No Name Tour: Day 43 – Rest Is Good

After a day off and switching to a much nicer hotel, my body and brain had recovered from some seriously hard days of riding. In Nevada, if the miles and hills don’t get you, the wind will.

Breakfast was provided courtesy of the Denny’s in the hotel. I hit the road at 6:45 and was allowed passage through the work zone on the edge of town.

The road wound it’s way through some seriously high mountains with barely an incline. Just outside of town, at the top of one of the mountains, I could see evidence of a massive copper mine.

A cool tailwind pushed me over Robinson Pass at 7,607 feet. The descent was encumbered by a blustery side wind, the result of the road turning from the north to the south and west. It battered me as I crossed a basin and wended my way into the Butte Mountains.

Being a good little road, it turned to the northwest affording me s tailwind over Little Antelope Summit at 7,438 feet.

The road nudged to the west but the crosswind through the next basin was bearable. Up and over 6,517-foot Pancake Summit then down into the Newark Valley, with an increasingly strong side wind that occasionally blasted me in the face.

Next up was 6,433 Southgate, an unmarked summit they preceded a turn of the road to the north.

Tailwind ablowin’ I rode 5-ish miles to 7,376, mostly in my middle ring. To be honest, I was knackered at this point, stopping to reload my water bottles and munch snacks.

Once I was over the top the fun began. A downhill with a tailwind is a mighty fine thing. I was over 40 mph in no time, feathering my brakes to avoid disaster.

I smiled, slightly terrified, all the way to Eureka, my stop for the night.

Before grabbing a hotel room I stopped to talk with Giovanni and Cristina, tandem riders from the northwest of Italy. They were struggling with a broken tent pole that they managed to repair as we talked. They are participating in a cross country bike race. Their legs had some nasty cuts and scabs from mishaps along the way but were a blast to talk with.

Another, solo rider from the race stopped by. His name is Indiana. He chatted for a few minutes then took off on his bike packing machine bound for Battle Mountain.

Eureka is an old western town with a few businesses making a go of it. My hotel is mighty nice, a surprise after hearing unflattering things about the town from a rider who is a few days ahead of me.

Tomorrow is a repeat with few climbs until the last six miles heading over into my destination, Austin, Nevada. Back to back 7,000 footers. Oof.

Miles today: 77.5

Tour miles: 2,464.5

Top speed: 44.4 mph

No Name Tour: Day 42 – Rest Day in Ely

I made the right choice to take today off despite really nice weather. I expected Nevada to be broiling hot but it’s a pleasant 76 degrees albeit with strong winds.

Here’s how I’m resting:

  • Sleep nine hours
  • Walk to Mickey D’s (closest place) for breakfast
  • Stop at grocery store for provisions for tomorrow
  • Check out of the Motel 6 and roll down the hill to downtown Ely.
  • Roll through downtown at walking pace
  • Talk with flag person about the road closure situation on my route for tomorrow. (No worries. I can bike through.)
  • Stop at coffee shop for a cuppa and an excellent, buttery blueberry scone
  • Kill an hour talking to the young woman behind the counter
  • Learn that the big employers around here are mines (copper) and a maximum security state prison
  • Go to sporting good stores to use their floor pump. Browse for ten minutes. The place sells beaucoup guns. Depressing.
  • Roll back to a park with trees and shade and hang out.
  • Grab lunch (tomato bisque and a massive grilled cheese sandwich)
  • Go to Hotel Nevada where I learn that my room comes with tickets for two free beers and breakfast.
  • I’m hanging in the lobby in a massive leather comfy chair waiting for my room to be ready.
  • Tonight I’ll use my drink tix and have dinner. I might watch the debates if I get bored.
  • I hope to hit the road before 7:30 tomorrow. It’ll be a long day. 78 miles. Four summits. Lots of wind.
  • Miles today: 4
  • Tour miles: 2,387
  • Top speed: 22.4 (gliding downhill)
  • No Name Tour: Day 41 – Easy Day Turned Hard

    Today’s ride from Baker to Ely was supposed to be relatively easy: 62 miles and two mountain summits (both over 7,000 feet).

    I ate dinner and breakfast at Kerouac’s one of two restaurants in town. It had a limited menu for both meals, cold beer (at dinner) and a very cool atmosphere (background music included lots of mellow tunes including one by XTC that I’d never heard). Pricey? Yes. But a pretty good find in a dusty town with a population of 68 people.

