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

No Name Tour: Day 33 – Bonking for 51 Miles

Last night I was so tired that I could barely eat two tortillas with peanut butter for dinner. Following in my previous night’s junk food dinner this did not bode well for today.

Breakfast was two tortillas with peanut butter. This didn’t bode well either.

After taking a picture of the moon in the west, I loaded up The Mule and began to climb back out to the main road at 6:30. Two-mile climbs are a bad way to start any day.

The climb was followed by a steep descent to the Colorado River then a long slog back out of the canyon. This involved some walking as my legs were dead from yesterday’s adventure.

Even though the climb was a bit of a drag, the scenery was hard to beat. Glen Canyon is truly awesome. After seeing it, the next 40 miles paled in comparison.

I kept rolling along a gradual uphill following the road along a river. This was punctuated with a few climbs around mesas and buttes.

My body had nothing to offer. Pop Tarts didn’t help. Water didn’t help. A Fuji apple helped but it’s beneficial effects faded as the sugar wore off.

Ride. Stop. Drink. Calculate the miles remaining. Repeat.

When you’re this bonked you spend most of the ride looking at the ground in front of you. What a waste of spectacular geology.

I arrived in Hanksville hoping to find people dressed up as Woody from Toy Story (“Reach for the Sky!”). My luck was bad except for the very first shop, a hamburger joint named Stan’s. Double cheeseburger, fries, and a large vanilla shake.

What a gut bomb. Did it ever taste good, too.

I ended up grabbing a cabin at an RV park. It’s expensive but has a shower, TV, WiFi, and quite.

After making some phone calls (l’d been out of cell phone range for two days) I fell asleep writing yesterday’s post.

When I woke up the wind was blowing and rain was falling. This is pretty much the norm for a summer afternoon in Utah, it seems.

Total miles: 52

Tour miles: 1,941.5

Top speed: 37.1 mph

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