The BICYCLIST Challenge is comprised of a select list of explored and accredited routes and rides that meet specific criteria, outlined previously, and online.
Complete three challenges in 365 days to receive the BICYCLIST Challenge patch. The rider with the most submitted BICYCLIST challenges in the calendar year will WIN A BIKE and be profiled in a future issue of BICYCLIST Magazine, and the BICYCLIST Experience podcast.
Double, double toil and trouble summarizes my dilemma. My plan is to do a reconnaissance ride of the Haute Route Utah while visiting Cedar City. It is either that or accompany my wife to the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and having failed 8th grade Shakespeare, this is a no-brainer.
Reaching out to Haute Route to get course details seems like a win-win-win scenario – Haute Route gets publicity, riders get a course preview, and most importantly, I won’t be bored listening to bards. But double toil and trouble is in the details, the lack of Haute Route Utah course details as my trifling request falls on deaf ears.
[Afterwards, I learn Haute Route changed the event from its well-known ‘Ride-Like-A-Pro‘ competitive gran fondo format to a recreational group ride similar to REI and Trek Travel Tours.]
So, I sit in Cedar City destined to be a foolish wit unless I come up with plan B, or plan B.Y.O.
So I plan a Build Your Own 3-day ride, BYO Ute Route. Fortunately even a Shakespeare idiot can put together a weekend of riding in a strange town using Strava, MapMyRide, and RidewithGPS. Soon my weekend is all set: 3 stages covering 212 miles with 15,000’ of climbing. It’s Tour of Utah challenging, filled with amazing National Park views, simple logistical planning and an almost-free experience. If you’re looking for a great road trip weekend, this BYO Ute Route delivers some of the best asphalt rides in Southern Utah.
Cedar City is home base for all three stages. Although the city is two hours from somewhere (Las Vegas or Salt Lake City), it offers a friendly small-town format with hotels, restaurants, groceries and coffee shops right on Main Street.
For dinner, try the mole chicken enchiladas at Brody’s. If you need a bike shop, visit Cedar Cycle. Pre-ride caffeination is available at The Grind House and post-ride treats at Bulloch’s old fashion soda fountain. Keep in mind grocery stores sell 3.2% beer with good craft beer only available at state liquor stores. A local Hop Nosh IPA really hits the spot after stage 3.
On the bike, use common sense – lots of it. These are long tough rides including steep climbs, fast descents, changing weather, and limited cell service. Make sure you and your equipment are prepared, stay hydrated and always wear sunscreen.
STAGE 1: Right Hand Canyon Cat 1 Hill Climb, 12.8 miles (one way), 3350’ climbing
Ride up Highway 14 starting at Main & Center on a “flat” 3% section. Turn on Right Hand Canyon, cross river and start climbing into forest. Settle in for a long 4-mile 7.6% grind with some bits 11%.
Final 3.8 miles provides stunning 100-mile Utah and Nevada views, plus a few challenging 14% ramps. Aspen groves and lava fields indicate the finish is near, where pavement ends. Descending back to Cedar City take a moment to stop, look straight ahead and marvel at the giant red rock amphitheater of Cedar Breaks National Monument.
STAGE 2: Panguitch Desperado Duel, 109 miles, 3200’ climbing
Luckily, I had the opportunity to ride the Desperado Duel event for stage 2 (read my ride report in BICYCLIST #152). It is a fantastic ride and route only one-hour from Cedar City.
If you can’t make the official ride in July, start at Main & Center in Panguitch, riding counter-clockwise with store stops in Bryce and Circleville. Use the scenic Red Canyon bike path to Bryce to avoid tourist/RV traffic. No water available from Bryce (mile 20) until Otter Creek State Park (61).
To get back to Panguitch quicker think about the wonderful hand-made burgers, rings and shakes waiting for you at Henrie’s Drive-In.
STAGE 3: Cedar Breaks/Duck Creek Loop, 90 miles, 8900’ climbing
Starting again at Main & Center circumnavigate Cedar Breaks National Monument on a challenging UCI ProTeam route from the Tour of Utah. Plan store stops in Parowan (mile 19), Brian Head (31) and Duck Creek (60).
Head north on Main Street, taking Old Highway 91 to Parowan. Looming to the right 5000’ above is Brian Head Ski Resort. Warmup, the Brian Head beat-down is coming. It’s a brutal 16.4-mile category 1 climb starting on Highway 143, the steepest and 2nd highest highway in Utah. I’ll skip the painful details, but compact gearing is a good idea, trust me. At the 10626’ summit continue downhill, taking FM050 to Duck Creek Village. Enjoy a theme park roller-coaster of ups and downs through pine forest and over black rock lava.
Once on Highway 14 only 1500 feet of climbing remain, so it’s a piece of cake compared to the 7400’ already conquered. At the summit enjoy Zion National Park’s majestic red and white monoliths looming on the southern horizon before descending 17-miles in Cedar Canyon back to Main and Center.
Congratulations! You just finished BYO Ute Route! The state liquor store is over by Home Depot…▲