Utah-Colorado

 

Fall 2014

 

Denis Kertz, ©2014


Day 0: Sun, Aug 31, 2014 - Naperville, IL

My friend Dave drove me to Midway Airport for my 8:25 am non-stop Southwest flight to Salt Lake City, an easy 35 minute drive on a Sunday morning.The flight looked like it was going to be uneventful as we were taxing to the takeoff when the pilot pulled over and said he needed to check a few things out, not a good sign.We ended up taxing back to the terminal where the maintenance crew checked things out.It took a while to find the problem but it was just a module that had to be replaced and we were on our way, after an hour and a half delay.The rest of the flight was uneventful and we arrived at noon.

 

Since I had shipped my bicycle to Salt Lake City last Sunday using Amtrak Express, I only had to pick up my rear panniers, laced together into a baggage unit, and my duffel bag containing mostly my tent and sleeping bag.Then I took a taxi to my downtown Marriott Courtyard, where I had a free night using my Marriot reward points.It was a $20 taxi ride for about a 7 mile ride.

 

Unfortunately, I couldnít pick up my bicycle from Amtrak because the station was closed until 10 pm.So I headed out to view the sights after a quick bite at a Wendyís.I walked a few blocks east and then headed north where I was pleasantly surprised to find a grocery store, an unexpected find in the downtown area.I also found out that the famous Mormon Temple was just a couple blocks away in the 35-acre Temple Square.So I made a tour through the square, seeing the Temple, the Tabernacle, and a few other notable buildings.However, the Temple was not open for tourists, only open to Mormons.I figured that was no problem as I would just announce myself a Mormon and when they asked for the secret password I would confidently say ďMittĒ.But I never found an entrance so I wasnít able to test my sure fire way to get in.

 

After the Temple Square visit I retreated to the grocery store and took care of my shopping and returned to my motel.I took care of most of the repacking of my panniers that were packed for airline travel to get them ready for touring.I did as much as I could, with things left unpacked that inevitably get shoved into what space is available at the last minute.

 

There was a bar just behind the Courtyard and I walked there for a small pizza.

 

After that I did some more packing and then killed time until near 10 pm when I walked a little over a half mile to the Amtrak station.While I was waiting for it to open a guy came by with a backpack and he was muttering as he passed by.I figured he was just in a foul and complaining mood but it sounded like he got his money and ID stolen and needed $11 for bus fare to get back home.After I realized this sounded serious I gave him $11 which he was almost certainly in position to put to better use than I was.He was really surprised.He apparently had been trying to get folks to help him out all day with no success.Most likely folks thought he was just another beggar and didnít take him seriously.

 

When the station opened I told the woman behind the counter that I wanted to pick up my bike.When I dropped it off last Sunday at Chicago Union Station, I had to go down to the basement to the baggage area.The attendant was obviously annoyed that she had to get out of her chair to handle my shipping request.She filled out 2 slips of paper, one for $10 and one for $15.At first I thought the $10 was for the bike box but that was the $15.Then I realized the woman thought I was going to be a passenger on the train to Salt Lake City which would have cost $10 for me to take the bike along.So I told the woman I was shipping it which I had checked in advance would be $52.She looked at me and said, ďyou know that will be $4Ē and I nodded yes.Then after thinking about it she decided to not bother changing the bill because it would have been more annoyance although it seemed pretty trivial to me.Then on Wednesday I got a call from the Amtrak in Salt Lake City about a bike that hadnít been picked up.They expected a passenger would be picking it up and that hadnít happened.I called back and left a message that I was shipping the bike and wouldnít be picking it up until Sunday.

 

So when I was finally picking it up, the woman behind the counter said she would either have to charge me $100 for the shipping or I would have to pay $4 a day for storage fees.That was a no brainer although I was tempted to hassle her about the bogus $100 claim.Anyway I paid a $20 storage fee which amounted to $30 total for shipping versus the $52 I should have been charged so I obviously came out ahead.

 

It only took me a few minutes to unbox my bike, straighten the handlebar, and attach the pedals.Then I clipped on my front and rear lights and rode back to the motel.

Day 1: Mon, Sep 01, 2014 - Naperville, IL to Saratoga Springs, UT [42.8, 4:03:36, 10.5 mph, 1,242']

Despite the fact that I didnít get to sleep until 11:30 pm, which was 12:30 am by my central time, and after a travel day, I didnít sleep very well and got up at 6 am.Just after 6:30 I went down for breakfast.One of the things I always liked about Courtyard was their breakfast buffets.That allowed you to get in and out as fast as you wanted and, when I was touring, load up on an all-you-can-eat buffet.So I was surprised to see this place didnít have a buffet.Then when I complained the waiter said Courtyard had discontinued their buffets about 4 years ago.

