The most recent issue of Adventure Cyclist arrived in the mail the other day. The front cover is a photograph by someone named Chris Hytha. It’s the kind of picture I will never take because I do not have the gene for this sort of thing.
Where is this? I wondered. The Nullarbor in Australia?
Nope. It’s the Utah State Highway 21 between Milford, Utah and Baker, Nevada. The rider in the picture isn’t me but it could have been. In 2019 I rode (and walked) this stretch of desert, part of an 84-mile day with no services. No food. No water. No humans. No shade. Just the bike and me and a road that goes on forever.
Photography and videography of bike tours often show spectacular landscapes like this. Sometimes drones are used (why you’d want to carry a drone and all its supporting doodads is beyond me). When you are in the landscape, your perspective is entirely different.
I didn’t recognize this picture. To me that day was all about three mountain passes and the basins between them. I didn’t remark about how the road seemed to stretch out forever because I was too concerned with the 100 feet in front of me. On and on and on. Grinding along at 10 miles per hour for most of the day. It can be meditative or, perhaps, mind numbing is more apt. At one point, I sped down one pass and crossed a cattle guard (metal bars perpendicular to my line of travel) at 30 miles per hour. That’ll wake your ass up in a hurry.
Fortunately, the road didn’t go on forever. The dusty town of Baker seemed like a movie set. A crossroads. A few buildings. The kind of place that fits the phrase “Wherever you go, there you are.” To get to where you are, just take the road to the vanishing point in the distance.