The gear was bought, the training was complete and the route was mapped out.
Now all father and son bicycling team Hoyt and Jencen Robey had to do was complete the 500 mile journey, from Bountiful, Utah to the Grand Canyon North Rim in Arizona. The two set out on the “Red Rock Tour” in mid-June, a 10-day bicycling trip to celebrate Jencen’s recent graduation from Newport High School.
“When my dad pitched the idea of a father and son bicycling trip to me, I said OK. That’s all it took,” Jencen said, adding, “It didn’t really matter to me what we did, I was just excited to spend time with my dad.”
In preparation for the trip, Jencen and his father completed an 80-mile ride to Canada and tested their gear on a ride to Whidbey Island.
“I tried to encourage Jencen to do more training prior to our big trip, but with senior year wrapping up, he was limited on time,” Hoyt explained. “I figured, he’s young, he can handle it.”
Hoyt had prior long-distance running experience and had been a devoted bicyclist for many years.
Geared up and ready to go, the Robeys set off on their adventure, averaging roughly 50 miles a day with the longest day reaching 92 miles. The two rode in 105 degree weather and battled bumpy roads, warm drinking water, heavy head-wind, steep hills and severe sunburns.
At one point, Jencen’s legs were so sunburned they turned a deep shade of purple. Instead of giving up, Jencen put on his longer riding shorts and leg warmers and kept pedaling on.
Despite the challenges, Jencen and his father also encountered beautiful scenery, kindness from strangers and a one-of-a-kind father and son experience.
“Yes it was hard at times, but this trip was well worth it. We have so many stories to tell,” Hoyt said.
Midway through the trip, the Robeys encountered a road block of sorts. While pedaling along a back highway, they were greeted by a trucker who warned them of an 8-mile-stretch of gravel road ahead of them. The two debated turning back, but instead, took the truck driver up on his offer to drive them into town.
“That act of kindness really saved us a lot of hardship,” Hoyt said. “We would have had to either backtrack or try to walk our bikes for 8 miles on bumpy gravel road.”
Those 8 miles were the only ones spent in a car. The rest were accomplished on two wheels.
To stay motivated between towns, they would focus on the sweet, chilled taste of ice cream.
“I did the math, and I spent 20 percent of my trip budget on ice cream,” Jencen said with a laugh. “Let me tell you, it was so worth it.”
It was day 10 when the Robeys finally reached their destination of the Grand Canyon. Tired and a bit sore, the two arrived at the main lodge during a hail storm and thundershowers. They rested by the large fireplace inside the lodge before setting up camp just 20 feet from the edge of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
“It was indescribable the feelings we felt that day,” Hoyt said. “The view was breathtaking and to be able to share it with my son by my side was more than a father could ask for.”
Lindsay Larin can be reached at 425-453-4602.
The Robey family created a website, www.bikingfamily.com, to help promote family togetherness and share their adventures on two wheels.