Day 18, June 21, Blanding, UT to Dolores, CO

We made it to Colorado and hopefully have left the blistering 110-120 degree heat behind us!  Great ride today where we actually made decent time and enjoyed terrain where we could maintain our speed.  
Slightly after Monticello, about 28 miles into the ride, the family that we met at Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch stopped and gave us water.  They were excited to see us, but we were equally glad to see them.  It was so nice to see such enthusiastic children — the boy 10 and the daughter 12,  (I’m blanking on their names) all full of questions.   When I was really tired and a bit nauseous from the heat a few days ago after climbing the Hog Back Ridge on Highway 12 enroute to Boulder, I told the boy after he saw us on the bikes that he could give us water any time.  The dad had given me some good stretches to do. (I guess I must have looked pretty exhausted).  [The father has the blog address so hopefully he’ll give me everyone’s name]
Apparently, for the last 4 days, they were eager to find us again and give us water.  

Shortly after entering Colorado, a series of thunderheads formed and followed us for about 25 miles.  The temps dropped by about 25 degrees and was quite enjoyable. When we got to Dove Creek, the cross winds had increased to about 50 mph, so we had lunch in a do it yourself car wash.  I checked the weather and radar and the forecast called for high winds above 50 and lightening, but unlikely the rain would not touch the ground.  We waited about 20 minutes in our car wash, finished lunch and took off again.  In about 15 minutes we reached a spot where it had poured for a 1/2 mile or so.  We thought we had beaten the storm. In about 10 minutes the wind really picked up with dirt, plants, tumble weeds and hay whizzing across the road. I had to stop several times as I wasn’t  sure I could keep the bike on the road.  I removed a lot of hay from my bike and in my biking glasses.  After about 30 minutes, the cross wind turned into a tailwind and turned the hazard into a joy ride.  By the time the storm subsided the snow capped mountains of  Colorado were a lot closer.  

Three states down and the Utah heat behind us. 

The thunderhead approaches with cooling temps and 50+ mph winds

6 miles outside of Dolores, CO

Dinner at Dolores River Brewery

I hope to catch up on previous days st some point …

Day 17, June 20, Hite to Blanding, UT

Hope to update the last several days’ blogs when we have more time and add some of the photos.  

After a great night’s sleep on our pads on top of the Ranger Station patio, we got up at 3:30 and hit the road in the dark at about 4:40 am.  We really wanted to beat the heat. 

The stars were incredible only surpassed by the sunrise on the red buttes and canyon walls.    We had a very long ride today.  We went up 51 miles at roughly a 3% grade with a headwind which made it tough for us to go much over 8 MPH. At about 1:00 pm or so we had a fun downhill, but it was so hot and dry we had to stop and rehydrate along the 15 mile descent.  

At one of our stops a very cheery man, Bob Sutton, traveling with his nieces, Josey and Lindsay, stopped and backed up, offered us water and told us about their biking exploits.  More to be added here.  

With a smile they warned us about several great descents and some tough ascents, little did we know how tough they were. 

We thought we were going to arrive in Blanding shortly thereafter, but the road had other plans for us.   We encountered 5 very steep climbs (13% grade) and never ending false summits. Finally, we saw a sign for Blanding – only 3 more miles in 100+ temps.  

We arrived at our hotel (Four Corners Inn with a bit over 9 hours in the saddle, not including stops, a total of 79 miles.  Probably one of the most grueling days.  We each got to our beds and quickly fell asleep for at least an hour in the cool air of our room.  We showered and felt much better and went to eat where we found our friends, Bob, Josey and Lindsay eating and ended up joining them for dinner.  More to add later.  Need to get some shut eye. 

Early morning 

Mark crossing a bridge

Well after the 51 mile grind uphill for hours, we thought we were through, but encountered some nice 13% grade climbs in 115 + temps.  

Many miles before Blanding…

Day 16: Hanksville to Hite, UT

It’s hot here in Utah, temps well over 100 and records around 115. We are leaving on the early side now to help avoid the heat.  Arrived in Hite after passing through the red canyons of the Northern Wash, a lovely 20 mile downhill through curvy canyons. Then we rode along Lake Powell, crossed the Colorado River and bike up the road to Hite with our temp gauges indicating over 120!   We have been downing water and much Gatorade. We arrived at the Hite General Store around 2:00 pm.  

