Zen On Dirt

St George – Fighting soreness on red rocks


Every road trip I take, I hatch the same plan: Go to a cool place, ride three to four days there, move to next cool place, ride three to four days there, move to the next cool place. Rinse and repeat.

Every time I find a cool place, I realize that three to four days isn’t even remotely enough to scratch the surface. It’s enough time to go do some of the ‘classics’, but the beauty of a place and of its trails and of its landscape are often far off the beaten path. Places you don’t go to unless you have some time to spend in a location.

Unfortunately, this traversal to the north had a fairly strict schedule that I had to stick to. We arrived in St George on Saturday and I was set to leave Thursday.

You can do a lot in St George in four days, but we also arrived with trashed legs from our Big Ditch adventure, which put a damper on things. But I approached the week with the motto: You can rest when you’re dead, and hoped for the best. The big goal was to be recovered enough to go running in Zion before I had to leave. It had been 15 years since I’d last been and had looked at the towering cliff walls every time I was in the area, wondering what was in there.

And then there was Gooseberry Mesa, and Little Creek, and Guacamole, and Zen, and Bearclaw Poppy…

Maybe I could do two-a-days?


Sunday, LW and DH invited us out to ride Suicidal Tendencies. I couldn’t resist. I probably should have given the state of my legs, but knew that it was possibly the one time I’d get to ride with the Dos Epicos.


Maybe it was the mellow pace, maybe it was that we gabbed the whole time, maybe DOMs is just mental, but the riding didn’t hurt nearly as bad as it should have.

I did take care of all of my standing up chores as soon as I got home, knowing that once I was down, I’d be down for the day. I was…to the point of going down stairs backwards.

Monday, I conned Scott out for a short ride. Spin the legs, I coaxed, we’ll feel better.


The beauty of St George is the variety of riding available right from town. Scott found us some rocks. And some downhill hike-a-bike. Exactly what the doctor ordered.


But it was all stuff I’d done before. I longed to get out to some place new. To do something long. To see where all of the squiggly lines on the map went. But that would have to wait…wait until i could actually stand on my pedals for longer than 30 seconds without experiencing complete muscle failure.


Tuesday – still sore. Battling tight calf muscles and achilles tendons. Soreness that felt like it would turn into injury if not respected. Not to worry, there was high desert cruising to be had on new trails on the JEM system with Scott and Scott’s dad.


It was lovely, but standing in the shadow of Zion left me thinking, Tomorrow? How about it little leggies, tomorrow?


But after being wrecked after 3 hours of riding, we knew a biggish run was not to be.

But here’s the beauty of being flexible and finding joy in most things: There were still bikes to ride in St George.


Wednesday, we went out on a ‘more sparkly’ group ride with LW and DH, meaning that a fair amount of focus was employed to actually keep up.


Take the waterbottle out for the picture. It’s unsightly. So pro. 

And like that, my trip to St George was over. A short run on Thursday morning and into the car and out of town. I didn’t get to ride all the places I wanted to ride. I didn’t get to run all the places I wanted to run. We started talking about what time of year to return for a full month to really start to explore the nooks and crannies of a place.

As I drove, I made mental notes of all of the places I wanted to visit along the I-15 and then the I-70 corridor. Oooh, Capitol Reef. Oooh, Escalante. So much public land, so little time.

And I thought back to the week where I got to ride with some of my favorite people on trails that I already knew well, and thought, That wasn’t half bad either. 

Flexibility. It’s awesome.


2 thoughts on “St George – Fighting soreness on red rocks

  1. Hello, I write for the Santa Barbara Independent’s bike column: http://www.independent.com/news/2015/may/11/future-biking-santa-barbara/

    I am working on an article about bikepacking and I’d love to get your perspective. Are you available for a brief email or phone interview?

    Hope to hear from you soon.


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