    The motel I stayed at was in an RV park. It looked rather run down but it served its purpose. I slept for ten straight hours.

    After breakfast I headed down the road for about five miles. It seemed downhill which is a nice way to start the day. Nicer still I had a bit of a tailwind and some nonthreatening cloud provided relief from the sun.

    The Mule turned 54 today.

    Although I started at 8:15, it’s a bit late owing to the fact that I’m now on Pacific time. Winds tend to be lighter early in the morning which might have been a factor a few hours into the day.

    I picked up US 50 (yes, the same one!). Out here it’s called the Loneliest Road in America. It seemed mighty busy to me.

    I was feeling pretty good, especially after yesterday’s long ride. I knew it had to be a tailwind. I rode all the way up to Sacramento Pass at 7,154 feet. I never felt stressed during the climb, stopping only to munch and eat.

    Over the top the thrilling descent revealed the strength of the winds. I was flying down the mountain and getting blown all over. Thankfully, no cars or trucks or rental RVs passed me.

    The descent turned toward the south as I entered Spring Valley in the shadow of Windy Peak.

    That beneficial tailwind was now in my face and it was strong. (Should’ve hit the road earlier!) even with the remains of the downhill I had to work my butt off to make forward progress. In the valley there were lines of wind turbines spinning away.

    The road included a short incline that would have been unremarkable except for the hand of the wind god on my chest.

    The wind only intensified, somewhat unusual for this time of year, I’m told.

    Crossing the valley to the nearly nonexistent town of Majors Junction took over three hours. The valleys are supposed to be the easy part!

    I stopped at an RV Park/Bar/restaurant/motel. The property was surrounded by a fence topped with antlers. The neon sign said “Open”. There was no sign of customers or operators. A sign on the locked door said, “Out back in the barn. Back in 5 minutes.” The porch of the place provided shade from the hot sun while I waited. And waited.

    This sign was mocking me.

    After 15 minutes a woman came out and said, “We’re closed. Tuesday is my only day off.” In other words, “Get lost.”

    So I headed up the ridge on the western side of the mountain. My battle with the winds in the valley had deadened my legs. Thankfully the route turned back to the north giving me a helping wind that I sorely needed.

    It was only five miles to the top but it took well over and hour. I kept stopping to rest and re-full my water bottles from my bladders. The wind was blowing so hard that I was having trouble transferring the water.

    I kept poking along until I reached Connors Pass at 7,722 feet. I was a hurtin unit.

    With that wind at my back and a long downhill to the Steptoe Valley I moved from my granny to my big ring and boogied. 22 miles to go. Nearly out of water. (Or so I thought. I had at least a liter left.)

    One surprise today was how green the valleys are. Snow continues to melt on the ridges. I was hoping for flowers but I’ll take grass and sagebrush and trees (on the hillsides).

    I closer I was to Ely the slower I seemed to go. I was obviously running out of gas. I grabbed the first cheap hotel I could find, a Motel 6. It’s not nearly as nice as the cheap motels I stayed in the last three nights. (The swimming pool outside my door is gross.)

    While sitting on the porch of the closed place in Majors Junction, I decided that if I was having this much trouble on an easy day, I’d be screwed on a longer day. My next day is Ely to Eureka. 78 miles. Four summits. No services. Similar weather.

    So I am taking a rest day in Ely. I haven’t had one since Salida, Colorado over two weeks ago. This will give me a chance to rest and buy food. I’m also changing to a different hotel in town.

    Miles today: 61.5

    Tour miles: 2,383

    Top speed: 35.2 mph

    No Name Tour: Day 40 – 3 Summits, 2 Dust Devils, and 1 New State

    Today’s ominous warning from the Adventure Cycling maps I’m using: No services for 84 miles. BYOEverything!

    After diner breakfast I headed out. I planned to start earlier but it was too cold out. Wimp.

    The ride was gradually uphill out of Milford for ten miles before riding up over Frisco Summit at 6,723 feet. It’s just west of the abandoned (and apparently obliterated) mining town of Frisco.

    The 13-mile climb was rewarded with a 12-mile (maybe longer) descent into the huge Wah Wah Valley. Every George Harrison fan should ride here. It’s wide open ranch land as far as I could tell. In fact, all across Utah I’ve seen signs for Open Range but until today haven’t seen many bovines. The roads have cattle guards which are perfectly safe to ride over (at a right angle). It’s a bit unnerving to cross one at 30 mph but I’m still here so no worries.

