This weekend I went to that little gem in the middle of Utah – the oasis in the middle of a desert – Emery County – for the annual San Rafael Swell Bike Festival. All around good times. My mom is an avid biker and has participated in the San Rafael Bike Festival for years… YEARS I tell you! I’d gone once several years back – and because of school and work – wasn’t able to make it back again until this year. And what an excellent year it was! The Festival headquarters is stationed in Green River, along the Green River (wha!??!) and smack dab in the middle of the most unique and breathtaking desertscapes you’ll ever feast your eyes upon. This is why Utah is such a haven for outdoor enthusiasts; you have the Red Rock of southern Utah, the slot canyons of Zion’s National Park, Bryce Canyon in Cedar City, Arches, the towering mountains of the Wasatch Front, the woods and lakes of Cache Valley, and the harsh landscapes and breathtaking views of the deserts. It’s really an amazing little state full of variety and wonder. Tear. Good old Brigham Young knew what he was talking about – This is the place!
At any rate – enough of the sentimental blather – on to the adventure! Misty and I left SLC Friday morning – and hit a few hiccups in our schedule. I had taken my bike down to Bingham Cyclery on Broadway and 3rd West (because you really care where it’s located) on Tuesday afternoon, making them promise to have it tuned and ready to go by Friday morning at 10am, but alas, twas not the case. So we left SLC later than we anticipated. The Bike Festival begins its weekend of biking enjoyment with a 3:00 group ride on Friday afternoon. Misty and I were not optimistic about our timeframes, thinking we would likely be late for that ride because we had to wait for my bike, and subsequently wait for her bike in Price. It was an estimated 4 ½ hr drive to Green River from SLC… and it wasn’t promising.
WELL! Praise the Lord we arrived in Green River at exactly 3:00! The Festival is particularly centered at the Green River Museum and Park. It’s the mutual meeting ground for the riders and most importantly, for the FOOD! Num num. At any rate – we arrived right at 3:00 to see bikers helmeted and ready to go. Throwing caution (and modesty) to the wind – Misty and I changed in her Forerunner (sweet little vehicle – she’ll appreciate the honorable mention) – slathered on some sun screen, slapped on a helmet, forgot our gloves and cameras, and we were off! I’m so happy we made the first ride! It was about 17 miles round trip – but at the end of the first 8 miles – we had the opportunity to see “The Geyser.” I’m sure there’s an official name – but I only ever heard it called “the Geyser” seen here (I snaked these pics from my Mom’s Facebook page (that’s right – she’s down)).
Luckily my mom had her camera and she took some excellent pictures of the beauty and grandeur of “the geyser” as well has some hard-core pics of us in our riding attire... and of our finding our inner flower
After our first ride, we ate a spaghetti dinner at the museum and then gathered for “the Drawing!” Dun dun dun! Every year they have a drawing for some pretty sweet prizes, and this year was no exception. They give away an extremely nice bike every year – and of course they did it this year as well, but they also gave a way a bran new top of the line $800 bike frame as well! Of course Misty won the bike frame! Psh! She would! But my mom also won a pretty sweet prize – it was a contraption you can use as your “indoor cycling training” during the winter. You detach the back wheel of your bike and plug it into this contraption and it acts as a very nice stationary bike, except you get to still use your own bike instead of trying to adjust a gym cycle everytime. I’m sure there’s some sort of official term for such a contraption – but I shall just call it “the contraption” worth $450. They also gave away a saweet GPS device, a Camelbak full of all sorts of goods, and a two night stay in a cabin at Jeremy Ranch in Park City (of which Misty’s Mom won! Rigged I tell you!). I didn’t go away empty handed though – everyone got a “goody bag” (earth friendly Albertsons bags I might add) containing a bike computer that logs your mileage, speed, saves your rides, etc. It’s probably about a $50 value. We also got our official San Rafael Swell Bike Festival shirts. They were… you guessed it… SWELL! Bwahahaha!
That night Misty and I were going to camp (many of the riders get hotels so they can shower and sleep), but after the drawing it was rather dark and I am not a fan of trying to set up camp in the dark – so I opted to sleep in a hotel room and Misty camped. Ha! She really did! By herself. We both got a shower though – washed the geyser sulpher and sweat off our bods. Tasty.
Saturday morning we ate an excellent breakfast and prepared to embark on our next ride. There were approximately 5 rides to choose from ranging from beginner to advanced. The one advanced ride, Bull Bottom, I didn’t even consider. Ha! I think I’d only do that ride if I hadn’t done the group ride the night before. My butt was feeling the ache! Feeling it real good – and I don’t think I could’ve handled such an intense and technical ride after a rather intermediate ride the day before. Most of the “hard core” folks actually hadn’t ridden the day before – so they were refreshed and ready to hit it. There’s also one beginners ride, Nefertiti, which I’ve never done. Then there were 3 intermediate rides: the Black Dragon, Cliff dweller, and PLANET VULCAN (aka 3 fingers). Now go ahead and GUESS what ride I chose! Come on guess! That’s right! Planet Vulcan. I was going to do Black Dragon, it being a very “technical” ride and I really enjoy technical rides (slick rock, rocks, gravel, donkeys, that sort of thing) but when I heard that there was a ride that included footage from the new Star Trek movie – well needless to say you didn’t have to tell me twice. I was totally Geek’ed out and ready to ride Planet Vulcan! My mom also went on this ride, and the below shows exactly how geek’ed out I was.
This here be the beginning of the ride – and that backdrop is part of Planet Vulcan (as indicated by my telling you to “Live Long and Prosper”)
If you can get past the large amount of leg I am showing in this picture, behind me is more Planet Vulcan (this was about 5 miles into the ride).
We rode through the desert, ups and downs, some technical and happily there was some slick rock for my enjoyment, and ended in a slot canyon where we lunched. Below are some pics of the Native American writings found on the slot canyons cliff face:
Here’s my mom - Hi Mom! And myself. For some reason I’m in “man stance” – trying to look all hard core or something.
And a bit more Planet VULCAN!
I did crash once. Yep! Endo’ed. Meaning I end overed… meaning I went over my handle bars into a bush and then rolled out of it. I was going a little fast over some large loose rocks and veered off the trail right into a large bolder and bush. I landed in the bush, and tried to roll out one way, but the bush forced me the other way, so I stood up with stickers and dirt all over me. Unfortunately no one even SAW IT! I mean if you’re gonna wreck you first, want people to see how cool it was (if it’s cool) and second, procure a sweet bruise or at least break some skin. I skinned my knee, and that’s about it. Lame.
That night we enjoyed some Dutch Oven cookin’s and discussed our rides with the other groups. The weather was absolutely perfect. I definitely came back with some nice color on my skin – though I avoided getting sunburned like a champion. My nose is usually the first thing to glow bright red in the summer – but I’ve been meticulous the last couple years about making sure my little nose is protected from the sun. I do have some freaky tan lines on my back though – having worn two different kinds of tank top on both of my rides. Meh! At least I’m not a walking wintery Albino anymore (or at least making some progress)… nor a glowing red lobster either. Win win. Who doesn’t love a win, win? Eh?
Misty and I left Green River right after dinner. We made it back to SLC in excellent time! I reached my apt at about 9:15 and Misty headed to Logan about 9:30. So not bad, not bad at all. I don’t think it really takes as long as we thought it did to get there. We did get flipped off once though – bwahahaha – by some old crotchety dude between Green River and Wellington. We weren’t going THAT fast! Psh. Take ‘er easy old timer.
Needless to say it was a great weekend – or rather – a SWELL weekend at the San Rafael Swell Bike Festival. Snort… snicker. Swell.