Riding with the peloton

Riding with the peloton

Cover photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Ever wonder what it’s like to ride in one of the cars on the course of a pro cycling race?

The cycling photography aspect of Chasing Light Media provides opportunities to view pro cycling races from numerous vantage points, including within the peloton. One of the most frequent questions we get, is what riding with the peloton is like, so here’s a recap of a typical day…

A carefully choreographed caravan

Riding with the peloton - Tour of Utah
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

A pro cycling race is much more than some guys on bikes riding at high rates of speed on a given day.

The race route is carefully planned months in advance and requires the efforts of hundreds, if not thousands, of people to ensure the race is both safe for riders and enjoyable for fans. As each race day dawns, the roads are closed to the public, as a mix of motorcycles and cars travel amongst the 100+ bike riders, carefully weaving in and out of the cyclists to support them and provide race coverage for fans worldwide.

Who’s in those cars & on those motorcycles?

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton
Photo: Kim Hull
© Chasing Light Media

A variety of people.

First, there are the organizers of the race. That includes race officials, marshalls and race operations personnel that ride throughout the race ensuring the riders are safe and the course is as secure as possible.

Next, communications. Race radio keeps everyone updated on the status throughout the race. Information continually flows over the radio with information on riders, locations and current conditions. An example of an update… “The lead group is 40 seconds off the front and includes 11 riders. The riders are 51 5 – 1, 91 9 – 1, 45 4 – 5…”

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Team support cars. Each team has a couple of support cars carrying extra bikes and supplies to assist their riders on the course with flats, broken chains, etc.

VIPs. Let’s not forget that it takes money to support a race. VIPs pay up to a reported $10,000 to ride in a car during certain races.

Press. The motorcycle photographers roam in and out of the riders and along the route to get shots as the race progresses. We were in one of the media cars that carries the press during the race.

And, there are other vehicles, including medical support.

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

So, what do you do in the car?

We start out ahead of the peloton.  Typically, a few miles out, we stop and wait along the side of the road for the riders to “catch up,” then, when they get close, we proceed out ahead of the group.

We ride along, listening for news on race radio, waiting for the breakaway. Just before the sprint, we were notified that we could fall into the gap (area between the breakaway and the peloton) after the sprint.

Our driver stops periodically along side of the road so we can get shots of the breakaway as they pass. We then start again, this time in between the break and the main group. As a chase forms, the process is repeated, then we fall in behind those riders.

The first climb

Riding with the peloton
Riding with the peloton – Tour of Utah
Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The route on this day of the final stage of the Tour of Utah was fairly simple – flat with two huge climbs.

On the first climb, the breakaway fractured with gaps forming between the riders as they made their way up the 2.15-miles with up to 22 percent grades. It was hot and the riders were suffering as we passed them on the climb.

After going over the top and the first King of the Mountain (KOM) point, we passed the feed zone, and then we flew down the winding descent, just ahead of the helicopter.

A race back to the finish line

Now ahead of the riders, with just the final pass waiting between us and the finish line, we race ahead to get to the finish line before the riders.

On this day, we arrived back in Park City just about the time the first of the riders went over the pass and began their descent into town. Jumping out of the car at the finish line, we took our places on the course with the other photographers and about 10 minutes later, the riders hit town and race to the finish line.

Tour of Utah 2013 Stage 6
Tour of Utah 2013 Stage 6, Francisco Mancebo, 5 Hour Energy by Kenda
Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah

Moab Hiking: Corona Arch Trail

Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The Corona Arch Trail near Moab is an easy to reach trail just outside Moab that leads to The Corona Arch and Bowtie Arch.

Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The trail is dog-friendly and is fully exposed to the desert sun, so go in the cooler hours of the day and take plenty of water for you and your four-legged companions.  The elevation gain is 440 feet.

Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The round trip hike is about 3 miles of fairly easy terrain through Bootlegger canyon, with one climb up carved footholds and one over a ladder, just before reaching the arches.

Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

However, the arches are fully visible (and best photographed) at the point just before the climbs.  It is still a great hike with arch views even if you stop at the bottom of the footholds section.

Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Corona Arch Trail: Getting there

Head north out of Moab on Hwy 191 (Main Street).  Turn west on Hwy 279/Potash Road and drive about 10 miles.  The drive is scenic, with rock climbers scaling the formations just beside the road.  The Corona Arch Trailhead is clearly marked on the right, with a good-sized parking lot.

Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Corona Arch Trail: The hike

Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

The first section of the trail ascends rather steeply, flattens out, then crosses the railroad tracks. After reaching the registration box, the trail continues with numerous cairns along the path marking the way.

Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The trail is a mostly rock and sand, with beautiful views of the slickrock formations along the way.

Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Near the end of the hike, fixed safety lines have been placed.  The area following the fixed lines is a great photography spot, with both Corona Arch and Bowtie Arch fully visible.

Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

To reach the arches, one must climb up the steps that have been cut into the slickrock next to the second fixed line.  Next, on the right is a short ladder leading up and over a small ledge.  Once over the ledge, it is a short walk to the base of Corona Arch. The Corona Arch spans a spectacular 140 ft by 105 ft.

Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Additional Moab, Utah hikes

Hiking Moab overview
Negro Bill Canyon Trail to Morning Glory Natural Bridge
Arches National Park

Moab hiking: Additional information

Bureau of Land Management: Corona Arch Trail
Discover Moab

Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Magnificent Moab

Magnificent Moab

Magnificent Moab
Magnificent Moab Photo: © Chasing Light Media

Say the name “Moab” and what do you think of? Mountain biking, stunning arch formations, hiking, rock climbing, incredible views, rafting or how about a combination of them all?

Dead Horse Point, Moab, Utah
Dead Horse Point, Moab, Utah
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Moab is one of those places where you reset to happy the minute you hit the city limits and, no matter how long you stay, it isn’t long enough.

Moab, Hiking Negro Bill Canyon Trail
Moab, Hiking Negro Bill Canyon Trail
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Even if you are just sipping beers on a patio, listening to the conversations around you recalling the adventures of the day, Moab puts you in a fabulous mood.

Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Getting to Moab

Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Moab has a small airport, but the closest larger airports are in Grand Junction, Colorado, about 110 miles from Moab, or Salt Lake City. By car, Moab is 354 miles from Denver or 234 miles from Salt Lake City.

Moab on the map
Moab, Utah map

Things to do in Moab

Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Corona Arch Trail, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Moab can be quite warm mid-day, so a good method to fit it all in is to go to two-a-days.

Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Maybe a morning hike, some lunch in town and then a late afternoon mountain bike ride. Or, perhaps, rafting in the morning and then some late day canyoneering?

Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Option 3 also works well: Get out there with a favorite morning activity, find a great patio for lunch with some cold beverages and then, read a book by the pool. The combinations are nearly endless, but always add up to fabulous.

Moab hiking

Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Moab, Hiking the Corona Arch Trail
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

With a wide variety of hiking options available near Moab ranging from short strolls to strenuous, long hikes, Moab is a hiking paradise, with all trails leading to amazing opportunities for viewing some of nature’s most beautiful wonders.

Seven great Moab day hikes within 30 minutes of Moab include Corona Arch Trail, Portal Overlook, Moab Rim, Negro Bill Canyon, Fisher Towers Trail, Hunter Canyon & Hidden Valley. All seven are dog-friendly and offer terrain ranging from sandy, shaded stream side trails to slickrock hikes amidst sandstone arches.

Remember to take plenty of water.

Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Moab biking

Moab has a wide variety of road rides and mountain bike trails for all levels of experience. A mountain biking mecca, Moab’s mountain bike trials range from beautiful canyon rides, to mesa rim trails, to the world-famous, highly technical, Slickrock Bike Trail.

Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Road biking in Moab is over paved roads with terrain that varies from rolling hills and steep sections to casual, scenic rides for enjoying the views.

Moab attractions

Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Within 35 miles of Moab are Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park.

Arches National Park is 5 miles north of Moab, just off Hwy 191. Arches National Park  boasts the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone, with over 2,000 arches & amazing rock formations within the park’s 76,518 acres.

Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Canyonlands National Park, located 35 miles outside of Moab, is the largest national park in the state of Utah and has over 20 miles of paved roads winding through the Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze.

As with all national parks, they can get very crowded and are not dog-friendly, so while they may not be a great place for a hike they can be a perfect place for an air-conditioned mid-day drive during the heat of the day.

Going Gonzo in Moab

Gonzo Inn, Moab, Utah
Gonzo Inn, Moab, Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The Gonzo Inn is a cool, dog-friendly hotel just off Main Street in Moab. The Gonzo Inn describes itself as an “eclectic expression of southwest influences, retro 70’s and industrial era that is entertaining and tantalizing to the senses,” and that is pretty spot on.

Kibo at the Gonzo in Moab
Kibo at the Gonzo in Moab
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

The one bedroom suite is large with a living room, dining room, kitchenette, large bedroom, bath and patio. Decorated with vibrant colors and outfitted with comfy bedding, the Gonzo is a perfect place to enjoy Moab down-time.

Gonzo Inn, Moab Utah
Gonzo Inn, Moab Utah
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Beautiful landscaping, a relaxing pool and hot tub, bicycle wash and repair station, and a complimentary continental breakfast round out a stay at the Gonzo Inn.

Poolside at the Gonzo in Moab
Poolside at the Gonzo in Moab
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Hotel/resort: The Gonzo Inn
Location: Moab, Utah
TripAdvisor reviews


More of Moab

Moab hiking: Corona Arch Trail 
Moab hiking: Negro Bill Canyon Trail to Morning Glory Natural Bridge
Moab: Arches National Park


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Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media