Monument Valley - an E-Bikers and Photographers Paradise despite a Tornado
These days we rise early as only the first morning hours are cool enough to cycle. We are on route to Monument Valley and soon turn away from the scenic Highway 95 to take the Trail of the Ancients that leads us towards Mexican Hat.
Over the first 40 kilometres, the roads is a constant up and downhill, where we can feel the power of the Yamaha pedelec system as well as the comfort of our ePerfomance Haibikes. The latter become even more important once the road changes to gravel and turns in spectacular switchbacks. The ride feels like flying down the 10 percent grade into the valley in front of us. The amazing view from the top allows for an outlook of what is to come once we reach the bottom of the twisting path.
If the road so far wasn’t spectacular enough, it definitely is between Mexican Hat and the entrance into the Monument Valley Tribal Park. Over miles and miles the road runs completely straight, directly towards the unique skyline of Monument Valley. This is, where Forest Gump all of a sudden stopped running and where his followers on foot were waiting for enlightenment by their "Messiah."
As we are most eager to reach the Monument Valley, cycling the last 30km until we reach the entrance of the park feel endless. Once inside we pass the visitor center on the right and easily find the camp site on the left. Is there any better view to go to bed at night or wake up in the morning than this?
The most rewarding times in Monument Valley are sunset and sunrise when the soft light hits the rocks and creates and even more dramatic feel to this unforgettable scenery. A paradise for photographers and videographers alike.
The next day, we get up before sunrise and ride down into the valley. There is a loop drive that is open to private cars but we are more than happy to do it on our electric bikes. In the early hours there is hardly anyone down there. Except for the Navajo aboriginals, who live in the valley and the surrounding areas since before the white men came.
While we are sitting quietly in the morning sun, we watch a Navajo man lighting a bundle of sweet grass before he lets the smoke rise from his toes to his head. This morning ritual is for the good spirits, he tells us a little later. He repeats the same for each of us and in the end, leaves us the sweet grass as a gift and for a safe journey. Since then, we have been practicing the ritual every morning. And the spirits have remained high!
We spend two days at this world-famous spot, which despite being remote has wi-fi in the lobby of the Monument Valley lodge. Before, we have been cycling for days without phone signal or internet.
So we use our time to upload the latest video journals.
In the afternoons, some wind brings some relief from the intense heat. Yet, one afternoon that cooling breeze turns into a tornado twisting on the plain. It was strong enough to lift up a whole table with benches made of aluminum. And one of our tents, too. Sure, it is light-weight with the rods made from titanium but it had mattresses, sleeping bags and even a water bottle inside when it was taken off the ground. Luckily, a group of Americans ran after it, pulled it back to the ground and carried it back to our campsite. We had only used the inner tent and fortunately the storm did not do more to it than a few holes in the mosquito net. Maybe it were the spirits protecting us and our gear.
This happening definitely made for a couple of good chats with other travellers - people with amazing stories and the courage to leave everything behind to be on the road for years. Time and time again, we find that we are not the only cyclists out here pedalling for a new lifestyle.