I’d arranged a mountain biking trip in Utah with Escape Adventures before I left for the states. I left Chicago for Las Vegas, where I spent one night. I didn’t do anything that night in Vegas as I didn’t arrive until late, and I had an early start the next day. The Escape Adventures minibus was waiting for me at the Hotel valet early next morning. We set of for Utah with a brief stop at St George to pick up the rest of the group. The group consisted of what I thought an unlikely bunch for a mountain biking holiday. The average age excluding myself was about 50 and there were a few of the guys who seemed pretty out of shape. I was very relieved to be honest, I was expecting some super fit 20 year olds. Although, I later found out that most of the 50 year olds were actually fitter than me. I had decided that as I’d been in a pub almost every day since I left the UK that I’d try and do without beer, and have some clean living during my holiday in the hills. All the way up to the mountain the guides were asking if we wanted to buy beer when we were passing through Nevada, I later found out this was because Utah beer is only 3.5%.
We set off for Brian Head, a mountain peak at 11, 307ft. At this altitude, you fall short of breath just walking around. So when the bus stopped and we get on our bikes, it was rather challenging going straight for a climb. Fortunately the climb didn’t last long and we had an awesome decent of around 10 miles to our camp. We then set up our tents, had dinner, had a bonfire and got an early night. The camp site was at 8000ft so it was rather chilly at night. I didn’t pack any jumpers as I was travelling light, so I ended up wearing about 3 t-shirts to bed.
The next day we woke up early, we got a shuttle from the minibus up to the top of a different mountain, then cycled downhill one of the most technical and pretty terrifying trails I’ve ever done. I fell off quite a lot, but when we regrouped down the bottom, I realised I wasn’t the only one. None of us made it down unscathed, we were all rather bloody. We then found a beauty spot for lunch and had a welcome break. After lunch we did another downhill section and finished off back at the camp. I was tired, wounded and I needed a beer. I managed to persuade one of the guides to take me to the local shop on the way home where I bought some ‘Polygamy Porter’ a very aptly named Utah beer bearing a slogan, ‘Because one is never enough’.
|Me and my bike|
The next day was fairly similar, although we did some climbing before we got to the downhill. It was tough, and I had to stop numerous times on the way up to catch my breath, I was still struggling a bit with the altitude. After lunch we moved camp and then I decided to go for the optional 20 mile cross country afternoon ride. Most people in the group decided to stay behind and chill out, I joined a group of four 50 year old Italians. They were doing the mountain biking trip as part of their 50th birthday celebration. They were all 50 years old in the same year, they were also all super fit and raced competitively cross country mountain biking. I was already pretty shattered from the morning cycle and when we set off the Italians left me for dust. It was a difficult ride involving lots of climbing, fortunately the Italian guys kept getting punctures so it let me catch up. We cycled round a lake through Aspen forest and ancient lava fields, it was a spectacular ride. We finished back at the camp and I had a wee swim in the lake, which was absolutely freezing, and went back for dinner and a few Polygamy Porters.
The fourth day was by far the most challenging. For every downhill section we had to earn it, we did a massive amount of climbing, it was super tough. After lunch we trekked a bit to check out a crazy waterfall which spurted out from a big hole in the side of a sandstone cliff. Then came the optional afternoon ride, which involved yet more climbing. There were so many false horizons, at the top of every summit was another hill for us to scale. I was so glad when I finally approached the downhill but was too knackered to really enjoy it. I had another wee swim when I got back to clean up and got ready for dinner.
Every night we had a bonfire after dinner and we’d gaze up at the stars. We were really out in the sticks with no towns around for hundreds of miles and absolutely no light pollution. This meant that we had an incredibly bright night sky. This night was to be our last night so I gathered as much firewood as I could to end our time camping with a grand finale bonfire. We stayed up late, played some silly games and talked until there was no firewood left and it started to get rather cold and time for bed.