The Back of Beyond Bike Tour Trip Report - Lizard Head Cycling Guides
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The Back of Beyond Bike Tour Trip Report

The Back of Beyond Bike Tour Trip Report

Below is a trip report from a guest about their adventures on one of our most recent Moab and The Back of Beyond Bike Tour. We hope you enjoy this story as much as we do!


By Don Jordan

Warning–The contents of this Un-official Trip Report represents only one version of the truth. There are at least 11 others who participated in this trip with different albeit erroneous versions of the trip who may try to contradict the contents of this trip report. The secret little scandals that only Pat and I know about. However this trip report is in all modesty “The Best’. This is a no-holds-barred expose of the behind the scenes intrigue. However, lurking within this report is the exploits of our modest, dissembling, astonishing and self appointed L*E*A*D*E*R* of the Poland Group and I say this with my customary and widely admired humility. I am a master at doddering. My doddering is brilliant and genuine and is admired by all. Within this report I have noted the adventures of the Poland Group who are generous to a fault, they will go anywhere and drink anything (as long as we begin with a “Skinny Asses” toast). The Poland Group will wholeheartedly give but seldom take, at least in the matters of instructions and advice. For this trip the Poland Group has unanimously recognized my obvious leadership abilities although they never mentioned them as I tried to coach them on proper cycling techniques. Everybody knows I am a very modest person, although I believe it was someone, probably Keith who mentioned that “I have quite a lot to be modest about.” (That was actually part of a quote from W. Churchill). However it is well known that “None would Ride With Any Other L*E*A*D*E*R”.

On this trip we had most elements of the four seasons represented. We had nice warm weather, we experienced warm breezy weather, there was chilly windy weather and we had a little just plain old cold weather. But it was all fun. No matter what the weather does, it is enjoyable riding bikes and bantering back and forth with this group. Occasionally they (everyone but Pat) even believes all my stories. Pat and I love these trips and they keep both of us feeling like youngsters. And along with the four seasons we had the four “Biking Ability Levels” represented, from a short 42 mile flatish ride, some intermediate rides and then on up to “Tour de France” level, 100 mile steep climbing rides. Of course, we ride with a great group of unique characters with varied biking abilities. Pat and I keep repeating that over and over but all our mutual friendships is what keeps this group strong and naturally it has been proven over and over we are “The Best Group Ever”.

On this trip we contracted with a great trip vendor (Lizard Head Cycling Guides) and had three outstanding trip guides; David, Alexandra and Miles that did everything but pedal for us (if it is not terribly expensive I am going to include that option on my next trip). We pedaled every day along fantastic scenic route selections and experienced enough various ability rides to satisfy everyone from a 42 flat’ish mile day to a 92 tough mile with 4000 ft + climbing day. We experienced wonderful meals (Pat and I love the ability to select from the complete restaurant menu rather than receive a set menu of dry chicken, fish (usually Cod) or tough steak all cooked in the same oven, at the same time and at the same temperature which we frequently receive from other vendors. When Pat and I set up trips, we are always slightly leery when signing on with a trip vendor that we have not used before, what if ?? , what if ??, what if ?? but Lizard Head Cycling Guides turned out to be a superb vendor to work with and the trip was perfect, better than my expectations which were pretty high to begin with. However the Lizard Head Cycling Guides did nothing about the cold wind except loan Pat and I some warm riding gear, what about some heaters in the bikes, I may put my engineering talents to work.

The trip began (Day 1) with a brief van shuttle, utilizing both of the two Lizard Head Cycling Guides vans provided, from Grand Junction, CO to a point where we could exit crowded Interstate 70 to a less traveled road thru a narrow canyon alongside the Colorado River to Moab, UT. On this warm, almost hot, afternoon, we zigged down the descents and zagged up the ascents and then ultimately using the Moab bike path with several special scenic bicycle bridges constructed over the Colorado River we entered Moab, a town where every other person is a bike rider (primarily mountain bikers) and there are bike shops located on every corner.

After our arrival in Moab we stabled our bicycles at the Hotel Moab near the city center and then almost immediately, I am ashamed to admit, many of our group (yes, including Pat and I) found a neat little pub across the street from our central hotel for a few locally brewed beers. After all, it was a clear, dry, warm cycling day. We called it a night after a superb dinner at the La Sal house.

