A solo bicycle journey from Telluride, CO Moab, UT to Rockdale, TX

[introduction | week 1 | week 2 | week 3 | week 4]


08-07-2003 I'm in the process of buying a bike. I'm looking into the Bruce Gordon BLT or the Cannondale T800. Nothing too fancy. My current plans are to take a bus to Telluride, CO at the end of August where I will begin my ride. Although EXTREMELY out of shape, I hope to take no more than 2 months to complete the trip. Wishful thinking?!? Maybe I had better start training.

I chose the Colorado to Texas route, which includes pieces of the Western Express and Southern Teir routes as well as all of the Grand Canyon Connector route (Adventure Cycling Association), because I love the southwestern desert and have for years been dreaming of seeing the high(er than Washington) peaks of Colorado. The Grand Canyon is an added bonus, although maybe bonus won't be the first word that comes to mind after pedaling around it. We'll see! Rockdale, my destination, is a small town about 70 miles northeast of Austin, TX... which just happens to be where my parents are currently residing. Wow, what a coincidence.

All in all, the mileage for the trip should average somewhere around 2500 miles.

08-29-2003 My bike arrived yesterday! =) I bought a used 2002 Bruce Gordon BLT from a guy off the Internet. He used it to tour from Seattle, WA to Sacramento, CA last year. Other than that, it's pretty much new and appears to be in excellent shape. I put it together yesterday and was not dissapointed. Thanks Sean.

I'm planning on starting my trip around the 8th of September. I looked into Greyhound, but they have no stops in Telluride (or Moab for that matter), go figure. I can fly to Telluride, but I am also going to look into taking the train. In any case, once I arrive in Colorado, I am going to have to acclimatize a couple of days since the elevation is around 9,000ft. My first day of riding will take me over a 10,122' pass. Whoa!!! Almost as high as Mount Baker back home. It was hard enough walking up Baker, let alone riding a loaded touring bike over it. ;-)

Today I'm going into Austin to pick up the remainder of my gear. Things are finally coming together. =)

09-03-2003 I went for my first ride (in awhile) yesterday... 12.5 miles along the relatively flat roads of Texas. It took me just under an hour and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little winded. What am I getting myself into?!? ;-) Oh yeah - this was a stripped bike with no gear and near sea level.

Telluride is crazy expensive. I don't think I will be staying there other than to grab a beer (or two... or three... oh how I could go on) and do some shopping for food. I will probably stay in a campground close by, or maybe just free camp on NF or BLM land.

It's funny, as this trip is finally a reality... it no longer seems like the great feat it once did. Does this mean I can do anything?!? The only requirement being: to make it a reality. Not a bad philosophy.

09-09-2003 Change in plans!!! Isn't that always the case?!? Instead of starting in Telluride, CO... I will be starting my trip in Moab, UT on the 11th. Moab is another place I've wanted to visit (from my Mt. Biking days) and I plan to spend about four days just relaxing and acclimatizing to the environment.

I decided to switch my ride from Telluride to Moab because of two reasons... (1) Telluride is crazy expensive & (2) the Brews & Blues Festival. Under normal circumstances I would have loved to attend. In this case however, there will be too many people, too many cars, and too many rate hikes.

I'm happy with my choice. See you on the road!!!


Today: 27.9 miles Total: 27.9 miles 12.5avg-mph

My flight left at 6:50am. We are an hour and a half away from the Austin airport. Rather than wake-up groggy at 4 in the morning, I decided to stay up all night and watch movies on my parents satellite (still trying to figure my logic behind this?!?). Both my parents woke early to see me off, and my Mom even graciously drove me to the airport. Thanks Mom! To be fair, my Dad would have come too... but he had a prior engagement. Thanks Dad! =)

I was a little concerned about shipping my bike on the airplane. About 5 months ago, an airline (who's acronym is 2/3rd's that of a popular roadside service) demolished my 12-string acoustic when flying to Peru. My guitar was even in a hardshell case... of course they took no responsibility for it. All the worry was for nothing though, my bike arrived pristine.

The plane from Denver to Moab was TINY!!! Only 17 seats (I think?!?). At this point I am very sick of flying, but all-in-all it was a fun ride.

Moab is crazy beautiful. From the plane the view was spectacular... only to be surpassed by the view from my bike below. Sheer cliffs, tall spires, deep canyons... and all bathed in an eerie red.

At the Moab airport I spent the better part of 2 hours reassembling my bike and packing my gear. Not more than 1 mile down the road did I have to pull off and again repack. This is where I met the nice lady from the Park Service (I think?!?) who stopped to see if I was okay. From her I learned of a great camping spot on the Colorado River (just 4 miles out of town) and a more scenic, less traveled, and very very rough road into Moab... 17 miles away.

True to her word, the campsite was spectacular. Deep in a canyon on the Colorado River. I setup camp, stripped my bike... and rode into town for some food & beer.

09-12-2003 DAY 2 (Moab, UT) - A TOURIST IN MOAB
Today: 7.8 miles Total: 35.7 miles 11.3avg-mph

I didn't do much today. Woke up around 8:30am, lounged around camp until just after noon, and learned that you can make tasty oatmeal with cold water.

I rode into town, walked around a bit... met a friend of a friend, and retired to the brewery for a couple (okay 3) pints of beer.

Today: 41.7 miles Total: 77.4 miles 10.4avg-mph

After much early morning debate, I decided to ride into Arches NP. Problem was, it was very very WINDY!!!

Arches National Park is about 5 miles north of where I am camped, and the first 2 or 3 miles into the park is straight uphill (no kidding, carrying my bike up a ladder would have been easier). Actually I wasn't feeling to bad so it wasn't too excruciating.

Arches (or should I say lack of arches) National Park is gorgeous... despite riding over 12 miles into the park to see only 3 arches. The rock mountains, domes, towers, and spires however were more than worth the trip. It reminded me of Joshua Tree without the Joshua Trees.

