The Start:
4:30 am:  One by one my riders arrived at the start line in Hurricane Utah; 6 riders total.  They did not know it but I gave them each a bike inspection as they arrived. Only one rider failed my test for lack of a reflective vest, but I always have a spare and soon he was properly equipped.  I had mostly a veteran group with one rando newbie, Bryan McConnell from AZ.  He said taht he had done this distance before but he looked a little under-equipped for a 400k to me.  I just figured that he knew what he needed and left it at that; I’m no-one’s nanny.  The ride starts immediately with a 1200 foot climb up to Apple Valley and then cruises through Colorado City and onto the Arizona Strip on mostly flat road. This is the location of Short Creek, home of Big Love, Warren Jeffs and polygamy. Yes it’s for real and is also the location for the story in John Krakauer’s book, Under the Banner of Heaven.  All of my riders pass through without picking up any new wives.


Michael Bratkowski at control #2

To Pipe Springs and beyond:
Pipe Springs is a National Historical Monument from the days of the early pioneers.  It was also a stop for travelling padres Dominguez and Escalante on their 1776 expedition from Santa Fe. Weary travelers for many years have stopped here for rest as they pass through the area.  My riders of the range stop here for much the same reasons; for food, water and a little rest.  Mike Enfield is the first rider in, covering the 41.4 miles in just over 2 hours including the climb! The others trickle in one or two at a time.  Everyone looks good as they depart.  The towns of Fredonia and Kanab are next up before riders start the first real climb of the day. Outside Kanab the rocks are red and the sand is pink as riders climb out of Kanab Creek Canyon and over the top by Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. The sun is out and temps are in the low 70’s; it’s a picture perfect day as they drop into the next control at Mt. Carmel junction.

Mt Carmel Junction:
At almost 80 miles into the ride, the Mt. Carmel Junction control is a welcome stop for most riders. It sits in a scenic narrow valley along the Virgin River and is a busy tourist stop.  It is at the turnoff for the East entrance to Zion National Park and offers the only self bailout option on this ride.  From here you are only about 40 miles from the start location in Hurricane and it is an easy bailout.  I have never had a rider take it until today.  Bryan McConnell of AZ had had enough and turned off here.  He was a little under-equipped for a ride of this distance and bailed out before he got into trouble.  It was probably a wise decision as we would find out later. The weather had been perfect until now but some clouds had begun to form.  It was still warm but it was looking like mountain storms were going to develop. The route would climb up to about 7000 feet and mountain weather is unpredictable. It can get cold and wet very quickly in the mountains.

Most riders made it into Panguitch without getting wet but a couple got rained on pretty good for a short time.  At 128 miles into the ride, Panguitch makes a good lunch stop and has great services.  Richard, who had been riding with Bryan before he bailed had now hooked up with Mike Enfield for the ride into Panguitch.  Larry Nelson was not far behind them and Dion and Michael were about an hour back.  The sky was completely cloudy now with many small storms cells in the area. Temps had dropped to the low 60’s and the winds were very shifty. One minute they were in your face and the next they were behind you or a crosswind.


Richard & Mike at control #5

Parowan Truck Stop:
It’s a pretty long stretch from Panguitch to Parowan, about 50 miles. The only services along the way are at a highway rest stop which has vending machines and restrooms.  The route is mostly along rural highways with a 15 mile stretch on I-15.  The interstate has a good shoulder, the pavement is fresh and the traffic wasn’t too bad either.  At the control I met Richard and Mike.  Richard was in good spirits as usual but Mike was starting to look a little green.  Maybe the strong pace he had kept earlier in the ride was starting to take its toll. They were eating Taco Bell burritos when I pulled up, classic brevet food! 

Cedar City:
The first riders, Richard and Mike pulled into Cedar City well after dark. Richard was still riding well but Mike was about done. He was being plagued by stomach problems and couldn’t keep any food down.  Although they were only 50 mostly easy miles from the end Mike threw in the towel and begged a ride.  I know the stomach thing well and if you can’t eat, you can’t ride!  This was the second rider that dropped today after riding with Richard, hmmmm.  Larry pulled in a short time later and then departed with Richard.  Someone should have told him about the DNF rate for Richards riding partners today!  Dion and Michael were well back at this point and I had to get to the finish so there would be no more checks on them.

Back in Hurricane:

Waiting at the end of a brevet must be the hardest part of the event.  You know that you must be there to see the riders in but it has been a long day and some rest would be nice too.  Shortly after midnight my first two arrived, Richard and Larry.  It seems that Larry had broken the curse and survived his ride in with Richard.  After a little small talk Larry went to find his bed. I however had 2 riders out still, so I waited.  Richard had no room to retire to and decided to nap a while before driving home. He ended up staying until the last 2 riders arrived just before 5 am.  Dion and Michael made it in but they were done!  They stayed together for mutual support for most of the ride and stuck with that plan until the end.  The two who resembled zombies, tried to recount their ride to me with grunts and other odd sounds. I’m not sure but I think they enjoyed the ride and were proud that they finished. It was Michael’s longest event to date.

Complete results can be found on the SUBrevet website under the results link.