    Today for the first time I saw cows next to the road. One giantess seemed to want a word with me. No thanks, bossy. Please don’t approach.

    One aspect of these valleys is that it’s almost impossible to tell distances or slopes. I was cranking along for what seemed like hours and the other side of the valley was still out there. The other side of this valley included a deceptively long and increasingly steep climb.

    I am also in the land of dust devils, wee tornados of dust. I saw two today.

    I burned out spinning up the hill and decided to save my legs for the second half of the 84-mile day. I goofed it to the summit. Near the top a motorcyclist stopped in the middle of the road and asked if I was okay. Sure, too much mountain, not enough legs.

    One of three

    With the Wah Wah Summit behind me I went flying down another miles long hill into another vast valley. Then I started the gradual then steep climb up the other side. Once again I ran out of legs and walked to Halfway Summit.

    This time the descent was more gradual. All day I’d been getting nailed by side winds. Toward the end of the day the turned into tailwinds. The temperature climbed into the mid 80s but the wind had a cooling effect. Did I mention that for the entire ride there was no shade whatsoever?

    After the blink and you’ll miss it town of Garrison I headed into Nevada! Oh joy.

    Eight miles of grinding later I was in a motel room at an RV park in Baker. It’s managed by the big brother of one of the diner staff back in Milford.

    Dinner tonight is at Kerouac’s, a surprisingly cool place in town. I could have eaten across the street at a less chic place but my friend Michelle is a huge Kerouac fan and she got married on Saturday, so it seemed fit to eat here.

    They are open for breakfast so I’ll be back to fuel up before the 60-something mile ride to Ely. The ride features two summits over 7,000 feet. There will be walking.

    With the heat and lack of services I’m making good use of the two two-liter water bladders I brought. I was down to my last liter today.

    Miles today: 83

    Tour miles: 2,238.5

    Top speed: 30.4 mph

    No Name Tour: Day 39 – Nowhere to Go but Milford

    After yesterday’s big effort, I needed an easy day and Utah provided it.

    I’m finding that eating a substantial breakfast makes a big difference in how the day goes. Good thing diners were invented.

    Riding north out of Cedar City by 8:15 I was heading down for about 15 miles on a straight, two-lane road. Yesterday’s mountains were to my right. An unknown, much less impressive hill was to my right. A gentle wind nudged me along.

    Not going to any of these places
    Gonna be an awful lot of this in the days ahead
    Almost 4,000 feet below yesterday’s summit

    After cruising at 15-18 mph, I had to climb to a “summit” at 6,570 feet. A month ago this would have worried me and stressed my body. Today, I barely noticed the climb.

    Bike touring does that to you. At home I’d consider a 1,000+ foot climb and riding over 50 miles to be a tough day’s work. On s tour it’s called a rest day.

    The ride from the top to Minersville under clear skies and warm dry temperatures was marred only by a dude in a pickup truck who decided it would be amusing to lay on his horn as he passed me. All the way to town I thought how fitting it would be to key his shiny truck. Unfortunately I left my keys at home which raises the question, “Can you spork a truck?”

    If there was food to eat Minersville, I couldn’t find it. In the process of my search I missed a turn to stay on route. No worries. I found a very nice two-lane highway that took a more direct route to my destination, Milford, Utah.

    I was now headed west so the winds had little effect on my speed and effort. I passed through farmers’ fields and vast expanses of sage brush.

    In Milford I stopped to stock up on provisions for tomorrow then checked into the Travelodge on the western side of town. As I was told by east bound riders, the motel offers a steep discount for bike tourists. It’s s fine room for $45. I suppose they’ll make up the difference from my trips to the 24-hour diner on the property. One of the Hopkins riders told me that their mushroom Swiss burger was excellent. It was, especially followed by a root beer float.

    Lunch gave me the opportunity to do laundry. (I’d been sink washing my clothes for a week.) I ate wearing my rain jacket and pants. As Joe Walsh said, I was “washing everything I own except my shoes.”

    Tomorrow I leave Utah and enter Nevada, the land of whiskey, weed, and harlots. More germaine to the tour are some interesting new features to the route. First, the town’s from here to Carson City are spaced far apart. Each day will have at least one climb as I head west through basin and range country. And temperatures are rising into the 90s. High winds are forecast for the second half of this week.

