Cycling Utah: An 800-Mile Bikepacking Journey From Dawn to Dusk (Video)

Mick Turnbull’s latest video is a feast for the eyes that transports viewers to the otherworldly landscapes of Utah, compressing three weeks’ work of striking sights and sounds into a single “day.” Find the short video with a written introduction by Danielle O’Hara here…

Words by Danielle O’Hara, photos and video by Mick Turnbull

This video is a compilation, a bikepacking “day in the life,” that summarises our three-week trip around Utah. There’s no commentary, simply the sights and sounds of time on the road. In some ways, our fictional “day” was similar to any day of bikepacking. Wake up at dawn, drink coffee, gaze at the sunrise, eat breakfast, pack up, ride, eat, ride, gaze at the view, ride, eat, ride, set up camp, gaze at the stars, sleep, repeat. The road sets the rhythm, and the landscape speaks for itself. But like every bikepacking trip, there were idiosyncrasies to riding in Utah. Quirks that gave the journey a distinct flavour, preventing it from becoming a blur of eat-ride-sleep.

  • Cycling Utah
  • Bikepacking the Grand Staircase Loop Video, Mick Turnbull

The road took us up, then down. We zig-zagged over ranges, gaining and then dropping up to 5,000 feet (1,500 metres) of elevation in a day. On the ups, this meant half-day ascents, slowly, patiently turning the pedals, trying not to exert too much power (when we weren’t graced by the classic uphill headwind). On the downs, this meant speedy descents, watching the vegetation types whiz by—stands of fir, aspen leaves turning, juniper, and sagebrush.

  • Cycling Utah
  • Cycling Utah
  • Cycling Utah

The air was dry. Although mild, we felt the desert temperatures more acutely in the low humidity, dry mouths and sharp sun making water feel more precious than it already was. Dust and dirt crept into tents and eyeballs and crusted the edges of bottles. At times, the dry was punctuated by passing storms. Our steel bikes felt like a hazard. Lightning conductors on open plains. Thankfully, most storms circled us, grey clouds shifting light and colour and dumping rain in nearby streams for us to fill up our scarce water later in the trip.

Cycling Utah

The desert was quiet, the mornings gentle compared to the cacophony of Australia’s arid places. Distinct individual sounds punctuated the air: a bird, an insect, the wind in the shrubs. It enveloped us, drawing attention to the detail of what we heard and saw.

  • Cycling Utah
  • Peaks & Plateaus

Finally, the hike-a-bike. Although minimal, the sections we walked were top-quality bike walks, sliding up rutted scree tracks and lifting the bikes up rocky ledges. Utah kept the arms and legs strong, making sure we could lift our bike boxes into the taxi on the way to the airport.

Our dusk-to-dawn experience in Utah was a bikepacking day like any other, except like any other, it wasn’t.

The Route

Further Reading

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