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Bicycling Through The Land of The Sleeping Rainbows-End of The Ride


Part 6: Pedaling into Capitol Reef National Park, Valley of the Gods and the end of the ride

"It is curious that with the advent of the automobile and the airplane, the bicycle is still with us. Perhaps people like the world they can see from a bike, or the air they breathe when they're out on a bike. Or they like the bicycle's simplicity and the precision with which it is made. Or because they like the feeling of being able to hurtle through air one minute, and saunter through a park the next, without leaving behind clouds of choking exhaust, without leaving behind so much as a footstep." Gurdon S. Leete
The delightful aspect of those who write about bicycling stems from the ongoing appreciation in the number of ways as to what they "felt or feel" while they rode or ride a bicycle. Each of us gains an entirely wondrous interpretation of our experience on our two-wheeled steed.

Descending via bicycle into the Valley of the Gods.

My friend Joe said, "I love cycling because it clears my mind and clears my heart of all the cobwebs."

For this bicycle maniac, pedaling my two wheeled machine lifts my soul into the spiritual realm of "time perfection." No past, no future and only the present moment exists within my being. I pedal in the here and now. It's called "satori" which means "the perfect moment." Cycling also creates physical bliss. My lungs devour oxygen, my legs pound out the rhythm of the wheels and I elevate into the realm of "energy drive." I love pedaling my bicycle.

Sadness of Ending My Life on The Road

As this grand tour comes to a close, I also feel the sadness of ending my life on the road. While bicycle touring, my life lives at 12 miles per hour. It cranks up mountain inclines at 4 miles per hour. I like those speeds. I like the "perfection" of the movement, not too fast, not too slow-just right.

After our incredible dining experience at the Café Diablo, we bedded down at the end of town overlooking our next stop: Capitol Reef National Park.

Raw vertical cliffs with water erosion and colors from streams slipping over the rock during a rainstorm.

While it might be an extension of the "Land of the Sleeping Rainbows", the "reef" also known as a geological "fold" of the layers of rock-explodes on both sides of the road that serpentines its way through millions of years of geological time. How do you grasp 65 million years in the rock formations before us? One of my friends said, "God took his time to work the kind of magic that you will see in Capitol Reef." We awoke to a glorious sunrise creeping across the eastern sky as it lit up the various rock formations inside the park.

"I busted my belly last night at Diablo's," said Bob, crawling out of his tent. "And, now, I'm busting my camera out to take this incredible sunrise over these amazing rocks formations. Man, we hit it on this ride."

Rocks the size of houses created every shape imaginable along the route through Capitol Reef National Park.

"Taking some pictures, boss," I said, snapping a few shots.

We packed out gear after a hot breakfast of oat meal and sliced bananas along with trail mix and an orange.

Jumbled Colorful Cliffs and Soaring Spires

The road immediately started to dive into broken rock shards weighing hundreds of tons and the size of two story houses. The sandstone bathed itself in reds, tans, bronzes and browns. We coasted into a field of massive domes, jumbled colorful cliffs and soaring spires that equaled any manmade cathedrals you might see in the churches of Europe. Stark monoliths, twisted canyons and graceful arches spread before us like a cornucopia of visual feasting. If we could dine at Café Diablo, we could dine on Mother Nature's finest table setting.

Climber heading to the top in the Valley of the Gods

We followed the free flowing Freemont River through cacti fields, jays, lizards, rabbits, juniper, pinions and columbine. Above us, the jagged rock cliffs cut their teeth against an azure sky.

"Stop," yelled Bob. "I gotta take more pictures."

"Gees," I said. "My eyes can't take all this beauty at once."

"Do your best and make your mama proud," said Bob.

Just then, a western blue bird flew right in front of me and landed in a bush along the road. Magic! Gorgeous blue feathers! Take my breath away.

We rode our bicycles through the fabled Waterpocket Fold of geological wonders.

Our Way To "Valley of the Gods"

Hours later, we exited Capitol Reef on our way to "Valley of the Gods." We pedaled through bush country and erosion-mountains along with golden-leaved trees. We pedaled at over 5,000 feet of elevation.

The mountaineer John Muir said, "Camp out among the grass and gentians of glacier meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of Nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

About 40 miles south of the park, we stood on a mesa that dropped 1,500 feet to the "Valley of the Gods" below. Barren, harsh, dry as a bone and as beautiful and stunning as landing on the moon-that's what awaited us.

We jumped on the bikes for a ride down a dirt road lined with 1,500 foot cliffs, which felt like descending into hell.

Not far south, we turned into the "Valley of the Gods." It's north of Mexican Hat and northwest of Bluff, Utah. If you don't know it's there, the signs are easy to miss.

Because we tour on mountain expedition bikes, we courageously turned onto the red, clay and rock road leading into the "Valley of the Gods."

Tourist couple on the high mesa along the Waterpocket Fold.

How Do You Spell "Wonder"?

How do you spell "wonder" when you travel into a sacred place that fits the name? How do you soak into your mind what your eyes see? How do you listen to the silence to quiet to be real?

For 17 miles of a loop that curls around the "Valley of the Gods", we beheld magic, wonder and enchantment. Spires shot up like skyscrapers from the valley floor. Some rock formations resembled steamships cruising through the dessert. Others curled around the valley as if protecting its sacred relics. No wires, no lights, no humanity anywhere in that valley created by over 65 million years of erosion.

The view of the Valley of the Gods where we last climbed and where we finished "Bicycling through the Land of the Sleeping Rainbows."

At one point, we crossed over a dry wash and faced a monster mountain in front of us. We hopped off the bikes and decided to climb to its base over 1,000 feet above us. Once we reached our destination, we sat down and looked out over the valley.

"Hell of a ride, Bob," I said.

"Sad that we are near the end," said Bob. "Loved this time with you, man."

"Back at you," I said.

Frosty and Bob on their ride into the Valley of the Gods and the Land of the Sleeping Rainbows, Utah.

As we sat there, I felt blessed at the visions before our eyes. I felt blessed to be able to pedal my bike back through time. I felt blessed with Bob's friendship.

How Do You End a Bicycle Tour Like This One?

What do you say to so much wonder? How do you describe the magic of bicycle touring?

This is a good a place to end this story on a high cliff overlooking the "Valley of the Gods." Vaya con Dios.

Part 1: Beginning The Long Ride
Part 2 Bicycling Through The Land of The Sleeping Rainbows
Part 3: Western legend, lore and wide open spaces
Part 4: Inching our way toward Land of the Sleeping Rainbows, Valley of the Gods and Capitol Reef National Park.
Part 5: Café Diablo, wonders of Capitol Reef National Park, Valley of the Gods.
Part 6: Pedaling into Capitol Reef National Park, Valley of the Gods and the end of the ride

Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World. Read more stories by Frosty Wooldridge.

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