 

I was really disappointed to hear that.Had I known I would have researched breakfast places.Instead I ordered a scramble and the waiter offered me a complimentary muffin.It was an okay breakfast but nothing great and on the expensive side.This will likely cause me to re-consider Courtyard stays in the future.I still have Marriott reward points but I can probably spend them more efficiently at their Fairfield Inns.Last time I was at one of them they had a free breakfast buffet although it had a limited menu but that would have been better than my expensive breakfast.

 

I was packed and ready to go quicker than I expected and I checked out at 8:30.Most of the dayís route followed the Jordan River Trail but I had to get to the start.This involved a couple of miles of zig zagging to get to Jordan River Parkway.Then it was a matter of following the paved winding trail with lots of spurs, some looping back to the trail and others branching off to other trails.The trail was winding because the river was winding although the river wasnít much of a river.In places it was maybe only 30 feet wide.It was also grayish and kind of dirty looking.Still a major benefit of the river was it kept roads from crossing the trail since any crossing road also required a bridge and bridges are expensive so few bridges.For the few crossings the trail generally had an underpass or a bridge so traffic never interfered with the riding.

 

That is, motorized traffic.There was a fair amount of trail traffic - walkers, joggers, joggers pushing strollers, roller bladers, skateboarders, scooters, and, of course, cyclists.This was to be expected on a Labor Day Monday and the traffic probably got worse in the afternoon.

 

It was a nice morning, starting around 60F and warming up into the 70s.By the afternoon it was pretty warm and likely lower 80s.

 

It was sometimes a challenge following the trail.The trail had few straight sections and with all of the spurs it wasnít always obvious which was the trail and there werenít any signs until the latter half of the trail.One time I branched off then backtracked and then found myself following a ditch with water.I was pretty sure this wasnít the trail and that was later confirmed when I ended up at a recreation park.After backtracking I found another turnoff and that got me back on the trail.

 

The one bad thing about the trail was it never passed by any services.At one point I was really looking for a cold drink and a second breakfast and exited on a major crossing road.I quickly gave up on finding any services and resigned myself to finishing the trail before I would find services.

 

The end of the trail wasnít obvious.In fact, I discovered the end because I discovered I had looped back the way I came from, obvious when I saw the same kidís bike parked on the edge of the trail.I returned to the parking lot that was the end of the trail.Then I used my GPS to locate where I thought I was and how to get to Hwy 68, which was the next major section of my route to Nephi.

 

As I got within about a half mile of the Hwy 68 section a black terrier bolted across the road, charging at me.I wasnít too worried about the dog but was concerned that I might run over it and fall.Thatís when I felt the dog nip my ankle.That, of course, got my attention quickly.Had I been able to quickly dismount I would have chased that dog back to its home and kicked the shit out of it.At that point the owner came out to the road and I yelled at him that his *#!& dog had bit me.If the owner hadnít been apologetic I might have unloaded some violence on him.

 

Fortunately, the dog bite on my ankle was really a nip and just broke the skin a little.Had I not been passing through I would have called the police and filed a complaint but that would have taken time that I was reluctant to spend.I spent the rest of the day wishing I had cornered that dog and kicked the shit out of it.Maybe that would have taught it that bike chasing doesnít pay.

 

When I continued and reached the intersection with Hwy 68 there was a food mart where I stopped.It was too late for my second breakfast so I nuked a burrito and downed a large drink, continuing to think about all the things I could have done to that dog.

 

When I continued riding I did some moderate climbing for a couple of miles.Then I descended to the intersection with Hwy 73 at Saratoga Springs.It was only about 2 pm but there werenít any really good options for continuing on unless I wanted to push all the way to Nephi, another 45 miles.I didnít want to kill myself on my first day so I headed east for about a mile on Hwy 73 and took the turnoff to Willow Park, a county park.I got a tent site for $15 which wasnít all that great a deal since it didnít include a shower but it did have a nice shady area for protection from the sun on what turned out to be a pretty warm afternoon.

 

After setting up camp I walked to the same Jordan River I had been following most of the day and found a landing area with a shallow section where I was able to dunk myself in the river in lieu of a shower.

 

At that point I was ready to eat and decided to walk back to the Hwy 68/73 intersection where there were a number of fast food places including a Subway.The Jordan River Trail apparently had picked up somewhere after it ended previously and passed through this park.However, it passed under Hwy 73 and there were fences around both sides of Hwy 73 to keep people out but that didnít keep me out.I walked to the underpass, climbed a fence and walked about a half mile back to the fast food places where I ate at the Subway.Then it was a matter of retracing my route and climbing the fence again to get back to the trail and back to my tent site where it was pleasantly cool in the shade.

 

An easy first day and uneventful except for the disturbing dog attack.