When I made it to my turnaround (the 3 arches & The Windows) I only stayed for a few minutes. There were too many people and the light was wrong for a good photograph. I did talk to a nice German couple who told me about a bike trail that runs all the way from Somewhere, Germany to Budapest, Hungary along the Danube. Might be worth checking out. =)

At the arches there were scenic trails, but I just couldn't brinf myself to hike them after riding 16.5 miles uphill and into a headwind. So, off we go!!!

The ride back was mostly downhill and much much faster (I actually hit 34mph - okay 33.8). I couldn't understand it though - how could I be riding into a strong headwind this direction too? Ugh!?!

After a little more than 3 hours, I rode/hobbled (exhausted) into camp. I rested for an hour and rode into town for some dinner and a movie - 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico'. I rode home in the dark (and it was dark) with the stars to guide the way.

09-14-2003 DAY 4 (Moab, UT) - A BUMP IN THE NIGHT
Today: 16.6 miles Total: 94.0 miles 11.3avg-mph

Last night as I rode into my campsite, I met Kye (I think this was his name) and his girlfriend (who's name I can't remember). She was visiting Kye from Taiwan and they were touring the National Parks. Kye is a German Physicist working in Santa Barbara. They were looking for a campsite, so I offered to share mine. After chatting a bit, I headed to bed.

HHHHOOOONNNNKKKK!!!! It's 3am and the horn in the truck at the campsite next to mine is blaring! For 10 minutes it persisted before the owner finally got out of his tent to disconnect his car battery. Heavy sleeper I guess!?! Remember, we're in a canyon. Saying it was loud would be an understatement! AfterwardsI had a hard time getting back to sleep and had crazy dreams the rest of the night/morning.

I got up around 8am and had breakfast with my new friends before they headed off to conclude their trip.

Around 11am I headed into town to run some errands. Nothing too exciting although I did find out that MSR no longer makes their quart size containers of stove fuel. This leaves me the gallon size to fill my 22oz bottle. You do the math!?! ;-)

I went shopping for food, had lunch at the Brewery, and rode back to camp to get ready for tomorrow.

After a highly nutritious meal (1 orange & bag-o-salad) I got a little bored. There was still some daylight left so I decided to ride up the canyon a bit. Sheer 500ft? cliffs rose to the right and shimmered in the setting sun. It was a nice ride.

09-15-2003 DAY 5 (Wind Whistle CG, UT) - WHY AM I DOING THIS AGAIN?
Today: 41.1 miles Total: 135.1 miles 9.0avg-mph

Damn! Today was hard for me. Up and down, up and down - mostly up. It would be nice if the downhill portion of the ride lasted as long as the uphill portion. Why does it have to happen so fast?!?

My goal today, Wind Whistle Campground in the Canyon Rims Recreation Area (about 38 miles south of Moab). After packing my gear and loading my bike, I noted that my bike might possibly weigh more than my VW Microbus. Maybe I should have cut foothole - a la Fred Flintstone - and taken it instead!?! ;-)

My lunch point, La Sal Junction... I was hoping for a restaurant but instead got 2 boarded up shacks. Should that even be on the map?!? After an orange and a Clif Bar (they have new flavors now - Spiced Pumpkin Pie - YUM!) I was off.

Up, up, up... now why did someone spray grafitti all over the side of that monolith wall of rock? It said, "Hole in the Rock - turn left 400ft" in GIANT white block letters. Because their method of advertising, in my humble opinion, was a little tacky - I decided to forge on. I learned later that this place apparently has some historical signifigance. Hmmm, maybe I should have stopped after all.

Along the route their were so many great places to take pictures - one in particular, Wilson Arch. Sorry - no pictures, I was too tired and trying to keep something that might resemble a rythm!!! =)

When I finally made it to the turnoff for my campsite, I had gone almost 36 miles. I was tired. Only 6 more to go (off-route), and guess what?!? It was ALL uphill (okay mostly uphill). By the time I made it to camp, I could barely crawl let alone ride. I walked my bike up the gravel drive into the park and picked one of the first sites that I found.

There are two things that I am extremely thankful for today: 1) there were empty campsites, and 2) the water wasn't out of order.

I met Roberta at Gearheads in Moab. I was filling up my fuel cannister (they sell it by the ounce), she was doing something else - not sure what?!? This was the 12th day of her tour and we were both headed for Wind Whistle - we decided to hook up there.

About two hours after I made it to camp, Roberta strolled in. In all fairness though, she left Moab almost 3 hours after I did - so she rode a bit faster.

It turns out she had just come from the route that I was heading for, so she gave me the low-down on the sites and the good places to camp. We're both headed to the Grand Canyon, but via different routes. Maybe I'll pass her on the road.

After tea, raisins, and talking until 10:30pm, we decided to call it a night. I headed to my tent and slept like a log. I've noticed that each night I've been sleeping a little better. This is good because the 1st night I hardly slept at all.

09-16-2003 DAY 6 (Monticello, UT) - MY FIRST FLAT - OH BOY!!!
Today: 18.5 miles Total: 153.6 miles 7.7avg-mph

Today was a short day, although a little shorter than planned. I woke up extremely sore and wasn't too sure about today's ride. After talking with Roberta a bit, eating breakfast, and packing - I was off! The first few miles I was pretty stiff, but after a while I felt pretty good.

Today was entirely uphill. My average speed slowed to 7.7mph and I felt like I was moving the pace of a broken-legged snail (do snails even have legs?!?). To top it off, there were very strong headwinds. Ugh!?! I didn't see too much today other then the pavement about 2 feet in front of my front tire - and no, it didn't change much. The ocassional brokewn bottle, the dirty diaper, beer cans - you know, the usual. The end of my ride was a 5 mile steep pass in which I had to drop to my lowest gear - now I can't even keep up with that snail. To top it off, the bike is very hard to control at these slow speeds. It wants to veer left or right, but not go straight. Despite this, I obtained a nice rythm and glided (I'm using pleasant words for when I reread this later) to the top. At the top (or what I thought was the top) I decided to stop before heading the final 8 miles into Monticello. There was a campground there, so I pulled in to sit down and drink some water.

