Archive for September, 2009

Day 10, The outlaw state

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

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Tonight is our last night in Nevada. A couple of things that I have noticed as we say fairwell to this state:
There are a lot of prisons (seemingly) considering the low density of population. We have seen three along our route, just between Carson city and Baker.
The wind here is unpredictable. Just when you think the head wind will never shift, you get a nice tail wind to help you over the last pass.
The lonliest highway is not really that lonely. There are plenty of cars, and we’ve encountered a lot of nice people, both cyclists and others.
This morning we left Ely. It should have been a reasonably easy ride today, only 64 miles and two climbs, but we got a late start, and had a hell of a head wind for the first 20 miles. We stopped in Majors Junction, which is basically just a bar by the side of the road, and had a decent steak sandwich for lunch. We made it into Baker around 3:30pm, got some iced tea and ice cream and waited for the guy who runs the local campsite to show up. By the time we were ready to go to dinner, two guys we had run into in both Eureka and Ely had arrived in town. We ended up having dinner with Jack and John. The restaurant is run by Terry, who is a local photographer, and I had some pretty decent Thai food. This place was definitely a gem, and we really enjoyed ourselves. Tomorrow we have another long, tough day.

Here’s a video clip of our descent into the Great Basin:

Day 11, Out of the basin into Utah

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

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Today was our longest ride without services of the entire trip, 84 miles. Between the two of us we carried almost 8 liters of water.

We reached the Utah border quickly after only 7 miles. Even though we faced a slight head wind, we made good progress as the clouds cooperated and gave us cover from the sun.

As the day wore on, the miles started to wear on us. We found a lone patch of shade to eat our lunch, at an abandoned farm house where 2 lush trees grew in a completely barren valley. Someone seems intent on keeping the 2 trees alive by keeping a garden hose running.

We had 3 climbs for the day each one becoming increasingly more difficult. On our descents we faced very strong side winds coming from the south, making it difficult to keep the bikes under control. At one point we brushed with a storm system moving through one of the valleys, and got a brief sprinkle.

When we finally reached our destination of Milford, we found the RV park not completely inviting, so we went to a nearby motel to check on rooms and recommendations for camping locations. While there we met Richard who was staying at the motel, and was just getting ready to work the night shift at a nearby wind farm under construction. He had done some touring himself and offered us the use of his room since he was done with it and would be checking out in the morning. This act of generousity has completely erased any bad after taste from the incident at Cold Springs. We were very tired and grateful, best free camping ever.

Day 12, Here come the Rockies

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Today’s ride was relatively short, approximately 50 miles with only one real climb. Our destination was Cedar City Utah, sitting at the base of the Wasatch range on the western edge of the Rocky Mountains.

The next leg will be taking us up the Rockies and we know we’ll need fresh legs for that. To prepare us for tomorrow’s 20 mile, over 4000 ft ascent, we decided to grab a room at the best western with an indoor pool and jacuzzi. Tomorrow is going to be ugly.

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Day 13, As we go up we go down

Friday, September 4th, 2009

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We knew it was going to be tough. We faced a 4000 ft climb out of cedar city to cedar mountain. From what we had heard there would be plenty of traffic and very little shoulder. What we had going for us was we were starting our climb at the beginning of the day.

The first 15 miles of our climb went as we expected, difficult but doable. We took water/rest breaks every few miles. As we rode what we thought were the last few miles, our breaks became more frequent, and our gasping became more pronounced. We started to see runners participating in a relay heading down the mountain. Some of them gave us encouraging words as we grinded our way in the opposite direction. Others just smiled as they endured their own pain.

When we reached what we thought was the top, we were greeted with an amazing view of the red cliffs of Cedar Breaks. Once a lake bed thrust 10,000 feet above sea level as the earths plates pressed together.

We snacked a bit and thought we’d have a smooth 10 mile descent down to Panguitch Lake for lunch. We were wrong. We still had some sharp climbs to overcome, and by this time our legs were dead. The slightest incline would send us scrambling for our granny gears. We also began to experience intermittent mountain top sprinkles.

Eventually we made it to Panguitch Lake and fueled up at the Burger Barn. Sarah had a kraut dog and I had a chili dog. The rest was all downhill to Panguitch proper were we pitched our tent at the Hitch N’ Post RV park, total approximate mileage 68.

Day 14, Panguitch to Cannonville

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

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Today, the plan was to ride 68 miles to Escalante, UT. But, when we awoke in Panguitch, it was raining. We thought that it would let up shortly, but it continued to rain steadily for a couple of hours. By the time it had subsided enough to let us break camp, try to dry out some of our wet gear and get on the road, it was nearly 11 am. We have never gotton such a late start, but we figured, 68 miles is really not that far, we should still be able to make it to our destination by dark.

30 miles later we were not so optimistic. It was already almost 3pm, and while our ride through Red Rock Canyon and Bryce Canyon were absolutely beautiful, fatigue from our difficult ride yesterday and a nasty head wind were taking their toll. We decided to spend the night at the Cannonville KOA campground. Our total mileage for today was only about 35 miles. But our campsite has a fabulous view, and if we don’t get eaten by mountain lions, it will totally be worth it.

We also ran into four more guys headed west, I didn’t get all of their names, but one just graduated from Alfred and rides the same exact bike as me, he also has the same tent as Mike and I, so he is obviously awesome and has excellent taste. We traded some information about our upcoming rides, and then Mike and I mosied on over to the free ice cream social at the campground were we chatted with a couple from Canada who are riding in a loop around some of these Utah cliffs.

A word on the landscape here, it is alien and beautiful and red, and it almost makes the steep climbs worth it, but more on that tomorrow, because we have a doozy coming up.


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