The Riders

The Riders
The end at Yorktown

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ordway CO to Eads CO 56 Miles

Hot again.  Dave & Pete decided to leave the Ordway Hotel ASAP.  They were on the road at 6:20 AM headed for Eads CO before it got too hot and windy.  Temps that time of the morning are moderate and there is not a lot of humidity.
This is desolate country. There are brown fields as far as you can see in all directions. Some parcels had cows in them, most do not. We came across a feed lot with many thousands of cows.  We measured the road side of it to be 1 mile long. The smell was over powering.
The guys made good time and finished this leg by 10:45AM.  The next possible camp ground was 65 miles from Eads, so we decided to make this a short day. We set up camp in an Eads city park with no restroom , or shower but there is a library across the street.  A swimming pool is close by.  Temps hit 102 by 2:00 PM. Then it started.  WINDS, More Winds, Heavy Winds.  They nearly tore our tents apart.  They lasted until 1:00 AM, and then changed to the opposite direction. Our fellow travelers Rusty and Ray rode their last 20 miles in that gale.  We met them for dinner and they were exhausted. We were glad we stopped when we did. I read the book on the dust bowl (THE WORST HARD TIMES) and I got a feel for what that must have been like.  Our camp was next to a grain elevator.  The trucks going in there kicked up dust which blew hard right to our camp site.
Eads CO.  Note the grain elevator.  Lots of truck traffic. Much dust.

Eads, Co.  Wind was blowing hard.  Note how the tent is collapsed.

This is our last night in CO.  KS awaits.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pueblo to Sugar City 60 miles.

The morning started in Colorado Springs with a breakfast of Julie's baked oatmeal.  The car trip to Pueblo took about 45 minutes.  Phil then lost the riders and finally caught up with them about 40 miles later. This was the hottest day of the trip.  108 Degrees. Our map said that there was a camp ground at Sugar City, but that was wrong.  There was a campground at Ordway five miles back but it was dirty, rocky, no shower - unacceptable.  So the Ordway Hotel is our stay for the night - a cute room.  The boring sights have begun.  There isn't much to describe.  It's dry, hot and no mountains to describe.  Kansas is on the horizon with wheat fields to describe.  We have at least one more day in CO.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pikes Peak on a rest day,

Colorado Springs is the resident city of Darin, Julie, Zoe, and Levi Zaruba.  Julie is the daughter of Jan & Phil Quist.  The riders used their home as a base for the first day off since Minden NV on the CA/NV border.
So what does one do on a day off from a bike trip?  -laundry, take a cog railroad trip to the top of Pikes Peak, ride through Garden of the Gods, shop for supplies, get your tent poles fixed at REI, blog and crash.
Garden of the Gods

Look closely for the deer on the COG Railroad tracks.

 Back to Pueblo tomorrow.

Over Monarch Pass then on to Pueblo

Gunnison to Coaldale over the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass (11,313 feet).

Dave wearing his GVSU jersey on Monarch Pass

Zoom in on this picture to see the ice on Dave's rain fly.

 Wow. What a climb.  The seven miles up the mountain took about 3 hours.  The euphoria at the top was unbelievable.  The long ride down took about 1/2 hour.  Lunch was in Salida, then on to Coaldale.  Nice camp ground there beside the mighty rushing Arkansas River.  Pete and Dave wanted to get a jump on the next day (again) and rode another 10 miles toward Pueblo.  So Phil went to get them a brought them back to Coaldale.  Spaghetti for supper. Bugs for dessert. 
Arkansas River

Camp Site on Arkansas River at Coaldale CO.

Camp Site on Arkansas River at Coaldale CO.