I looked around a bit and started to think about staying for the night. When I looked down to see that my rear tire was flat - that was decided - I'm staying. A side note: just this morning Roberta was telling me that she had never gotten a flat while touring - thanks Roberta!?! ;-)

The campground - the Roughlock RV Park is great. So are it's owners Bob, Jane, and their daughter Bobbie-Jane (no kidding!?!). They were extremely friendly and I almost hated to leave. Maybe we'll run into each other again. =) If you're travelling through here by bike, stop in. There's even a restaurant - oops, Steakhouse - sorry Bob! You can't miss it, it's at the top (false-top) of the VERY BIG HILL!!!

09-17-2003 DAY 7 (Blanding, UT) - A SHORT DAY'S RIDE
Today: 32.4 miles Total: 186.0 miles 8.3avg-mph

Pee Wee's secret word for today, 'Headwind'! In some cases I even had to pedal to ride downhill. It's not supposed to work that way is it?

Today's ride was harder than it was supposed to be, at least in my head. For some reason (misread the map I guess) I thought today would be mostly downhill... no such luck.

I rode to Blanding and am now on the ACA Western Express Route. I stopped by the Visitor's Center to ask about Internet access and a photocopy machine, low-and-behold... I had found both. After updating my journal and copying some maps from the HEAVY atlas I had brought, I was off to the Post Office to mail 10lbs of gear back to myself in Texas. Hopefully I won't need that puff jacket in the Grand Canyon?!? I'll let you know (that is if I don't freeze solid).

Things to go: water filter (not a lot of water in the desert in fall), my new Moab Brewery shirt, atlas, MP3 player (believe it or not), a couple of extra non-important bike parts, and a few small odds and ends. I'm looking forward to a lighter ride.

Tonight I am staying in a Motel, and for only $22 / night. Not bad?!? The rooms were actually $25, but I got a deal because my comforter was off being washed.

There is a terrible movie on TV called 'Dangerous Waters', but it was filmed in Oregon on the Deschutes, so I have to watch. =)


09-18-2003 DAY 8 (Blanding, UT) - REST DAY
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 186 miles 0.0avg-mph

Last night in bed my legs started to cramp - so what the hell?!? Today would be a good rest day.

Overall it was pretty uneventful, I basically watched a lot of TV. The only time I left my room was to walk to the store to buy some bananas - oh joy!

09-19-2003 DAY 9 (Natural Bridges NM, UT)
Today: 48.1 miles Total: 234 miles 9.6avg-mph

It looks like my rest day paid off - sort of. Physically I felt pretty good today - even climbing 2000ft over a pass. Mentally, now that's another story. Before any climb today I kept (unintentionally) psyching myself out. Several times today I questioned why I was doing this?!? I kept thinking about where I could find the closest Greyhound Station... but in the end, my insanity returned - or rather prevailed. On I go!

I made it to Natural Bridges about 3 hours earlier then I had planned - when does that ever happen?!? The campground sign read full, but I learned from camping at Joshua Tree that the NP Campground signs ALWAYS say full. I rode the 5 downhill (tomorrow's uphill - ugh!?!) miles into the park and was pleasantly greeted (no kidding, it actually shook my hand) by a half empty campground. I picked my site and made some lunch.

After lunch I became extremely tired. There was not much shade to speak of, so I went to my tent to lay down and read. In reality I never even opened my book, but I did use it as a pillow for a couple of hours.

After getting up I felt terrible. Headache, groggy, worn out. I really wanted to see the Bridges though, so I downed some water, packed my camera, and rode off to do the lovely 9 mile loop - unloaded.

At first the going was tough, but the little exercise proved me well. By the time I made it to the 1st Bridge, Sipapu, I was feeling great.

The 3 Bridges, Sipapu, Kuchina, and Owachomo were originally called President, Senator, and Congressman respectively. I don't know about you, but I'm sure glad they changed the names.

The loop was spectacular and the canyon gorgeous. My two favorites were the Sipapu Bridge and the Anasazi ruins. I'm definietly coming back, but by car, with all of my camera equipment to hike the canyon and try for some amazing shots. The pictures I took from the rim, I'm afraid, just won't do it justice.

09-20-2003 DAY 10 (Lake Powell, UT)
Today: 52.0 miles Total: 286 miles 12.1avg-mph

I woke up to the sound of a crying baby at 2 in the morning. I was still awake at 3 in the morning because of the sound frmo a crying baby. No worries though because I had to use the bathroom anyway and needed the little extra motivation to get out of my warm sleeping bag.

It's 7am and everyone in the park seems to be awake. Huh?!? At 8am, I finally crawled out of bed... and rolled out of the park at 9:30am. Despite the 5 mile uphill, I felt good and looked forward to a long, mostly downhill day.

Between Natural Bridges and Lake Powell there is one stop, Fry Canyon. There's a lodge, a restaurant, and gas pump... unfortunately all was closed when I rode in... so I sat on their porch and had an orange and a banana.

Now is where I start to get a bit worried. My left knee, which has been bothering me a little the last few days, started to hurt a lot. For the next 20 miles it continued to get worse. I'm hoping this will work itself out in the next few days, in the meantime I will favor it and shift the stress to the right leg - which feels fine.

I hobbled into Lake Powell National Inferno - oops, I mean Recreation Area, and rode down to the campground/pile-o-rocks. I was the only person there so I picked the best spot (least amount of rocks), unloaded my gear, and walked down to the lake/mud-puddle. It seems that Southern Utah has been under an extreme drought for the last 5 years. The water level at Lake Powell is about 100ft down, and from what I could see, there wasn't much left. Environmentalists unite - Glen Canyon might soon be restored to it's pre-dam glory.

