Mountain Flyer: On the Road
A short day of riding gave way to a much later and much more collective start on the third morning of our trip from Steamboat to Park City, UT. After a nice evening in Vernal, UT filled with plenty of Bud Light Lime consumption and over indulgence of Pizza Hut pizza, day three offered the shortest mileage day on the trip.
Although, we only had about 50 miles of riding planned for the day, the ride time seemed to be right on par with the previous 100 mile days. It seems that when you have less riding to do, the slower you go and the more you stop. Rain clouds loomed early on, but it turned out to be another warm, sunny day with temps in the high 90s.
The 50 miles went smooth with very little climbing and only a few (by few I mean 4) stops to navigate the confusing grid of paved and unpaved farm roads. We made one last mandatory stop before our final destination, stopping for ice cream and beer is a must on a hot summer “recovery” ride. As we hydrated and indulged in salty gas station snacks and ice cream, we talked about the days ride and our destination ranch. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits after the flat easy day of riding, but not looking forward to the next days mileage or elevation gain.
Our accommodations for the evening were quite different than the previous two nights, trading hotel rooms for a rustic, hunting ranch tucked away in the Northern Utah wilderness (actually it was more like a desert oasis with trees, water and mosquitoes). Supposedly such stars as Karl Malone and Tiger Woods have stayed at the ranch to get away from it all, which is exactly what the ranch offers. Just 100 yards away from the largest cabin was a nice waterfall (filled with leeches and mosquitoes, but it was refreshing) to help cool off from the warm day on the bike.
The main cabin was filled with trophy animal heads, antlers and even a deer ass. It was almost scary how many animals were hanging in the living room; the owners must feel that it is a sign of status to have that much flesh hanging on your wall. There were a few other smaller cabins spread across the property, one boasting a heart shaped hot tub with a flat screen tv mounted above it., but none of the cabins were without some sort hunting trophy.
An evening filled with beer, barbecue, and bocce was a great way to help finish off the four day, three night event. But the final day of riding was set to be the hardest of the whole trip. Riding from Altamont, UT in to Park City, UT offered 103 miles of riding with around 4000ft of elevation gain.
|Waiting patiently for bike work. I was glad not to have any mechanical issues the whole ride.||An intense game of Boccee taking place in the lush green grass.||An amazing sunset over the ranch.|
Sunday started as another early morning just like the previous 3 days, but this day seemed much cooler but offered up a beautiful sunrise over the hills of eastern Utah. Our group was set to leave the main cabin at 6:45, allowing us 15 mins to ride the gravel road out of the ranch, and meeting at the pavement at 7am. Like on most group rides, there happened to be a little miscommunication, with beers doing most of the talking the night before and our scattered sleeping arrangement, confusion was to be expected.
Inevitably, communication failed, leaving a couple riders confused on the 7am pavement time. Forcing them to chase a swift group of 8 riders, until we realized they weren’t in front of us like we initially thought. Our sag vehicle relayed the message to us after 15 miles of fast paced riding, meaning we had made the gap even bigger already. Mark from Smartwool, decided he better make a call to help ease the tension of the two pissed off riders. His message said “Don’t be mad at me its not my fault you missed the meeting time, we all thought you were ahead of us.” Unsure of how far back they really were, we decided to continue on, with the long climb still looming ahead.
The two left behind riders eventually caught us at a rest stop at the base of the climb. After the miscommunication was addressed things were smoothed over with apologies, allowing us to continue on together, with everyone happy. Climbing Wolf Creek pass (the Utah one, not Wolf Creek Colorado) went by quick, but was painful. Our group of four started ascending last, but passed nearly everyone in front of us, it was a punishing pace yet was very rewarding at the summit.
Leaving us about 30 miles from Park City, the descent off Wolf Creek dropped us down quickly meandering along a beautiful mountain river. We were finally in the mountains after a few days of riding across the scorching hot Utah desert. With the change of scenery and climate the end of the ride was near. One last climb up Brown’s Canyon road just east of Park City pushed the legs one last time. Those last climbs always seem easy knowing that you just need to descend to your destination.
Trevor Walz of Smartwool, took the final town sign sprint in Park City, with the rest of our group just happy to be done. We coasted through the never-ending road construction to our final destination at Squatter’s Brewpub. Appetizers and beers filled the tables as the remainder of the riders trickled in. It was great to see so many co-workers and friends get out and accomplish a ride of this magnitude. For many of them this was there first time riding 100 miles in a day or riding that many big rides consecutively.
Riding bikes for me lately has been somewhat of an escape, but I remember why I started riding in the first place. It was because it was an active, social way to make friends. Over the years I have met lots of people thanks to one thing, the bicycle. Going on this ride made me remember how fun and beneficial cycling can be. Opening up with people on a group road ride or pulling someone back up to the group after a pee break. There is something more to riding bikes than just exercise and fresh air.
I hope that whether you are a mountain biker, road biker, or any other type of cycling enthusiast, that you have found this aspect of cycling. If not, get out there, go to your local shop, talk to cycling friends you know. As much as cycling isn’t a team sport, it is an extremely social sport that will offer you many years of great friendships and experiences.