The ultimate ride will differ for individuals and even from time-to-time, depending on circumstances: the bike, the place, the weather, the season, the challenge, the company and of course the ride itself. Taking this into account it is perhaps more accurate to consider a list of favourite rides each of which might be the ultimate ride depending on the mix of circumstances at the time of the ride. Notwithstanding, I have just returned from touring (by car!) in the Southwest USA during which I undertook a ride that I feel might be considered as the ultimate by many if not most cyclists.
As a geologist I have often visited parts of Nevada, Colorado and California but never the famous sites of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Glen Canyon (Lake Powell), Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, which this time formed the trip of a lifetime. The aforementioned ride took place whilst at the Grand Canyon. Despite the many photographs I had previously seen of the Canyon I was not really prepared for the sight itself, which is truly amazing and incomparable to anything I had previously experienced during extensive international travels. Just admiring the Canyon from the south rim is truly wonderful but I wanted to engage more with the experience – what better way than to cycle the Grand Canyon?
Mrs G and I therefore undertook a cycle ride along the south rim on the western Hermit Road section organised by Bright Angel Bicycles and what a ride it was. The hire bikes were basic but OK, the organisation very good and the guides engaging and very helpful. But with ongoing, ever changing sights of the Canyon throughout, the experience can surely rank as one of the ultimate cycle rides.
Located about 2.5 miles west of the Visitor Centre, we were taken to and from the start and finishing points by a shuttle. The ride is only about 5.5 miles, mostly on a paved cycleway shared at times with pedestrians and is predominately downhill. Views of the Canyon continually dominate, compelling frequent stops to take photographs, discuss the flora, fauna and of course geology as well as just taking it all in. Without actually going into the Canyon itself this must surely be one of the best ways to see and enjoy the natural spectacle below. Despite the brevity of the ride such is the experience it took almost 3-hours and will stay in my memory forever as one of my ultimate rides – it certainly was on this day.