After what seemed like a 10 mile hike, I made it to the water. I was going to go for a swim, but when I got close... my feet sunk into roughly 2 feet of very sticky, very dark mud. I managed to get my them out, but looking down noticed I now had 10lb blocks of mud for feet. This stuff was hard to get off, and I couldn't get close enough to the water to wash it off. Not the worst predicament I've been in, but it was a bit awkward - and it was a long hike to the batchrooms. I scraped off as much as I could and clumsily sloshed my way back to the Ranger Station.

After cleaning up, I walked out of the bathroom to see Roberta's bike leaning against mine. I guess I would run into her sooner rather than later. I was happy to see her again and have someone else to share the campground with. =)

Roberta did a loop and was coming from the direction in which I am heading. Just think, if I hadn't stayed in Blanding the extra day, we would have missed each other by a couple of hours. We briefed each other about our rides ahead... and retired to light conversation and food experimentation. I'm still not too sure what that was we made?!? ;-)

09-21-2003 DAY 11 (Hanksville, UT)
Today: 51.2 miles Total: 337 miles 9.6avg-mph

Today we got off to a late start. We were up early enough, but spent the better part of an hour playing photo shoot. We both wanted some pictures of ourselves riding, which is a little hard to do by yourself, so we staged a few shots. Unfortunately today wasn't the best day to do it since we both had long hard rides ahead of us... but as the old adage goes - 'beggars can't be choosers'.

At 10 o'clock we said our goodbyes, confident that we'd cross paths again somewhere near the Grand Canyon.

Destination: Hanksville! I started out with a very steep climb which when looking upon yesterday, made me shudder. I could tell I was uncounciously favoring my bad knee because my right leg was getting very tired. All in all, my knee gave me very little trouble today. A good sign if I do say so myself. Now I can abandon those thoughts of air lift rescue and get on with my trip. ;-)

Today I watched the scenery change from the red rock mountains to the dull brown prairieland. It was odd how quickly this happened... it seemed like I only put my head down for a second, then {poof} no more rocks of red.

Pete and Jennifer waved me down at the top of a steep hill (and luckily my high point for the day) to see if I wanted some water. I graciously accepted while playing with their dog Sparky. It was nice to be helped by someone in an RV rather than being run off the road by one.

I rode into camp around 3:45pm, a little later then usual. I pretty much threw everything off my bike and headed for the recommended Stan's Burger Barn for an Avocado Sandwich.

I was sitting in camp studying my map when another tourer, also named Stephen, strolled in. I went over and introduced myself and found that he too (or three) is headed towards the Grand Canyon, via Roberta's route. He's on a super ride though and has to be home by October 2nd, probably too early for us to cross paths again.

We met for dessert at the campground restaurant and I learned that there are 2 riders in front of me on my route. Maybe I'll get to meet them, but more than likely - a giant game of cat n' mouse.

09-22-2003 DAY 12 (Torrey, UT)
Today: 50.4 miles Total: 387 miles 10.5avg-mph

I got up and had something other then oatmeal and bananas for breakfast. Pancakes, yum! I had some time to kill before the store opened so I figured, why not?

Today was entirely uphill, but surprisingly I felt really good. The first 37 miles to Capitol Reef went by like nothing - in some cases I even felt like the bike was riding me. ;-) This was supposed to be my stop for the day, but Torrey was only 11 miles further... and after the day I've had so far, how hard could it be?!? Big mistake!!! Almost 2000ft in 11 miles. I felt like I was riding my bike up a ladder.

Outside of Capitol Reef, in the middle of the Utah desert and the bottom of a narrow canyon, I found the oddest thing... u-pick fruit orchards. Joy!!! I had heard about the historic Fruita district all the way back in Moab... it wasn't a complete surprise, but odd nontheless. At one small orchard I stopped to pick my lunch, and possibly dinner - but found only 1 small pear. If you promise not to say anything - I will tell you that I snuck out of the orchard without paying for the pear. In all fairness, it was a really small pear.

In Torrey I forst stopped at the Robber's Roost Coffee/Bookstore. Cool place... they have live music and an organic vegetable market on Saturdays. I inquired about a place to stay and was told about the hostel a few blocks down the street.

Great recommendation! Donna and Duane, both from Washington and Florida - two places I have lived, built the Sandcreek RV Park/Hostel. It was $10/night for a bed in the hostel, or $11 for a tent site. The hostel it was!

I was sitting outside, drinking a beer, and writing in my journal when I met Dana, then Deitre (sp?) the German Cowboy, and finally Al. Dana and Deitre are seasonal residents while Al is retired and lives here year round. Deitre was (is) cool... a long haired Harley looking guy with a cowboy hat and a thick German accent. He comes to Torrey three weeks every year for vacation and then heads back to Germany to resume work. Dana is a retired Dentist who splits her time between here and her home in the Ozarks.

While sitting around and chatting, Dana mentioned that a movie was filmed in Torrey with the Sandcreek RV Park as the setting. It was a B movie called 'No Place Like Home' and featured none other then Judge Reinhold and Richard Moll. None of us had seen (or even heard of) the movie, so we headed over to Al's to watch it on the big screen (at least big to me at 19" ;-).

Now it wasn't the best movie I'd ever seen, but it was cool to see the places I had biked through that morning, and the hostel, on the screen. Wow, I'm storing my bike in Judge Reinhold's shop. =)

Torrey is a great town with great people. Quaint and somewhat hip. I'm definitely staying an extra day, possibly two. =)

09-23-2003 DAY 13 (Torrey, UT) - REST DAY
Today: 31.3 miles Total: 419 miles 10.7avg-mph

Now how did I bike 31 miles and not have gone anywhere?!? One of those great mysteries of the South I guess.

