No Name Tour: Day 32 – I’ll Have a Double

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, some look like abstract sculptures. Some cliffs have caves in the sides. 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.

Maggie reminded me of my friend Katie B

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

No Name Tour: Day 31 – A New State

The cook at the market/gas station/florist/laundromat/cafe across the street from my motel in Dove Creek makes a damned fine omelet.

After breakfast I went back to the hotel to get ready to ride. Nearly everything was packed but when I went to leave the room I couldn’t find the room key. After a long search I found it in one of my panniers. It must have tumbled in there from my bed.

My front panniers were each loaded with a 2-liter bladder full of water. I need to test them out before I need them. (One made the trip without incident; the other leaked but I think that’s because I didn’t seal it properly. Only damage done was the loss of a half roll of TP given to me by brother-in-law Greg in a box of useful things for bike tours. I’d been carrying this TP around for over 10,000 miles without ever using it, I was going for a Guinness record of unused TP transport. I’m probably out of the running now.)

Gently rolling terrain has a different meaning when your riding a bike loaded with TP and 40-odd pounds of other necessities. Even the slightest rise in the road calls for downshifting.

I endured the ups and downs and was rewarded after 8 miles with a new state! Goodbye, Colorado. You kicked my ass nine ways to Sunday but I escaped.

Barely.

The next 23 miles saw Utah turn from farmland to rocky, sagebrushy, near desert. I rode into Montecello much more tired than usual after such a short morning.

I stopped for lunch at a Montecello institution they had been doing business for 30 years. I am happy to report they make a good sub sammich and were kind enough to fill my water bottle with ice and water.

As I left the shop a bike tourist went by headed east. I yelled and he turned around. Bob is from Sacramento and has endured all kinds of bike touring hell on this trip. He’s been rescued twice: once after he got caught in a hailstorm and once when he ran out of water. Bob seemed to be in a good mood. I gave him the scoop on the miles ahead. He returned the favor. He’s dreading the Colorado mountains but he only has 2 more to go before he surrenders to sanity and grabs a train home from Grand Junction.

Bob from Sacramento

He said it was mostly downhill to a Blanding, my destination. Poor Bob’s brain is going because a few miles later I was bringing up a big hill in my granny gear.

After that, it wasn’t bad. I saw some deer (unlike Colorado they were not dead), got waved at by three women flying down a hill I was climbing, got rained on (it felt wonderful), and went down a whopper of a hill over 40 mph. There was a slight uphill before Blanding, my destination, but I was feeling my oats by then and just powered up.

Just as I pulled into Blanding, I spotted a general store where I bought a massive bottle of cold Powerade. Gone in 60 seconds.

I had reserved a room in a motel but when I went to check in I saw that they do not have WiFi in the rooms. Off I rode to a Super 8 on the edge of town. For the second night in a row, I was not allowed to bring The Mule into my room. This is the first time in four tours that The Mule has been treated so poorly.

As I was rolling it around I found that the back wheel was out of true. I flipped The Mule over to perform inept surgery with my multi tool, I spun the wheel and the wheel was true. A bicycling medical miracle. Had I been forced to operate, The Mule may not have survived.

Tomorrow is complicated. My planned destination is Natural Bridges National Monument. It has 13 tent sites given out on a first come, first served basis. And no water except at the visitors center. I probably won’t hike to see the bridges as they are quite a hike. The park has appeal for another reason: it’s so isolated it gets awesome stars.

If I get turned away it will be another 40 miles to a campground near Lake Powell. The first 40 miles features a 1,000 foot climb to a summit. The second 40 features a looong downhill with 3,500 feet of elevation loss.

Miles today: 47

Tour miles: 1,811

Top speed: 41.1 mph