting today's start lists at the sign-in, and then high-tailing it to the stage finish in Salt Lake City. It's another UCI Doping Control assignment, and it's been a good one so far. I flew in on Monday and attended the Team Managers Meeting that afternoon, and Tuesday's and Wednesday's testing came off without a hitch. Just like in California, we use an RV for doping control, and (almost) like in California I am assisted by an Allen—Heather Allen, that is, versus her husband John Allen in California. Heather drives the RV and helps with all things that need to be done to get us ready for testing. Medalist Sports, the organizers of this event (as well as for California and the soon-coming pro-race in Colorado) are to be commended for spending the money on an assistant for doping control.
Pro riders seeking a bit of shade from one of the fiber-glass horses that symbolize Odgen
Compared to the Amgen Tour of California, the crowds at this race are much smaller and the field is somewhat less stellar. The infrastructure is equally imposing, with start and finish areas top notch. Another difference is that we are not constantly traveling: For the first three nights we stayed here in Odgen, and today we are transferring to Salt Lake City for the final nights. Yesterday's Team Time Trial was run at Miller Motor Speedway, about an hour away, but we are certainly not driving the 1,000 miles that my odometer showed at the conclusion of ATOC. That, in turn, means that there is a little bit more downtime, which I have been putting to good use by taking out the Ritchey for what already is a respectable 79 miles.
The Team Time Trial at Miller Motor Speedway—an unusual venue but perfectly suited
Ogden is a strange place. Neither Heather nor I can put our finger on it: On the one hand, there is a lot of really nice (re-)development in the historic downtown area, where our hotel is and where the start of the first and also today's stage was/is located. But then there are so many run-down aspects, homeless people, decaying streets. And then another fancy boutique or restaurant.
The start of Stage 1 in downtown Ogden
Hotel staff made me aware of a cycle path (like a greenbelt) along the small Ogden River, and I used it for short before-and-after-work rides, and it is typical for this place: In places it is perfectly maintained, and in others it suddenly vanishes. Signage is spotty, and the users of the area are of a mixed nature. Oh well, maybe it's a Mormon thing.... This morning I found a new route, parallel to the mountains going north toward Brigham City, with beautiful views of the lake (yes, it really does exist!) and the surrounding mountains. No wonder one of the little towns along the way (founded in 1851) was called Pleasant View. Next up was a place called Box Elder.
Along the greenbelt cycle path in Ogden, with one of the prettier views
Yesterday morning I dropped off the samples from the first stage at the Salt Lake City laboratory (the SMRTL), one of two WADA-approved test facilities in the USA (the other one is at UCLA). I met the director of the lab and got a short glimpse of its interior. I was told that SMRTL processes about 20,000 samples a year, with a staff of more than 30. UCLA's lab is triple that size in samples processed. Obviously, that's not only cycling-related or even from the world of sports, but rather private industry as well. Dr. Eichner, the lab's director, told me that these two labs process more samples in a year than all accredited European labs combined. Wow.
My Outback in front of the Salt Lake City lab at 560 Arapeen Way
And now it is time to close the computer and start the day. If I find the time, I may add a few more pictures and a few lines in the next few days. We should see some really pretty countryside when we go up into the mountains. The final stage will end in Park City, and I have heard nothing but praise for that place, so we'll see.


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