Day 2: Tue, Sep 02, 2014 - Saratoga Springs, UT to Nephi, UT [60.6, 5:19:14, 11.4 mph, 1,189']

I packed up and headed back to the Hwy 68/73 intersection and immediately noticed my cyclocomputer was working intermittently.It was almost 2 miles back to the intersection because I couldnít take the Jordan River Trail and throw my bike over the fence.I stopped at a McDonaldís and had their Big Breakfast with Hotcakes and it was a pretty decent breakfast for $5.

 

After breakfast I stopped at the nearby Walmart to see if they had any sandals.Yesterday I noticed my old Shimano sandals, which I really like, had started breaking apart on the left sandal.A chunk of the rear of the sandal had broken off and it was obvious I needed to replace these sandals at some point on this trip.Last year, my other pair of Shimano sandals had worn to the point that one of the sandals sole started flapping.I considered re-soling the sandal but the straps were pretty worn too so that didnít look like a good investment.Since the Shimano sandals have been redesigned and folks generally seemed to prefer the old design, I bought a pair of Nashbar cycling sandals and they were pretty good.However, the footbed had a pebbled surface that was okay for riding but I wasnít confident that they would be okay for all day wearing.So I elected to bring my second pair of Shimano sandals, not realizing they would disintegrate too.Unfortunately, Walmart didnít have anything other than flimsy flip flop types.Hopefully, my sandals will last until Moab where I expect I should be able to find something.

 

When I continued south on Hwy 68 the highway was still a four lane highway with a wide shoulder.A few miles later a guy in a dump truck pulled off the road ahead.At first I thought he was going to check out the truck but when he started walking towards me I was afraid I might have dropped something.Instead, I met Cameron, a fellow touring cyclist.He wondered if I was riding across the country.He had started last year on riding across the country on the Southern Tier route but was doing it in sections since he couldnít get enough time to finish the route in one vacation period.He had ridden from San Diego to Phoenix last year and was planning to do another section starting in Phoenix in December.We had a nice chat and I was interested to learn that the Jordan River Trail gets snow plowed in the winter and Cameron and some friends ride it in the winter after work when it is dark.

 

A few miles later the 4-lane highway reduced to a 2-lane highway and the wide shoulder disappeared.There was a one foot shoulder for a while but that eventually disappeared as well.However, the traffic gradually died down and eventually there was only an occasional vehicle so the shoulder didnít matter.

 

Highway 68 took me from the north end of Utah Lake, a 24 mile long lake, to the south end of the lake with a little climbing along the way.On the east side of the lake there was more metropolitan area and then the abrupt Wasatch Range loomed to the east but the sky was somewhat hazy so they werenít as visible as they might have been on a truly clear day.At about the half way point I stopped along the road for my second breakfast since there were no services along the western side of the lake.

 

During this time my cyclocomputer continued its erratic working and I guessed the transmitter battery of this wireless unit was just weak enough to be marginal.I planned to replace the battery at the end of the day.

 

I planned my route from Salt Lake City to Nephi based on Google Mapís cycling directions.The route at the end of Hwy 68 wasnít obvious so when I reached the junction with US6 I broke out my GPS unit and looked at the map.It seemed obvious to me the straightforward route was to take US6 east 3 miles to Goshen and then head south.Google Map apparently was trying to avoid US6 for cycling and came up with a more complicated route.I ignored that and that looked like a good decision.

 

The bad thing about the route today was the lack of services.There were no services along Hwy 68.At the junction with US6 there had been a convenience store, which surely would have been convenient, but it was out of business.When I reached Goshen there was a Mexican restaurant where I could have gotten a cold drink but I pushed on.

 

A couple miles after leaving Goshen the road passed through the Goshen Canyon on the way to Mona.This was fairly scenic but also involved some moderate climbing.By the time I reached Mona I was dying for a cold drink.There were a couple of places that were now out of business.There was a recreation park where I spied a water fountain but there was no water.Fortunately, on the edge of town there was a bakery type place where I was finally able to get a large cold drink.I nursed that for about 20 minutes before pushing on for the final 8 miles to Nephi.

 

When I reached Nephi about 3:30 pm, I stopped at the first food mart and got my favorite drink, a large fountain drink of Lemon-Lime Gatorade.Then I rode through town to check out the services.Originally, I expected this to be a pretty easy day and considered riding east a couple of miles where there was a campground.In the end I decided not to push my luck since after Labor Day you can never be sure what is open.I found the Safari Motel and it was a reasonable deal for $45.

 

While I was checking into my room I found an older gentleman gazing at my loaded bicycle.He was kind of an interesting character and said he had spent 3 years in Ecuador.He had also had an adventure boating by himself in the Pacific when he lived in California.So he appreciated the adventurous lifestyle.He might have talked for hours if I had really encouraged it but he was sensitive enough to realize I needed to take care of some business.

 

After cleaning up I walked a ways up the street to a burrito takeout place where I had a large burrito but ate in their small dine in area.It was pretty good and filling.

