by Franz and Ann Kelsch
We posted three ACTC rides doing some of the new Utah Billy Goats. This time it was just Ann and Franz doing the rides. We will be posting them again in August if anyone can make their way up here. Here is an account of each of the three rides.
Kolob Canyon – Zions National Park
There was a forecast of scattered rain, but the day seemed fine enough. It was much cooler than yesterday, but still warm enough that when we started at 8:30 am, we didn’t need any arm warmers or jacket.
We decided to leave from the hotel in Springdale and head to Virgin, Utah (about 13 miles) and then take the road up Kolob Canyon. That climb from the highway is 20 miles and gains 4,700 vertical feet. With all the climbing we were glad it was not hot like yesterday. The sun started to come out from behind the clouds and we were thinking this would be a nice day after all.
The road winds in and out of Zion National Park. After riding about 10 miles up the canyon, it started to get rather windy. I mean very windy and a strong head wind. Biking up a hill into a head wind is not a lot of fun, but we were determined to finish the route. The sun was no longer to be seen and as we looked off to the side we could see darker clouds forming.
When the road turned we started to climb again and the wind was not quite as strong, but after about 15 miles up from the highway, the road leveled out and the wind was real strong, so strong that I had to get off the bike because I thought I was going to fall over. We decided that was enough so we turned around and headed back down the hill. The temperature had now dropped from the mid 50’s to the mid 40’s.
We made a stop at a parking lot, about 10 miles up from the highway and chatted with a ranger. He said it was hailing down on the highway. Oh dear we thought. Could we beat the storm? Soon it started to rain and the wet and the cold combined made it a miserable descent. Even though we were going down hill it seemed to take forever to reach the highway.
We were totally soaked (although Ann was smart enough to bring a rain jacket). Even though we were pedaling as hard as we could, we felt very cold. Finally we made it to the hotel. I guess this is a ride we will always remember.
We decided that with the prospects of a sunny day we would head out to ride the Alpine Loop. We left on the tandem from our Utah home around 10 am and headed up Provo Canyon on the trail. We had to then go up on the shoulder of the highway to the turn off up North Fork, up to Sundance.
We could see the snow capped hills on our left with the spectacular view.
Continuing on past Sundance we finally made our way up to Aspen Grove. Shortly after that we saw that the road was closed.
We figured that only applied to cars so we went through the opening in the gate. We figured that it was just wide enough for a bicycle. What a great opportunity, to bike on a road that was closed to traffic. There was some debris on the road, mostly pine needles. But nothing that was difficult to cycle through.
We stopped to take some photos.
About 9 miles up from the Provo Canyon highway we finally made it to the summit. We were now at over 8,000 feet elevation.
We decided to descend down the American Fork Canyon side. Here we found a lot more debris that on the Provo Canyon side. At one point we had to stop and walk around some big bulldozers that were clearing the road from a landslide, I guess getting the road ready to open. We eventually made it down to where the road was closed to cars coming up the canyon so we were no longer on a closed road.
Down the canyon we made a stop at the Timpanogas Cave National Monument. At the snack bar we bought our lunch.
It was a wonderful bike ride and the scenery was unmatched, the weather was perfect and it was great to bike on a closed road.
We rode the tandem up Squaw Peak today from our Utah home. It is about 4.6 miles from the highway and about a 1,800 foot climb. Only the top part got real steep but it was a constant climb all the way up. From the top we had a beautiful view of the Utah Valley.
Hey Franz, watch were you are going!