By Kevin Rouse
It started as most of my trips do—catching a cab, and hopping on a plane. Where it started to diverge from ‘most trips’, however, was when I arrived at the Specialized Salt Lake City Distribution Center and learned that, over the course of the next six days, we’d be riding farther than I had just flown.
I’d known we’d be riding from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas for the Interbike trade show as part of Specialized Bicycles’ yearly pilgrimage but I’d neglected to spend a few key moments on Google Maps.
Fresh off two weeks of intense desk jockeying, this was shaping up to be quite the adventure.
Day 1 — Salt Lake City, Utah to Nephi, Utah: 109 miles.
doo·zy noun \ˈdü-zē\
Yup. Today was definitely a doozy. With 109 miles and 7,000-plus feet of climbing on the docket it was a formidable day in its own right, but, tacked in front of five more days just like it, it simply has the effect of honing one’s masochistic tendencies—err, character, I mean—to a tee.
And, with more than 10 flats in our group of 30 riders—most of them in the first 50 miles—the Band-Aid protocol was definitely not in effect. We were pulling this one off slowly and painfully, one mile at a time.
If anything though, we could find solace in the fact that, with every flat, we were delaying the delivery of the entrée on today’s platter of pain—a twenty-mile climb seasoned with five miles of incredible steepness. And when I say entrée, I should clarify that I mean something closer to a yearlong Family Pass at the local Hometown Buffet. Yeah, this thing was long.
After a few crushing false summits, we finally crested the highest point on the Mt. Nebo National Scenic Byway at 9,300 feet. Named after the biblical peak that looks over Jerusalem, Mt Nebo was the purported place of Moses’ death, and we were certainly in a state to sympathize; mentally, we weren’t far off ourselves.
A rip-roaring descent found us on the fast track to Nephi, our stop for the night. A feast prepared by Western Spirit, the guide company that is kindly taking care of all of the victuals on the trip, had us comatose in no time.
So on that note, here’s to character-building rides, great food and even better riding partners. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what tomorrow has up its sleeves—because I still haven’t had a chance to check out a damn map.
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