 

When I returned to my motel I replaced my transmitter battery and then connected with the motelís WiFi.My room was large with two beds and it had a nice table for my laptop.However, there wasnít an appropriate chair to go along with the table.There was a sofa seat but it was too low for the table.Eventually, I spied the folding luggage holder with straps to hold the luggage and that turned out to be a reasonable ďchairĒ.

 

I spent most of the remaining time planning tomorrowís trip where I would be heading into the mountains.

 

Today turned out to be somewhat more difficult than I expected.I thought it was going to be about a 45 mile day but it turned out to be a 60 mile day.Not particularly hard riding but somewhat challenging because of the lack of services.

 

Day 3: Wed, Sep 03, 2014 - Nephi, UT to Fairview, UT [40.2, 4:30:54, 8.9 mph, 1,498']

The WiFi for this motel was bad.Last night it stopped working.This morning the network didnít even show up in the list of available networks.However, I found another network that I managed to get on and check a few things.Then I packed up and rode down the road for breakfast.I had a ham scramble with pancakes and it was good but a little pricey at $11.

 

I left town about 8 am and picked up 132 heading east into the Wasatch Mountains.Immediately I could tell there was a little elevation gain as I was a couple mph slower than normal.Todayís route didnít mesh very well with my typical range.There was a 1,200 foot climb initially on the way to Fairview at 35 miles.Then the climbing got serious and climbed 3800 feet over 13 miles.I expected the latter climb to take 3-4 hours since it looked pretty steep on my elevation profile.Stopping at Fairview was a shorter route than I would normally do but I wasnít convinced I wanted to tackle the big climb in the afternoon when it would be pretty warm.

 

As I left town there were some good views of Mt Nebo on my left.When I stopped to take a photo my camera beeped at me and I was surprised to find it said I was out of space on my memory card.When I checked my memory card I saw that I had mistakenly inserted a 256MB card when I intended to insert a 2GB card.Worse, I was pretty sure I had copied some route information on the 256MB card which I had been looking for everywhere.But I had reformatted the card when I inserted it into the camera so that data was gone for good.

 

The climb wasnít too hard as I climbed at 5-6 mph most of the time with some good views.This was a major road since there werenít many roads that passed through the mountains.So there was a fair amount of traffic with some large truck traffic.Most of the time the shoulder was adequate and there was only a couple of times where I had to be careful with simultaneous large trucks approaching.The climb maxed out at 6340 feet and 1200 feet of climbing.There was one campground along the route that I could have reached yesterday.

 

After the summit it was a fairly easy descent into a valley.I stopped in Moroni for my second breakfast after 23 miles.The road had turned south as it threaded its way through the hills and then headed east to Mt Pleasant, another 8 miles from Moroni.I was encouraged in the morning that my cyclocomputer immediately worked but then along the climb there were a couple of times when it momentarily stopped.With a wireless cyclocomputer you can never be sure if this could be caused by interference but interference usually happens only in certain places and this seemed unlikely.That suggested either the replacement battery was a little weak or the transmitter itself was marginal.In any event, I stopped at a Radio Shack in Mt Pleasant and bought a pack of 3 CR2032s.I also stopped for another cold drink before I pushed on.

 

It was only about another 6 miles to Fairview where I would have to decide whether to call it quits for the day or push on.It was an easy ride to Fairview, heading north, with both some downhill and a tail wind.When I got to Fairview, a town of 1255, I rode through town to scope out the services.I was surprised to see there was a motel that I didnít remember seeing on Google Maps.

 

I stopped at a museum that also served as a visitor center.I was told there was a campground on the upcoming climb but it was almost all the way up.Ideally, there would have been a campground about half way up and that would have split the climb over 2 days.I asked about whether there might be a town park that I could camp overnight and I got referred to City Hall.When I got to City Hall I caught a guy just leaving and he didnít know of any camping in the area.He said they hadnít allow camping in the town park yet and I seized on the yet and said ďYet?Ē but he didnít bite.

 

So I bit the bullet and stopped at the motel.From the outside I expected it to be a similar price range as yesterday but it turned out to be $65 - $20 more.However, the room was somewhat nicer with a real desk and chair but I would have still taken the $45 room.One thing both rooms had in common was WiFi difficulties.As I was checking in another group stopped by the office to say the WiFi wasnít working.

 

After I cleaned up I walked to the north end of town to a food mart which had just recently opened a little cafe and I had a burger meal which was pretty decent.When I got back to my room the WiFi still wasnít working so I stopped by the office.The office woman said she would reboot the modem and that did the trick.

 

Because batteries are so important on my tours for cyclocomputers, GPS, lights, and camera I carry a small portable voltmeter.Using it I measured the voltage of the battery in the transmitter I found it right at 3V, the nominal voltage.However, my experience is that new batteries usually measure around the 3.2-3.3 range so I replaced it with one of the new batteries.Weíll have to see if that works.

