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Archive for June, 2011

Day 45


Ride Stats:
Distance: 52.19 miles
Average Speed: 11.9 mph
Max Speed: 48.9 mph
Time: 4:22’50

The desert is perpetually hot during this season, it was even difficult sleeping at night in a steamy tent. I did not want to repeat my mistake. I left Hite with a healthy amount of water and Gatorade. The route took me over the north part of Lake Powell and the Colorado River.

Two eastbound riders told me they had been caught in a dust storm on the west side of the canyon the say before. They did not tell me that they had just come down some of the steepest parts of the area. I had a morning full of severely steep climbs until I reached a roadside picnic area. A couple driving across the country with their dog was enjoying some shade. We spoke about what we’d seen and they promised to follow the blog.

The scenery gradually changed as I made my way out of Glen Canyon. Once I was free of the binding cliff walls, I reached the open desert. The last 15 miles to Hanksville were at a mild low grade but an approaching wind storm from the south sent me north at over 30 mph for a good part of the way. I made it to Hanksville just as the sand began to pick up. The strong winds to the northeast, with gusts at 30 mph, would make it impossible for me to ride to the next town which was 50 miles to the west.

I met a few eastbound riders here at the laundromat. Lauren and Chris washed their clothes while we swatted away an absurd amount of mosquitoes. They also have a blog of their own:

http://awheelhorsewithnoname.blogspot.com

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Day 44


Ride Stats:
Distance: 82.24 miles
Average Speed: 11.0 mph
Max Speed: 41.2 mph
Time: 7:25’33

The 4 miles through Blanding would be the only civilization that I would see until the end of the day. Riding the canyons is as difficult as expected. I loaded up with extra water before heading out but it would turn out not to be enough.

The whole day I was climbing and dropping steep grades without a pitstop the entire way (there isn’t anything but canyons). Nothing interesting occurred for most of the day but the scenery is incredible. It felt like riding through an ancient sea floor the way the cliffs are eroded. The photos do not reflect the immense size of all of these structures.

My left hand pannier has been slowly coming apart at the seams. Today it was too much so I pulled out the rope and sowed some support to it.

The desert is heartless. It is hot. The towering cliffs are somehow never in the right place for shade. Resting means no wind and the company of tiny bloodsuckers that leave red dots on the skin. Sweat dries almost instantly, leaving behind a salty white powder that gets washed into your eyes with the next bead of sweat. The seldom gusts of wind that blow are just as hot as the arid air and flow through the canyons just along the road, and like many of the riders I encounter, it is headed eastbound.

I ran out of fluids near the last 10 miles. Luckily, I ran into a group of guys from New York who were sightseeing. The offered me cold Gatorade and filled my bottles with water. Had they not been there I would have had to hitchhike to stop a motorist and barter for water.

I ended the day at the Hite Recreation Area next to Lake Powell. The convenience store was about to close as I rode in. The camping area is down by the lake so I will pitch the tent after I’m done charging the phone (I dropped it against the linoleum floor inside and the screen that I had replaced not too long ago cracked).

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Day 43


Ride Stats:
Distance: 83.81 miles
Average Speed: 11.7 mph
Max Speed: 38.6 mph
Time: 7:06’49

Emily and Chris had recommended that I have a burger at The Depot in Dolores. I did just that. Since I started late, my breakfast was a delicious cheeseburger with fries. I left town at midday and expected to be out of Colorado about halfway through the ride. This part of the state is much like the prairie land on the far east side.

Just a few miles out of Dolores I rode into a Anasazi Pueblo Indian settlement. The site is just the remains of the building’s foundation.

Most of the ride was far from exciting. My transition into canyonland meant I had to go up and down again and again. The last town in Colorado, Dove Creek, was my main rest stop. I loaded up and headed for Utah.

Now that I am done with the Rockies I face Utah’s uniquely variable terrain. Small canyons along the plains called “breaks” line the landscape. I made it to Monticello late in the day although I wanted to make it to Blanding. The sun was low and I had 20 more miles of climbs but making it to the next town was a necessity. It is the final stop before a 70+ mile desolate strip with no services. I rode into Blanding, UT after dark, delayed by a fawn that was stumbling across the pavement, and had dinner at a Chevron.

Tomorrow’s ride promises to be a tough one. There is no other choice but to complete the entire empty road to the Hite and Glen Canyon Recreation Areas.

Thanks to Ana Q. for donating to my ride.

