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

No Name Tour: Day 30 – Two Rides in One

After motel breakfast I tried to leave early but was cornered by some guests who also stayed at my hotel in Montrose a few days ago.

After the chat I was off to the west on Highway 145. More terrific scenery, a generally downhill route, and a gentle tailwind. Finally!

Not photoshopped, I swear

Just before Naturita I turned onto Highway 141. It was time to payback the downhill. You’d think I could get one day without a climb but no!

So I climbed out of the valley I had ridden into and over a rather large hill into a basin, a vast valley bordered by mountains. It was quite pretty, particularly after the climb because I rode right down into the basin.

On the ride down I passed all kinds of cool rock formations. Many of the bluffs had caves. Some of the rock formations reminded me of people and animals.

This is movie cowboy country. You’re sure you’ve seen this place in a million TV shows or movies.

After about 45 miles of riding that couldn’t be beat, it was payback time. I had to ride over a range to get to my motel in Dove Creek.

Looking back from Slick Rock Hill

Ride is used loosely here. I made it a mile or two up Slick Rock Hill (Coloradans love to call enormous mountains “hills” because they have mountains that are whoppers everywhere you look.

To help things along the wind changed direction. Nothing helps push a bike up a mountain quite like a headwind.

Occasionally I got on the bike and rode to the next steep section. Then I hoofed it some more. This hill, I was told, was preferable to the hill I avoided yesterday by riding to Norwood.

Near the top I jumped back in the saddle and finished the climb. I was expecting a 20 mile descent to Dove Creek but mostly what I encountered was rollers: down for a half mile, up for a half mile. And headwinds.

After all the flooding I saw earlier in the tour it was a relief to find freshly planted fields.

I thought this was going to be an 80 mile day. I managed to go through two apples, a banana, a Clif bar, some mixed nuts, and five bottles of water. And it wasn’t nearly enough.

It was good training for Utah and Nevada which have long stretches without food or water. (Tomorrow I’ll fill my 2 2-liter bladders to make sure they don’t leak.)

Today’s miles: 74

Tour miles: 1,764

Top speed: 34.4 mph

Tomorrow will be an easy day as I enter Utah. The next day is up in the air. Natural Bridges National Monument has a first come, first served camping policy and only 13 spots. I may skip it and camp at Lake Powell.