It all started when Jennifer wanted to go camping for the July 24th weekend. Amy didn't. So, we compromised and came up with a great idea to go on a long bike ride adventure. Amy offered to do some research on some trail options which would be fun for inexperienced and amateur riders! The longest bike ride we'd been on, to date, was from our neighborhood to the lake...about 6 miles. Of course, that time we were in a crazy rain storm. Anyway, that story didn't happen on a Saturday so isn't part of our blog.
We agreed to start at 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Jennifer showed up right on the dot as Amy was still eating her cereal. Two potty trips and one quick reconnaissance mission back to the computer, we finally got the bikes loaded on the back of Jen's car around 8:30.
Here was our plan:
- Caravan to Utah Lake State Park and park Amy's vehicle.
- Amy jumps into Jen's car and we mad dash it to Soldier Hollow, Heber--a 30 minute drive up the canyon. Please note...30 minutes!
- Unload the bikes and take a "leisurely" mountain biking trail along the north side of Deer Creek Reservoir. Our assumption-based on Amy's online research-was that this trail was relatively easy. "The ideal family ride" on a "gravel surface" with a "mostly straight" trail, with ONLY "about 400 feet of total climbing." Apparently someone only read what she wanted to and did not really pay attention to the details. After all, there were "some slightly-steep sections that require good braking control and balance to avoid dumping in the gravel." Hmmm...that would have been good to know!
- From the dam at Deer Creek, we would DISCOVER a connecting trail to the Provo River Parkway trail which technically starts at Vivian Park.
- Ride the Provo River Parkway from Vivian Park to the mouth of Provo Canyon.
- Stop for lunch at Subway.
- Finish our ride from the mouth of Provo Canyon, following along the Provo River, ending up at Utah Lake.
- Be home, maybe around 1:00 or 2:00...if we took our time.
We left Soldier Hollow at 9:45 a.m. on a perfect bike-ride kind of Summer day--overcast with a few showers. See how happy we are? Silly girls...Trix are for kids.
Five minutes into to our little excursion, we had to stop...and walk our bikes uphill.
And five minutes later, we had to stop and walk our bikes up hill.
Five minutes later we screamed our way down the first major "slightly-steep section". And then huffed and puffed our way up the next "slightly-steep section." Yeah, we weren't really prepared.
Of course, on our adventure, we were able to enjoy lovely vistas and many different varieties of "wildlife"...including a bear! A big black bear! Or really, just your average, run of the mill COW!
One thing which helped us get through the first part of our adventure was counting down the mile posts. "1 MILE ah, ah, ah, ha!" said with Sesame Street's The Count's accent and funny laugh, "and only 29 more to go!"
When we finally reached the Deer Creek dam, 2 hours and 8.2 miles later, we were extremely happy to see a paved bike path (and a bathroom).
So, then we started on the second half of our adventure--DISCOVERING a trail from the dam to Vivian Park. The paved bike path was deceptive. It lasted for less than a mile and ended in some sage brush somewhere slightly west of the dam and between Highway 89 and the river. For some reason, based on our last minute reconnaissance with online MapQuest, we thought there was a path running along the Heber Creeper railroad tracks. Hmmm...there wasn't. And actually, we weren't anywhere near the railroad tracks when the bike path ended.
We had three options:
- Go back 8.2 miles on the dirt road "trail of death" to get Jen's car.
- Ride against traffic on Highway 89 "the death road" meant for cars only, to Vivian Park.
- Break a trail to the Heber Creeper rail road tracks and "ride" on the tracks to Vivian Park.
We would have to scale down a mountain, 100+ feet, at a decline with at least a 60 degree slope.
Here's Jen attempting the decline after Amy crashed down it with her bike. It doesn't look steep in this picture, but trust us...it was the worst decline we had faced yet!!! And yes, we are laughing our heads off as we type this, realizing how wimpy this picture really looks!
The other thing we didn't know was that the Heber Creeper isn't called the Heber Creeper for nothing...it creeped up on us as we were walking down the tracks. Jen said, "Do you hear something?" Amy said, "Uh, no...the river?" Jen then turned around and saw the engine of the Heber Creeper, creeping right behind us. It was probably only 30 feet behind us before we realized it was there, just as the conductor blew the train whistle. We instantly jumped off the tracks and then waved, with a mixture of relief and terror, at all the folks on the train. Too bad we weren't quick enough to jump on the back of train and hitch a ride to Vivian Park. It would have saved us another two hours...
Of WALKING our bikes almost 6 miles down the railroad tracks. Because it's not as easy as one would think to ride (thug, thunk, thug, thunk, thug, thunk) over the railroad ties.
At least, we are still smiling! After all, it's an adventure, right?
Of course, if you know anything about the Heber Creeper, and you're walking along the railroad tracks, you know you're bound to meet it going down the canyon and going back up...
We finally walked into Vivian Park at about 1:30. We then had the wonderful pleasure of coasting down a PAVED BIKE PATH to the mouth of Provo Canyon and lunch at the Subway right there at the gas station. We covered 6 miles in less than 30 minutes!
So, why did we stop for a photo at Centaur Press? Well, this is where it all started, friends! It was during a momentous press check in 2004 when Jen and Amy really became friends. We both worked at Franklin Covey and Jen the purchasing agent was trying to impress the new project manager, Amy, with her attention to detail and color! Who knew royal blue could be so bright? Ah, the good old days...we're glad we've moved on.
If you've never biked the Provo River Parkway, we recommend it. Especially the paved parts. It's a beautiful and easy ride, perfect for the casual biker--like us! Be sure to enjoy the unexpected moments too--like the ice cream truck! Don't we look like excited little kids? We were!
The last 4 miles seemed to take FOREVER! We counted them down, "4 Miles! Ah, ah, ah, ha!" "3 Miles! Ah, ah, ah, ha!" "2 Miles! Ah, ah, ah, ha!" And finally...ONE MILE LEFT!