Janice and Bob run the general store and are the kindest people.  They sat us down in their air conditioned store and offered us a free a drink each as we had biked there.  We didn’t move much for the next 3 hours and we’re generally scared to go out in the 100+ weather.  I thought components of my bike might melt

As soon as we entered the store Janice gave us the box of camping equipment that we put together and Kym Williams mailed to Hite.  The box was complete with needed snacks and our down sleeping bags, pads and tent to keep us warm…..    We ended  up sleeping under the shade of the Ranger Station.  It was so hot we just slept on our pads with with a t-shirt and shorts on.  
More to come on this….

Red Canyons of the Northern Wash on way down from Hanksville to Lake Powell.  

Tough to cool down in this heat…

Downhill to Hite Station

The General Store in Hite. 

We stayed in the air conditioned General Store at Hite for a good 3 plus hours until the store closed. 

Our sleeping accomodations in the 100 degree heat. We opted to sleep on our sleeping pads on top of the cooler cement outside the Ranger Station.  No need for our tent and down sleeping bags!  Thanks to Pius Hsu who sent us this picture.  We had a great conversation with him and his family.  He liked our sleeping accomodations. 

Day 15: Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch, just short of Boulder to Hanksville, UT

More will be added to this day – 90 miles.  I felt a bit woosey after yesterday’s heat and did not eat much dinner, but felt fine in the morning after a decent night’s sleep. Big climb out of the gate today – a little over 3000. Will post more later. 

Beating the heat

Day 14: Bryce Canyon to Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch, just short of Boulder, UT

Beautiful country, but really hot and huge climbs.  More later.  When there is time.  

On the way down to the Escalante River.  Look closely and you can see Mark behind the tractor trailer 

Climbing out of the Canyon of the Escalante River in 100+ temps on top of too hot to touch freshly rolled asphalt on the way up the “Hogback.”  

Day 12, June 15: Milford to Cedar City, UT

We ordered grilled cheese and ham sandwiches for breakfast from the Chinese restaurant the night before for breakfast and nuked them for our hot breakfast.  We also ordered BLTs for lunch.  

We went to bed early and slept a little later to 7:00 am to recuperate from the day before.  

Today was more of a rest day compared to yesterday. We rode 56 miles. During the morning we rode through  numerous alfalfa farms and marveled at the circular water systems.  What was high desert only miles back, blossomed into lush fields with water and determination.  Utah is also known as Mormon country but after today we think it should also be called poisonous snake country. I discovered the first one this morning, Mark tried to grab it and the massive 15 inch serpent unsuccessfully tried to bite him.  As we reached mile 10 and entered Minersville we saw more poisonous snakes. For the day we saw a total of 7, most had been taken care of by cars.  Another interesting observation was that since yesterday Mark counted  9 cooler tops along the road at various spots. It appears that in Utah if you are going to strap a cooler to the roof, an ample amount of duct tape would solve a growing problem.  Hard to keep beer cold without a lid.

One big climb today of 1800 ft, but  we took it slow.  We stopped at a market in Minersville for refreshments about 14 miles outside of Milford.  On the way down from our climb up the unnamed pass near Dry Willow Peak, a headwind started and continued to increase to about 25 to 30 MPH.  Despite going downhill it was an effort to go much faster than about 15 MPH. When the road leveled out and we started the gradual ascent to Cedar City, we struggled to pedal against the wind in the heat.  The remaining 23 miles took a lot longer than we thought as attempted to maintain speeds  greater than about 10 MPH.  We had a pit stop at Family Dollar to down a much needed Gatorade.  

We arrived at the Stratford Court; cleaned and oiled our chains (for the 4500 ft. climb up Brian Pass tomorrow) and went for a swim in the pool. In the parking lot of the hotel was a drive through shave ice stand.  I had a blackberry and lemon one that completely quenched my thirst before the much needed swim in the pool.  Perfect dinner at the Brickhouse Cafe.  Ordered chicken kabobs and veggies for lunch tomorrow at a food truck next to the shave ice shack. 

I think this is a baby Great Basin Rattle Snake across the from the Hudson Inn.  

Lots of shale oil goes through Milford, but this mile long frieght train is filled with corn syrup — to help you keep the pounds on.  

One of many endless alfalfa fields. 

Watch out for tractors

Purple Thistle

Approaching Todd’s Market in Minersville. 

Things you find on the side of the road….

A dust twister headed our way.  

The mystery of the cooler lids along the highway.  This could be related to the phenomena that when you see a car about every 15 minutes in either direction,  70% of the time both cars and bikes pass at the same exact moment.  This is an excellent research area for a graduate student.  We dread this moment especially with RVs.  The RVs towing cars are exceptionally bad and probably think we are Jack Rabbits. 

Road kill

Family Dollar rescue just in time with cold Gatorade. 