 

A fairly easy day but shorter than I wanted with a looming big climb tomorrow right out of the chute.

 

Day 4: Thu, Sep 04, 2014 - Fairview, UT to Wellington, UT [72.6, 7:38:35, 9.5 mph, 3,684']

There was a cafe conveniently located across the street from my motel but when I got there I found out it was closed for the day for renovation.So I packed up and rode down the street to the food mart where I had a hamburger yesterday.I had their Sunrise Breakfast with 2 pancakes for $7.This was the best breakfast value of the trip so far.This place also turned out to be the meeting place for the old guys who showed up at 7am when this cafe opened.

 

I left just before 8 am and immediately started climbing on 31.First I was doing 5mph, then 4 mph, and then 3 mph and the 3mph lasted the rest of the way to the 7 mile mark on this unrelenting climb.Fortunately, it was cool with cloud cover.I was glad I didnít do this yesterday afternoon under the hot sun.I took frequent short rest stops.Yesterday I asked at the visitor center about riding part of the way and pulling over and camping in the National Forest and the lady said she didnít think that would work.Today I understood why.The route was cut into the side of a hill and there was just no place to throw up a tent.

 

Finally after 7 miles the climbing relented a little and I pulled off for my second breakfast.From this point on the route varied in steepness until the last mile or so which was again very steep.The last 5 miles were on Skyline Drive and there were some good views south to the valley way below.I reached the summit at 9790 feet right at noon.

 

The descent was not as steep as the ascent although there were a couple places where I hit 40 mph.Most of the descent was in the 15-25 mph range where I occasionally pedaled to speed things along.The descent was much more scenic and it followed a stream all the way down.

 

The good weather continued on the way down as cloud cover kept the sun at bay and the temperature was very pleasant.Only the last few miles did the sun put in an appearance and make it known how warm it could have been.

 

During these last few miles that were mostly flat I passed by a coal power station and about the same time I noticed my cyclocomputer acting up again. Only this time the computer showed no data for a half mile or so.I thought the transmitter or something had finally died.But then just on the out skirts of Huntington it started working again and was flawless the rest of the day.So I concluded that I probably was getting hit with interference.

 

I stopped in Huntington at 2:30 pm with a decision to make - whether to call it a day or continue on to Wellington.At a food mart I got a couple slices of pizza and a humongous cup of Gatorade and that put me in a good mood.I carry 3 large water bottles and one regular water bottle.Normally I donít drink a lot but the challenging climb used up my regular water bottle and two of the large ones and I was well into my last large water bottle on the descent. So the water situation turned out okay but Iím not so sure what would have happened without the dayís cloud cover.

 

There was a state park just outside town but this wasnít a good stopping point because there was no place to stop between Wellington and Green River.Stopping at Huntington would just make the route to Green River much harder or just a very short day to Wellington.

 

I opted to ride on because I was sure I could make Wellington by about 5 pm.Even better I was pleasantly surprised how good my legs felt.After the morning climbing effort I wasnít sure my legs would tolerate anything other than the descent but the descent gave them time to rest and they recovered very well.So well that I couldnít even tell my legs were tired, which I certainly didnít expect.

 

Hwy 10 started out as a 4-lane road with lots of traffic and I had to ride it for 16 miles.It had a crappy shoulder with rumble strips that couldnít make up their mind whether they wanted to be in the middle of the shoulder or tucked up against the white line.After about 5 miles the 4-lanes reduce to 2-lanes and the shoulder turned into a very good shoulder, so wide that the rumble strip didnít matter.

 

I donít often need/use my GPS since routing is usually obvious with very few if any alternative routes.In this case I had to pick up Ridge Road after 16 miles on Hwy 10 but I didnít see anything as I approached this milestone.Rather than risk missing a turn and wasting time and energy I got my GPS out and it showed the road was just ahead.That was good because the road wasnít labeled as Ridge Road - it just showed the county road number which didnít mean anything to me.My GPS also showed the road to turn north on to get into Wellington.

 

I had thought I might be able to camp in town at an RV Park but when I checked the place out it looked ugly.It didnít look like there was anything like a tent site and I wasnít encouraged to even bother asking.However, there was an inexpensive motel in town for $40 that worked out just fine.The proprietor was from the south side of Chicago and said he missed the food of the south side.

 

I ate at the Outlaw Cafe and had fish and chips which were okay but very filling.I also found out they opened at 6 am for breakfast.I just hoped they wouldnít be renovating tomorrow...

Day 5: Fri, Sep 05, 2014 - Wellington, UT to Green River, UT [41.7, 2:41:38, 15.5 mph, 311']

I got up early and rode the short distance to the Outlaw Cafe for breakfast at 6:30 am.I had a good breakfast - bacon, eggs, potatoes, and pancakes.When I left it was not quite 7:30 am.As it turned out, it was good that I got off to an early start.Not too far out of town it started raining a bit.I stopped because I had forgotten to stuff my Dri-Down sleeping bag inside my water tight dry bag.I was going to pull the bag out of the stuff sack when I realized I could just shove the stuff sack and bag into the water tight bag.This was actually a better way to pack the sleeping bag, rather than my previous way of stuffing the sleeping bag into the dry bag and then into the compression bag.

