Last year 180 cyclists from 14 states turned out to tackle the inaugural Crusher in the Tushar bicycle race.
Now, with a year under his belt, organizer Burke Swindlehurst is watching the 70-mile endurance race, which takes riders up more than 10,000 feet into the Tushar range twice on a mix of paved and dirt roads, garner even more attention as the race registration filled to its capacity of 350 entrants in three weeks when registration opened in mid-January.
“I’ve been pretty humbled with how much traction it’s gained so quickly,” Swindlehurst said. “It’s exciting, I just had a rider from Belgium confirm he’s going to fly out for the event.”
According to Swindlehurst this year’s event, which is scheduled to take place Saturday, July 14, has attracted riders from 17 states, four foreign countries — Canada, Australia, Germany and Belgium — and includes national and world champions and at least two Olympic champions. He said with how the event has flourished, he doesn’t want it to explode and become something he can’t control.
“Anything that happens too quickly can’t sustain its growth,” Swindlehurst said. “I don’t want it to explode overnight, I want things to take their course and make it a sustainable thing.”
Taking this approach of growing the Crusher in the Tushar in stages, Swindlehurst said will also make the event a premier race that will continue to draw racers from around the globe in all cycling disciplines — both those who race on paved surfaces and on dirt.
“This race was a way for me to bring both of those communities together on a level playing field and have a race to essentially see who’s the best overall cyclist,” Swindlehurst said. “There are athletes on either side who are strong in one area and not in the other, and it puts them on equal footing.”
Another portion of the race, which Swindlehurst said drew a lot of attention last year, was that riders cannot change bikes during the race to accommodate the change from pavement to dirt, making their initial equipment selection crucial.
“Everyone that finished the race last year said they were going to do the opposite,” Swindlehurst said. “I think we’ll see a lot of people use a different bike this year and when they finish they’ll be scratching their heads trying to decide which was better.”
Swindlehurst said the top finishers in the men’s division last year were on cyclocross bikes, which he said will likely drive a lot of riders to lean toward that type of equipment. He said with the changes that have occurred on the dirt portion of the course, some people may find that the cyclocross won’t work the best for them this go-round.
“Those people might be in for a surprise,” Swindlehurst said. “On the dirt the conditions can change from day to day. You can never be 100 percent sure until the day of the event what exactly you’re going to encounter.”
As the organizer, Swindlehurst said he is also learning the same is true for planning and preparing for the event. Last year, he said he had to make some course changes to accommodate the lingering snowpack.
This year, the opposite is true. Swindlehurst said every day he worries and watches what’s going to happen as the fire dangers increase, and with the drier conditions, dust is also a major concern.
Aside from Mother Nature, Swindlehurst said he is also concerned about traffic on the course due to current road closures that will divert drivers heading out for recreation right into the pathway of the race.
“I don’t want people scratching their heads wondering, ‘what are these people doing here,’” Swindlehurst said. “I just want people to know and be aware of what they’re going to encounter so they can avoid the area, be alert of the bikers or sit back and enjoy the race.”
The race, which begins July 14 at 8 a.m. in downtown Beaver, is set to wind along State Route 153 through Beaver Canyon over the Tushar range, then turn onto Forest Road 137 as it makes its way into Piute County. Riders will then pass through Circleville and Junction somewhere between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. as they reconnect with SR 153 to race back across the mountain and finish at Eagle Point ski resort from approximately noon to 5 p.m., according to Swindlehurst.
“Spectators are encouraged to come watch the riders as well as at the event’s finish line,” Swindlehurst said.
For more information, log onto tusharcrusher.com.