Friday, May 30, 2008
Today's ride was short on distance but long on wind. It was headwinds all the way all day. There we many gentle rollers which even on the downsides the best I could do was 16 mph because of the wind.
Grand Junction has beautiful red rock cliffs on the west side but after so many days of great rock formations I found the road side prairie dogs more interesting. The guard dogs would stand tall and chirp. And down the road scrambling dogs would dive Into their holes. The down the road guards would stand tall by their holes and pass the alarm down the line. Lots of scrambling and chirping all day.
Only the one picture today. The rockies as seen from just before Montrose. Tomorrow I'll be climbing up to Gunnison somewhere up there.
Not many services on tomorrows climb so I stopped by the mini market for supplies. They didn't have sardines but I thought of Tonya as I reached for a Slim Jim.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
It was the first morning without Hugh and I could not help but think of him when the waitress brought my breakfast. I was at a truck stop and the plate was mounded with what must have been a 4 egg omelet and a pound of hash browns. I could not finish it, and I would have liked to see Hugh go at it. The odds are that he would have the main course but I'm not sure he could have finished the always ordered extra side of hash browns.
The cross winds were strong, but I sure enjoyed rolling down I 70. Yeah it is a major freeway but with 12 to 15 foot shoulders and light traffic it is easier riding than back roads.
After 30 miles the road turned toward the north and now I had a tailwind. The road was continuous rollers but the miles seemed to fly by. I did stop for more road side flower photos. I regret that I have not been taking pictures of roadside grasses as they are so varied in shape and color. The roadside microclimate is probably due to water runoff from the pavement which makes the first 10 to 20 feet next to the hiway have a different plant community than further out.
I rolled into Grand Junction about 6 and grabbed a motel.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
We stopped at the interpretive center to get a better understanding of how all this happened. While there I showed the rangers a picture of a plant in the hopes of getting getting an ID. Two more rangers later and they were stumped. I had seen the plant on only one small hillside during 60 miles of riding.
Down the valley we continued only to be stopped by the state patrol because a commercial was being filmed on the hiway. After 15 minutes they had a 5 minute break to let traffic pass but since we could not get through the 4 mile section fast enough the trooper had us load our bikes into his pickup and he ferried us across.
Soon we were in Hanksville and after lunch Hugh and I split up for a few days. Hugh has friends in Telluride and plans to spend a rest day there. I wanted to spend a day or two with Corlisses sister and family in Gunnison. By going north through Green River I'll gain that extra day or two. Hugh headed south and we will meet up again on Sunday or Monday in Gunnison.
Monday, May 26, 2008
From the town of Boulder we left the desert behind and entered pine forest with glimpses of aspen way in the upper reaches of the ridge we needed to climb. After 5 miles of 8 percent grade we were in the snow and aspen and the views down to where we had been that morning were so immense that I don't think photos could capture it all. I took a few panned videos but views this big need to be seen in person.
At 9700 feet we needed our full winter gear. We had spent so much time enjoying the views the day was getting late and we were ready for a quick descent. It was not to be. Down then up, down then up. Then the big headwinds showed up. Finally the town of Torrey where Taco Bell and a 24 dollar cabin waited for us.
It was not a high distance day and it was a tough day, but it was the most incredible day of riding yet. From the desert to snow and aspen. Really an amazing day.
A quick 10 mile ride brought us to the beginning of Red canyon and a separate 5 mile bike path. So nice to ride through the strangely shaped red cliffs without worrying about traffic. And there was a steady stream of traffic headed toward Bryce canyon.
The day was about cliff colors and shapes. It was a continous wild west moment. I kept expecting to see characters from a Zane gray novel appear around every bend.
We spent the night in a campground in Escalante. Pizza and beer for dinner really hit the spot. At 7:30 I put swn my book and tucked my head into the sleeping bag. Again around 1 a few raindrops woke us to scramble for a covering tarp. Not much rain developed and we slept til 6:30 and were at the breakfast restaurant before 7.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
We arrived in Parawon for breakfast just after 10. I had the Chili omelet and Hugh had his normal "what is your biggest breakfast?" plus a side of hashbrowns. It comes with hashbrowns is the usual response and Hugh needs to explain that he wants an extra side. Service was slow and we didn't leave until after 11. We needed a few more sardines and more bread before leaving town. After leaving the market I noticed a sign advertizing navaho tacos. It wasn't yet 11:30 but we decided to stop for lunch.