I woke up at 7:30am and walked to the office to pay for another night. Donna offered me a cup of coffee and with Duane we sat down and talked a bit.

It turns out that by the end of October, Torrey becomes a ghost town. Everything closes and most of the people leave for their proverbial 'Souths of the Winter'. Only a skeleton crew stays on, but even they don't work. Most just collect unemployment. Thoughts of holing up here and pursuing a career in writing started to sound very enticing.

After breakfast at the Capitol Reef Cafe, where I met Mary, I rode out to Bicknell (the big city - population 200) to see about using the Internet at the library. When I arrived it was noon, and they didn't open until 1pm - so I rode around town, lost my motivation to sit in front of a computer for a few hours, and rode back to Torrey.

For the afternoon I sat around the hostel, had a couple of beers, and immersed myself in some Kerouac.

After her shift, Mary stopped by to invite me out to her place to spend the evening with her and her boyfriend. She gave me directions and told me to show up whenever.

A couple of hours later I saddled up and headed to Teasdale (the next town over) to see what Mary and Chad were up to.

The ride was gorgeous. Green fields, rocky spires, and sweeping views. When I made it to Mary's place, no one was home (other then the random animal parts strewn around the yard - not a good sign), so I pulled out my Kerouac and waited on the porch.

About 2 chapters later Chad and Mary showed up. They were at their friends house collecting fresh vegetables - something of an oddity out here. We all chatted for a bit, but work had to be done... they both went outside to tan some deer hides, which I believe had come from roadkill (a-ha, now the animal parts make sense). I watched for a bit, but was very disinterested. I started to get a little bored so I excused myself for a walk around the property and eventually a ride back to the hostel.

But first, something for dinner. I rode back to Torrey and then to the junction of Hwy 12 (where I will continue my ride) and stopped at the subway for a Veggie Sandwich. There I met 3 BOB toting tourers headed to the east coast, and a German guy who started in Alaska. For the relatively sane, a BOB is a trailer that some tourers use in leiu of panniers. They look cool, but I have never used one.

09-24-2003 DAY 14 (Torrey, UT) - ANOTHER REST DAY
Today: 6.6 miles Total: 426 miles 0.0avg-mph

Today was mostly functional. I lubed my bike, shopped for food, and mailed some post cards. Nothing terribly exciting.

I will comment on the canteloupe at the market - there were 2 and I wanted one (or both) very badly. Problem was, neither was quite ripe and I had nothing big enough to cut them with. I am really missing fresh produce right now... I have been settling for questionable bananas and oranges up to this point. I think my next tour will be around Hawaii. =)


09-25-2003 DAY 15 (Escalante, UT) - THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD!
Today: 63.3 miles Total: 489 miles 10.0avg-mph

Today was a loooong day... my longest yet. I had planned on leaving early, but slept so poorly the night before, I didn't wake up until after 8. It took some coaxing to get myself out of bed, but since I was already late... I might as well make myself a little later and head down the street for breakfast.

I packed up... said my goodbyes, and wolfed down some french toast. It was 9am, it was windy, and it was cold. I rode out of town, a little nervous about my 2600ft climb over Boulder Mountain, but soon found company in another rider (on a recumbent) heading for the same destination. Ivo (prounounced Devo w/o the D for all you 80's fans) is from Switzerland and has already biked over 12,000 miles in Europe, New Zealand, and the US during the last year and a half. I was fortunate to meet him as this is the last leg of his trip. He's heading to Flagstaff, AZ... then flying home to rejoin the "real" world.

Pretty much from the get-go it was uphill. I rode with Ivo for a bit, but his lower gears were worn out, making it harder for him to ride uphill... so, I rode ahead - spacing out in my own little world. I noticed today that I am counting my revolutions... I get to 100 then start again at 1. I used to do this in high school cross country... I guess to get my mind of of the race. Half the time I don't even realize I am doing it.

Highway 12 is supposed to be the 2nd most scenic drive in the United States. After getting to the top of Boulder I could see why. Sweeping views all over Utah and into Colorado and Arizona. Simply amazing! Of course this is rated by someone driving a motorized vehicle, by bicycle the rating drops a bit since it is such a steep climb. ;-)

The trees, alders I believe, are changing their colors as we speak. Reds, yellows, oranges (my 3 current favorite colors)... a little green - and all looking as if they're bleeding off the canvas. Yes Timmy, in this case it is okay to color outside of the lines. =)

At the very top was a 9400ft summit sign. I waited - not long - for Ivo... we took some pictures and had lunch.

Now the fun part - the downhill. It was great! We dropped 1400ft in about 10 minutes. Ivo and I met up in Boulder Town, our halfway point for the day. We stopped by the Anasazi Heritage Museum, and were off to do the Hogsback... a stretch of road with no shoulder, 100ft drops to either side, and great views of the Escalante Staircase. It wasn't too bad, actually it was quite pleasant... there wasn't too much traffic save for that one tour bus which kept passing me and then pulling off the road (to enjoy the views), where I would pass it. I think this happened about five times over the course of the next couple hours. Maybe I was part of the tour?!? =)

The rest of the ride into Escalante was HOT & UPHILL. We rolled into town just before dark, hit the grocery (the biggest one so far) and walked across the street to the cafe.

After dinner we rode by a campground in town which had nice cabins, no RV's, and real grass. We decided to check it out... the owner wanted $10 for each tent, but Ivo talked her down to $10 total since our tents were so small.

09-26-2003 DAY 16 (Ruby Inn/Bryce Canyon, UT) - BRYCE & THE 50 PICTURES!!!
Today: 45.9 miles Total: 535 miles 8.7avg-mph 40.7max-mph

We woke to a semi-warm morning and slowly started breaking camp. After yesterday's epic ride, I could barely move my legs.

After spending far too much time trying to find space for all the food I bought the day before, I was off. Ivo left about 10 minutes before me, and although I would catch glimpses of him on some of the longer stretches of road, we wouldn't meet again until the top of the first climb - 18 miles away.