6/27/11.  ICE.  Dave had ice on his tent in the morning.  Packing up was finger numbing. Dave rode for the first 15 miles.  The were forest fires in the area.  The smoke in the air hung over the mountains and made the view hazy. Phil took over from Westcliffe to Pueblo. 56 miles. There was one long climb, then a seven mile downhill with strong cross/head winds. We had to hang on and slow down to keep from getting blown over. We saw another climate contrast.  This part of CO is really dry, and the ride was hot.  31 degrees in the AM, 90 degrees in the PM. Yet air at times seemed cool.  AT Pueblo the plan was to load the bikes on the car and then drive to Colorado Springs.  We did.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Montrose to Gunnison

KOA Camp in Gunnison

Making Lunch at Gunnison 

Fellow Travelers Rusty & Ray, their wives and two friends
A stiff tail wind. The guys just flew from Montrose and arrived in Gunnison about 2:30.  We intended to camp here but they wanted to keep going because the going was so easy.  So they headed out and told me to pick them up after another 25 miles.  They wanted to get as many miles toward Monarch Pass as possible, because it is going to be the highest (11,312 feet) of our adventure. The camp site was a  KOA and was relatively inexpensive.  Right next to the camp there was a white water kayaking competition going on.  The rivers along our route are full and really rushing. Phil did pick them up and brought them back to Gunnison where we met Rusty, Ray, and their wives.  We hit the sack by 8:30 in anticipation of the long climb tomorrow.

Drippings of Grace

“Why are you doing this?” is a question we hear often.  In my reading from, What’s so Amazing About Grace?  Phillip Yancy quotes C.S.Lewis:  Yancy says “I had experience the “drippings of grace,” C.S. Lewis’s term for what awakens deep longing for “a scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a time we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.””  That sounded like a description of what we are doing.  I am looking for serendipity too.
So now when I am asked that question I will probably say that we are looking for “drippings of grace”.  And we are finding them.  We are in the middle of other cross country bike tours.  One of them is going all the way to Newfoundland. I have had a couple of opportunities to dispense grace in little ways by offering a tire pump to one person and water to another person who had run out.  It’s fun dispensing serendipity too. Last night we invited Jim McTaggert, age 74, from England to share our motel room and dinner in Montrose. 
Dinner in Motel Montrose

A VERY spacious motel room in Montrose

Jim McTaggert from England joined us for a night in Montrose.

We are graced by our continued exposure to Ray & Rusty from TN.  We first met them near Fair Play CA. They are going to take a rest day in Gunnison with their wives who flew into Montrose to meet them. The wives will be following them until Pueblo and them returning home.
The ride from Telluride to Montrose was 60 miles.  Dave rode the first half and Phil the second.  Dave took the car into a bike shop in order to have the lock fixed on our car top carrier.  It was there that he met Jim.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Telluride is busy

The ride today went from Delores to Telluride abut 65 miles.  It went over a big pass and Dave and Pete had a hard slog.  We could not find a spot in the city camp ground, so we are again in a National Forest campgroud about ten miles away.  There is some kind of Festival going on so there are all kinds of people here.

What a switch!  From barren rocks and sage brush in Nevada and Utah to towering mountains and trees in Colorado. Our route today followed the Delores river for quite a ways.  Every thing is green and beautiful in a whole different way than the other states. 

Utah is behind us. Colorado is ahead.

We had to make our own hot water in a National Forest camp ground. Delores, CO

Dave & Pete crossing the line.

Pete busted by CO state police for riding on the wrong side of that white line..

Camp site in National Forest, Delores CO.
Blanding UT to Delores CO - 82 miles.  Phil rode 60 miles today.  The third time this trip.  We left beautiful Utah and entered beautiful Colorado.  A half mile into the state, Pete was busted by the CO State Police for doing 70 in a 60 mile zone. NA.  He was stopped for riding in the traffic lane when there was a wide shoulder available. We had a pleasant discussion with the officer and we assured him what we wouldn't mix it up with the semis anymore.
What a difference a day makes.  Western Colorado is cultivated.  There are green fields as far as I can see in all directions.  We can see the snow covered Rockies and we know are most difficult climbs are ahead.  We will be going over Monarch Pass at 11,300 feet in a few days.
Our camp ground was in a National Forest six miles from Delores.  We are learning that we really can get along without a shower every night.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Torrey to Blanding in Two Days

Colorado River at Lake Powell
Dusty/Rocky Camp Site. Lake Powell.
See Gary's post below about the route from Torrey to Hanksville.  They rode that 50 miles and finished by 10:30 AM.  I drove Gary to Green River while Pete and Dave continued another 45 miles to Lake Powell at Hite crossing the place where the Colorado River enters Lake Powell.  I caught up with them there and we set up camp on the shore of Lake Powell.  The camp site wasn't very nice - rocky and dusty. The wind blew most of the night.  But the stars!  It's been a long time since I could actually see a sky full and see the milky way too.