Feeling better, we headed out for our climb for the day. The climb was 10 miles and took 2 hours. Fortunately no snow or rain all day. A quick 10 mile descent and a 10 mile strong headwind brought us to our motel in Panguich. Feeling still hungry after dinner we shared an 1800 calorie bag of Tostitos.
Breakfast at the silver café in Pioche. The hope was for an easy day into Cedar city Utah. After an easy climb and nice descent the 15 miles to Panaca went quickly. Now we turned east to go over a mountain range we knew was there but couldn't see because of the dark clouds. It was easy to see that we were going to get wet so we put on our booties and full winter gear.
A few minutes later we started climbing and the rain began. And it continued for the next 2 hours and 12 miles. It did turn to sleet the last mile or two. Not knowing how far it was the top I kept wondering which was closer hypothermia or the pass. Fingers and toes probably as cold as they've ever been. Arnie, I kept thinking I needed to stop and unpack my bags to hunt up the one remain heat pack you gave me at Zokas before we left. Thanks again. I will leave them easier to reach after this.
The poem about recapturing spring that Tim sent as a comment a few weeks ago was in my thoughts during this climb. We've discovered it is also possible to recapture winter by climbing. Any poems about that?
A question for anyone who may remember their college physiology. The
2 hour climb to the pass was a 5 pee climb for me. I've observed this effect on other cold rides. Easy to understand why on hot days one can ride without the need. Why on cold days does the body need to get rid of water?
Just before the top of the pass the sun came out, but I still used my foam pad to cover my chest for extra wind/cold protection during the descent. I found Hugh a few minutes later warming up in the sun. He climbs faster on his upright so he had a half hour nap while I caught up. We had a salami sandwich and continued the descent. We finally crossed the Utah border and were looking for place to eat but no luck so we stopped for another salami sandwich. After a few miles there finally was a gas station so we stopped again to eat. FYI yogurt, organge juice and a microwave bean burrito is not a good combination. One more long headwind climb and many revisits from the previous meal and Cedar city was in view 10 miles across the valley. The hardest part was seeing the city look so small against the huge mountains. I was not looking forward to the 10,000 foot pass planned for tomorrow especially since snow level is expected to be 7000.
At about 6:30 we reached the home of our warm showers hosts. We had a niced dinner with a beautiful sunset view overlooking the valley. Thank you Ian and the rest of the Dalton family for your hospitality and company. We spent some time on their computer and rerouted around the planned high pass.
It will be a liitle longer but we only have to climb over an 8000 ft pass so snow won't be as big of problem, we hope.
FYI double clicking on this blogs pictures will allow you to see larger versions of the images.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
On the other side of the pass we stopped at Majors corner to warm up with cups of coffee. This stop essentially in the middle nowhere didn't have gas but was a full saloon. Also, like a few others it too was covered Inside with dollar bills that people had signed and pinned to any open spot on walls or ceiling. The proprietress said lots of bikers have already stopped in this year. More interesting was the fact that over a dozen cross country walkers had also already been through this year.
From here we turned south to follow a Basin instead of just crossing it. Ah, tailwinds and level ground for almost 80 miles. Most of the ride was pleasant though about 20 miles from our stop for the night we got pummeled by a 15 minute hailstorm. We arrived in Pioche at 6 checked into a motel and rushed to the only café in town before it closed at 7.
Another good day.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Our first climb began right out of town and within 15 minutes snow began to fall and soon it was a mini blizzard. It lasted long enough to coat the hills, roadside and us with a light dusting of white. From too hot Yesterday to having to ride today in full winter gear is really pretty strange.
5 more passes climbed ranging from 6400 to 7600 feet high. Cross winds were so strong it felt like I spent most of the day leaning into the wind to keep from getting blown over. Rode for a while with Viitse from Holland. He's planning a 10 week crossing from San Francisco to New York.
