The Mighty Six. Day 13: Riding the Rim.

Another slow start to the day. Andrew fell back asleep after the alarm, and I can’t say I was exactly willing to get out of bed either. Despite the fact we have done our planned hikes or rides this year, we have also fitted in some chilling time and it has felt relaxing as well as exhausting!

We did make it to breakfast and then had time to relax on the balcony, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of Grand Canyon. These include squirrels foraging pine cones, a woodpecker in the nearby tree (heard but not seen), together with a cacophony of sound from small birds, which collectively sounded like a dog with a squeaky toy (these birds are a bit like great tits, black head, white throat, blue-grey back, swoop around a lot…). We then got ourselves ready for a last ride of the trip. We drove to the visitor centre and went to Grand Canyon Bicycles where we hired cruisers for the ride along the Hermit Road and the Greenway, a round trip of about 21 miles.

In chatting to the owner, we mentioned we had been coming for years and we first hired bikes when they were just stored in a trailer next to a small shed. This was 2010, their first year. As a thank you for being loyal customers, they gave us water bottles on our return, which was really nice of them.

The ride goes out along a Greenway, a shared foot/cycle path from the visitor centre, past the Market Plaza and Yavapai Lodge, through the woods with grazing elk, to the Grand Canyon village. We rode past the train, parked and waiting to make the return journey to Williams in the afternoon, and then were at the start of the Hermit Road.

The first two-thirds of the rim trail is for pedestrians only, so on bikes you ride along the road between viewpoints. These are frequent and you can still see the canyon for a lot of it, and as the road is only open to shuttle buses, there isn’t really any traffic to contest with. As at Zion, you have to pull over to let buses pass you, but this only happened once on our outbound route and twice on the return, as we otherwise timed it to be at viewpoints when they went past.

After the first steep uphill section, most of the route follows a generally downhill profile out to Hermit’s Rest. We stopped often for the view and so, by the time we got there, we had taken nearly 2 hours. We only had 4 hours overall and it is, quite clearly, more of an uphill profile on the way back!

We stopped for a snack near Pima Point, on a bench with a view, and then turned to focussing on a concerted effort to get back. Being cruisers, with fat tyres and high rolling resistance, these bikes are designed more for comfort than speed but, nevertheless, we made it back along the road and up through the village, along the Greenway and back to the visitor centre before our time was up. It was a really pleasant and enjoyable way to end our time at the Canyon. I can’t overstate just how nice, relaxing and pleasant it is riding through the pine forests, with the scent in the air and the warmth of the sun just enough to feel warm in short sleeves. Loved it.

After returning our bikes (and getting our water bottles) we bought a coffee from the shop there (because all good rides need a coffee stop, even if it is at the end) and then had a browse in the Grand Canyon Conservancy shop, before returning to our room, where we replaced lost salts and calories on the balcony… crisps and beer do count as good nutrition, don’t they?…

Then it was showers and dinner in the Maswik Lodge, before starting the packing operation. An early start tomorrow, and an even earlier one on Saturday…

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