Today, Mikel, Andy and myself set out to ride along the scenic Byway 12 that leads eastwards to Escalante. When we set off, we did not know yet, where our path would later lead us and what difficult decisions on our route we would need to make.
But back to the Byway 12 for now that is a one-lane road in both directions but busier than most routes we have been riding on so far. It runs through a of colourful walls of rocks and we rode 56 km to get to the city of Escalante.
We stopped at the visitor centre, to inquire about passing the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument. Initially, we planned to take the Smokey Mountain dirt road for 130 km. It runs through Escalante National Park all the way to Big Water.
But the host makes us think about this plan twice. Not only was there a forecast of rain but also the road requires high clearance but and in addition gets very muddy in the rain. For our electric mountain bikes, none of that would be much of a problem but it is our support vehicle, which does not have 4x4 that would most likely get stuck in the mud.
Faced with the decision of either splitting up for a few days or seeking an alternative route, we decide to follow a road that has been recommended to us most warmly and one that has been in my focus since I have started planning this adventure: The Burr Trail Road. It starts from Boulder Utah and continues north of Lake Powell. It also happens to save us from riding the main road from and a couple of dozen miles. Still, it will takes us three days to reach the reservoir on the Colorado River.
And off to Boulder we go. As we continue on Byway 12 we find the most stunning scenery between the two towns. There is a high plain of sandstone that shines white and yellow in the afternoon light. From its highest point, you see the road wind its way through the rocks and disappear at the horizon.
Later the scenery changes into a more dramatic gorge with red rocks to both sides, and a creek in-between with green trees next to it. In the centre of the ravine is a place called Calf Creek. We will spend the night here at a campsite that offers a nice fire place, a table underneath the red rocks and blossoming bushes and the creek right next to us.
We end the day watching the movie "Pedal The World" by Felix Starck. Our fellow touring cyclists took a route that is completely different from ours and one that included a plane. His movie is very inspiring but nothing compares with the real thing. We realise we are living the dream.
The next day sees us continuing along the scenic Byway 12 which leads us into Boulder Utah, maybe not as famous as Boulder Colorado but due to its location as a base to awesome trails and roads, it seems a popular stopping point for bikers, bike travellers and motor cyclists.
If you happen to pass by, make sure you stop at the Hells Hollow mini market. It has the best selection of food, toiletries, tools, souvenirs, outdoor accessories, and other travel necessities that on such small room that I have seen. We stock up on essentials we ran out after being on the road for almost 2 months now. They even have locally sourced pine balm that works miracles for healing scratches and it smells heavenly. The staff is friendly too and very interested in our Haibike. As usual, a test ride creates that magic electric smile.
Another lovely day begins with heart-shaped cucumber slices on guacamole bagels that come with scrambled eggs. I cannot think of a better way to start the day and I feel very grateful.
Back on the e-bikes en route to Lake Powell, we only have a few miles on flat terrain until we enter the Capitol Reef National Park and hit desert temperatures again. While we are on our way down, the road winds along the edge of the canyon and soon turns into a steep gravel road with switchbacks and sharp curves that run down into the canyon.
While we know from previous experiences that the Yamaha batteries have no problem with these extreme temperatures, it is us who ride through the canyon with open cycling tricot to get some air. Still, our spirits are high with our outdoor boom box accompanying our downhill ride with tunes, and soon we feel like we’d be cycling to beach somewhere. But in actual fact it is not the beach we are headed to but Lake Powell and a small town called Bullfrog at its shore. This is the only place from where one can cross Lake Powell by ferry.
Already from afar, this reservoir on the Colorado River appears to us like a jewel in the desert.