Today we raced out of the Zion National Park for the start of the Tour of Utah. Quite the magnificent backdrop as you climb out and exit the park. Stunning really, and awe inspiring. Personally, I was very grateful for the opportunity and experience to be of the few who could embark on it.
VeloNews ran an article about it today ( VeloNews Link ) it outlines the long arduous process of what it takes to put on an event like the Tour of Utah, and the hurdles the organizers have to get over to make it happen.
In the article, one of the hurdles came from a nearby town, Springdale:
"By 2015, Springdale residents no longer supported the plan. In October 2015, the town council voted 3-2 to reject the race. Springdale mayor Stan Smith said the recent surge in tourism at Zion has created an isolationist attitude among some residents. This year, the park expects to see 4 million visitors, up from 3.5 million last year.
“There’s a group of townspeople who felt we didn’t need any additional publicity and advertising,” Smith said. “We have a lot of retirees. They came here hoping to enjoy Zion and a small-town feeling and with the increase in [park] visitations, that has gone away.”
I believe to have empathy for the residents. With training on the roads being a major part of my life for the last decade, the accessibility to areas far from traffic and isolated is lessening. The ever expanding suburbia and car culture, along with the subsequent road infrastructure has pushed those areas of isolation further and further from the home. (If one can find the solitude out there anymore, depending upon where one lives)
I've felt that the more accessible it is to the general public, there tends to be less appreciation and connection to how special these places are. We've created entitled culture and a car culture that only requires the filling of the gas tank, some pressure on a gas pedal, and time for one to experience places.
Ernest Hemingway said: “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
The people who visited the park for this occasion as a part of the race really were grateful for the opportunity given. We thank the Zion National Park, City of Springdale residents and the race organizers for this opportunity.
If anything for me, observing this place and us riders in it only highlights the expression of life and existence here.