Monday, June 29, 2009

The Big Climb: Cedar City to Panguitch

Once again a lack of access to the internet has forced me to lump together multiple days of riding… and what a three days to lump together! We got up around 6:30 on Saturday, packed our things, and headed over to Cedar Cycles to meet up with some local cyclists. Two days before, when getting some gear for our bikes at the shop, we were invited by some locals to join them on Saturday. They were planning on doing the same ride as us.

The invitation was very welcome. Since mapping out the trip, Dave and I referred to this mountain as “THE BIG CLIMB”. Starting around 6,000 feet, the road follows Cedar Canyon for 17 miles or so and climbs all the way up to 9,900. On our elevation charts it was a daunting figure indeed.

We got to the shop, pumped our tires, and headed over to the group gathered by the door. Waiting for us were three members of the Color Country Cycling Club: Tim, whom we’d met at the shop, Craig, and Chanda. After introductions were made we hit the road and started the climb.

To make a long story short, it was a long, difficult climb. Tim’s computer registered the grade at 16% at one point (it felt like 45% in my legs!). But what a view! About 2 miles from the top there was an overlook of Zion National Park which boasts a marvelous canyon. I glanced over my shoulder as I passed, but didn’t stop; Craig had made a big push a couple miles back and I was, unsuccessfully, trying to catch him.

At the top we gathered for some photos (Craig was long gone by this point so we have no photographic documentation on him….what a climber!). Here’s one of me, Chanda, and Tim.

Dave, Lauren, and I took a break before getting back on the road. We turned off the main road and rode up through the Cedar Breaks National Monument. I might sound like a broken record (it’s been a long day), but what a view! The climb up to there took us up to 10,400+ feet, by far our highest elevation of the trip so far. We’ve got some documention of the elevation just before the top:

Dave and I strolled about the upper edges of the canyon for 30 minutes or so before continuing onward. Thankfully, our stop was only 30 miles away, and all downhill! We coasted into Panguitch around 1:00 PM. Little did we know that serendipity would have us pass through this town of little more than 1,000 on the biggest night of the year.

Panguitch hosts an annual hot air balloon show and it so happened that it was to take place the very evening we were there. Main St. was shut down and massive balloons were brought in. As the light faded over the western hills the operators unleashed their propane tanks into the balloons, whose lights reflected off the buildings on the street. They were, essentially, gigantic lanterns providing light for the town.


  1. I like the balloons. Slightly surreal, but very cool. True Americana sort of thing.

  2. Thanks for letting me chase you guys up the hill. You are very strong riders and an inspiration to us all (maybe Brian and I will try that route across the country one of these days...)
    It was a pleasure to meet you and ride with you and we wish you the best on the rest of your journey.
    Chanda Jeppson
    Cedar City, UT