The next morning after a hearty breakfast at the Moab Diner across from our hotel, we mounted our bikes for the second days ride in spectacular dry, calm warm conditions to the top of “Dead Horse Point”, nicknamed “The Island In The Sky”. Today if you elected to ride EFI (every frigging inch) it was 62 +/- miles with 4,000 feet of climbing. Fortunately there was a van shuttle to allow Pat and I a means to avoid the first chunk of hard climbing miles.

I believe that the road up to “Dead Horse Point” was so steep in places that the front wheel of my bike was well over my head. On occasions as I walked to the summit I contemplated walking backwards and dragging my bike behind me with a rope.

If Stephen Spielberg decides to make a film about our Poland Group Moab ride then he would call Day 2 of our ride “The Longest Day” (although some would argue that the climbing ride later in the week into the La Sal mountains with a severe headwind was ” Longer”). However, I loved the 20 mile descent back into Moab that afternoon. And again, of course, the afternoon pub had cold local beer. Tonight we found a very nice place in the wild bicycle town of Moab to have “dinner on our own”. I had gourmet “liver and onions” that evening. One rarely finds liver and onions on restaurant menus, it is apparently not terribly popular, but I love it. We had no trouble sleeping for a second night at the Hotel Moab.

After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast at the Moab Diner again we contemplated todays Day 3 ride. “EFI” today was 46 miles with 5000 ft of climbing into a hard chilly wind that had developed during the night. Todays ride was thru the stunning La Sal Mountains on the Loop Road. This loop begins at Moab and winds along the Colorado River before turning to ride beneath the stunning scenery of Castle Valley. Then the route hits our first mountain stage, the “La Sal Mountain Loop Road” and the wind was brutally blowing into our faces as usual (after years of riding I am still waiting for a tail wind). A majority of our group endured the pain, riding the entire distance to the top (Pat and I, on the other hand, were handcuffed and drug kicking and screaming into the van). After finally topping out at a spectacular vista atop the La Sal mountains we enjoyed another picnic lunch using the vans as a windbreak. Let me elaborate on the picnic lunches, these are not just ordinary picnic lunches with sandwich’s and chips. The guides set out home cooked feasts with organic salads, local berries/fruits, hot hearty soups, hot grilled ham and cheese sandwiches (yes, they brought along a propane grill) and deserts, of course.

After lunch we experienced my personal most enjoyable part of today’s ride, a 27 mile descent to the Red Cliffs Lodge (Pat and my favorite hotel/resort of the trip). However, I couldn’t or rather didn’t go really fast on the steep downhill road that zig-zagged around numerous hairpin curves because of the gusty wind whistling thru the winding road. But I went fast enough to give me a thrill especially when an unexpected gust of wind blasted me from the side.

That afternoon after we checked into the Red Cliffs Lodge, Mary and Doug headed to the Colorado River for a short dip in the very, very cold Colorado River water and then ran immediately into the sauna. However, Pat and I and a few others being a little more sane, due to having lived so long, went to the bar alongside the Red Cliffs Lodge overlooking the cold Colorado River for local beer and wine. Dinner and wine that evening at the Red Cliffs Lodge was wonderful. I talked with the wine waiter (I believe he is called a “Sommelier” or something very similar) and he mentioned that the recommended wine we ultimately chose had been “put down” for 8 years. Not being a wine expert I ask him if that was good and he said “Yes, there is no point in “putting down” a red more than 8 years, it ceases improving”. I mentioned that wine in my house is like beer, it rarely gets “put down” past a week. When our 8 year old wine that we ordered arrived Pat declared it “excellent”. I added in a somber, scholarly tone that it was robust and perhaps a little presumptuous and was about to comment further in “wine language” but Pat gave me a severe kick on my ankle. Note–At home a few years back, we did taste a wine that we had “put down” for a few years (actually it was lost in the corner of our basement) but not knowing what it tasted like when we lost it, how am I supposed to know if it improved after 8 years. I can’t even remember yesterday.

The warm bed that night beside the Colorado River at the completion of the windy “Day 3” was perfect.

