Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef National Parks
Hike and Bike across Utah
November 21st to November 26th, 2008
Day 1 · Nov 21, 2008
“Memories are born”
Driving from Los Angeles to Zion National Park, Utah
Dinner: Buffet somewhere near Las Vegas
This is how memories are born: In 2004 we embarked on a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Five days later and 520 miles of hard pedaling, we had conquered an obstacle that weeks before we thought was impossible; riding unsupported five centuries back to back during one of the coldest months of that year.
Adventures like San Francisco to LA were followed by La Vuelta a Cuba in 2005, Tour of Three Parks California in 2006, and Tour de Baja in 2007. Year after year it just keeps getting better, a new place, a long road, a great meal, a good laugh.
As we make our way in the Ottovan to the Tour of Three Parks in Utah we remembered the special moments of our previous trips, and, as always, we don’t know what to expect; we just know that we’ll probably learn a new thing or two about ourselves and make some good friends along the ride.
It will be a cold night in Utah tonight with “toffee” burgers for dinner (maybe Otto means “Tofu”), some additional carbs in the shape of a beer bottle, and bedtime stories from Otto.
Day 2 ·Nov 22, 2008
“Legends are made”
Zion National Park ride
5:09:09 ride time
6750′ feet of climbing
Breakfast: Pato eggs (too spicy for Hans today, Andres added pepper), pancakes, coffee, tea
Dinner: Steak, veggie burgers, dinner rolls, salad, corn, habanero sauce
Welcome to multi-day riding trips! The art of packing is necessary for long biking trips, bringing the bare essentials is key to having space for riders, food, gear, and bikes. Julio has taken the class and heard the rhetoric but his method is more about filling the bag that he is given, in his case, the size of a body bag. During the 2007 Baja trip he packed eleven jerseys for five days of riding. This time he packed “the bare essentials”: six jerseys for three days of riding, a Nacho Libre wrestler mask, a Scarface sound effect keychain, hair products, a Bicycle Johns’ mobile repair shop, and a big Mexican blanket. Deep inside, he genuinely thinks that he has improved his packing skills.
We started our Tour of Three Parks, Utah, with a scenic ride out and back from Zion to the top of Kolob reservoir. Easier said than done, the ride was a climb feast with steep grades waking up memories of Balcom Cyn and Kaka Cyn climbs back in California.
The beautiful landscapes kept our legs from exploding and our minds away from the fact that we had no water refills for the first 40 miles of the ride; the scenic ride was the grand opening to a beautiful tour: red asphalt roads, incredible rock formations, and the “Running of the Deers” ,Utah style, right in front of our bikes. At the top of the climb we relaxed by the reservoir sharing true stories and lessons from “The Secret” as told to Hans by one of his co-workers. This was followed by a fast and beautiful downhill full of hairpin turns, steep grades, and the cold wind in our faces.
At the end of the day, Otto, Julio, and Andres decided to go look for showers after the long ride; they quickly found out that the only place with showers for campers had closed for the day. That was not going to stop their search. Today they had worked on an invincible attitude after listening to “The Secret” stories as told by Hans. Julio used the lessons learned at the reservoir to convince the local hotel attendant to give them a room for free, just to use as a shower. They got towels, soap, and a nice relaxing hot shower at no charge. They could not ask for a better way to end the day. Julio takes the MVP, and this, ladies and gentlemen, is how legends are made on OTB trips.
Tonight’s movie at the Ottoplex, after some technical difficulties, was “Kat Williams’ The Pimp Chronicles”, no popcorn was served (Otto does not know how to work his own video equipment). A portable popcorn machine would be a good investment.
Day 3· Nov 23, 2008
“How are you feeling Hanso?”
Zion National Park to Bryce National Park
05:48:34 ride time
6320′ feet of climbing
Breakfast: Pato eggs, apple pancakes, coffee, tea
Dinner: Steak, chicken, habanero sauce, salad, beans
Legend says that Hans rode, with diarrhea, most of his 565 mile ride across Cuba with Andres, no rest days, and a copy of the Cuban newspaper, “Granma”, as toilet paper. The myth is that he developed a socialist butt that reads in Spanish.
