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Mountain Biking Icon, Cyndi Schwandt Remembered

Team Sugar-Cyndi Schwandt

Park City resident, Cynthia Schwandt was found on Monday evening on a mountain bike trail in the Prospector area of Park City. She was unresponsive and had no pulse. She was 68 years old, an avid cyclist and Nordic skier who has been a local mountain biking  icon and proponent for  Park City’s trails for decades.

Anyone who has been a part of the mountain biking or Nordic skiing scene in Park City for the last 30 years, knows Cindy Schwandt. Ed Orschel has lived in Park City for decades and was the first person to arrive at the scene of the accident at about 7:15 on Monday evening. He has ridden many Tour Des Suds races with Schwandt over the years.  He was on an evening ride just below the switchbacks on an upper section of the Prospector trails, called Fox Tail.

“I knew immediately who she was, I mean, I knew her face immediately upon arriving because she was wearing her Team Sugar jersey and you know, she’s like you said, she’s a cyclist that has a lot of history here in Park City and we should be naming a trail after her and a Tour Des Suds about her.”

Long time Summit County resident, Tom Noeker says there was a group of trail enthusiasts which she was a part of 40 years ago.

“Oh, there was a whole group of people back in the early 80’s who were, you know, they were the original trail builders in Park City. You know, you go all the way back to that time frame, there weren’t really any trails at all. Just finding old miner’s paths and connecting them by hand.  And, basically, created the architecture for the Mountain Trails Foundation. That was all done on the QT. It was bootlegged, no approval.

Todd Henneman is co-owner of Storm Cycles bicycle shop at Kimball Junction. He met Schwandt in the early 90’s. He says she’s been competing and winning for decades and it was often tricky to find bikes that fit her small stature. 
“Active and traveling for mountain bike racing. I just got to know them from that. She’s just been a, going clear back to the early 90’s, kind of a staple for Park City as far as mountain biking goes. Always a leader in mountain biking. I don’t know, Cindy just continued to stay with it for as long as anyone I know…and as far as competing…”

Schwandt was well known for her affinity for the color purple. She’s been a guide with Team Sugar for more than 15 years and fellow guide, Gina Werner says when the group goes out for their ride, they’ll celebrate Schwandt’s vibrant life.

“You know, she always won. She was the winner of the Tour Des Suds ride every year. She made sure she was going to win that. Such a strong, experienced rider. And, she knew the old trails inside and out.”

Executive Director of Mountain Trails, Charlie Sturgis says Schwandt was one of his first customer in the early 80’s when White Pine first opened on Main Street. He says everyone knew it was Cindy coming because she was clad in purple. And he confirms her reputation as a force to be reckoned on the mountain bike racing circuit.

Werner says she and her Team Sugar mates are planning a memorial ride for a later date. For the Tuesday evening ride, she plans to pass around purple ribbon  to commemorate Schwandt’s love of the sport.

She was highlighted in the Utah Adventure Journal in  2009, a story covering the early days of mountain biking and racing in Utah.

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