Day 4 was a “Day of Options”. Lizard Head Cycling Guides offered our group several biking options including different mountain biking routes or we could hike around the sandstone cliffs, or perhaps just lounge around the resort. Our group is not the lounging type so of the various options offered many of us decided on a visit thru Arches National Park. This park has some spectacular geography including, of course, many natural rock arches. We had an interesting day there even though we did have to fight the maddening, rude tourist crowds.

After our obligatory bar stop that evening overlooking the Colorado River for an hour or two we had our second wonderful dinner at Red Cliffs Lodge to conclude Day 4 activities.

On Day 5 this morning, after another breakfast of fruit, berries, yogurt, eggs, sausage, etc. we boarded the Lizard Head Cycling Guide vans and were shuttled south of Moab for a few miles to begin our ride on a byway near Utah’s eastern border leading into Gateway, Colorado. Our bicycle ride options today were 48 or 60 chilly miles with 2100 feet of climbing and then a long descent into Bedrock, CO. Pat and I made it to Bedrock even though at one time I believed we had taken a wrong turn and were perhaps lost. I want to mention that I sometimes take the lead and navigate and I believe several of the team even likes me to navigate since with my navigation we see a great deal more of the countryside. I feel quite proud and slightly embarrassed by this honor. Anyway, we did finally reach Bedrock. Bedrock is a 2 store town with a foul-mouthed but extremely entertaining and full of stories, elderly, grizzled store keeper at the famed Bedrock General Store (circa 1881).

After our guides prepared their usual feast for lunch (they outdid themselves for this lunch) right outside Bedrock, CO we lounged awhile on our comfy camp chairs, listened to music and chatted for a while after lunch. We finally tore ourselves away from this decadent feast to ride the remaining 30 miles thru the magnificent Dolores River Canyon (the most beautiful 30 miles you have ever ridden) to Gateway Canyons Resort along the Dolores River. After about 20 miles of riding Pat and I accompanied by Mary and Alexandra (one of the guides) we realized we had lounged too long at lunch and therefore we had to really push hard the last 10 miles to complete the ride by dusk. We also learned that when the sun goes down, the dark canyon interiors along-side the river get pretty chilly in October. It was downright cold and almost dark when we finally cycled into the resort. But after a hot shower, a few beers and a little wine all was forgotten. We were set for a 4 star dinner courtesy of the resort (BTW, this was a fancy, high class place where many of the guests wore suits/ties but we lowered their star rating by 1 or 2 points with our after-riding dinner attire. They did seat us is in a private dining room, so we would not mingle with the high society snobs with their noses in the air).

After a really fine dinner we were ready for our usual early “to bed” time this evening. The slightly faster cycling pace (for us) and the colder riding weather really zaps the energy from your body. You loose a lot more calories. Tomorrow is the final day of bicycle riding.

Up and “at-em” again this AM and after the wonderful hot breakfast we are “Ready to Rumble” for our Day 6 ride (last day). Our ride today is a beautiful ride, 30 miles, 2400 ft climbing thru Unaweep Canyon. We finish around lunch and have free time in the afternoon to explore some of the features of the Gateway Canyons Resort where we are staying, including a fantastic, world class auto museum, two pools, local hiking, massages, etc.

We completed today’s activities with our “Farewell” dinner, an award ceremony (of course our group won the “BEST GROUP EVER” award) and retelling many stories from the riding week. Pat and I gave ourselves a silent round of applause (we deserve it) for completing a tough, but really enjoyable week of riding with such good friends as we have in the P*O*L*A*N*D G*R*O*U*P

Most of us went to bed as usual after dinner, at the Gateway Canyons Resort and on Day 7 in the early AM Lizard Head Cycling Guides vanned our group back to Grand Junction, CO where everyone said our sad goodbye’s until 2020, did our hugging (Martha taught me how to give a “Southern” hug) and we all departed for home this AM.

WHAT A GREAT TIME, thanks to Lizard Head Cycling Guides, our guides who couldn’t do enough for us, the wonderful scenic cycling routes, the food, the resorts, all the extra’s and especially our “Very Special Cycling Friends”.

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 3rd, 2019 at 7:06 am and is filed under Featured Posts.
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