    Tomorrow will feature 84 miles with no services and three climbs similar to today. I’m ready. I got 6 liters of water and all kinds of munchies (Clif Bars, Fig Newtons, trailmix, chewy granola bars, and bean dip (peanut butter is getting old) on The Mule.

    Miles today: 56.5

    Tour miles: 2,238.5

    Top speed: 27.7

    No Name Tour: Day 38 – Cold and Dizzy

    My decision to stay in a motel in Panguitch town turned out great. It was 35 degrees when I work up at 6. 18 miles further along the route. The overnight low was 28. Bullet dodged.

    After a diner breakfast I headed out, west and up. Panguitch is at 6,600 feet. The lake is at 8,200 feet. As I usually do, I struggled with finding a climbing rhythm at the start of the ride. I finally gave up after five or ten frustrating miles and started walking.

    It was cool and I had a light tailwind but my cycling legs wanted nothing to do with the hills.

    After about a half mile I tried again and immediately found a rhythm that I would keep but got a few rest stops until I approached 10,000 feet about 28 miles into the day.

    The skies were blue. The scenery wooded. The brooks babbling along the road side were filled with clear snow melt.

    When I got to the lake about 18 miles into the day, I stopped at a general store. When I dismounted I immediately felt a chill. All my climbing had made me oblivious to the fact that it was in the high 40s.

    Inside the store I drank a Gatorade and ate some Doritos next to a fireplace that was burning logs to bear the heat. Ahhh.

    All good things must end. I pulled on my jacket and long fingered gloves and began again. Up. Got miles and miles. I was spinning away in my easiest three gears, lucky to break 7 mph.

    I stopped only to snack. A pear that was hard two days ago was now juicy and ripe. Gone. Chewy granola bars were my next victims.

    I kept grinding away thinking that the 10,300 foot summit was many miles away. I got off my bike and looked at the compass and elevation app on my phone. It said I was at 9,600 feet. Then I jiggled my phone and the app recalculated. 10,000 feet. Could it be?

    There was snow in the shaded areas along the road. Maybe the app was right after all.

    With elevation comes other problems. I could tell I was dizzy. I knew I needed to get off this mountain soon.

    I made a turn to the south. The wind seemed to turn with me. The road was now gently rolling, but still trending upwards. As I came speeding down a curvy section the Mule felt like it was out of control. It was just irregularities in the pavement coupled with my light headedness. I gently applied the brakes and The Mule came back under control.

    Then I saw a massive snow pile next to the road. And shortly thereafter the Cedar Breaks National Monument visitors’ center.

    I pulled in and paid my $0. I asked a ranger if this was the summit. He said it was and that the rest of the ride would be a steep descent.

    It was very cold and windy so I didn’t linger at the viewpoint. All the way up I rode through forests and meadows. The Breaks is where this landscape abruptly becomes a red rock canyon again. When you’re already dizzy, looking at sheer cliffs they stop thousands of feet doesn’t help much.

    I left after five minutes. On the way out I checked out s couple of telescopes they were aimed at the sun. My eye was immediately burned to a crisp.

    Not really. The telescopes has filters that allowed you to see either the entire orange orb or the chromosphere, the red disk that sends off solar flares.

    I reloaded my water bottles using one of my 2-liter bladders and began to descend.

    Did I mention it was really cold and windy? For the rest of the ride, I froze my ass off. The price I pay for 20+ mile bicycle bobsledding. (Riding down this mountain on a faired long wheel base recumbent would be amazing.)

    The road was curvy and steep with scary drop offs to the side. I feathered my brakes to keep The Mule from killing us both. One road sign had an “S” on its side. It was a crazy switchback.

    As the road straightened I allowed the bike to break 30 mph. A right turn at a stop sign put me on the final 12 mile approach to Cedar City.

    All of it downhill.

    About a half mile later I saw touring bicyclists coming up the hill toward me. They were recent graduates of Johns Hopkins who were riding from San Francisco to DC. They were raising awareness in the rural communities hey were riding through about college opportunities in DC.

    Considering the fact that they had been climbing up a 16-mile monster hill, they were in incredibly good moods.

