The Pedal Pilgrimage: 1 Bike, 2 Weeks, 17 Temples

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Dalin Earls outside the Provo City Center Temple
Dalin Earls outside the Provo City Center Temple

After two weeks, 1,173 miles, and 17 temples, 24-year-old Dalin Earls has successfully completed his Pedal Pilgrimage across Utah. Earls, originally from South Carolina, began his journey in the northern-most region of Utah, making his way down the state on bicycle. The goal of Earls’s trip was not to enjoy Utah’s scenic byways, gain an appreciation for the rock formations, or even develop the glutes of an avid cyclist. Earls was determined to bike to and attend a session at every temple in Utah.

Dalin Earls speaks to friends outside Provo Temple (image via the Daily Herald)
Dalin Earls speaks to friends outside Provo Temple (image via the Daily Herald)

Earls got the idea for a pilgrimage after attending a study abroad in Southeast Asia. Week after week of visiting Hindu and Buddhist temples inspired Earls to begin a pilgrimage for his own faith. “I mean, if I can dedicate so much time and effort into visiting the places of worship of other religions, why not put that same effort into visiting the temples of my own faith?,” commented Earls on his blog before embarking on the adventure.

He set out to visit all 17 Utah temples, eager to test his physical strength and improve his spiritual strength.

I am seeking adventure. I am seeking growth. I am seeking health. I am seeking a stronger relationship with my family. I am seeking a way to show God how grateful I am for all that he has done for me.

Pedal Pilgrimage Lutgen and Earls pose in front of the St. George Temple
Lutgen and Earls pose in front of the St. George Temple (image via the Daily Herald)

Earls mother, Yun Lutgen, played pit crew for her son as he cycled 20 times farther than ever before. Lutgen told the Daily Herald the trip was an opportunity to “spend some good quality time with [her] oldest.” After all those miles, roadside dinners, and even a run-in with the police, Earls says he has gained a newfound appreciation for the strength of his mother’s love.

Though an athlete in high school, Earls hadn’t biked farther than 50 miles before beginning his pilgrimage. Halfway through the trip, he faced mental and physical exhaustion.

“It took me like five tries to stand back up. This was one of those moments. A turning point,” he told the Daily Herald. “I was so physically exhausted, but I had a lot of people supporting me — on social media, calling me on the phone. And because of all the support I was getting, it became bigger than me. I had to finish this thing.”

And finish he did. On July 28th, Earls arrived at the St. George temple and attended his last temple session for the pilgrimage.

All those feelings of who I am, who I want to become, my relationships with others, it was a cool moment. I felt like God heard my prayers and said, ‘I accept your ridiculous biking amount.’ It was a cool feeling of closure there in the temple.

Although the pilgrimage has come to an end, the memories will last Lutgen and Earls a lifetime.

Gabriella is a psychology major, Westfalia-dweller, and expert bean-eater. Having spent the majority of her life living in the great Latin-American metropoles of Guatemala and Mexico, Gabriella continues to grapple with the eccentricities of suburban living.