 

For much of the rest of the morning the rain clouds followed me south and threatened to catch me but I kept just out of reach although I got a few sprinkles at one point.One reason I was able to keep out of range was because the road to Green River was mostly downhill except for a few climbs.So I made really good time.Still I never expected to out run the rain.Every time I looked back in my mirror I could see dark clouds.

 

US191 was a major road and there was a lot of traffic including large trucks but there was a good shoulder so the traffic wasnít a problem.Many vehicles, large trucks in particular, pulled over partially into the oncoming lane when they could even though I had a wide shoulder.

 

The scenery was very nice particularly with a line of mountains to the east.This was desert country with typical desert scrub.The road could usually be seen straight ahead for miles to the south along with all of the scenery.I also got a little wildlife viewing as well.Shortly after I left town I saw 4 pronghorns who undoubtedly saw me before I saw them and I noticed them as they were scrambling away.Later, I saw 2 little brown spots along the shoulder and as I got close I discovered they were prairie dogs.I almost reached one before they bounded away to their homes under the ground.

 

About 10:30 I noticed I was over half way.My cyclocomputer had started acting up right from the beginning, worse than ever.It mostly didnít show any activity but occasionally would show speed for a short time but wouldnít update the distance.I finally concluded the problem must be the main unit, not the transmitter.If the transmitter were the problem the display wouldnít have even shown any speed.I also noticed yesterday on the big climb of 3600' that the unit only claimed 2600Ď, a big discrepancy.The climbing is a function of the main unit using air pressure and has nothing to do with the transmitter.Despite the computer problems it was easy to keep track of progress based on the mileage markers along the road.

 

All along I had just been on the front edge of cloud cover which made riding really nice.Then a little after half ways I pushed beyond the cloud cover and it became much warmer.I also noticed that the rain clouds behind appeared to lose their seriousness.

 

When I reached I70 I had to ride a mile east before taking the first exit to Green River.At the first service station, at 12:30 pm, I noticed some other touring cyclists along the road so I stopped.They were 3 French tourists, a guy and a couple with the couple on a tandem and pulling a trailer.They were attempting to hitch a ride west on I70 because the next service was about a hundred miles and they werenít confident about trying to ride that distance in the heat.However, the big problem they were going to have was finding a ride that could accommodate a tandem.A regular pickup could have handled single bikes but not the tandem.

 

I went into the service station for a drink and as I was leaving I saw the French tourists riding towards the east but I never saw where they were going.When I headed east myself I couldnít see them down the road so I guessed they turned into the parking lot behind the service station to see if any of the truckers would give them a ride.

 

I continued east into town.There were a lot of motels and a couple that were closed even though they looked to be in good shape.I assume the economic downturn was not kind to some of the motel operators and a couple of fast food operators.

 

I took the turn to the Green River State Park and got a tent site for $18.There were only a few non-electric sites so this place catered mostly to RVs.I did get a site with a little shade although a couple of hours later that was a moot issue because cloud cover moved in.After setting up I replaced my cyclocomputer with a spare that I was fortunate to have with me.Last year just prior to my tour I noticed my cyclocomputer had a dark sport on the display and I worried it was going to die so I got a second computer of the same model, a VDO MC2.0.I never needed it last year but now I did.I only replaced the main unit because it would have been a little more hassle to replace the transmitter as well.

 

Then I rode back to the west end of town and stopped at a Subway.I got a foot long and saved half for later.On my way back I stopped at a grocery store and got some cereal so I could have a second breakfast.About this time the cloud cover moved in and it was very pleasant but there was a question whether it was going to rain or not.

 

All in all, about as easy a day for a 60-mile ride as I ever had.For a while everything was lined up - cloud cover, gradual downhill, some tailwind, and motivation in the form of keeping ahead of the rain.After the cloud cover dissipated it was much warmer but it was hard to complain as I arrived at my destination at 12:30 pm.It was early enough that I even toyed with the idea of continuing on to Moab.However, the route to Moab was not a gradual downhill and had a significant climb so it would have been a stretch.

Day 6: Sat, Sep 06, 2014 - Green River, UT to Moab, UT [52.2, 4:14:29, 12.3 mph, 1,025']

I packed up and left by 7 am and rode out to the main road and stopped at a restaurant for breakfast - bacon and eggs and 2 large pancakes.I left before 8 am.

 

As the main road neared the I70 intersection I took the frontage road called Old 6 & 50.It was a decrepit road but it avoided the interstate for 12 miles.When the road wasnít cracked the top level asphalt was worn away and it was like riding on rough chip seal and at times it was worn down to gravel.Still it was quiet and only 2 motorcycles passed me along the way.