Today in Zion is another day, meet El Presidente under the weather; he is battling a lingering cold. For those of you who have seen Hans’ endurance over the years, you would agree that it is hard to believe that he is actually skipping a bike ride for a recovery day. Believe it today.
Hans is feeling like crap and Otto keeps asking: “How are you feeling Hanso?” Hans responds: “Best day of my life, never felt better”. In a weird way, we all understand, riding around these beautiful places in Utah we feel the same.
We started the day with Hans driving our support vehicle out of Zion. An incredible park to see on the bike, the road rose out of the rock canyon walls for miles at a time as we kept entering bigger canyons, tunnels, and incredible landscapes.
Today’s profile was shaped like a bell, according to our navigator’s calculations. Climb for half the ride, 47 miles, and descend the next half, 44 miles; however, the more we rode, the more climbing we did. It ended up being an all day climb with Hans doing all of the driving while he recovered from his cold, and Otto as a co-pilot for a brief part of the climb. The end of the ride was a constant headwind that worked our legs, our lungs, and our paceline to exhaustion.
The arrival at Bryce National Park showcased beautiful red rock canyons and another opportunity to use “The Secret” to find a shower. Just as the night before, it worked. We found a shower, and as a bonus, a laundromat for Andres and Julio to keep their clothes clean and fresh.
After dinner, Andres joined the Ottovan crew to protect him from the elements; temperatures were around the low 20s according to the forecast. Tonight’s presentation at the Ottoplex was “Into the Wild”; we were too tired to finish the whole movie. Hans slept outside, no room for sick people inside the warm and cozy Ottovan.
Day 4· Nov 24, 2008
Bryce Canyon National Park to Escalante River (Capitol Reef)
“The man, the myth, the dancer?”
03:34:20 ride time 01:30 hike time
3096′ feet of climbing
Breakfast: Oatmeal, bananas, muffins, coffee, tea
Dinner: Steak, habanero sauce, charrrrrrbroiled veggie burgers, cous cous with sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese, beans, beer, and salad with cranberries and nuts.
As the years go by we have seen the evolution of the riders on this trip, from Julio riding a pink road bike from Rosarito to Ensenada, Andres desperately searching for a pink loofah in a Santa Cruz market, to Hans riding a couple of centuries with diarrhea in Cuba.
Otto as the OTB Ambassador of Goodwill is always welcoming new riders into the club with his Hungarian version of tough love. On this trip, we are happy to report that Otto Laszlo has entered the world of photography head on. We’ve seen the transformation of the man into the artist, the man who loves watching dancing with the stars, the man who once danced the tango with a rose between his teeth. A lover of nature, art, and deer, a Mexican photographer deep inside; meet “Jotto” (/h?t?/). The man, the myth, the dancer!
It was a cold night at Bryce, temperatures below freezing forced the entire team Colombia into the Ottovan, the Hungarian team was not too happy. Team Hans slept outside under below freezing temperatures. Sleeping three inside the Ottovan needs to be a well choreographed operation. Snoring, bathroom, and all normal bodily functions have to be well timed otherwise a disaster happens. Keep in mind, Otto rules inside the Ottovan.
We enter the world of Biathlons today, as if 170 miles of riding in our legs was not enough, we’ll start the cold day with a hike around Bryce Canyon on the Navajo trail. Then, as a follow up, we’ll do a 65 mile “yankee doodle” ride towards Capitol Reef National Park. We’ll never be the same again.
Today’s farewell ride was a nice change from the previous big days of climbing that we had experienced over the past two days, the terrain allowed us to keep a fast paceline and we had great downhills for a change. At the end, it was too good to be true; the entire team got disqualified for drafting the Ottovan and eating at Subway (not an official sponsor) in the City of Escalante. The Boulder newspaper said that an angry local fireman blew the whistle on our riding practices. We were forced to board the Ottovan at the Escalante River and head in disgrace towards Capitol Reef National Park after 65 miles in the saddle. Actually, we were glad to miss the big climb of the day.
Capitol Reef National Park brought to the table one of the greatest feasts in OTB history, or maybe we were too tired and hungry. It was great not to share the big piece of steak with a bunch of hungry mountain bikers (see Chilao trips).