We  left Lake Powell for Blanding after cooking breakfast in a fish cleaning facility.  The route again took us through different scenery than any other days. (I wish I had Gary's talent for description.) Natural Bridges National Monument was along the route.  Here is a Google project for you.  Why are some areas called National Parks and others are called National Monuments?

The days ride covered 79 miles.  Tomorrow we say goodbye to Utah and hello to Colorado.

A Tribute to Gary

A Tribute to Gary

On Monday, June 20, we said goodbye to Gary.   He has become a part of the team, and it feels like something is missing.  Tonight I had to cut the lettuce for the meal, something Gary always did.   So what can I say about Gary?

In so many ways, Gary is like me.  He is a strong Christian, and that defines our lives.  He is a strong family man, and can articulate real family values.  Like me, he is a social worker.  So many of our beliefs about life and living are in sync. Issues of politics and poverty are important to us both and this carries over from our professional training and life experiences.  .

We both love bicycling.  That’s where things part.  While I am not strong on a bike, Gary excels.   He has the unusual ability to appear to ride effortlessly, especially when climbing hills.  He earned the nickname “mountain man” from gliding past Pete and me on the steep mountain passes, and does this in much higher gears than normal people could tolerate.  He has this remarkable combination of stamina, leg strength and conditioning as a runner that enables him to be the outstanding biker that he is. 

As for me, I have to try to use every little edge I can find.  Things like drafting, which means riding in the slip stream of a bike ahead is necessary for me, but for Gary is a nuisance that interferes with the joy of riding and a better view of the scenery.  I speed up on a downhill to get a better run at a difficult up hill ahead.  For Gary that is unnecessary, as he simply glides up the hill.  He has a different style that comes from strength, mine from weakness.

Gary also has a remarkable memory.  Things like “where did we stay three nights ago” are so much easier for him than for me.  Bits of trivia are a part of his life, and when I asked him who was on a winning world series team from 50 year ago (1957 to be exact), he named the starting players without a hitch.  Who else would remember Henry Aaron, Warren Spahn, Del Crandel, Johnny Logan, Joe Adcock, Bobby Thompson, Billy Bruton and Eddy Matthews of the Milwaukee Braves?   And, the positions they played!!  What can I say?

So we say farewell and God bless, and hope to get together to share pictures and stories together with our families when we return to Grand Rapids.  . We hope he has a wonderful vacation in Colorado with his wife and family and a safe return to Grand Rapids. 

Submitted by Dave G.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Innocent survives

I am ensconced in a comfortable room at a Motel 6 in Green River, UT, with my ride complete. But the others are now at the quarter pole, or a little further, in their ride across America.
No need to talk about yesterday as Phil has done a blog that well describes a very tough day of riding.  Yesterday’s miserable weather having cleared out, and with a very pleasant tailwind pushing us along, we rode this morning in three hours from Torrey to Hanksville, a distance of 75 kilometers. We rode so fast today that we arrived at Hanksville before Phil in the support vehicle. It was again spectacular riding, with canyon vistas when we looked down and mountain ranges when we glanced up.  And the terrain and light traffic today allowed those looks longer than normal.
Usually riding near the brown Fremont River, we cruised past 200 to 500 foot “chimneys” and “castles”, and 1,000 foot “cathedrals” of rock, in Capitol Reef National Park. They elicited worshipful emotions and thoughts.  The valleys looked particularly verdant, surrounded by the red, rose, and yellow rock, with purple mountains in the distance. In talking with my wife Pat this afternoon, to arrange a pick up in Green River tomorrow, I assured her that sometime soon we will take a motor trip on the Adventure Cycling route we have biked the last two weeks.
In some areas orchards lined the road and river, with high fences keeping the deer out of the recently established ones. We saw deer in the abandoned orchards, busily eating their breakfast.
Another interesting stop was at an old school house, built by Mormon families at Fruita. The school building was in use from 1912 to 1943. It has been well preserved along the roadside. We stopped, looked at the inside that seemed to be in shape for a school day, noticing even an apple on the teacher’s desk.
While Pete and Dave biked south toward the north end of Lake Powell, Phil drove me an hour north to Green River. Riding alongside the San Rafael cliffs that once gave shelter to Butch Cassidy and his gang, we chatted about the ride and its demands and satisfactions. There were patches when one simply wished to be off the bike, but more often a sense of satisfaction and sometimes of wonder.
It is difficult to leave the other adventurers. Feelings of completing what I planned console me. I learned more about what it takes for a successful adventure of this type. Only because of Phil’s planning and constant attention is this trip possible. Thank you Phil. And thanks, too, to Dave and Pete for the companionship established during the past three weeks. – gary

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Escalante UT to Torry UT 64 Miles.