 

The route to Moab climbed about 800 feet over 20 miles until the US191 intersection.The frontage road lasted 12 miles and then I had to get on I70 for 6 miles.When I saw a sign for a rest area I thought that was going to be perfect for a second breakfast but then I could see the rest area was on top of a hill.Fortunately, just beyond the rest area was the exit to Moab at Crescent Junction and there was a service station there which was perfect for a second breakfast.

 

By this time it was getting pretty warm so I loaded up on liquids and started south on US191.There was a fair amount of traffic since this was a major north-south road but there was a fairly good shoulder with about 2 feet to the right of rumble strips.The road to Moab was mostly downhill, losing the 800 feet of climbing to Crescent Junction but there was a little climbing.Near the turnoff to Canyonlands there was a service station where I was able to get another cold drink.

 

When I left I discovered there was a bike path the rest of the way to Moab and this made riding more pleasant and quiet.When I got to Moab around 2:30 pm I started scouting for camping locations.I had hoped to stay at the Lazy Lizard Hostel south of town where I stayed the last time I was in Moab but they were full for Saturday night when I inquired yesterday.There were several RV campgrounds just north of Moab.As I got to Moab I stopped at a couple of bike shops to see if they had any bicycle sandals.My sandals might well have lasted if all I did was cycling and never walked but I had to do some walking and I felt I had to walk gingerly to protect the sandals.The second bicycle shop recommended I try GearHeads.

 

In town I stopped at the Visitor Center and inquired about camping and bicycle shops.There I learned there was a walk-in, tent only campground just a few blocks away.That was fairly well located so I stopped there and got a site for 2 nights for $50.Not cheap but I was figuring a tent site was probably going to cost $20 a night.This was cozy, quiet place for about 20 tents and big shade trees.

 

After setting up my tent I went sandal hunting.The next bike shop didnít have anything so I stopped at GearHeads just next door.They were an outdoor supply store and carried Keen, Chaco, and Teva sandals.The Keen sandals were nice but they were almost fully enclosed and I didnít think they would work well when I put on socks for bad weather.The Chaco-s were stiff but had a unique strap arrangement that was going to be a bit of a pain when adjustments were required for wearing socks as well.I ended up with the Teva sandals for $60.They were the most and easiest adjustable but the least stiff.However, my Grip King pedals were larger than most pedals and I hoped they gave enough support to offset the more supple soles.

 

With that out of the way I walked to the Moab Brewery after cleaning up, based on a recommendation from my friend Dave.I had a good micro-brew and Cajun chicken sandwich which was very filling.

 

Back at the ranch, I set about replacing my cyclocomputer transmitter.My computer worked fine this morning until I entered the interstate and then I had the same problem as yesterday.As I was about to install the new transmitter I noticed that the battery cap on the old transmitter looked skewed.That could have been the problem but I went ahead and installed the new one anyway.I was getting tired of this annoyance and wanted to put it behind me.

 

Then I settled in for the night and got ready for my ride along the Colorado River in the morning.

Day 7: Sun, Sep 07, 2014 - Moab, UT to Moab, UT [44.9, 3:49:09, 11.8 mph, 619']

As I was packing up for my day trip a deer came crashing through the grass just beyond my tent.He apparently stumbled into the campground by accident and then hightailed it out of there.I stopped at the first breakfast place I saw, the Pancake Haus, and had their banana walnut pancakes which were very good.As I was leaving the restaurant there were a few rain drops and I realized I hadnít packed any rain gear.I was loath to head back to the campsite so I took a chance on the rain.It looked like it was clearing up but the clouds came and went all morning.

 

Familiar with the area now I picked up the bike path out of town and used it all the way to Hwy 279, the Potash Road.This road followed the Colorado River for about 16 miles to the Potash plant.After that it continued as a paved route for a couple more miles before becoming a 4-wheel drive road.

 

This was a great ride, flat, easy riding with great red rock scenery.Initially there were towering vertical walls of red rock and some were used for rock climbing.There were 3 designated campgrounds along the way.The first two were very nice, along the road but with some trees for covering.The last campground was out in the open and not very appealing.All had the limitation of no water.

 

When I reached the turnaround point the sun was shining and it was warm but a few minute later it was cloudy again.I even got a few sprinkles.

 

After a round trip of 44 miles I was back in town at 11:30 am.Just as I was entering town 4 deer just casually strolled across the road like they owned the place.Several tent sites were now vacant as people left for the weekend.I rode back to town and stopped at a bakery for WiFi and a root beer float and got caught up with email and news.

