Riding temple to temple: Bicyclists relax, enjoy sights and revel in history on 535-mile ride

Published: Thursday, Oct. 15 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Mark Bolton's trips to Salt Lake City number few, but they are very memorable.

"I've been a member 31 years, and I've been to Salt Lake twice," said Bolton, who joined the LDS Church during U.S. Navy boot camp in Orlando, Fla.

Both times he rode his bike there — the traditional two-wheeled, nonmotorized kind.

As Bolton, Mike Hansen and Michael Perdue rode from Denver to Salt Lake City earlier this year, they came by way of Emigration Canyon and stopped at This Is the Place Heritage Park, which is historically how the Mormon pioneers came to the valley.

They wanted to see the valley from the

spot the pioneers did.

Then they cycled down to downtown Salt Lake City to touch the temple.

Eight days earlier on July 27, the trio from the Green Mountain 2nd Ward in the Lakewood Colorado Stake touched the Denver Colorado Temple and started their 535-mile ride to Salt Lake City.

Their wives and a few of their children took turns following them, meeting them for meals during the day and making sure they had a place to stay in the evening. As their path wound along U.S. 40 through western Colorado, they stopped by the Vernal Utah Temple and Dinosaur National Monument, pedaled up through Heber City, then to This Is the Place Heritage Park and finally down to the Salt Lake Temple.

"The more historical significance to the route the better," Perdue said. "It's nice to have the temples as the starting place and ending place. … It keeps things in perspective."

The trio rode about 60 to 100 miles a day, resting on Sunday, and they found the trip overall relaxing as they battled headwinds, mountainous terrain, a few flat tires and a broken spoke.

"When it's you and the bike and it's a relaxed and slower pace (than a car), there is so much more you pick up, (like) small sounds and the wind and cool and the hotness. It's an amazingly different experience," said Perdue, who joined the church as a teenager and now teaches early-morning seminary. "There are little mountain streams hidden in the roadside … it's very relaxing for me mentally."

For Hansen, who moved to Colorado from Utah three years ago and serves in the ward's bishopric, it was a chance to see some of the country as his ancestors did and, well, to relax.

"I have ancestors on one of the handcart companies," Hansen said. "I can't imagine what it would be like back then … (and) the dedication to go through that."

While riding, the stress of his job and calling faded away, said Hansen, who has three children in college.

The men have been riding together several times a week in the mornings before work, but Perdue's call as an early-morning seminary teacher has him riding at other times. They had done other longer day rides, including century rides, and tried to make sure they were used to sitting on a bike for long periods of time. Both Hansen and Perdue rode bicycles as missionaries in Europe, and Perdue says he has been riding a bike since he was 5.

Bolton's first trip into the valley was five years ago when Perdue rode from Nauvoo, Ill., to Salt Lake City. Bolton joined him at about Casper, Wyo., for the last week of the three-week venture.

"As I became more familiar with the church, I became intrigued with the exodus (west)," Perdue said of learning more about the church after he was baptized. He wanted to participate in a re-enactment of the pioneer trek.

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