Sunday, July 25, 2010

Off of Mars

Utah, like every other state I’ve ridden through so far, is hard.  It’s hot and hilly.  Thank goodness it’s beautiful or I might hate it. I’m at the point physically where I thought that by now I’d be super-strong and a really fast cyclist,  but I’m not.  It frustrates me.  I know I’ll get there, I just have to fight my way up through these canyons first.  That which does not kill me…

End of Utah 004

A breakfast menu from a local place in Escalante.  I think the Number 10 was invented for cyclists?   End of Utah 012

We skirted the outside of Bryce Canyon National Park.  I just had to Google search “Bryce” to figure out the actual name of the park and, in doing so, I came across some pictures of what the cool part of the park looks like.  We apparently did not get to ride our bikes through the cool part of the park.  Formations like this were spectacular to look at but I can’t understand why the map didn’t just take us twenty miles off route to see more.  Sometimes I wish we had more time or that I was out here alone (or in a car?) so I could see every attraction that is a few miles off the road.  One day earlier in Utah we went to try to see Natural Bridges National Monument.  That was a hilarious mistake.  We rode our bikes 5 miles downhill to the visitors center only to find out that we’d have to ride another 10 miles to see the bridges.  We didn’t care to see them THAT much, so then we had to get back on our bikes and climb up 5 miles to get back to the main road.  It was so frustrating.  Bridget about had a mental breakdown at the thought of doing additional mileage and we had to talk her down from her giggle fit.  That incident marks the first and the last time we try to see something off route.  On a bicycle it’s hardly worth it.  We need to save every ounce of strength from every Snickers bar for our real journey. 

End of Utah 068

After getting a good nights sleep at a swanky KOA in Panguitch, we woke up and immediately started a huge, long, thirty or forty mile climb up to Cedar Breaks National Monument.  For you “car people” out there, that is a very long way.  Even though I now climb at 6 or 7mph, that’s still several hours in the saddle, panting, thighs burning, cursing the hill.  Once we got to the top, Liza and I turned into crazy people and decided it was wise to go on a half hour hike to see an alpine lake and some wildflowers.  We wanted to work out more, I guess.  It was worth it, as evidenced by the picture above.  In going this slowly across the country, I think I have developed a newfound appreciation for things like wildflowers.  And maybe roadkill.

End of Utah 071

After all that climbing, the potentially awesome downhill side of the mountain ended up disappointing us due to high winds and lots of traffic.  We’d been looking forward to that descent for days.  I hate it when that happens.  So we finally arrived in Cedar City where we all painted a fence Tom Sawyer style.  In return for our hard work in the midday sun, the local Lion’s Club made us a spaghetti dinner in the local town park.  I love pasta and I don’t mind painting a few pieces of wood to get it for free. 

End of Utah 081Dan and I saw these beehive houses in the middle of nowhere and couldn’t resist riding a mile or so on a gravel road to check them out.  Apparently they are actually charcoal kilns that were used for the town of Frisco when it existed.  Frisco was a mining town located at the terminus of the local railroad.  A gas station cashier told us that it was a dangerous place; saloons were plentiful and murder was commonplace.  However, after the mine collapsed in the late 1800’s the population migrated elsewhere and eventually Frisco fell into ruin.  There’s not really even enough left (that we could see) for it to be called a ghost town, but it was eerie nonetheless.  I had more fun off-road cycling to get to these kilns than I did mountain biking for an hour in Telluride.  Go figure. 

End of Utah 111

After Milford, Utah sure started to look like Nevada mighty fast.  We had entered “the middle of nowhere.”  On this particular day, we rode 84 miles without any services.  This means no towns, gas stations, stores, houses, or people.  Just the road and some sagebrush.  Thank goodness we have a support vehicle to supply us every twenty miles or we’d have to carry several milk jugs worth of water each.  And I thought carrying three water bottles at a time was pretty difficult. 

End of Utah 112

Alex and Liza looking pretty badass after just having ridden through a dust storm.  I get the feeling that Nevada is going to also be like another planet.  Utah was either Mars or Tatooine.  Who knows what real and/or fictional place we are traveling to next. 

End of Utah 125

More evidence that Nevada was going to be really strange: right before the “Welcome to Nevada” sign, the pavement turned red.  See you on the other side, friends.

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