After a bit of food - lunch #1 (I'm starting to feel like a hobbit with my new eating habits), Ivo was off and I struck up a conversation with a couple from Seattle. It seems the majority of the people I have met on this trip are from 3 places: Germany, Oregon, and Washington. I've never been to Germany, but Oregon and Washington I know a little about... it's been fun reminiscing, but still no one from Anacortes.

After a very steep and very fun downhill (I peaked 41mph), I met up with Ivo in the tiny town (don't blink - no seriously, DON'T BLINK) of Cannonville. His bike had started to give him trouble - so we stopped for a bit while he looked it over. It turned out to be a very worn bearing on his derailleur (sp?) - hmmm, and after only 12k miles... I would get the manufacturer on the phone!?! ;-) After the quick diagnosis, we set off for the 13-mile climb into Bryce Canyon.

And uphill it was...

I round a corner and {BOOM}, Bryce canyon in all it's glory. There was a parking area up ahead, so I pedalled up and stopped to wait for Ivo. In the meantime I pulled out my camera and took about 50 pictures.

Last January I went with some friends to Prague in the Czech Republic. The medeival architecture there was stunning (if you've seen the beginning of the movie xXx with Vin Diesel, you know what I m talking about). The view from the Mossy Cave Trailhead reminded me a bit or Prague - a huge citadel perched on the hill - not waiting for knights and kings, but cowboys, indians, and the Wild Gang of Butch Cassidy.

Ruby's Inn is a resort turned town (read tourist trap). It was a little off my route, but Ivo was going to explore Bryce the next day, so we decided to share a camping site before we parted ways the next morning.

Once Ivo fixed his bike, or made it work rather - not so sure fixed is the right word, he let me take it for a spin. I've never ridden a recumbent (those weird looking bikes where you lay on your back) and at first was a bit shaky... but soon was able to ride with the best of them (that is if the best of them were 4 years old and just learned to ride a bike).

Before bed I went in the hot tub... nice campground huh?!? =) About an hour later I was in bed about to doze off when all of the sudden... two covered wagons (am I dreaming) came rolling by carrying the voices who were singing the tune 'Oh Susanna'... huh... I didn't realize there were so many verses.

09-27-2003 DAY 17 (Panguitch Lake, UT) - JLo WHERE ARE YA GONNA GO?
Today: 42.9 miles Total: 578 miles 9.9avg-mph

On my first day out of Moab, I started thinking - 'You always see cassette tapes along the side of the orad (usually strung-out), I wonder if there are any CD's?'. Sure enough not more than a mile down the road, almost as if I had materialized it, was a CD. I didn't stop to pick it up though, I was tired and really wanted to get to camp.

Yesterday on my way up to Bryce I saw my 2nd CD. This time I had to stop... so I turned around and saved it from it's eternal life in the hot desert sun. Wouldn't you know it?!? (and my apologies to all of you Jeniffer Lopez fans out there)... a JLo CD. Well, I did find it on the side of the road afterall. I can just picture some guy flipping through his girlfriends CD's, and upon seeing the CD in question, not wanting subjection to any form of musical torture, accidentally dropping it out of the window, while directing his girlfriend to the beautiful sites of Bryce off to the left.

Feeling a little guilty from resurrecting this CD from the dead... I came up with a new plan... a biker game of tag of sorts. I signed the CD and then gave it to Ivo who then signed it. His job to give it to the next tourer he sees... and on and on. Maybe 10 years from now I will be given a worn (too worn to play with any luck), but well travelled JLo CD. Only time will tell. =)

It was a bit chilly this morning and Ivo was still asleep, so I decided to have breakfast at the lodge. Pancakes and coffee!!! I'm usually not much of a coffee drinker, but for some reason it has been really tasting good. Hopefully I'm not forming a habit.

After breakfast I packed up camp and rode out, parting company with Ivo as he headed into the park. I might see him again in Zion (but since I'm in Zion while transcribing this, I'll let you know I didn't), but most likely he will beat me there by a day or two. His route into Zion is much shorter and much flatter than mine. I thought a lot about riding the shorter route, but in the end... a 10,600ft summit and Cedar Breaks National Monument win out.

At the summit of the climb out of Bryce, there was of all things - a bike path. The sign said it was to give riders the feeling of a motor vehicle experience. Huh, didn't I choose to pedal to leave behind the motorized experience?!? In any case it was fun, fun, fun!!! 10 miles of a mostly downhill - roughly the equivalent of a mountain bikers singletrack - through very scenic terrain... and all to myself. =)

After the bike path, the scenery changed from gorgeous to that needing a bit more imagination. More Hanksville prairieland... the rest of the ride into Panguitch was fairly uneventful.

In Panguitch I first found the library... I wanted to use the internet to catch up on my journal - but wouldn't you know it, closed on Saturdays. I have had the worst luck with libraries on this trip. In leiu of spacing out in front of a computer for a few hours, I rode back to a pizza place I had passed and had a vegetarian pizza.

Panguitch, at 6660ft was the low point for me today. It was also the start of a very long climb up to Brian Head.

The climb from Panguitch to Panguitch Lake wasn't too bad. I arrived around 3pm and wanted to go further... problem was there was nothing until the other side of the pass. Trying to do the whole pass today, although enticing, would have put me dangerously close to nightfall... so camping at the lake it was.

The campground was almost closed... and the only open one on that side of the mountain. No toilets or water, but there was a store down the street. Plenty of firewood though - so tonight my first campfire. =) Apparently there are also bears afoot - so tonight, my food goes in a tree.

09-28-2003 DAY 18 (Cedar City, UT) - BRIAN LOST HIS HEAD (aka: DEATH MARCH ON HWY 14)?!?
Today: 40.0 miles Total: 618 miles 9.6avg-mph

I'm reminded of one of my favorite Ani DiFranco albums as I set off today... can you guess which one it is? =)

Despite being stiff (a recurring theme it seems) I had a leisurely stroll up the mountain. I'm learning to pedal in a lower gear so I'm not getting as tired. So far it's been working, and although you would think the opposite... I'm probably getting to 'there' faster.