Gary leading the charge uphill.

Phil & Gary about to ride down hill.  FREEZING

Pete riding solo up the hill near Torrey UT

Pete never quits. He is the Energizer Bunny of the group.

  Everyone in the world should drive Utah SR12 from Panguitch to Torrey.  I am adding a road trip along this route as part of my bucket.  The vistas are indescribable. The bike ride today was another challenge.  When we were having our second breakfast in Boulder, we decided to tackle the pass in front of us in different ways. Phil, Dave and Gary decided to put the bikes on the car and drive them to the top.  Phil and Gary would ride down back toward Boulder and Dave would come and get us and drive us back to the top. Pete however thought that did not meet his goal of riding every mile in the right direction. So he rode the whole way up.  The weather was difficult.  There were strong winds and squally rain.  Gary and Phil's ride down was fast but it was a struggle to hang on with the strong cross wind, cold temps, sleet, rain, and snow. We met Pete coming up as we came down.  He had a tough slog heading into the wind. Dave picked us up in Boulder and brought us back to the top where we met Pete.  Then Gary, Pete and Dave rode down to Torry still experiencing strong winds.  So strong in fact that we knew the winds would make it impossible to set up our tents.  The Days Inn has a hot tub and pool. :)

Kim asked:
Do you have a goal in mind? ... something you want to get out of the experience?
* Why'd you decide to keep a blog?
Do you have any trip photos yet you could send me to run with the column?

Our goal is Yorktown VA, riding one day at a time.  Our goal is the same as a mountain climbers - because it's there.  Each day has a goal.  We look forward to the next city - 50 to 75 miles ahead.  We have no firm date to finish.  Every day has it's own vistas to experience.  The riders see it from the bike.  I the SAG driver am experiencing it driving 25 to 45  miles per hour.  I have never taken such a slow car trip - stopping at nearly every turn out to enjoy God's country.
We decided to keep this blog because, 1.  I wanted to keep a travel diary.  2.  Family and friends asked us to keep them informed, 3.  My grand kids are following our progress on maps and are getting a geography lesson. and 4. We saw the value of blogging on another bike tour.
We have started attaching photos to past postings.  We are still learning how to down load them from our cameras and phones with varying success. SO keep looking back and you may see new pic and edited text.

You asked about the "spiritual" nature of this venture.  No it is not anything outside our normal dedication to God.  The reading we are doing may have religious content.  The vistas I saw today convinced me once again that we have an awesome creator God.  But the trip does not have a special spiritual quest.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Up and down, cold and hot...that has been Utah

Spaghetti at Escalante shared with tourists from Switzerland 

Red Canyon Utah SR12

No wonder we couldn't find that camp ground.

Red Canyon Utah

Oh, if only the camera could capture the vista.