    After we parted I hopped back on The Mule and lost control. Fortunately I was only going 10 mph when I veered off the pavement onto the soft shoulder. I managed not to fall and brought the bike to a stop. Still dizzy, I guess.

    Back in the pavement I flew downhill for 16 glorious miles. I passed the base of the red rock cliffs of the Breaks and followed the two lane highway as it curved around incredible, massive, multicolored rock formations. I’d have taken some pictures but I was trying not to die.

    The road flattened out and there I was in Cedar City, a really City of over 28,000 people. The biggest city I’d been in since Pueblo, Colorado two weeks ago. And it’s at only 5,800 feet.

    Traffic. Traffic lights. Residential neighborhoods. Car dealerships. And, best of all, lots of cheap hotels. (Room to let $50.)

    After check in and cleaning up I walked to a diner for food and a celebratory vanilla shake.

    I am done with 10,000 foot. all-day climbs. And I am only one day behind schedule. Tomorrow I head north, my last day in Utah before tackling the Nevada desert.

    Ooh, what fun that will be.

    Miles today: 58.5

    Tour miles: 2,182

    Top speed: 35.1

    Lots more pix on my Instagram page.

    No Name Tour: Day 37 – That’s a Clown Hoodoo, Bro

    After the aptly priced free motel breakfast I began my ride northward into a cold headwind. Along hill provided warmth. I nearly made it to the top before adopting a WTF attitude and walking for a bit.

    Back to pedaling, I came upon a trail to Mossy Cave. After a visit to a waterfall I managed to find the cave (the sign to which I had ignored.) The waterfall, views, and flowers were much more interesting than the cave.

    A few miles later I came upon the Bryce Canyon National Parks entrance sign, located three miles from the entrance.

    I rode down the hill and turned left onto a bike trail straight to the shuttle bus parking area. The trail continues many miles into the park but climbs over 1,000 feet in the process.

    I paid my $0 entrance fee (Senior Pass!) and jumped on the free shuttle to Bryce Point, way up on the rim of what’s called Bryce Amphitheater. There I caught my first view of this.

    Greetings from planet Hoodoo.

    I probably spent 30 minutes just trying to process it all.

    After another shuttle ride, I did a short hike on the rim trail from Inspiration Point to Sunset Point.

    It’s pretty clear that with water, food, decent footwear, and fresh legs, I could hike in this place for days.

    My legs had bigger things in mind (like tomorrow’s ride over a 10,000 foot mountain).

    (Note for tourists: the canyon shuttle is free. Use it. You don’t need your car unless you are transporting an invalid. Personally, I think cars should be banned from the park.)

    So I shuttled and biked out of the park to grab lunch. The Subway literally had a line out the door so I went to a restaurant/bar next store where I came upon Bill Miles. Bill is doing a figure 8 tour of the area, we had much to discuss. So lunch lasted over and hour.

    We parted ways. Bill headed east. I headed west and jumped on the Red Canyon Trail, a paved bike trail along the two lane highway.

    The trail was filled with junior high (maybe older) girls on a supervised bike outing. They were softer than the SUVs on the highway so I stayed in the trail.

    Although the trail had annoying expansion joints, it had the benefit of not being half closed for storm repairs as the highway was.

    Red Canyon is mighty beautiful in its own right. At two points the highway runs through rock formations.

    Ten miles of rocks. Then in the blink of an eye everything was green.

    A vast valley presented itself. Now on the highway I descended only to see two bike tourists riding toward me. Mike and Dawn were coming from California on my route. They gave me loads of valuable info about what look for and avoid.

    After reaching the valley floor the route turned north toward Panguitch. With the prospect of a three hour climb and the possibility of camping in near freezing temperatures, I called it a day, 30 miles short of my planned destination. (The mountain too campground was closed anyway.)

    Dinner was a bowl of potato soup and a chicken quesadilla that three people couldn’t finish. I took half of it for the ride tomorrow.

    Miles today: 32.5

    Tour miles: 2,123.5

    Top speed: 26.8 mph

    No Name Tour: Day 36 – Hogback and Headwinds

    The day started late for s number of reasons. I ate at the farm to table restaurant, a place apparently meant for lingering. The food was great so it was worth it.

    100 yards down the road my eyes caught sight of two loaded touring bikes at a coffee shop. They belong to east bound French sisters Sendra and Elise. They’re riding from San Francisco to New York City. They’ve been on the road just under a month and have a very positive attitude.

