LOGAN – Ernst Mayr won senior cycling events in Southern Utah and raced in senior world cycling championships in Europe before he stopped riding competitively about seven years ago. Despite having knee replacement surgery on both knees earlier this year, the 80-year-old Austria-born Richmond resident said he still rides between 25 and 40 kilometers every day. On Monday morning however, Mayr wasn’t on his bike. He was standing in a rainy Logan Canyon, happy to finally watch professional cycling in the place he has called home for 42 years.
“This is a real big cycling event,” he said while waiting to catch a first glimpse of the riders. “In Utah.”
Monday’s opening stage of the Tour of Utah was the first time in its 11-year history the event had visited Logan, and Mayr wasn’t the only local thrilled to see the race make its way north. Despite the heavy rain, spectators dotted the route that made its way along Highway 89 and around Bear Lake, some watching from atop rock ledges in the canyon to get a better view. Back in town, hundreds lined 100 East to see the world-class cyclists cross the finish line of the 132-mile opening stage.
Cycling fans Robert and Philip Jackson traveled from Farmington to watch the race from the top of the canyon, near the Rich County line. They said it was an area where the riders would be moving slower, providing a little more time to watch some of their favorite cyclists.
“Being a big cycling fan, this is one of few opportunities you have to watch pro cycling up close and personal,” Philip Jackson said. “If you’re a cycling fan most of the time you are watching European stuff. This is one of our few opportunities to actually watch professional teams.”
Hyde Park resident Jen Pitcher brought her three kids along with extended family to watch the race. They started watching in the canyon and planned on traveling back to Logan to watch the finish. Her children dressed in costumes to cheer on the riders, one as Captain America and another as a leprechaun.
“It’s a family thing,” Pitcher said.
Some fans like Mayr, who said he is at least going to the Park City stage, will have the opportunity to watch more racing as the tour continues through Utah throughout the week. Those who don’t will have to wait and see if the race returns next year.