Getting off the beaten track in the Mojave Desert
After competing in the 70.3 Ironman World Championship in the city of St. George, True Grace’s co-founder, Roger Biles, shares his tips for exploring the sights and landscapes of the Mojave Desert.
Triathlon has always been an excuse for me to travel the world and see some fantastic scenery, albeit from behind the handlebars of a TT bike. In 2021, I was fortunate enough to qualify for the 70.3 Ironman World Championship, which was held in St. George, Utah. After a year of training, I made it to the start line in October 2022 and was lucky enough to squeeze in some sight-seeing around the race. Below are some of my favourite experiences from the Mojave Desert.
A European restaurant in Las Vegas
My adventure began in Las Vegas – not a place that was high on my bucket list but which happened to have the nearest airport. Las Vegas is a city where culture can take a backseat to commerce but I did manage to discover a couple of gems during the two days we spent there.
The most notable was Rivea, a restaurant from internationally-celebrated chef Alain Ducasse. Housed within the Delano hotel and overlooking the Las Vegas Strip, Rivea brings a taste of Provence and Italy to Nevada, with elegant dishes created using the best seasonal ingredients from the West Coast.
Racing in St. George
St. George is in southwestern Utah and is famous for warm weather year-round, as well as its proximity to a number of magnificent national parks, including The Grand Canyon.
Race day started very early with a bus ride on a classic American yellow school bus out to Sand Hollow, a reservoir outside the city, for a swim start. 70.3 miles later I crossed the finishing line in a time of 5:09. Despite my exhaustion it was a fantastic experience to compete in an event with so many amazing athletes and one I’d recommend to any budding triathletes.
Dirt biking in the Mojave Desert
Utah benefits from over 300 blue sky days per year and some of the most stunning landscapes. The Mojave Desert location gave me the perfect excuse to indulge another passion of mine: dirt biking.
Early one morning I headed out to a water tower in the Warner Valley to meet AJ, my guide for the day. He had brought a brace of KTM 250 bikes with him, ready for our adventure.
We spent the following four hours riding through the most fantastic scenery reminiscent of ‘cowboy and Indian films’ from my childhood, only stopping to pick myself up after a couple of falls!
Hiking in Zion National Park
I finished my week with a restful couple of days spent hiking in Zion National Park, which encompasses some of the most stunning canyon country in the United States.
Based in Springdale – a small town immediately outside the park boundaries – I was lucky enough to qualify for a day pass to climb Angels Landing, an almost 1500-foot tall rock formation with a popular trail cut into solid rock. Although the path is lined with chains to give climbers a level of reassurance, it is very narrow in parts with vertical drops straight down to the valley floor. The presence of the Dutch National Skydiving Team (on a rest day from competing) didn’t provide much reassurance!
At 5,790 feet (1,760m) high, the final half-mile to the top of the trail is not for the faint-hearted but is well worth the effort for the breathtaking view of Zion Canyon. If you’re up for an adventure, it’s a memory you’ll keep for a lifetime.