Winter gear all day though there were some nice sunbreaks when we rolled into Ely. It's too cold to camp so we're moteling tonight. We're planning a late start in the morning since snow is predicted. Is there no middle ground to the weather?
Today as well as the next few days are dictated by water. We will ride from one town to the next. They are roughly 70 mile apart so a little too far to do two towns in a day.
The ride out of Austin was up and over a mountain range down into a wide basin and up another mountain. I had pictured Nevada as being less mountainous, but it is called basin range country for a reason. The state has dozens of mountain ranges separated by 10 to 15 miles of flat basin.
The air is clear and often from the top of one summit the road can be seen ending in a point somewhere before the sea of gray mountains in the distance. And you know you'll going over that range in the next few hours.
Tonight we're in an RV park in the town of Eureka and we're trying something new for dinner. Avocado, onion, and sardines on sour dough bread. All is good.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Second breakfast was 50 miles later in Middlegate which seriously looked like it had been in use since the Pony Express which is the route that hiway 50 follows. Actually, Middlegate is not a town it is the local watering hole and all there is the saloon we had breakfast at. Highway 50 is called the loneliest Hiway in America probably because of lack of services as well as traffic. We are carrying extra water as it is 60 to 80 miles between anything. Often less than 10 cars would pass us in an hour.
Though desolate it is early in the season so the sagebrush is still green and my cold must be better since a number of times the smell of sage floated in the breeze.
The mountain ranges in Nevada run North South and there seem to be lots of them. Today we crossed 4 named summits: 2 at just over 4600 ft and 2 in the mid 6000's. Often across a wide valley you could barely see the road tracking across and climbing the next range of gray shadowed mountains. Looking at our Adventure cycling maps shows 12 more summits ranging from 6594 to 7722 before we leave the state.
Tonite we're in the 1860s minning town of Austin. Instead of camping we're in a 34 dollar doublewide trailer motel. And we're having a salami and a sardine sandwich.
A long decent to Genoa and then into Carson city. In Genoa and again after Carson City we me a group of 5 cyclists also going cross country.
A strong 100 degree tailwind pushed us to Fallon where we had a warm showers place for the night. Our host Gene was out of town but he had his son come over and let us into his home. We did laundry and made rice a roni for dinner. Gene, thank you again for your hospitality.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
caught up with Hugh. He was sitting in a small snow melt creek. I joined him. We finally reached Silver lake campground which had no water. We camped in the picnic area by the lake and had a refreshing dip. Hugh scared off a family that was coming to the same beach. They noticed he was skinny dipping and turned around went back to there car and drove off.
There was still snow on the ground around us but the night wasn't too cold. Lots of hungry mosquitoes.
Also. Of course that is measured in the shade and we weren't. There was a long steep 6 plus mile climb into Coulterville so we decided to wait out the heat of the day under a bridge and cool off in the river. At around 5 we decided to begin the climb anticipating a cold beer in town at the oldest saloon in California, operated continuously since 1899. We had dinner as well as beer there. We headed out at sunset with 13 miles to go. The last few miles to Mocasin point campground were ridden in the dark. A quick lake bath and we were in our sleeping bags by 10.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
A quick wash in the lake followed by our usual sandwhich and we were out for the night. Well not the whole night as around 2 am something was rattling the trashcans by our picnic table. A very large skunk was looking for a snack. Hugh suggested not throwing a rock at it.
Tomorrow we ride again.Weatherman is predicting 101 degrees and 25 mph winds fom the north. Oh joy.
Today and tomorrow are rest days and after yesterdays climbing I'm ready for a break. Climbing days like that make me want to get on my upright again. I can't help but wonder how the much more difficult the higher climbs over the Sierras and then Colorado will be. I guess its best to just take it one day at a time.
My cough had gotten worse the last two days so I finally decided to see the Doc and got some antibiotics and expectorants.
A short bike ride around the valley and a few minutes icing my legs and back in the Merced river felt nice. We finally connected with Tim Colman from Glad. We shared a few beers and dinner and then I was in bed before 8.
