By Greg Hoole — The Five Canyons Ride is celebrating its 5th anniversary by adding several additional course options for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the Wasatch Mountains in early fall but are not necessarily interested in tackling all five of Salt Lake Valley’s canyons in a single day.
Starting this year, riders will be able to choose to ride one, two, three, four, or all five canyons in any combination they want. Or they can simply choose to ride the 25-mile “Straight Shot” course from start to finish.
Five years ago, at the inaugural 5 Canyons ride, only 20 or so riders threw their hats into the ring to climb all five canyons—and only seven finished. The ride has grown significantly since then and draws high praise from its participants.
“Riding all five canyons has long been a goal of mine,” Daniel Blaiser commented, “and knocking that off the bucket list was awesome. I really appreciated the well-stocked aid stations and the eager cheer section that greeted me at each one.” Daniel was not alone in his praise. “It was brutal but awesome,” added Wyn Barnett.
Brian James elaborated: “I’ve been riding three years. I found out about this ride a week before, and being honest, I signed up with a little trepidation thinking about all the hardcore fit men and women who would be riding. I decided to go for it and glad I did! [I] felt a huge sense of accomplishment at the finish line. If anyone was on the fence like I was, I would tell them to go for it and sign up! [I] look forward to next year’s event!”
The ride is sponsored by Wheels of Justice, a confederation of individual cyclists and cycling teams working to put an end to child abuse. Nicknamed “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the ride is meant to show victims of child abuse that they can overcome any challenge to become survivors. It also shows them that there is no mountain too high to keep us from helping them to do so.
And mountains high the ride has. Comprising three HC climbs and two Category 2 climbs, the ride has more vert (over 14,000 feet) than almost any other ride in America and certainly the steepest average gradient.
“Parts of me hurt that never hurt before,” Jeanette Peterson, laughed. “Hopefully I can do more things like this in the future.”
Of those riders who have completed both 5 Canyons and the other September epic, LoToJa, there is consensus: 5 Canyons is harder.
“I’m telling anyone that has done LoToJa that they need to try their luck at 5 Canyons,” offers Wade Olsen. “[It is] an amazing event!! Extremely challenging, amazing scenery, iconic climbs, well supported with supper people, and a lot of difficult fun—more than I expected and likely one of my top 3 rides.”
One of the keys to the success of 5 Canyons is the on-course support it receives from UtahSAG, a team of volunteer HAM radio operators that work to ensure rider safety and more. Their work is not unnoticed by the riders.
“Please pass along my thanks to the awesome on-course support team yesterday,” wrote Anne Findlay regarding last year’s event. “They were incredible! [T]he gentleman on the motorcycle who accompanied me along 11th Ave and to the finish, [the gentleman who encouraged me] up City Creek, and the other on-course and aid station volunteers were so friendly and helpful. This year has been so stressful—wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish, and it meant a lot to me that I did.”
From their perspective, UtahSAG agrees that the event is a huge success. The group’s leader, Mickey Applebaum, noted “that virtually every one of our folks helping out [at 5 Canyons] says that this is one of the best events of the year.”
All riders, regardless of how many mountains they conquer, will enjoy fully stocked aid stations, lunch, event drawstring backpack, Specialized water bottle, event t-shirt, finisher’s medal, discounted pasta dinner at Caputo’s, and good karma!
Riders can also earn a virtual 5 Canyons jersey as they train for the ride or on the day of the event. Simply download the MyCols app and connect to Garmin or Strava. Join Wheels of Justice on Strava. Then, begin riding the 5 canyons. When you have completed all five canyons, you will be awarded the jersey.
Always held on the second odd-numbered Saturday in September, 5 Canyons takes advantage of Utah’s most brilliant month for riding. The canyons provide cool temperatures, colorful foliage, and stunning views. There is no more abundance of beautiful canyons in all the world than along Utah’s Wasatch Front. The event is literally a breath of fresh air from start to finish.z
To learn more about the ride, visit www.5canyons.org. To learn more about Wheels of Justice, including how you can join for free, visit www.teamwheelsofjustice.org.
September 17 — 5 Canyons Bike Challenge, Sandy, UT, One of the most daunting and beautiful cycling challenges in the country, ascending more than 14,000 feet over 116 miles through all five of Salt Lake City’s picturesque riding canyons before finishing at the Utah Capitol building. Comprising three HC climbs and two Category 2 climbs, the ride has more vert than almost any other ride in America and certainly the steepest average gradient. Participants may elect to ride one, two, three, four or all five of the canyons, Greg Hoole, 801-272-7556, [email protected], 5Canyons.org