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Day 42


Ride Stats:
Distance: 62.80 miles
Average Speed: 12.9 mph
Max Speed: 41.8 mph
Time: 4:50’31

Hans was up bright and early. He told me that he had just began suffering from a neck pain that was making riding unbearable for him. I gave him a few tips and wished him well. Emily and Chris met me at a breakfast spot in Telluride called The Butcher & The Baker. The pancakes were too sweet but the bacon was incredible. We took pictures and they recommended that I ride the gondola lift up to see Mountain Village.

I’m not sure how I threw up the bike onto the rack of the lift. I’m even more unsure of how it didn’t fall off with all of the bumps and swings. Telluride photographs well from up high. I got a few shots in before I had to yank the bike off of the rack. The Mountain Village looks like it was pulled out of a movie. The homes look ridiculously expensive, the golf course has fourteener peaks as it’s backdrop, and the closed ski lifts beckon for winter’s first snowfall.

The touristy sightseeing was over. I now faced Lizard Head Pass. This climb was very similar to Monarch but I was lucky to face it early in the day. The temperature was comfortable, leaving only gravity and wind to push through. I stopped throughout to get pictures. Somewhere along the climb I was passed by a rider. Sean was out for a recreational ride and I tried to match his pace. We had a conversation that made the ride to the summit almost easy (almost). Two eastbound tourers made it to the summit at around the same time. We traded cameras and small talk.

The way down was a bit of a relief but, once again, was a struggle against the wind. I rode down for a few miles and made it to Rico. Three motorcycle riders stopped there on their way up and told me I had mostly a downward path all the way to Dolores.

I think I’ve passed the 3000 mile mark so I treated myself to a mountaineer pizza at the Dolores River Brewery.

The clerk at the Dolores Mountain Inn was really nice. He is a cyclist himself and has always wanted to do a tour. He told me about a guest he had once from England who left it all to travel the entire globe on bike. We talked about travels and people for a while and I eventually went off to do laundry.

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Day 41


Ride Stats:
Distance: 70.56 miles
Average Speed: 9.9 mph
Max Speed: 33.1 mph
Time: 7:03’40

The evening in Montrose ran me into a bunch from New Mexico who were outside of their motel room. Dolly and Dennis Herman, Paul Rozzell, and Don Englehart were in town for ya golf game. They were interested in my ride and called me over to sit with them. We spent the night sharing stories and they even donated to the ride. Dennis suggested that I go with them to breakfast in the morning.

Starvin’ Arvin’s was a breakfast spot two miles from the motel. It was conveniently located along the ACA route that I was following. I soon found out what a cathead biscuit was (a damn big biscuit). We were all headed to Ridgeway after our meal. For them it was for another round of golf, for me it was basecamp for the climb over the Dallas Divide.

About 15 miles into the ride, I stopped at a gas station in PLACE. There I met Teddy, a local mountainbiker who had ridden from ridgeway and was about to hit a dirt road up a mountain. She told me about the climb that I was headed for and told me to check out Telluride. We spent a few minutes talking about our gear and eventually parted ways.

The road from Montrose to Ridgeway was a slow and steady climb. The altitude change was minimal but it was made rougher by gusting crosswinds.

I arrived at Ridgeway in time for their river festival. Locals were braving the churning waters with different kinds of rafts, some even home made. I took a long break in the town part to finish off the leftovers from breakfast. I made one final stop at a gas station to get the fluids I needed to go over the Dallas Divide and ran back into the group from Farmington, New Mexico. They had just finished their golf game and were preparing to head back home.

Ridgeway sits at the bottom of the climb to the summit of the Dallas Divide. It was an 11 mile steep climb with more resistant winds. The way up felt as hard as Monarch Pass without the cold. There is a feeling of accomplishment you get somewhere before the summit even comes into view. The feeling at the top turns more into relief. Since the wind was not on my side I could not enjoy the downside of the climb. Getting to 20 mph was a chore, not to mention keeping the bike steady.

Placerville was at the bottom of this 13 mile decent. The only store open was the liquor store so I sat inside and charged my phone. Two guys who walked in had checked my bike and asked me about it. They suggested that I continue 16 miles uphill to Telluride. They were from there and said I should not miss it. Telluride is 3 miles off the route but there seemed to be nowhere else to go and it is a perfect basecamp for the Lizard Head climb I faced the next day.

I had to convince my legs that this climb was not as bad as the Dallas Divide but, being 5 miles longer, there was no fooling them.

I managed to make it up to the ski resorts just before town and stopped a rider to ask for directions. Max told me I had just one mile to go and offered to take me to the city park. All of the lodging here is very expensive so camping would be the only option.

