Thursday, August 12, 2010


Who knew August was the rainiest season in Southern Utah? I was caught unprepared for a thundershower at 10,000 feet, but incredible fortune left an open bay in an unattended snowplow garage. The next rain shower found Yeyo & I huddled under a tarp I had made to protect the bikes at night. It's worked well in both roles.

Even as I tried to prepare for every eventuality in the lightest way, I knew one cannot possibly anticipate what will happen on a long bike ride, only accept miracles with grace and gratitude. This ride has proven no exception.

The road across southern Utah has been a lot to handle, with various surface and traffic conditions dipping and climbing at grades up to 14%. Add to this weather conditions from soaking downpour to dry-as-bone desert, some pretty intense winds, and temperatures from 40s to 90s.

I can't even begin to describe the landscapes. Frequently you round a corner or top a ridge to find yourself on another planet. Eons of settlement, upthrust, and erosion have created incredible places with amazing scale and diversity. I've spent a lot of time imagining how the first people lived here.

Plans for making this difficult path across the continent with this mix of riders on a two month schedule were overly optimistic. Oh, never fear, we will make it. Most of us will ride our bicycles most of the way, but we have had to depend upon a rented motor vehicle. I'm not thrilled to make this compromise, but it was the only wise choice.

Our goals are intact. Our spirits are high. We are learning and growing with every spin of our pedals and the universe continues to provide abundant and glorious experiences. Bike4Peace 2010 rides on!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Loneliest Hours on the Loneliest Highway

We left Ely, NV, at 1:00 AM, as has become our custom during this week of crossing the hot, dry, sparsely populated area. The first hours of climbing were about what I had expected, but something switched on inside me as I rode down the seven and a half miles of six percent downgrade. I hit the bottom spinning at full leg speed in my highest gear, stretched across my aero bars for minimum air drag. Pulling to the front of the pack I kept that spin going for eight miles across Spring Valley from Major's Junction, watching the silhouettes of the eastern mountains slowly grow against the first light of dawn.

The road gradually climbed toward the towering mountains until I could see the details of their upthrust granite faces in the dim light directly in front of me. Then highway 50 turned northeasterly into a short descent too steep to spin through and slowly climbed out, so I could continue my spin by down-shifting one gear every quarter mile. It went through a series of swells, each taller than the last. I stopped on a downturn to remove insulating over-clothes and felt the slight tailwind.

Now the crags on my left were closer than those on the right, where a dozen modest homes were tucked into the hillside, about half of them behind an archway built entirely of cast off elk antlers. As the morning sun made a western peak glow, the coyotes burst into song and I struggled to keep my spin up in my climbing gear, pulling five miles up at six percent grade. As the hills on both sides mellowed toward the pass, the scrub pines took over the landscape from the sagebrush.

I took a nice long break at the top of the pass. Though it was the first I'd seen of the sun, it had fully risen on the valley to the east. From here it was a pleasant downhill all the way to Baker, where I write this while waiting out the heat of the day. Tonight we'll face one of the most challenging rides so far - 84 miles without services. We're ready.