Utah Cycling Tour—Provo to Cedar City: Part 4

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Day 5: Panguitch Lake to Cedar Breaks National Monument

We intentionally planned the last two days to be pretty light. We wanted time to relax and enjoy the sights at Cedar Breaks National Monument. After packing up we rode the short distance to a lodge-like store to get some breakfast. We ended up with a buch of junk like muffins, danishes, juice, and so on.

Breakfast at Panguitch Lake

The ride up to Cedar Breaks from Panguitch Lake is not that far, but it does climb and gain some serious elevation (almost 3000′). This was another reason I wanted to make this a short mileage day. (As I mentioned earlier, I also thought we would be pretty wiped out at this point in our tour, but that was the opposite; we felt stronger than ever). Before we left the store we also bought some treats to celebrate our last climb of the tour.

The road was quite steep in places but we were in no hurry. As usual, Finn was out front, followed by Niels, then me, and Natalie bringing up the rear. I would usually ride for about 45 minutes, then wait up for Natalie. I was the only one that had repair equipment with us. It was really nice to be up in the mountains surrounded by pine trees. The morning was nice and cool.

The road up to Cedar Breaks

We stopped along the way to take in the sights. At one point I saw a cyclist coming up behind me. This was the first touring cyclist we had seen our entire trip He had started in Durango, CO and was headed to Sacramento. He was from Portland and was a seasoned long distance cyclist. We rode together for 8 or 10 miles together until we reached the top. We found Finn and Niels there waiting. They had unrolled their foam pads and were lazing in the shade off the side of the road. He was very surprised that we were traveling so light and camping. He was also surprised that none of us had clipless pedals.

Richard, the only cyclist we met on our tour

Natalie soon joined as and we continued on to the Park Headquarters. Though it was a long, and pretty steep road in sections, we all felt pretty good. It wasn’t even lunch time yet and was still pretty cool out.

At Cedar Breaks Headquarters

There is one very nice campground at Cedar Breaks called Point Supreme Campground. We found the campground host, paid our money, and picked out a nice campsite. The campground was only about 1/3 full. At the top of Cedar Breaks are high mountain meadows interspersed with pines trees and other vegetation. It is really beautiful. The elevation is 10,000′ so it stays relatively cool up there.

The view from our campsite

By the time we set up camp it was still late morning. We broke out our treats and celebrated our last climb of the tour. This really was the end of the tour. All we had left was a fast downhill run to Cedar City.

Celebration at Cedar Breaks

I took some photos of each of us after we arrived at our campsite. It is evident in our faces (except Natalie) that we had been on the road for the past five days.

After lunch we went for a short hike, then lounged around camp, resting, reading, and writing in our journals. It felt nice to be lying around and not in the saddle. We were delighted to learn that the campground had hot showers, so we all cleaned up and were very comfortable for the rest of the day.

It was even a little chilly in the shade

That afternoon we decided to see who had the best cycling tan lines. Natalie is paranoid about getting sunburned and she was slathering on SPF 80 sunscreen at least 3-4 times a day. The rest of us were a bit more casual in our application of sunscreen, usually putting some on in the morning. I think I won the with the best tan lines. It’s probably partly due to the fact that I run around less in shorts and shirtless than the boys.

Her sunscreen strategy worked pretty good
Finn, who has very fair skin
Niels, who has a fairly dark complexion
And the winner, the old man of the group

On this trip, since we were traveling as light as possible we were cooking with a very small, lightweight alcohol stove. It weighed less than three ounces. We had been careful to only use as much alcohol as we needed for each day. I discovered at Panguitch Lake that we were almost out. We had enough to cook our dinner there, but that was it. I think because of the heat and the elevation gain, a lot had evaporated. This meant we had no fuel left to cook our dinner at Cedar Breaks. So we built a fire. No big deal.

Cooking dinner at Cedar Breaks

Day 5 Totals: 19.6 miles; Time in saddle: 2:50; total time: ~ 4 hours

We rested well in the cool night air at 10,000′. We really had a great time and the kids really bonded well on this trip. Since our last day was short, we slept in. I had a hard time getting the kids out of the tent in the morning.

On our way out that morning, we stopped at the rim of Cedar Breaks for a few photos. It was chilly enough in the morning that we all wore long sleeved shirts or sweatshirts.

The kids
Natalie and I
The boys of the group

The ride down Cedar Canyon was fast. I was worried that the boys would not be cautious and bomb it. They had side-pull road bike brakes and I was afraid they would get going too fast with their loads and not be able to slow down properly on some of the corners. So I cautioned them many times to take it easy and be careful. It turned out to be not that big a deal. In fact, I had the speed record of 42 mph going down the canyon. Near the bottom, when it leveled out, we stopped for a last photo of us and our bikes.

Almost done

As we neared the mouth of the canyon and the city, the boys and I instinctively picked up the pace. We all seem to be very competitive. In fact, when we are out on our rode bikes at home, it always turns into a sprint about a half mile from home. No exception here. Finn attacked first, but too early and we reeled him in. Then Niels jumped out in front, but he too was too early and faded. I guess wisdom does come with age. I waited for just the right time and when I estimated we were getting pretty close, and jumped out of the saddle and took off. It paid off and I was the first one into Cedar City. It sure feels good to beat my boys. Of course, the smoke me up any hill.

End of the road

Day 6 totals: 26.7 miles; time in saddle: 1:07; total time: ~ 1.5 hours

We rode into town and found a cafe where we had a big breakfast. My wife and youngest son, and my wife’s sister were meeting us in Cedar City but had not arrived yet, so we rode over to the high school and found a shady spot on the grass under some trees and took a nap. When they arrived we met them at a motel, showered, and went swimming. That night we went out to dinner, then saw Romeo and Juliet at Southern Utah University’s annual Shakespeare Festival. My youngest son Lars, 10 years old at the time, said it was disgusting and boring. He elaborated by saying there was way too much kissing and way too many people talking to themselves. We loaded the bikes up on our minivan and drove back to Provo on Sunday morning.

At the Shakespeare Festival

What a great ride! We were already talking about where we would go next year and in the years to come. We built some very fond memories, saw some beautiful country, and challenged ourselves. We will definitely be doing more long rides like this in the future.

Total mileage: 295.5

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