The plan was to do a short day, 40 miles to Natural Bridges. This would be the first chunk of over 120 miles with only one stop for services.
Last night I ate done junk food for dinner. This morning I had a mediocre motel after a motel breakfast. Enough said.
Before heading out I had filled my 2 2-liter water bladders which made The Mule feel leaden.
About 5 miles into the ride, Yoni pulled up along side me. He had been camping in the RV park next to the motel. We chatted for a half hour before he jetted away, hoping to ride over 120 miles to Hanksville. (He did.)
I tooled along feeling pretty spunky. Down I went into a canyon. Then came the climb out only to go down into another canyon and up to a 7,000+ foot summit without walking. What a stud. When I stopped at the turn off for Natural Bridges, I realized that I had been riding a tailwind. Doh!
Rule number 1 of bike touring: never pass up a tailwind. So I didn’t. Natural Bridges has three interesting aspects: an 11 mile loop road, three amazing rock arches with a strenuous, steep hike to get to see them, and excellent stars. Given how hard I’ve been working the prospect of anything strenuous didn’t sound appealing. Also, I figured the stars would shine elsewhere.
It was a wise choice for another hour or two. Buttes out the wazoo. More chasms than you can fathom. Look at all those rocks in Fry and White Canyons. Some look like people or animals, sone look like abstract sculptures. Some cliffs have caves in the rides. Others look like hoodoos. This is the Utah I was expecting.
Then the wind changed direction. 18 miles of hard work later I found myself exhausted, chatting with Maggie in the store at the Hite Recreation Area in Glen Canyon. She told me she had seen Yoni earlier in the day. And she gave me some good news about places to eat in a town on my route.
I chugged two massive bottles of Powerade during our chat. Then rode down to my campsite.
Glen Canyon is crazy beautiful. It seems to go on forever in every direction.
I was dog tired so all I wanted to do was pitch my tent and go to sleep. For the next hour I struggled putting the tent up in a howling wind.
Of course, 20 minutes after I crawled into the tent the winds abated.
There were no stars. The incredibly bright full moon was a decent consolation prize.
I’ll post more pix on Instagram.
Miles today: 78.5
Tour miles: 1,889.5
Top speed: 34.1 mph