Days 12 & 13: From Easy and (sort of ) Boring to Challenging and Incredible
Updated: Jun 4, 2022
A quick thanks for all the encouragement. Seeing in the (comments here, on Strava, and even on email when I get to it) that some of you find it enjoyable to read my blog, watch my videos, and see my pictures is really encouraging. Thank you!
Days 12 and 13. One kind of boring day, and oh, did I appreciate that. And one INCREDIBLE day. Day 12 was a recovery ride as we rode 58 leisurely miles from Ely to Cedar City. We rode mostly together that day at a recovery pace. We all wanted to save ourselves for what we knew might be (and was) the toughest day yet. On the two rides I finished up Rise of Endymion and caught up (a little) on a couple of podcasts—Hang Up and Listen and The Gist. More details on the ride, my values for this ride, and some extra photos and video.
Day 12: 58 miles, 2313 elevation (no wheeees and no aarrgghhs)
Today was meant for recovery and preparation. We stopped in Minersville (about 15 miles out) for donuts and coffee. I forgot to take pics. Then we had a slow, gentle climb before descending into the “Big City.” Cedar City is the biggest town by 10x (35,000 people) we‘ve seen Sacramento on Day 3. We visited a bike shop and had some great pizza for lunch. The Relive video is kind of boring compared to others.
Day 13: 86 miles, 6834 elevation (4 wheeees and 0 aarrgghhs)
Today was INCREDIBLE! We knew it would be a challenge. You start a 26 mile 5000 foot climb right out of town. Pretty much 4.5 hours of 3-11% grade — with a lot of stops for pictures (see some on Relive video below). As the slowest rider, I started early and climbed up this beautiful canyon first; it started narrow, before opening up to beautiful vistas. About 18 miles in, I turned north into Cedar Breaks National Monument. Here it felt like I was on top of the world and continued to climb to 10,599 feet (according to my Garmin). From there on it was mostly downhill for 40 miles—though I faced some headwinds on some of the flats. There was some uphill (ugh!) again near mile 60. Today I had at least 4 wheeees—with the last one carrying me into Tropic where I met my dear, darling wife Chris. The Relive video and the embedded photos and videos give you some perspective on the terrain—though photos do not do it justice. Note especially how the video shows the canyon at the start.
What are my values for this ride? What is a “self-supported” ride?
As you may recall from my first blog post, this ride has been brewing in my head for 39 years, since I met some guy in Sacramento who had ridden across country from Delaware. That guy, I don‘t recall his name, camped along the way. I have been seriously planning for this ride for the last 10 years. I have read blogs of other riders who took the same (or other cross-country) routes, read books by people who have ridden across America, and checked materials and routes from the Adventure Cycling Association.
As I visualized that ride, a few important values arose for me. The most obvious value is to always try be safe and make safe choices. Other values have sometimes wavered a bit, as I tried to accommodate the needs of my fellow travelers and my family. I know that caused consternation for some friends and for that I am sorry. In the end though, I returned to two other core values I had from the start. First, I wan to ride every mile coast-to-coast. So I don’t want to get help from a car or truck and will strive to make sure this happens. Or if it does, I will go back to where I was picked up and start riding from that point.
One other value is the desire to do this ride “unsupported.” The more I thought about this, the more difficult it became to define “unsupported.” A supported ride is run by a touring company with a pre-set itinerary and company personnel there to help the rider. By the way, there is nothing wrong with these rides, I have done Ride the Rockies and other day-long supported rides. They are fun and have been some of the most challenging rides I have done.
I wanted the sense of adventure that comes from an “unsupported ride.” That said, the more I thought about it, the less I was sure I knew exactly what qualified as an “unsupported” ride? Is it camping (not my style)? no tech, no Garmin routes, no Epic Ride Weather and other apps (I like biking tech and it supports safety)? No SAG (which stands for “support and gear) and is a person or people who drive along the ride and carries your gear and could offer rides on days when weather, injury or fatigue make riding too much on some days.
I ultimately decided the hotels and tech were OK—as was an occasional visit with my sweetie (or friends along the way). I ended up deciding that I would define “unsupported” as carrying my own gear the whole way (with one exception, I will explain shortly). So even though Chris is with me for the next week and will follow me in a car, I am going to carry my stuff. A purist I guess. That said, the one exception is the 125 mile section from Hanksville, UT to Blanding, UT coming up in a few days. There are no services on this section—not a gas station or a rest stop. 10 years ago, I told Chris that I would ask her to follow me with water on that day. It would be too hard to carry 10-12 hours of water on a day expected to be in the mid 90s. I may not even make it the whole 125 miles that day (though I will ride every mile, even if I have to go back the next day to make up those miles). Maybe you call me a purist with an asterisk.
Stories and pictures
Here are a few more pictures and stories from these two days.
Day 12: Recovery ride
As I said, this day was pretty mellow. If I had taken pictures, I would highlight Todd’s Market in Minersville and Centro Woodfired Pizza in Cedar City.
Day 13: A day to remember
This was an awesome day. Did I already say that? The Relive video above captures most of it. But you are looking for a bit more, here are some pics, videos, and stories.
On the way up the road went to one lane. I was afraid my “ride every mile” rule might be compromised and they might make me jump into a truck. But I was able to ride this, often just going into the closed lane which had plenty of room for me.
Part of the fun on the ride is meeting other people, especially adventuring cyclists. Dan was from Colorado and out camping and mountain biking in Cedar Breaks.
This nice little bike path traversed about 15 miles near the end of the ride.
Of course the best part of the day was finding this woman waiting for me at the end of the ride. And I promise, I was much happier to see her than I look in that photo.
Now we get two rest days with our wives before taking on and enjoying more of the challenging and beautiful Utah terrain.