The Ottoplex presentation was “Into the Wild” part 2. Hans joined us for this one. No popcorn again.
Cooking with OTB
Capitol Cous Cous Reef Preparation time: 5 minutes
All ingredients from Trader Joes
1 cup of water
1 cup of cous cous
1 container of sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, sliced
1 container of Feta Cheese , crumbled
1 cup of frozen peas
2 teaspoons of butter
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/4 cup of Mint
Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat, add the butter, salt, cous cous and mix well. Cover for 5 minutes.
Uncover and fluff with a fork. Add the peas, sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and mint. Mix well and serve.
Epic rides deserve Epic food
Day 5 · Nov 25, 2008
“I hate to tell you this, but this is a small step for us, a giant leap for Hans Keifer”
Hike at Capitol Reef National Park
3.65 miles on the Cohab trail hike
2:25 hrs of hiking
1591′ feet of climbing
Breakfast: Pato eggs, habanero sauce, french toast (type 2 fire hazard), coffee, tea
Dinner: Sports Bar food at the Best Western in Springdale UT
Good morning, it’s time to hike! As with any OTB trip, there is no sleeping-in even after three days on the bike; morning activities consist of a wake up call by Hans who’s been awake since four in the morning, breakfast preparations by whoever wants to help prepare the day’s most important meal, coffee made by Otto, followed by dish washing, and packing of camp. It is usually a busy morning every time. Add the cold factor and nobody wants to get up today.
Remote places like Capitol Reef National Park make these trips a little more special. It is one of those parks that you wouldn’t’t have on your top ten list of parks to visit, but once you see it you’ll want to come again.
We had a great hike on the Cohab trail around Capitol Reef, we explored some of the rock formations and climbed to the top of magnificent overlooks on a trail that Hans had explored years before when his daughter Natasha was only nine years old. Julio played the role of Natasha today and explored every hole and climbed any rock that could be climbed.
On our way back to Zion we all agreed that a hotel and a nice dinner would be the best way to spend our last night of this trip. Otto could not believe it: “I hate to tell you this, but this (getting a room) is a small step for us, a giant leap for Hans Keifer”.
Names for Otto continue to develop: Patto, Jotto, Lotto, Batto, Gatto
Day 6 · Nov 26, 2008
Hike to Angels Landing in Zion National Park and drive back home
5 mile hike
2 hrs of hiking (fast pace)
1590′ feet of climbing
Breakfast: Eggs, pancakes, coffee at a Restaurant in Springdale, UT.
We did not take for granted the comfort of a bed, a toilet, and running warm water. Not looking for a Gatorade bottle to go to the bathroom was the nice perk of staying at a hotel, although it was a Best Western, it felt like we slept at the Four Seasons. The wake up call from the front desk was a nice and gentle: “Good morning”.
After a delicious breakfast at a local restaurant we went on to the Angels Landing hike. Hikes like Angels Landing might quickly turn this club into the OTB hiking club, like Otto would say, “EpiK!” In terms of hikes, this hike is advertised as a strenuous hike, that’s half of the story. After a lung buster ascent you get to a saddle where the magic of this hike begins; a chain assisted, exposed, and steep ascent to the top of Angels Landing through the middle of a ridge with hundreds of feet of exposure on both sides.
This is definitively one of our top hikes to date; adrenaline rushing with each step and extreme beauty surrounding us at every point along the way, not to mention the possibility of never returning home again if we slip. We made it! The incredible weather that we had during this trip stayed with us all the way until the end when it started pouring on us just ten minutes before getting into the Ottovan. We say good bye to Utah!
Just as the previous trips, our fifth annual road tour comes to an end. The long drive home was our opportunity to reflect on the good times that we had, and laugh once more at the memories of the previous days.
We have seen an incredible part of the country on our bikes and hikes, and experienced unexpected beauty along the route. It is impossible to describe the experience in a few pages; it changes with time, just like a good wine, and it tastes different to each one of us. We take the memories home and keep building the scrapbook of epic trips, there are many places that wait to be explored.
Long Live Epic Rides!!
See all the photos from this trip here: Photos
See a short video of the trip here: Video