The trees today were like the trees on Boulder, but more brilliant. Vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows all screaming to be admired - I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the road. This is how I imagined Maine to be, not Southern Utah. In Washington the leave turn 2 colors, green and dead. Here I have been pleasantly surprised.

"Hey hang on and we'll give you a tow!", yelled the guy from the drivers side of his old pickup. His buddy is sitting in the passenger seat with a shotgun resting on his lap and conveniently pointed at my head.

"No, but thanks anyway!", I call back, just hoping they'll speed off to wherever it is they're going.

By this time my breathing was getting a bit shallow. I didn't notice the thin air on Boulder, but I could definitely tell the difference up here. Of course 10k feet is nothing to an experienced mountaineer, but to an amateur on hiatus travelling on an 80lb bike... let's just say I've felt better.

Once I reached the top (the 2nd highest I've ever been on ground) I was a little bummed - no summit sign. There was one at Cedar Breaks though, a fwe hundred feet down... so I took a picture there.

After talking with the Ranger and a nomadic couple from Florida, I headed for what I thought to be the fun part of my ride. In truth it was the scariest ride of my trip, and will be remembered affectionately as {trumpets please}, 'The Death March on Highway 14'!

Traffic had been light up to this point - this changed... and the traffic, combined with steep downhill, no shoulder, and crazy multi-directional winds, all combined to put me in a very compromising situation. At average speeds of 30mph I sped down the hill (20 miles & 4500ft drop) trying to hug the white line as best as possible. Cars, trucks, RV's, whatever would speed by and I could (if I wanted) reach my arm out and touch them. What do you call jet wash on a car? Auto wash?!? Their auto wash, combined with the confused winds, were throwing me every which way but loose.

The situation was tense, but I prevailed. At 3pm I rolled into a HOT Cedar City and was finally able to relax. Strolling through town I noted a hotel sign advertising a $32 special - ding! ding! ding! This is my place. In hopes of seeing a play at the Utah Shakesperean Festival and updating my journal, I booked my room for 2 nights.

09-29-2003 DAY 19 (Cedar City, UT) - REST DAY & SOME ON STAGE ENTERTAINMENT?!?
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 618 miles 0.0avg-mph

Today's plan: (1) sleep in, (2) find the library and update my journal, (3) purchase a ticket for one of 3 plays - The Little Shop of Horrors, The Comedy of Errors, or The Importance of Being Earnest.

Sleeping in... absolutely no problem. Finding the library - did I mention that I am directionally challenged?!? The play, no such luck - before I even made it to the box office I realized it was Monday. Nevertheless, I stopped by and asked, "Any plays tonight?".

"No plays on Mondays.", came the reply.

I was looking forward to comparing the award winning Shakespeare Festival with that of the festival in my college ama-matre (how do you spell that?), Ashland, Oregon. Oh well, maybe next time.

The last couple of weeks I have been thinking a lot about my music. Not trying - mind you - ideas just keep popping into my head. Maybe it's the clear air?!? Travelling has been an amazing experience, but I'm looking forward to settling down for a bit and setting up a mini-studio. I really miss my guitar and was thinking that I probably should have brought my harmonica along afterall. Oh well, this journal is probably the better for it. =)

09-30-2003 DAY 20 (Virgin, UT) - WOW, ONLY $27 FOR A TENT SITE!?! ;-)
Today: 45.9 miles Total: 664 miles 11.9avg-mph

Over the last 3 weeks I've been noting that when a car, truck, whatever?!? passes me, their eyes turn from the road, to me, and then to their spouse. I wonder how many conversations have gone like this, "Now what the hell does that a**hole think he's doing - doesn't he know he's in the middle of the desert?". =)

Today was late day... I didn't get up until 9:30am and didn't leave town until after noon. I attempted to get up at 7:30am, but that didn't just wasn't gonna happen. I decided to spend the morning at the library updating my journal... but that wasn't gonna happen either. I spent most of my time replying to the numerous emails I had received since the day before... (hmmm, is there a vortex here).

After stopping by the store to buy some fruit, I headed out. Today was to be my first day of Interstate riding - I wasn't looking forward to it. The map claimed that traffic was light, but I beg to differ. At least there were wide shoulders... the main thing that I didn't like was crossing the exits... thankfully there were only a few.

One particulary sketchy spot was littered with what looked like robot parts. I rode over something and my bike all of the sudden felt squishy. Uh-oh, 'flat tire', I thought... but they both looked fine. I was still on the Interstate and was only a mile from my exit, so I forged on.

It continued to feel weird, but everything looked okay from my vantage point. My stop (or so I thought at the time) was only 6 downhill miles from the exit... so again I forged on.

Damn, it was a flat. Only 1 mile from La Verkin and in the scorching sun my rear tire went completely flat. So begins the process: remove all gear, flip the bike, throw the chain (get all greasy), and remove the rear wheel. Upon inspection I found a rather gnarled piece of chicken wire sticking through the tire. I removed it, replaced the tube (oops, only 1 left), and repacked for the remainder of my ride into town.

La Verkin was scary, I didn't like it's vibe at all. The only 2 places to camp were smack dab in the middle of town and eerily resembled something from a white trash horror movie. Virgin was only 6 miles away, and there was a campground there. After going back and forth for no more then a fraction of a second, Virgin it was. Zion was only 20 miles, but it was getting a bit late.

I made it to the campground, pardon me - resort, and they wanted $27+tax for a tent site. It was highweay robbery but I didn't want to push my luck, so I took it. While there I took advantage of all the amenities - pool, hot tub, piano, and free movie.

I went to sleep around 10pm under a huge crecent moon.