While grinding up a long grade sometime math is a way to pass the time. A grade of 5% means 50 feet up per 1000. Thus in one mile you climb about 250 feet up. 4 miles is about a 1000 feet of climbing. I climb a 5-6% grade at a little over 4 miles per hour. Easy to see that a 1000 feet of elevation gain takes me an about an hour. Todays climbing starts at about 1000 ft and crests at just over 6000ft. 5 hours of climbing should do it except that the road climbs 2000 and then goes down 200 to 400. Then you climb another few hundred and you go back down a few hundred. And repeat over and over. It made for a long day. The road shoulders were resonbly good for most of the day except for the final 10 mile decent to the Yosemite valley floor. We had planned to continue our trip by backtracking this days ride. The shoulder on this section is too non existant to return this way. Downhill wih no shoulder was no problem as we could go fast enough to stay up with the cars. The longer route thru Mariposa will be our route on the 15th.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
We enjoyed a quick ride from Sebastopol to Winters. Some narrow shouldered roads though wine country with more salutes to drivers than normal. Lots of wineries and I can't believe we didn't stop once for wine tasting. We did stop a number of time for navigation.
We're spending the night at Hugh's sister's home. Dinner and conversation was excellent.
We've changed our route for tomorrow, shorter by 30 miles but we'll need to climb over a 6000 ft pass on Monday.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
From there the ride to Sebastopol was up the Russian river along a quiet mostly gentle grade. Along one steep section a vulture gave me a good looking over. I really need to do laundry soon.
We'll be guests of Hugh's cousin Mark and family for the next 3 nights.
A few miles later we were in Mendicino where we stopped at a bakery and had a second breakfast. The riding for the most part was right on the rugged coastline. Clear skies and deep blue waters with haystacks and beautiful views in every direction. And the tailwinds had to be in the 15 to 20 plus range. The first half of the day was mostly one roller after another. 24 of the days rollers required my lowest gear to get over the top. The little ring climbs generally ranged fro 2 to 12 minutes long and were definitly a quad workout. I did have to walk one climb. It had to have been over 12%. When we got to salt creek camp ground another group of 4 riders had done the same ride that day and their bicycle route map claimed that grade was the steepest on the whole west coast. Hugh rode it.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Our warm showers hosts Roy and Mary have provided us with great company, dinner and a very nice guest house for the night.
Tomorrow includes a quick stop at the Mendicino botanical gardens and breakfast some where in town. Then we expect to enjoy 80 more miles of those wonderful rollers before camping for the night.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
We upscaled our dinner sandwiches tonight. Salami instead of sardines.
Tomorrow we cross back over the coast range to ride down hiway 1.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
My cold continues though after a couple of hours riding my lungs clear and my sinuses have pretty much drained. My gloves really needed washing today.
Hugh's wounds are healing well though they are tight in the morning.
Tomorrow should be interesting since we'd like to do 80 but it will be a very hilly day.
Camped at Harris beach. Chatted with a biker from Manchester England. He'd been out since last July. Peddled through Europe, India, China, Thailand,
Laos, Australia and now the US. He was running out of time so he was heading home soon but would save up and come back to finish seeing the US
Mexican restaurant for dinner and nice omelet for breakfast in the morning. For the budget conscious: Motel and Safeway sub for dinner and breakfast $61. Camping and restaurant dinner and breakfast $58.
Brookings to elk prairie campground in the redwood national park was a scenic treat all day long. We stopped for a photo at the California border. There was penciled graffiti on the sign post from many other riders who had taken the same photo. There were two climbs that were 4 miles or longer that were at least 6%. Not many miles ridden but we have extra time as we plan to arrive in Sebastopol on the 8th to stay with Hugh's aunt. 6 days to go under 300 miles. We stopped for first lunch at a vistapoint and again had sardines on bread. Alas we were out of onions but the warm spot overlooking the ocean was made even better by the site of whales spouting and rolling in the distance. Often 3 or 4 would spout within seconds. The Redwoods seen by bike are even better. A great day ending in a beautiful campsite amoug he redwoods.
Days 6 and 7/153 miles/12mph approx. rolling avg./553 total miles