 

Then I did some browsing in the shops downtown.I found another pair of Teva sandals that had more support than the ones I bought yesterday.I wasnít that thrilled with my current Teva sandals because they were rubbing my feet in a way that worried me.So I bit the bullet and bought another pair of Teva sandals for $80 that were both more comfortable and had stiffer soles.I regretted that I hadnít shopped around more yesterday and settled too quickly on the sandals I bought yesterday.

 

The sales person was a young woman and I asked her to donate the pair I had bought yesterday.This woman was from Wilmette (Chicago area) and had started out as a ranger in Arches National Park but grew disenchanted with that job.She was interested in education and when the ranger job didnít pan out she became a school teacher and worked in the store on the weekend.She had recently bought a used Cannondale touring bike for $300.Obviously she commuted to work because the bike was in the storeís closet and she showed it to me.Although she had to replace the wheels it looked like she got a good deal.Since she was interested in touring we spent some time discussing different aspects of touring.

 

Back at the campground the tent site next to me that was vacant earlier was taken by a young couple.Later, the guy approached me and asked about my touring bike.He has toured extensively in Eastern Europe with a recumbent bike.Matthijs and Gerunde were a Belgium couple who had just started a year of touring by hitchhiking starting from Denver.They planned to see Moab, Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon and eventually Central America and some of South America.

 

Later I sat down with them with my Utah map and discussed possible areas of interest in the Moab area and the other national parks they were interested in.I would have liked to be able to follow their trip.It wasnít obvious that hitchhiking was going to work well.I suspect hitchhiking is much more common in Europe but not so much in the US.

Day 8: Mon, Sep 08, 2014 - Moab, UT to Fruita, CO [96.4, 8:44:52, 11.0 mph, 3,297']

I had a long day ahead so I packed up early and left at 7 am and ate at the Pancake Haus again, having their pancake sandwich which was good.Today I noticed the Moab Diner across the street was open.Yesterday, a Sunday, they were closed so maybe it is run by a Mormon family.The Pancake Haus this morning was fuller than yesterday morning.They even had a waiting line for a bit, which was surprising for a Monday morning.

 

I was gone by 8 am.It was 3 miles to the Colorado River and then I headed east on a bike path for 2.5 miles when it ended.I was really lucky today as it was overcast most of the day and that made a big difference temperature wise.On the other hand, the red rock is the most brilliant when reflecting the sun.

 

It was a very scenic ride along the Colorado River, just as I recalled.Initially, the hills were close in with a number of camp sites along the river.Then it opened up into a wide valley with a 360 degree panoramic view of the red rock hills.Then it closed up again before leaving the red rocks for good.After 29 miles, nearly a third of the way to Fruita, I had my second breakfast and discovered I had lost my spoon.So I used my pocket knife very carefully as a spoon.

 

My big worry was staying hydrated since there werenít any services along the way.I carried an extra 2 liters of water in addition to my 3 large and 1 regular water bottles.I tried to sip fairly constantly.

 

After 45 miles, almost half way, it was close to 1 pm and I headed right when Hwy 128 went left.This paralleled I70 for a few miles and then finally I had to get on the interstate for 12 miles.Riding was actually pretty good since there wasnít all that much traffic for an interstate.

 

After 12 miles I exited the interstate to pick up Old Hwy 6 & 50 the rest of the way.At first for about 5 miles this road was somewhat decrepit although not as bad as the frontage road leaving Green River.Then after this period of uneven pavement the pavement was pretty good the rest of the way.

 

For the latter part of the day I could see rain in the background and I wondered if it would catch up with me.Then as I was getting closer to Fruita I could see rain up ahead and wondered if I would be riding right into it.As I reached Mack there was some wet pavement and when I left Mack the pavement was mostly wet.Then a little later it was all wet with some standing water.So I must have just missed the rain.

 

The last 10 miles had a fair amount of traffic with no shoulder so it wasnít the best riding and it was during what would count as the rush hour.A little later there was a little shoulder and riding improved.

 

When I reached Fruita I needed food after almost a century ride.After my second breakfast I only had a couple of granola bars and some crackers with peanut butter.I stopped at a Taco Bell and got 3 tacos which disappeared quickly.

 

There was a state park just on the edge of town, the Colorado State Park Fruita Section, so I went there and got a tent site for $16.Then I almost regretted doing that as I was immediately attacked by mosquitoes.The park attendant gave me a tent site with an overhang since rain was possible.I threw my tent up as quickly as possible and tossed everything in the tent.Then I walked to the shower facility and paid $1 for a shower.Feeling better I hustled back to my tent and dove in as fast as possible.I spent the next 10 minutes exterminating the few mosquitoes that managed to sneak into the tent.

 

By then it was 7 pm and just enough time to write my notes after a long day.I was fortunate to get an almost perfect day for riding.The sun peeked out a couple of times in the afternoon but not for long.I caught a few sprinkles but nothing to require any rain gear.Water would have been an issue without the cloud cover.

 


 

Copyright Denis Kertz, 2014. All rights reserved.