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This adventure in Utah’s White Rim was supposed to be simple. And dry…

Sharp sunlight burns our motivation to pedal. We’re resting on the edge of the canyon. It’s a September afternoon and the Garmin on my handlebars shows 45°C.

A sudden blast of air turns our heads. An impressive storm front emerges from behind the towering massif of Island in the Sky. The wind gets stronger and pushes the dark clouds, illuminated by lightning, towards us. We look, hypnotised at this spectacle, when an unexpected gust catches our bikes and sweeps them towards the cliff edge. At the last moment, we catch them, just at the first ominous, heavy drops of rain start to hit the ground. With no decent shelter for miles, we hide under an overhanging ledge and observe the power of the raging storm. Within minutes the jeep track we’ve been riding becomes a gushing stream that threatens our tiny refuge. The downpour becomes hail as the temperature drops by 30 degrees within minutes. We lie in the mud while dirty red water floods our refuge under the ledge that barely covers our heads.

While I’m silently considering the darkest scenarios for the rest of the day, Klimek seems to be absorbed in his view of the lightning. Happy as a child, he’s photographing the scene when bean-sized hail hits everything, including his precious lens, which he is pointing directly into this awesome show.

An hour later, the storm finally abates and the weather front moves along. We crawl out like lizards from under a stone, chilled and soaked. The majestic landscape comes to life before us: the washed-out green of the scarce vegetation becomes vibrant, the pale ground is now an intense red. Under a wide rainbow, an incredible panorama of the Canyonlands National Park unfolds.

A desert full of hail wasn’t the plan.
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About Singletrack

Going to Extremes It’s always hot and dry in Utah, right? Except when you’re caught in a flash-flood summer thunderstorm. Washed away, baked dry, and sweating, Adam Klimek and pals take on the White Rim trail. Tramping In Torridon Joe Delves packs friends, bikes, camping gear and a dog and seeks a low cost getaway in Torridon, where the trails are good enough to be worth the effort getting there. Tour de France The Fun Way While the roadies are pedalling up these classic TdF climbs, enduro rider Jerome Clementz is whooping his way back down them, taking the rocky switchbacks and forest trails. Classic Ride: Helvellyn Which way should you go up this Lakeland must-do? And which way should you come down? There’s much debate to be had about the best routes on Helvellyn, but everyone agrees you have to ride one of them at least once. James Vincent takes us on his pick of the options. Staying Professional Geoff Waugh talks to Scott Beaumont about getting – and keeping – sponsors. Behind the Insta-bangers and high fives, it’s more businesslike than you might think. Bike Test: British 29ers British manufacturing ain’t dead. We test out three full suspension 29ers from Orange, Robot Bike Co. and Swarf that showcase the range of modern manufacturing skills and processes currently happening in the UK. Interview: Dan Stanton Ian Bailey talks philosophy and company ethos and ‘a different kind of capitalism’ with the man behind Stanton bikes. Malvern Magic Chipps dons his tie-dye T-shirt and Oakley Mumbos and reminisces about the original Malvern Hills Classic ahead of the new version of it, returning to our fields this year. The First Trail Centre Chipps tells the story of the UK’s oldest trail centre: Coed Y Brenin, where the first trails still offer great riding, with the bonus of being away from the crowds. Hutchinson Tyres James Vincent goes on a whirlwind tour of the French home of Hutchinson tyres.