Day 11: Baker, NV to Milford, UT

Hard day today 84 miles, 3 climbs totaling 4,000 ft and temps hitting in the 90s – hard to tell how hot it really is as our Garmins are baking in the sun and show much hotter temps.  Hit our third State – Utah and are now in the Mountain Time Zone.  

Any way, started out the day at Breakfast at Kerouac’s.  Opened a couple of months ago by Kate and Jake from Brooklyn, NY.  A really fun place with great food – both Mark and I had a veggie fritatta and a blueberry muffin.  

The town of Baker has a great vibe.  The National Park is the newest and one of the least traveled.  A place to come back to. 

If the Pony Express, Route 50, is the loneliest road in America, the stretch from Baker to Milford must be one of the most isolated highways.  We went 84 miles without any services and maybe two ranches well off the road.   The blog will be continued at a later time as I’m tired.  

Coming into Milford, UT – a long day!

Day 10, June 13: Ely to Baker, NV

Today was such a nice day.  Perfect biking weather as compared to yesterday.  Upper 40s in the early morning to mid 70s later in the day with scattered cloud cover.  Two 1500 foot climbs over 62 miles.  

We wanted to get off early today, so the options were to go to a “super” breakfast spot down hill with a 6% grade or go to the supermarket, Ridley’s Family Market, across the street from Motel 6.  We chose the Supermarket bakery.  No extra hills at 6:30 am!  

Thought we’d have lunch a Major Station, but it was closed at 11:00 am, but we walked around and marveled at all of the antlers and horns from rams, antelope, elk and deer and artifacts from life on the range. 

Saw some antelope that stayed with us for a stretch.  Cycled past a large wind farm.   Ate lunch overlooking the wind farm valley.   Good thing we still had the fried chicken that was kept cold from yesterday’s ride!

On our 2,000 ft descent from the top of Sacramento Pass into Baker enjoyed the 35 MPH 15 mile ride so much that I missed the turn-off to Baker.  I stopped and Mark came down to get me and we both rode up hill against the wind to the turn-off and went to the Great Basin National Park Visitor Center in Baker.  This is a place to come back to!  

We pulled into The Whispering Elm Motel and RV Park.  While Mark was checking in I met Carl and Angie.  Carl was from Phoenix and Angie was from Virginia Beach and was touring the US in her RV since September.  Mark joined us and after a shower (a good shower erases at least 25 miles) we joined them at the Motel bar for just one beer.  There we met several other exceptionally nice people – two were park rangers Becca and Kevin and two others were motorcyclist on their way to Helena, MT.  We shared some good laughs about our journey and some of the places we checked out like Jimmy’s Biker Bar in Fallon, NV.  

Mark and I both had a delicious dinner spaghetti and meatballs at T&D’s Restaurant, Lounge and Grocery and then we went back to the bar and the crowd had expanded crowd. We left as the group started having shots of some of the local favorites. 

Big day tomorrow — 84 miles through the desert.   Blog will be continued tomorrow as we have poor service and can’t upload photos.  

Breakfast at Ridley’s.  Best seating.

Just East of Ely

We picked up the cadence for a few miles…

Just East of Connors Pass at 7722 ft. 

Major Station (Place) not open for lunch 

Climbing Sacremento Pass before the epic 2,000 ft descent over 15 miles to Baker.

Day 9, June 12: Eureka to Ely, NV

We were quite nervous last night about the weather forecast for today.   It snowed and rained overnight with 3 inches of snow on cars and the ground, but it didn’t stick on the road.  At 7:00 am the roads were wet, but when we started at 8:30 the roads were all dry.  The day was quite chilly with temps in the mid 30s on the 4 major climbs totaling about 7500 ft.  The valleys were in the low 40’s.  There were periods of light drizzle and graupel.  We could see the waves of precipitation heading for us and much of the time, it didn’t hit the ground.  The winds were sustained at 30 MPH, with higher gusts.  Most of the time the wind was coming from the side, but we had a strong tailwind on one  4 mile 6-7 % grade which made the climb much easier.  We pulled into Ely at 4:30 pm and had a very deserved hot shower after 78 miles.  

The forecast in a few days is for high temps between 101 – 107.  We’ll be starting really early on those days. 

The road out of Eureka this morning.

Bundled up and ready for the elements.  

The first of 4 climbs completed in Basin and Range territory. 

Views of yet another valley

Preparing for a graupel facial. 

Desert Indian Paint Brush

The Robinson copper mine coming into Ely. It is huge.  This photo only shows a fraction of the scale of the mine.  There are old abandoned mines and shafts everywhere.