It’s been an adventure exploring Utah. Ignorantly, I thought the mountains would disappear after Colorado. However, I stood corrected the moment we crossed the Utah, Colorado border. Conjuring up all the pedal power stored inside of me, Cheney, Mike, and I pushed ourselves hard through a stretch of road that had no services for 74 miles. It’s amazing how excited I get when I see a gas station or a little convienant store. Generally, over priced and a slim selection, I am perfectly satisfied when I can grab a cold Gatorade and trail mix.
HWY State route 95 zig zagged through Edge of the Cedars State Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, Ute Indian Reservation, Mule canyon, and Dark canyon wilderness. We decided to stop at Natural Bridges National Monument for the night and camped underneath a sheet of stars. Natural Bridges National monument is a relatively small park flaunting three huge bridges, Sipapu, Kachina, and Owachomo, all carved by action of water flowing against cross-bedded sandstone. The largest of the three spans from 270 feet wide and 220 feet high. Such a jaw dropping sight. If the scenery lacked, I have to admit, I would not want to be riding. I’m tired and find myself wanting stability. The energy from the mountains, rivers, creeks and lakes keep my head strong. We had the pleasure of taking a break to swim in Lake Powell and chill out without having to exert all of our energy. I’m proud to say I did another summit climbing 3,000 feet. I found it harder than Monarch Pass, in Colorado. I think I was so pumped and had done much anticipation built up for Monarch it was not as bad as I expected it to be. so I decided to stop once to take a break. The grade felt steeper and less gradual, many switch backs keeping me at bay.
Utah’s weather is extremely dry and hot! Most of the route has only rocks for shade. This has been the most difficult route due not only to the terrain, but also due to the lack of water and long mileages between services. Most of the time there are no homes or ranches between services. Cheney, Mike, and I found ourselves seeking shelter under an average sized pine tree when a summer thunderstorm hit the sky.
One of the most terrifying downhills yet was way too long for my taste and had an excess of sharp curves. It is called Hogsback. It is only a 3 mile stretch, but its narrow two-lane road stretches along a ridge spine with no shoulders or guardrails and has drops on both sides. To add a little more spice to this equation it was a 14 % grade in steepness. Never have to do that again on a bike.
Bryce Canyon and Zion have been the highlight to this trip. The rocks of Bryce Canyon reveal more than 50 million years of Earth history, going back as far as the Cretaceous period. All in all, it is a dizzying universe of limestone pinnacles, castles, fins, and hoodoos; an ever-changing kaleidoscope of a thousand different colors. we took 5 days to explore Zion National Park. I felt like a kid in a candy store, eyes wide, running in every direction, wanting to do every hike the park offered. it was a blast! The Navajo sandstone looked beautiful against the blue sky and the Virgin River.
While in Zion, we were also blessed to have the company of 6 other bike tourist. Kate and Amy were from Bend, Oregon doing a Utah loop for the month, Adam and Christy are from Connecticut. They are a couple on their honeymoon riding through all 50 states meanwhile raising money to GiveABike for less fortunate children in third world countries. Pretty exceptional. Mike from New Albany, Ohio has been riding with us since Kansas. He is riding to build his faith in God. And lastly, we met Glen from Canada, who is on his early retirement.
We all compared notes when it came to cooking methods. We peered into each others morning oatmeal and evening pasta. “Ah, that was she does? Very crafty.” I realized I was definitely a condiment hoarder but, I had enough crushed red pepper and salt to go around for everyone so yay for me 🙂
Much love. We are all one. I’m probably going to have one more post left in me as you can see I’ve dwindle away to managing one every three weeks. Sorry.
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