    After I talked with them, I ran into Mark, also eastbound, but for Philadelphia. He too was in good spirits. Considering what they all just rode through. (See below.)

    Leaving Boulder town is downhill into Dixie National Forest until the unexpected climb over a ridge called Devil’s Backbone. Not wanting to waste my legs so early in the day, I walked much of it.

    The views were getting more spectacular by the mile. The winds, mostly in my face, were picking up.After cresting the ridge the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument was before me in all its glory.

    Wow.

    Just Wow.

    Then I saw the sign. 14% downhill.

    Wow.

    Just Wow.

    Then I entered the Hogback. The road winds down along a narrow ridge with drops on either side. The Mule wanted to run.

    Eek.

    Wind gusts blasting. Road curving. Idiot drivers passing. Me trying to take in the view. Faster and faster despite feathering the brakes.

    Just a thrilling ride on a par with my descent from Washington Pass in the North Cascades last summer.

    Then back up another ridge. Such a slog. I made it to the town of Escalante where I hit the bathroom at the first store I saw. I bought a Powerade out of guilt.

    In the main part of town I met Mikey and Sean, eastbounders heading to Yorktown. They advised me that the next 20+ miles were a very gradual uphill to a 7,600 foot pass with no big climbs.

    I stopped for lunch at a diner (the Circle D makes a mean sammich). The staff told me the same thing about the climb.

    I left Escalante at 1 and began riding into a gusty 20 mph headwind. I decided right away not to fight it. I spun away in my little chainring at 4 to 7 mph. I’ll get there when I get there even if it means breaking out my headlight.

    I had bought some road food (bananas, a pear, granola bars) in Escalante. Having food gave me the option of stopping and pitching my tent if I ran out of steam.

    But I didn’t. Every eight miles I stopped to eat. I ran out of water in my bottles and pulled out one of my handy dandy water bladders to reload.

    After the summit the road turned down. It would have been more fun without the headwind but you ride what you got not what you want.

    The initial descent was steep but it soon leveled out. Escalante town had offered a break from the National Monument and Forest. For most of the next ten miles I was back in one or the other. This part of the Monument isn’t as showy as the earlier section but it’s still pretty. (I am becoming numb to Utah’s beauty.)

    The National Forest offered scores of good camping spots. I didn’t bite though. I kept cruising along until Cannonville where the road turned north. I was tempted to grab a room in Cannonville but the wind was now at my back.

    The ride to Tropic wasn’t exactly fast but I didn’t much notice the passing miles.

    For all the work they made me do, the headwinds were cool and kept me from burning up in the 80+ degree heat.

    I grabbed a motel room and had a beer and a burger.

    A tough day but a rewarding one. Check out my Instagram page for lots of pix.

    I ride through Bryce Canyon tomorrow. Much cooler too.

    Miles today: 66

    Tour miles: 2,091

    Top speed: 40.8

    No Name Tour: Day 35 – Over the Boulder

    Last night the skies disappointed again. The light of the near full moon and the buildings down the hill from my motel made it feel almost like I was at a much higher latitude.

    I grabbed a cup of motel coffee (mistake), a mini danish (not bad) and some snacks got the road then I headed down hill to Torrey, UT.

    I spotted a coffee shop that served breakfast. Not exactly second breakfast. Certainly not elevenses. But it hit the spot.

    On the road the word for today was up. I had 3,000 feet of climbing to do, topping out at 9,600 feet. My bike was laden with about six liters of water so I had no delusions of pulling this off without walking.

    The scenery continued to be laughably awesome. I rode into the Dixie National Forest. Pines and aspens and assorted other trees began filling the landscape. As I climbed the creeks which had been muddy were running clear, no longer picking up red sandstone dust.

    I struggled to find energy. About 30 minutes into the ride breakfast kicked in. (It’s actually noticeable when my body starts processing food.) I had a pleasant tailwind but I was working much too hard. After a few miles I got off the bike and walked in the hope of recharging my legs.

    As I plodded along I spotted a coyote crossing the road ahead. I could hear them barking in the distance, too.

    A half hour later I was back to pedaling. I had a nice tempo going and could enjoy the scenery. I passed some Forest Service campgrounds that we’re half decent. If you can’t find an official campground, you can camp anywhere you want on federal land as long as it’s not a National Park. So there are no worries about a place to lay my head down.