10-01-2003 DAY 21 (Springdale, UT) - ZION DAY #1 - ONLY A TUBE REPAIR KIT PLEASE!?!
Today: 20.4 miles Total: 684 miles 9.2avg-mph

Last night was a long night. For some reason I couldn't fall asleep and tossed and turned all night. Luckily it was a short day... I was planning to ride to Zion and stay there for a couple of days.

The ride was uneventful, but I did stop at an organic market along the way to make a lunch of some freshly picked peaches. They were very good, but not quite ripe (as usually is the case).

Springdale, Utah - the tourist town at Zion. It's one long stertch of road with motels, restaurants, and gift shops on every corner... as I rode through, it seemed like it went on forever... but in reality, maybe only 3 miles.

I was hoping to camp in the National Park and was in luck... there were a lot of empty sites. I picked one next to a small stream - still not sure where the water is coming from - setup camp, snagged some free fuel for my stove, and rode into town.

I stopped by the Springdale Cycle Shop for a tube repair kit... of course they're not going to have tubes to fit my odd size tires... this is Mountain Biking country afterall. Turns out I was wrong... the owner Vince is a tourer himself and his store is properly equipped, having just what I needed. So, instead of buying 'just what I needed', I bought 2 new tires, 4 new tubes, a tube repair kit, and a t-shirt. Okay, you may be asking youself - 'How did that happen?'. Well, let me explain... my front tire was old and was cracking... my rear tire was new, but not a touring tire - I could only inflate it to 60psi which created quite a bit of drag... the new tires are 700x32c instead of 38c (thinner), so four new tubes - 2 for the bike and 2 spares... the tube repair kit to save my butt when I'm in the middle of nowhere - I should have had one anyway... the t-shirt because I only have one and I like it.

Vince, the owner, was cool, he showed me the proper way to change a tire and let me use his tools. I met Timmy there too who had a bike which more resembled a motorcycle. The thing was stout and I have never seen tires that wide... I'm sure one could replace the donut spare on your car.

Since I didn't really feel like I had spent enough money, I decided to see the Zion movie on the 6 story (really) big screen. The grand effect of this movie - I miss rock climbing!


10-02-2003 DAY 22 (Springdale, UT) - ZION DAY #2 - SINGING IN THE RAIN!
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 684 miles 0.0avg-mph

It's been exactly 3 weeks since I left Austin... the weather thus far has been pristine. Last night was a different, but welcome, story. We had the most amazing thunderstorm I ahve ever been witness to. At first a few drops of rain - oops - time to close my rainfly (I have been sleeping with it open since my 2nd night in Moab for a better view of the stars) - then the lightning (almost as if I were bombarded by a busload of foreign tourists all simultaneously snapping pictures of my campsite) - then the heavy rain (whoops - should probably put my gear under the picnic table) - and finally the thunder. This was the really spectacular part:

from the left...
...from the right
no that was an echo
are you sure?
it's everywhere
behind and above me
now under me

I am in awe!

After waking and having breakfast, I decided to hunt down an authentic Indian flute. Should be easy in a town like this, yes? I neglected to buy one while in Peru, and I'm currently without a musical instrument... so, why not!?!

Let me preface this by saying, "I hate to shop - especially in touristy gift shops!". So, the first place I went - no luck, but they had rain sticks. The second place - nope, but they too had rain sticks. The third place I went - no flutes, but guess what?!? they had rain sticks. I'm from the Pacific Northwest, now why would I want a rainstick? =) Actually I do want one, but in this case I'm looking for something a little more challenging.

Well, it appears that the fourth time is actually the charm. I found a beautiful handmade Navajo flute. I tried out a couple, and not really knowing too much about what I was doing... bought the best looking one. I couldn't wait to get back to my campsite to fiddle (or is it flute ;-) around with it.

After 20 minutes of very horrific sounds... wouldn't you know it, it stops working. I blow, but no sound comes out. Bummer! Back to the gift shop to exchange it.

After an inquisition that would have made the Spaniards blush with envy, they let me choose a different flute. This time, being a highly accomplished flute player, I played them all and chose the best sounding one. =)

I barely made it back to camp before the rain. THOSE DAMN RAVENS!!! This time they pecked apart one of my panniers and the waist strap of my raincoat... I feel somewhat satisfied knowing that they weren't able to get to my food. Okay, everything in the tent - hopefully they won't tear it apart.

Since it had started to rain, I figured it would be a great time to take the shuttle through Zion Canyon. On the shuttle I would stay dry (if that lady in front of me would close her window) and partake in the viewing of waterfalls galore. At the last stop, The Temple of Sinawava, I left the shuttle to hike the Riverwalk Trail and then back into the Narrows - you know, where are those cool canyon photos are taken of the swirly red rock and the perfect sunlight. The rain had pretty much stopped and a smell reminiscent of that first fall shower was in the air. I hiked the paved Riverwalk Trail to the end, then through and up the river into the Narrows. The water was a little chilly - but it did clean off my feet. =) By the way, just after a thunderstorm is not the safest time to be hiking through the canyons - just thought I would throw that out there. =)

The hike was gorgeous and I must have taken close to one hundred photos (Bryce Canyon eat your heart out). At a small waterfall the weather started to look a bit menacing, so I decided to turn around. By the time I made it back, the sun was shining and I was getting hungry... so back to camp.

Back at camp I decided to help myself to some of that tasty grub that the ravens so ravenously (note: root = raven) tore my campsite apart for. Then onto some music... I think I've almost figured out the scale on my flute... and preliminary test reveal that it may not be chromatic and it's definitely not a full octave.

10-03-2003 DAY 23 (Springdale, UT) - ZION DAY #3 - RAIN RAIN GO AWAY...
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 684 miles 0.0avg-mph

Entry coming soon...

TO BE CONTINUED... (when I can find reliable internet access)
last update October 3rd, 2003