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  • Writer's pictureSusanne Bruesch

Crossing Lake Powell on a Boat not E-Bikes before Cycling the Wild West

We are at Lake Powell, a jewel in the desert of the Colorado Plateau. It is hot again but the huge reservoir of the Colorado River that is Lake Powell provides cooling and wi-fi, a scarcity in the remote areas we have been riding the electric bikes through before.

We are still at Bullfrog, the town the Burr Trail so beautifully has led us to. It is here we expect to take a ferry, the only one there is, to cross the lake. But that is tomorrow. Today is for rest, computer work, taking pictures of the Haibikes and the nature surrounding us. And swimming...

Today is the day the electric bike tour is going on a boat again. This time round it is not a powerful but small jolly yacht like in San Francisco but a ferry (not owned by John Travolta). Once on the other side, 100 km of riding awaits us on route to Monument Valley.

But first the ferry, which got delayed at arrival due to another boat. Strictly speaking, the delay was due to a boat on a trailer on a ferry. The boat trailer got stuck at the ramp when trying to get off the ferry but not because it was broken but because the ramp was too low.

The problem lies deeper than a construction error, we learned of the couple that tried to ship a boat on a trailer on another boat across a lake (still cannot get over the irony). They explained that Utah has had a drought for the last few years and the Rocky Mountains, where the Colorado River has its source, did not get much water either. Already the ferry port had been relocated due to the low water levels and still it took a while until the ramp sat high enough for the camper to pull its trailer on land.

Once us and the Haibikes were on board, the transfer did not take more than 30 minutes and we reached the south bank of Lake Powell. It is the second largest man-made reservoir in the United States after Lake Mead. The latter currently carries less water even than Lake Powell actually, due to agriculture and droughts in the area.

After having cycled the Grand Canyon and Bryce just a few days ago, it is strange to think that we are crossing a lake that used to be Glen Canyon, now flooded in the name of eco-engineering.

Once on the other side, we found the road following the arms of the lake at first. The deep blue water lined by red rocks made for a fantastic contract.

Yet, we were to leave the water behind, heading into the desert. Except for two speedy downhill rides, that offered me the opportunity to break my previous Haibike speed record with 79 kph max, the road went constantly uphill. We passed a seemingly endless area covered with green bushes as far as the eye could see. Eventually, the picture changed to red rocks in various formations mixed with red sand and at the horizon we could spot the first rocks of Monument Valley.

Straight roads made of black tarmac were gleaming in the heat with only the yellow strip providing some sort of direction before before disappearing into the rocks in what seemed to lay an eternity ahead of us. We mostly had the road to ourselves. The few cars that passed were pick-ups, either pulling boats or jet skis, or carrying motocross bikes. Lake Powell is a major holiday destination that attracts up to 2m visitors a year.

Indulging into the landscapes of the Wild West, we started to understand why the imagery of the western movies is so powerful and distinct. Only this time, the scenery was über-real and not some Hollywood studio - just we were on Haibike speed pedelecs and not horses.

The first 60 km were easily cycled, especially with the steady support of the Yamaha pedelec system that delivers up to 20 mph. Once more, it provided a perfect travelling speed and power. In wilder terrain in particular, the immediate response of the torque sensor and ultimately the electric drive prove essential.

Yet again, it was the human part of our hybrid set-up that felt a little faulty after lunch. The pizza from last night was delicious but the ride afterwards had lost its ease, while it got hotter and hotter.

A flat tire made for a welcome break and luckily we found some shade to fix it with our last patch. Too bad the tire had two punctures!

I was glad to arrive at the Natural Bridges Monument, where we set up our camp around a fire place on red ground surrounded by low trees that offered some shade.

Andy set up the Eureka tents, Lisa filmed and cooked, Mikel maintained his bike, I took pictures and a power nap. Again, perfect team work...

Riding data:

Distance: 100,4 km Av. speed: 24,4 km/h Max speed: 79 km/h (my new record!) Energy consumption: 868 Wh Riding mode: high Uphill: approx. 1160 m Downhill: approx. 220 m Riders: Susi, Micha

Weather: hot and sunny Accommodation: wild camping near the Natural Bridges

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