    I pedaled most of the last eight miles but the last bit was too much and walked to the summit sign.

    Then came the fast ride down. Nope. I descended a few hundred feet only to be confronted with a hill.

    W.T.F.

    This is like a trick calculus problem with a local optimum. Second order conditions don’t help. Nerd.

    Once over the bump I had a scary, bumpy 30+ mph riot of a ride all the way back down to Boulder town. Along the way I spotted three deer crossing the road. (Please let there not be more. I’m going over 30!) Near the end of the plunge I ride past yet another farm with llamas. A couple of them bolted across the field parallel to me. Llama stampede!!

    Actually they appeared to be oblivious to The Mule and me. It was some sort of domestic dispute.

    I stopped at the Anasazi Museum and checked out the ruins of a community that was abandoned in the 12th century. Then I bought a burrito from Marigold’s, a food bus parked outside. I asked then to cut the burrito in two because I couldn’t possibly finish it all in one go.

    Ten minutes later both halves were vanquished. Mountains make me hungry.

    For most of the ride the weather was perfect: cool, dry, breezy. Near Boulder town the wind changed direction and increased in strength. When I climbed Monarch Pass a week ago I foolishly continued on, 32 miles into a headwind. The next day I quit early. So I didn’t want to repeat that mistake.

    I checked out a motel across the street. It was okay but the clerk could tell I wasn’t enthusiastic. She advised me to ride into town to see what else was available. I couldn’t help myself. I checked into a resort motel with a gourmet restaurant, hot tub, robes in the room, etc.

    More pix and a babbling brook on Instagram.

    Why not, right?

    Miles today: 39.5

    Tour miles: 2,025

    Top speed: 39.5

    Tomorrow looks like a ride through Escalante. And a descent across the hogback: 3 miles with narrow lanes, no shoulders, no guardrails, and big drops to either side of the road. Weee!

    No Name Tour: Day 34 – Capitol Reef National Park

    I lucked out by picking an expensive cabin last night. It was next door to a restaurant. I had pasta with grilled chicken, corn, cornbread, a salad, and two Polygamy Porters. The food was excellent. My body was so happy with me.

    This morning I returned to the place for breakfast. A huge omelet, mass quantities of hash browns, toast, and coffee. Yummie.

    Locked and loaded I lit out at 8:30 headed west. More rocks. A few abandoned ancient buildings made of the red sandstone that seems to be everywhere.

    After 20 miles the road entered Capitol Reef National Park. It was boffo but not entirely distinguishable from what I had been riding through since Blanding.

    Perhaps because it’s a National Park, traffic picked up from next to nothing in Hanksville to rental RVs in pace lines.

    (I have a heightened level of awareness because the RV renters don’t have any experience driving a tank and they, and other drivers, are distracted by the scenery. Thank god for rumble strips in the middle of the road and bicycle mirrors.)

    I cane across this sign and had to stop. Did the sign person think the amazing views of the previous 50 miles were not up to par? Exactly how big a dolt do you need to be to figure this out for yourself?

    Midway through the park, I came to the visitors center which was a beehive of activity. Signs said “Campground Full”. Uh oh.

    I topped off a water bottle, and continued westward. Uphill. Despite a tailwind, the climb was a bit of a shock to the legs and lungs.

    More rocks. Some petroglyphs. More RVs.

    Do you see the petroglyphs of people?

    Not a bad day for a ride

    Without the sign, you’d never guess you were in a National Park. The whole area is National Park-ish or, Park-y. Of course, the sign affords the opportunity for a park sign selfie.

    I spent the next ten minutes taking pictures of people in front of the sign (and feeding mosquitoes).

    Five miles beyond the visitors’ center I was out of the park and in the park-ish part. Up and down and around buttes. I finally saw two resort motels. One had horses and llamas. The other had a pizza joint. Since I can’t eat a llama or a horse, I voted for the pizza joint.

    Thankfully they had a vacancy.

    Talking with some other motel guests, I learned the porch might provide some good sky watching tonight here outside Torrey, Utah.

    Tomorrow is the 8,900 foot mountain pass. (I’m at 6,600 feet.) Then a descent to toward Escalante.

    More pictures can be found on Instagram under @rootchopper.

    Miles today: 45

    Tour miles: 1,986.5

    Top speed: 34.2