He describes encounters like this as moments of purity, even nirvana. “It’s worth riding for five hours to get one second like that.”
He’s had many moments, many revelations just like this, while suffering the climb — or with TJ’s mindset, earning the descent — on Kolob Terrace Road. The possibility of those moments is why he returns to this route again and again.
It’s a route that you don’t want to spend looking down at the latest technology. In fact, Eisenhart’s advice is to turn your devices off. “Why ride somewhere beautiful when your focus is purely on your specs?” he asks.
Though let it be clear, relishing the moment doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself. There’s no getting around it, this route is a challenging climb. Eisenhart comes here to train for professional cycling stage races after all.
But the reward and the balm is all around you: Zion National Park. Don’t forget, as you look out over the high country meadows and jagged red cliffs, that one of the great joys of being on a bike is you can take it at any pace you’d like. Soak it in.
Kolob Terrace Road enters and skirts the western edge of Zion National Park. The ride climbs around 5,000 feet, and covers 25 miles. The toughest portion of the climb averages an 8.4 percent grade.
This map of the 25-mile route outlines TJ's preferred approach: from Virgin to Kolob Creek Reservoir. Learn more about cycling in Zion.
Tips from TJ
- This is a great climb if you’re coming from sea level. You don’t have to worry as much about the effects of altitude as you do on some of TJ’s favorite Northern Utah climbs.
- Take this ride at your pace. Find your rhythm and what’s comfortable. When the climb feels hard, remember that it will reward you, and there are flat, rollings areas to break it up.
- Bring food and water. But do stop at River Rock Roasting, TJ’s go to after a hard day of training.
- Take off your technology.” “Why ride somewhere beautiful when you’re looking down at your watch and specs?”
- When you’re suffering during the climb, find your awareness. Study the changes in the landscape.
- Stop into Virgin and Hurricane, TJ’s favorite “bike-loving communities.”
- For repeat riders, or gravel grinders, take the left hand turn above Smith Mesa (Smith Mesa Road), which turns into a great packed dirt road. It loops around Smith Mesa for a 25 mile loop. Take an extra tube or throw on a heavier tire and give it a try.