This morning when we broke camp in Panguitch, UT, there was ice on the support vehicle so it was a chilly beginning.. Our hands, after packing away our camping gear, were pretty useless from the cold, but soon the work of biking, and a Western sun, started to warm things up. Also, I only stopped for a cup of coffee, planning to catch up on the uphill ahead.
About 7miles into the ride we took Hwy 12, entering Red Canyon, the prelude to Bryce Canyon and its myriad of rock formations and color. The Colorado River and its tributaries carved this landscape of rich colors, and also created shifting climates as elevations vary from 4,000 to 10,000 feet in southern Utah.
We are now in the land of canyons and benches, in contrast to the basins and ranges of Nevada.  The one constant is the need to work hard, slowly pedaling up, then to coast down at high speed, keeping one’s hands on the brakes to avoid too fast a speed. For me too fast is slower than for Dave and Pete, who leave me far behind on the downhills. I must be more cautious than most, or maybe they are just more experienced bikers.
One never knows what to expect in such remote areas as we are now biking. We planned a stop at Henrieville for lunch, but discovered there was no food, no service there. So we improvised, or Phil did, finding a picnic table. We ate from our store of fruit and veggies. Next our route took us to Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument and more gorgeous scenery, but the riders often hardly noticed as they had their heads down, climbing from 5,000 feet to nearly 8,000 feet. I have to confess to twice getting off the bike as I approached the steep grade at the summit. I walked my bike for a short in to that little voice that said walking would be good.
Total today: 112 Kilometers. The end today was an 18 mile coast into Escalante. Tomorrow we will pay for that with a 3,500 climb first thing in the day.
Our plan is to stay tomorrow night in Torrey, and the next night in Hanksville. That will be my last night with the group. The next day, June 21, I hope to meet my wife Pat in Green River, UT. 
Yesterday’s total was 93 kilometers, from Cedar City to Panguitch . The day was also filled with great views as we rode up 4,500 feet to Cedar Breaks National Monument. We were not sure the road and visitor center, at about 10,600 feet, would be open as the area still has deep snow. But they were, and we found great views, and interesting interpretations from rangers. Pete has said that he would like to study geology.
Yesterday ended with a downhill to Panguitch. The day before yesterday, from Milford to Cedar City, was our hardest yet, to our surprise. It was in part a psych deal; the mileage, 91 kilometers, and elevations had us thinking it was going to be nearly a rest day. But a strong wind, averaging above 20 mph and gusting into the 30’s right in our faces, had me stopping every couple of kilometers just to catch a breath and a drink…of water. In addition, early in the day, a colony of ants attacked me while replenishing water at roadside. First I felt a burning sensation on my legs, thought it was sunburn, then noticed the little buggers climbing up my legs like Lance Armstrong does - or did - a mountain. I am still discovering swellings, from feet to neck, were they took bites. (Last evening Phil, after consultation with his nurse wife Jan, provided some Benadryl that relieved much of the itch.)
Well, that is a summary of the last three days...from one perspective.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cedar City UT to Panguitch UT 59 miles over a big mountain

Campsite Panguitch UT

The long climb to 10,600 feet.

Cedar Breaks National Monument at 10,600 ft.
Pete Dykema, Gary Nederveld, Dave Gabrielse, Phil Quist
Nearing the top of Cedar Breaks

Pictures cannot capture the real beauty.

Cedar Breaks still has snow.
The climb was from 5500 ft to 10,600 ft. over 26 miles.  The view from the top was spectacular.  Cedar Break National Monument is located there.  It just opened because of the snow, but the campground will not be open for about another month.  There is a viewing area there which overlooks a canyon 2,500 feet down and three miles across.. A few people expressed surprise that bikes could make the steep climb. Again the ride down was really fun. The camp ground tonight is right on the main drag of Panguitch.  It's a grassy spot.  Perfect. Temps are in the 60s.

Kim the travel reporter asked:
Are you having some unexpected or serendipitous moments, re: people you've met/things you've seen?/cool moments between the four of you? ....
* What was that movie with Billy Crystal and his friend doing the out west cowboy thing? Is there something like that in this trip? ... a male bonding thing that maybe doesn't get to happen so much in everyday life?

We are having a great time together,  I think any shared experience is bonding but this one is not spectacularly so.  All of us have significant relationships in our lives, so this trip is not an attempt to "find ourselves". We are having a good time sharing our spiritual and theological views of life. Gary talked about some of the folks we have met.  We see the two guys from TN every day.  I talked with two young women pulling BOB trailers who are headed the same way we are.  They found someone to bring them to the top of the big hill in a pickup. Cheaters.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Milford UT to Cedar City UT - 54 miles WIND, WIND, WIND

 Have you ever had to peddle hard in lower gear to go down a long hill?  The riders did today.  The mileage was only 54 with one long pass, but the down hill was just about as hard as the upside, WIND, WIND, WIND. The pic above is Pete getting resupplied with liquid from Phil the water boy.  It was exhausting but we made it to Cedar City UT.  I never heard of it, but it's big.  Big enough to have some auto glass shops.  A semi threw a stone at the windshield a couple of days ago and we now have a ten inch long crack.  Dave is out to see if the windshield can be replaced.  The KOA camp wants about the same rate as a Motel 6, so guess where we are tonight. This trip is getting expensive. But who cares since this is part of the bucket.

