After a day in the heat like Saturday, waking up in the cool AC of my Mandalay Bay hotel room was enough motivation to get a cooling vest before starting across the Nevada desert once again. My friends at Cycle Gear offered to let me try the new Bilt evaporative cooling vest during my journey and I jumped at the opportunity (thanks guys). I got a little lost on the way to the shop, but with some help from my friend Pat Harris of Cycle Sports TV I was able to find my way. Gregg the GEAR EXPERT immediately greeted me with a demo vest and boy was it freezing cold (but felt so good)! I knew this is what I needed to help me survive the heat this go around. After an hour chatting about gear (what else, right?) and half an hour of prepping my vest and cooldana, I was ready to take on the sun.
The ride out of Vegas is quite boring until you hit the Virgin River Canyon – known to the locals as “the Gorge” – and then all bets are off. If you can keep your chin from dropping every few seconds, I’d say you’ve perfected your poker face for sure. This area boasts some of the most gorgeous scenery I’ve ever seen in America and you don’t even have to take the back roads. A sparkling blue river meanders amongst jagged pale yellow rock and green trees. At the Arizona border, the iconic red cliff faces jut out from every direction. The road twists and turns just enough to keep you satisfied as you gawk at the scenery around you. This is a must-see for anyone who enjoys a good ride and a great peep show… yeah, I said it!
After crossing the border into Utah, St. George’s sprawling blood-red mesas are front and center to greet you – or warn you – depending on where you’re headed. Zion National Park is just beyond the city’s borders at the Hurricane exit off of I-15. The spires and natural staircases peek out from behind the hills that block most of the view into the park from the highway and taunt you for choosing the easy way around. Tread carefully, the road through Zion is not for beginners. I would also suggest spending an entire day there instead of just an hour or two, because you’ll never want to leave. The experience is truly epic and whether you’re on or off the bike, you’ll be happy you came.
I made it out to Beaver just in time to take in a beautiful sunset while I sat on a curb at the gas station and ate my snacker (that’s snack/dinner for those of you who don’t speak Bringlish) of turkey jerky, almonds, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. Life on the road is hard, but I always take the time to feast on delicacies… ok, not so much.
The rest of the ride was dark and uneventful – minus the final 30 miles. Let’s just say my mathematical skills are seriously lacking when it comes to planning the best night-time routes:
Twisty mountain roads + tons of deer + road construction + total darkness = Supertightsphincteritis (aka not relaxing in the least)
I made it to Park City safe and sound regardless of the 3 deer that came within 20 feet of me, the orange barrel fiasco dance, and Black Betty’s uncanny ability to suddenly need gas when you’re in the middle of nowhere. Needless to say, I sure slept good last night.