Two weeks ago as I was preparing for a six day 300+ mile bike tour, I decided to load up my bike and go for a two day ride. I wanted to make sure everything worked well on my new bike, new panniers, handlebar bag, etc. Though I had put about 500 miles on the bike I had never ridden it loaded.
I packed up the gear I would be using on the week long tour, though I did pack a smaller, lighter cook kit and tent since I was going solo. I left home on a Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 pm. Probably not a great time to be out as it was in the 90’s, but I had things I had to get done in the morning.
I headed south from Provo to the town of Springville, about 6 or 7 miles away. From there I headed up Hobble Creek Canyon, Right Fork. It climbs gently for a few miles, past the golf course until the pavement ends at Wadsworth Canyon.
I actually stopped at Balsam Campground, just below Wadsworth, to refill my water bottles. Wadsworth is a popular hiking and mountain biking trail with excellent single track. I dunked my head in Hobble Creek at Wadsworth in an attempt to cool off a bit. From my house to Wadsworth is 22 miles.
Just after Wadsworth, the road turns to dirt. It’s a pretty good, well graded road, but with lots of small rocks. This is also where it gets pretty steep. Right as the road turns to dirt, the grade pitches up to 6%. The climb to the top is about 3.5 miles and goes from 6% all the up to 12%. I had to walk several sections of this road. The steepness of the grade, the heat, and a loaded bike were too much for me. The views of the forest all around and the valley below was wonderful.
It was a tough climb, especially in the heat of the day. I was really glad to get to the top. Several cars and trucks passed by along the way. The descent was scary with a loaded bike. At one point I hit 22 mph and was fishtailing as I slowed down to a safer speed. I encountered lots of cows on the way down. Sometimes they would be stopped in the road and would not move, even yelling at them. What scared them enough to move was clicking into my pedals. That metal on metal sound would get them running.
There were lots of possible camping sites along the creek, but there were so many cows around and lots of cow pies. Besides, I was feeling good now that I was descending so I didn’t really want to stop. The Hobble Creek Road eventually merged with Diamond Fork Road where it turned to pavement again. The first photo above is where the road turns to pavement again. A short distance down the road there was a picnic area with an outhouse. There was no water, except for the creek, but I decided to keep going as there was still plenty of daylight and I was feeling pretty good.
I eventually made it to Diamond Fork Campground (46 niles from my house). I selected a campsite (it was pretty empty), paid the fee, and set up camp. I was using my very lightweight (18 oz.) Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid (basically a half pyramid design with no floor and a single pole). It is very spacious for one person. See this post for more info on pyramid tents:
I cooked up a pot of mashed potatoes on my DIY cat food can stove. This is an ultra simple, ultra lightweight, and ultra reliable alcohol stove. I highly recommend them. They are super easy to make as well. Just google cat food can stove and you can easily find instructions how to make one. They are good for cooking for up to two people.
The next morning I had an energy bar and some nuts for breakfast, then continued the ride down Diamond Fork Canyon. I headed down Spanish Fork Canyon, which was not too bad; trucks gave me a wide berth. At the mouth of the canyon, I turned north through Mapleton and Springville, and back to Provo. The total mileage was 68 miles. It was a fun little ride and my bike and all gear worked well. I am really happy with my Lone Peak panniers and handlebar bag. I was now confident everything was in order for our week long bike tour.
This is a really nice ride, though the climb on dirt roads was pretty tough. There is a total of about 8 miles of dirt roads, about 3.5 miles going up and 4.5 going down the other side. I read a blog post about some guys who did this on carbon racing bikes. They had four flats between them, but it is doable. I was glad I had 35c wide tires. It would make a great Autumn ride when the leaves are changing color. I plan to do it again this Fall, but in one day.