Kim asked:
Why this as a bucket list trip? Were you looking for something that pushed your physical boundaries a bit? What all appealed to you about the trip you decided to take... about bikes as your transportation mode and about the route you selected?

Phil chose that name as a joke. It was an acknowledgment of what Pete has been saying to his family and the South Christian staff.  "The first thing I'm going to do when I retire is ride my bike across country."  He retired on May 31 and left on this trip on June1. He says he wanted to do it because of the physical challenge and to see the Country at a bicycle pace. (We would never have see the rattle snake if we were in a car.) Dave and Pete rode together to the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.  They said at the time that when they retire they were going to to it. (Does that make a bucket list item?)  Two years ago Pete, Dave, Judy, Phil, and Jan rode around Lake Michigan on our bikes - 1200 miles.  We discussed this cross country trip then, but Jan and Judy opted out.  All of us have been taking bike trips for a long time.  This happens to be the longest and most demanding one ever for Pete, Gary, and Phil.

The route is laid out by Adventure Cycling.  Tomorrow we are wondering why they chose this segment because we have to climb to 10,500 feet from 6,000 in 20 miles. Someone told us there are some 12% grades. Pete is going to get his challenge. Biking is an acquired taste.

Phil with Pete looking over his shoulder.

PS  Dave just got back and we now have a new bug free windshield.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Answer to Prayer

Yesterday, I prayed for safety on the road.  I was taught to pray at an early age, but have never been good at it.   I have listened to people who have talked about answers to prayer, and have infrequently thought that I have heard an answer.  When my son was diagnosed with cancer, I prayed like I have never prayed before, and when he went into and stayed in remission over 35 years ago, I felt I received an answer. 

So a prayer for safety seemed logical.  However, this time I felt that I heard an answer; a voice in my head that said:  "Then don't do anything stupid!"  That response changed how I rode the bicycle yesterday.  I'll come back to that in a minute.  Those who know me know of my love for speed.  That can sometimes lead to involvement in in things like driving a car on the track or going down a hill on a bicycle faster than necessary.  Judy will recount several times on the tandem when I exceeded her speed limit, and resulted in an ultimatum that went something like this: "Either I get brakes on the back handlebars of this bike, or I don't ride anymore." 

For those who know anything about tandems, it is general knowledge that they are faster down hill than single bikes.  When Judy did the cross country bike ride with me from Florida to Oregon in 2001, she had TWO brake levers, and in the mountains, we needed them both.  One was a novel idea that I had, to use a ratcheting thumb shifter attached to a disk brake in the back wheel of the tandem.  This could be set to the desired level of drag for the long down hills, and didn't heat up the wheels like rim brakes do, potentially causing tire blowups due to pressure increase.  The drag could be released simply by pulling back.  It really worked well for the trip, but is generally unnecessary in Michigan where there are very few long, long downhills.  We also had cantilevered brakes front and back, and a hydraulic brake on the back.  We still couldn't lock up the back wheel due to carrying 99.5 pounds of camping weight.

Back to how I changed my riding yesterday based on the response I am sure I heard.  I rode downhill more slowly, not the slowly of using brakes frequently, but that of unusual caution while drafting, using my body to slow down the bike by sitting upright, instead of dropping my head down to the handlebars to gain yet more speed.  One of the things that I have noticed is that I see less of the scenery on the down side of a hill than the up hill side.  That's probably due to the difference between passing something at 30 miles per hour vs. six MPH.  It is only logical that one can see five times as much at the slower speed, right?

I think the other factor that made a difference is seeing the damage a fall can cause to a body of a young girl (Kim) who we rode with earlier.  She had a serious fall while going too fast on a wet switchback, and her leg was a reminder of the contact between skin and concrete/gravel.

I didn't do anything stupid yesterday and my answer to prayer.

Submitted by Dave G..

6/14 & 15

Hard to get lost on this road.
Lots a mommas and babies

One cowboy and a bunch of cow girls
Campsite in Baker

Ely NV to Baker NV  63 Miles

The passes are not that high but the approaches and the down sides are looong.
Baker NV is a two restaurant town.  That's all there is there.  One of them let us camp free behind the place if we bought our evening meal there.  We did.  Great Basin National Park is there too. The four of us bought a tour of the caverns. A great thing to do on a hot day.

