Was it an “Epic?”

The forecast was for blustery conditions expected to last all day. We seem to be getting a lot of that this year, which I guess is typical for an El Nino year in southern Utah.  11 riders would enjoy mild temperatures and a tail wind to start but all of them knew that for each hour of easy cruising early on there would be 2 hours of hard work to pay for it later. It seemed that only a miracle could change that.  It could be an “Epic” day!

The route is one giant loop starting in Bloomington and continuing on through Sun River, St. George, Washington, Coral Canyon, Sand Hollow, Hurricane, La Verkin, Toquerville, Pintura, Ash Creek, Kolob Canyon, Kannarraville and Hamilton Fort before arriving in Cedar City. There is a lot of local color embodied in these place names which riders will recall when they hear them mentioned again. For others who are not familiar with these places they still conjure romantic images of a great western landscape.

At the 5 am start in St. George temperatures were in the upper 60’s, but as riders began to climb it cooled off some. By late morning when riders arrived in Cedar City it had dropped to 55 degrees.  It wasn’t going to get any warmer up here.  The route to Cedar mostly followed Old Highway 91 and where the road skirted the edge of Ash Creek Reservior the high water extended across the road and was several inches deep at the crown.  After a few more days this route might not be passable due to high water.

Party crashing a local running event at Ash Creek.

 

It’s not an “Epic” until I say so!

Departing Cedar City the route continues by Quichipa Lake  Pinto Junction, Irontown, Newcastle, Enterprise, Mountain Meadow, Central, Veyo, Gunlock and Santa Clara before returning to Bloomington.  Leaving Cedar City is where the fun would begin however. The route turned southwest, right into the teeth of the wind.  The wind had been building all morning and was now blowing pretty steadily at 20 to 30 mph with some higher gusts.  Riders would be grinding into this ill wind for the next 45 miles!  It was starting to look like an “Epic” day to some!

The high point of the ride was reached around mile 110, and riders surmounted the last major climb at mile 140.  The total elevation gain is about 7500 feet with the high point being about 7000 feet in altitude.  Now that the route had turned downhill the wind became a little more shifty even providing an occaisional but brief tailwind for some.  At least it wasn’t constantly in your face anymore.  Canyon crosswinds required riders to stay sharp on their descents or get blown off the road.  Fatigue and failing light were additional challenges and there was more talk of  “Epic-ness”.

The final leg of the route from Veyo had riders dropping down to the upper Santa Clara River.  This beautiful canyon was the highlight of the ride for many and is great way to finish a ride.  It brings you right into the old historic district of Santa Clara, then on in to St. George and back to Bloomington then finally the finish control.  There was a navigational challenge for everyone near the end of the ride. Recent construction and some street name changes left an error on the route guide.  Our clever randonneurs figured it out though and finished properly.

 

“Epic” status is determined.

 

First, I would like to congratulate all the riders who participated in this ride.  Weather conditions were tough to be sure and relentless!  Everyone who started the event successfully finished on time and on course.  Riders were well prepared and overcame mechanicals, flat tires and took care of themselves very well during the day.  Never once did I hear a complaint, or a mention of not finishing the ride.  As for “Epic-ness”, although this ride was tough-tough-tough, it falls a little short of reaching “Epic” status.  That designation is reserved for the truly remarkable adventures. I will say however that this group of riders, these randonneurs are “Epic” riders and I grant them status as “cavaliers épiques”.  Perhaps in the future this label will be a badge of honor and noted in my results.

Full results are available here.

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