By Kevin Rouse
Day The Second: Nephi, Utah to Fish Lake, Utah 104 miles
I’ve always had a thing for mountaintop finishes. Fancying myself a climber, my favorite
stages in any stage race have always been the ubiquitous summit finishes; they’ve
always held a certain romantic mystique, a glamorous depiction of struggle turned to
triumph—until today, that is. Today I found out that the ‘romantic mystique’ of these
finishes is really just little more than thinly veiled sadism.
After 70 miles of topography resembling the EKG reading of a flatlining heart-attack
patient, we began the slow ascent (well maybe not so slow, thanks to a few overly
industrious pacemakers) up to Fish Lake and the National Forest of the same name.
Still, all was well, and the legs were feeling uncharacteristically receptive to punishment
and I was feeling pretty eager myself.
However, this less-than-common zeal for a bit of self-torture tapered off rather abruptly.
Using the fact that I was in still in my big ring as encouragement to keep pushing, it
was, quite frankly, downright devastating when I went to look down and find that I was,
in fact, definitely not in my big ring…needless to say, the climb suddenly got quite a bit
All work and no play—and a severely deflated ego—made this rider one less-than-
stoked individual—until I saw the lake marking our final destination, but it wasn’t before
we reached an elevation of just over 9000 feet, passing several false summits along the
Lesson of the day: Check yourself (and what gear you’re in) before you
Tomorrow finds us on familiar roads we head towards Escalante, Utah, on National
Scenic Highway 12, a road which happened to feature prominently in the ‘Open Road’
feature story in the Summer issue of Paved. Hopefully the breathtaking
scenery should make up for every foot of climbing…right?