Baker NV to Milford UT.  84 miles.
Another state done. A new time zone. Utah is ahead.  Again the passes were not that high but very long and therefore strenuous.  We saw a lot of wild life including a rattle snake.The cow girls and one lone cowboy were out too.  They were  herding mamas and calves across the road holding up traffic.

A travel editor for Booth News papers has heard about this trip thanks to my sister Nancy.  Kim sent us an email with a bunch of questions. Over the next days, we will be working a responding to them.  Here's what she asked:
"A few things I'd like to know a bit more about:
* Why this as a bucket list trip? Were you looking for something that pushed your physical boundaries a bit? What all appealed to you about the trip you decided to take... about bikes as your transportation mode and about the route you selected?
* Have there been unexpected challenges so far?
* Unexpected or serendipitous moments, re: people you've met/things you've seen?/cool moments between the four of you? ....
* What was that movie with Billy Crystal and his friend doing the out west cowboy thing? Is there something like that in this trip? ... a male bonding thing that maybe doesn't get to happen so much in everyday life?
* Why is it important to do things like this in life, do you think?
* Do you have a goal in mind? ... something you want to get out of the experience?
* Why'd you decide to keep a blog?
Okay. I'll stop now. :)
Do you have any trip photos yet you could send me to run with the column?
- Kim

And after I wrote the What's so amazing about grace? posting Kim asked:
I hope I didn't overwhelm you with all those questions. Love today's blog posts.
One quick question: It was interesting to hear of your reading materials. Do you (and/or the others) see this trip as a pilgrimage? quest? Spiritual quest? ....
and you're welcome to answer any of yesterday's questions that appeal. :)
I will see if the other guys will work at them too.  But gotta go for now.  Supper has to get on.

Made it to Utah today

A sample of the wild life along the road.
We have been prompted to explain why we are doing this...biking across the country, or in my case, the western part of the U.S. We have some reasons in common, I am sure, but more that are unique to each.

For me it goes back to an aborted bike trip ten years ago, a trip begun because I like challenges. I knew little about how to prepare and had no support, but launched from LA, heading for Chicago, pedaling a cross bike with a bunch of stuff bungee corded to the back rack. After some unexpectedly difficult experiences I quit, packed up my bike, took a bus from Phoenix to Denver, to the home of my children, for R&R. So going with a group with more experience and support has been very satisfying.

For me the trip is also about seeing the beauty of creation, of nature, and of people. And there has been so much of that, for which I am very grateful.

Yesterday, as we reached Baker NV, my bike odometer reached 1,000 kilometers. During the ten days since the tire was dunked in the Pacific it has not always been on, so my daily totals are more than that. The goal of riding 2,000 kilometers on this western trip seems attainable. I am thankful for the many fine friends and family membes who pledged a gift to AJS for each kilometer I ride. Thanks for your means so much.

I thought today was pretty special. In fact I have a "top ten list".
10. Leaving Nevada for Utah...we are moving right along, slightly ahead of schedule!
9. The group biking over two peaks, Wah Wah and Frisco, each requiring an elevation gain of more than 1,200 feet.
8. The leisurely cup of coffee I enjoyed before driving the support GMC to a point up the road, then coming back to ride with Pete, Dave and Phil.
7. The songs of faith, most of which were learned in my youth, that I sing while riding, especially when the going is tough.
6. Hearing an eagle cry as I reached a summit.
5. Today was the first time I ever saw a rattle snake in the wild. A small one, about 2 and 1/2 feet, it crossed the road as I watched its every move as it watched my every move, rattle rattling.
4. Seeing a burrowing owl standing alongside the road, watching the prairie dogs holes for young ones it might have for breakfast.
3. Phil having a long ride after several days of not being on the bike.
2. Delighting in such little things as a cloud providing cooling shade, leading me to recall the thankfulness of the Israelites when God provided a cloud cover when they were in the desert.
1. Just making it through another day of challenge. In all I did 112 kilometers today, for a total of 1,112. The last 14 miles today were all good is that?!

Tonight we are in Milford, Utah. Tomorrow we head for Cedar City.
God bless you all, gary