I’m definitely glad I came to Telluride. It is a beautiful city in a tight valley. Navigating the maze of tents in the woods, Max took me over a little bridge into the primitive camping section. I stopped as soon as I found Hans’ bike. I thanked Max and he took off while I started to nestle in. Hans was already asleep in his tent but I found company with Emily and Chris. They introduced themselves as fellow tourers and even shared their blog:

http://touringtwo.blogspot.com/

They invited me over for hot tea an we planned for breakfast in the morning.

Thanks to Clara P. for the donation.

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Day 40


Ride Stats:
Distance: 64.68 miles
Average Speed: 11.0 mph
Max Speed: 43.7 mph
Time: 5:52’05

My stay at the Wanderlust Hostel in Gunnison, CO came to a regretful end. Kelsey and Porkchop had been superb hosts. I had made myself too comfortable to leave but UPS had delivered the part I needed to Rock ‘n’ Roll Sports.

I went over to the shop and Brian handed me the spare derailer hanger and rolled the bike over to the work area. Sam started working on the Raleigh and I went out for breakfast. When I got back the bike was testridden and ready. Brian rang me up and I was out the door.

The first few miles were somehow familiar. I retraced the steps I took the day before. A couple of bends after Cooper Ranch in Curecanti National Recreation Area the Blue Mesa Reservoir came into view. Colorado’s longest lake subjected me to gusting headwinds. There are campsites all along the lake full of campers and RV’s. The west end of the lake tapers off into Gunnison River which forms the beginning of the Black Canyon. I managed to get a shot of it before starting the first of two major climbs for today.

The first climb was after Sapinero. It was almost 6 miles of climbing that was only made more difficult with the uncooperative winds. Once at the top there was a long winding downhill all the way to Cimarron. The valley was home to a small shop with hummingbird feeders. If you look closely you should make out the noisy little critters in the photos with red feeders. Four ladies from Crested Butte came by the store for the famed homestyle pies. I missed out on trying some since I had stuffed myself with junkfood.

The 5 miles out of Cimarron were uphill. This ridiculously steep climb to Cerro Summit eventually leveled out by a construction site. Once I made it to the top there was 12 miles of gravity riding that would land me in Montrose, CO.

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Day 39


Ride Stats:
Distance: 14.77 miles
Average Speed: 8.9 mph
Max Speed: 22.2 mph
Time: 1:39’28

With nowhere to go and a crippled bike, I left the hostel in the morning looking for something to do. I had met David in the Gunnison Brewery last night and he said that we could go rafting but he called an said his buddies bailed.

I rode past main street and back onto highway 50. There were a few fishing shops so I went into Berfield’s Stage Stop Market. Randy helped me pick out the cheapest rod and reel combo along with a pack of hooks and bag of weights. I wouldn’t be able to do much fishing without a license and a tub of nightcrawler earthworms, though. Once I was loaded up he told me to head 6 miles west to Cooper Ranch and try my luck there. Another spot would be Neversink.

The bike felt like a clown bike going down that flat road. My legs could not spin fast enough to get it past 11 mph on the gear that it was on. Once I made it to Cooper Ranch I realized that the fast current would make things difficult. All of the melting snow has turned these creeks into rushing rivers. there was a cozy spot between some trees that had a collection of driftwood that I could climb onto. There were some pockets of water that were isolated from the fast moving center section. I fished those for a while and managed to lose 3 worms to nibbles but no serious bites. There were no better places to cast from in Cooper Ranch so I backtracked about half a mile to Neversink. I followed a dirt trail that ended at a bridge. I crossed it and parked against a tree. The spot didn’t look any better but there were just as many nibbles. I played with different ways of setting the worm on the hook and eventually nabbed my first fish.

The first 3 pictures are of the same fish. It was a rainbow trout and was begging to get grilled. Without any cooking gear and no real campsite around, I took nothing more than pictures and slid the trout back into the water. No more than 3 casts later I had another fish on the line. This one had more fight in it but I was able to bring it out. The second fish was also a rainbow trout but was much heavier than the first.

I left after I snagged the line on a rock. I didn’t want it to get too late and was satisfied with my catch.

I hope to be able to cast a line a few more times along the way.

The guys at Rock ‘n’ Roll Sports confirmed that I will have my derailed hanger tomorrow before noon so they can do the repairs and I can continue on the journey.

Thanks to David S., OCP Group LLC., and Judith R. for donating to the ride.

Ride stats will be posted in the morning.

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