Neil and Mel's Big Adventure

Adventure Tunes

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mel's Muffed?

This is Mel at 10,000 feet, top of Boulder Mountain. (Its a good thing they ride different style bikes. Its getting hard to tell them apart!) He titles his next chapter Muffed.
"Hi all, We left Torrey on Monday after two days rest because of the snow storm on Boulder Mountain. We just hunkered down and watched a lot of conference. Becky saw us off all bundled up in our warm clothes early Monday morning. We waved goodbye to her and headed south to get over the mountain. It was a great day for us. We climbed 4,000 feet and went 65 miles. We went from 9,700 feet in cold mountain air on the top of Boulder Mountain air, zipping down to the town of Boulder and then down the famous Hogsback twisty ride that is a favorite of motorcyclists. That was a thrill all the way to Calf Creek. Some of the drops were 12% grades. When we got to Calf Creek, the thrill was over as we had to climb back up about 1000 feet to get up to a high point from which we descended to Escalante. It was much warmer there than on Boulder Mountain. On Tuesday, we went from Escalante to Bryce. That was a tough day. We had a slight climb up through the Grand Staircase-Escalante area, only to do a big drop down to the town of Cannonville where we refueled. Then we had to climb back up through the pinnacles of Bryce. It was cold again up on top and getting dark on us. Fortunately they had a bike trail that took us to a state campground at Red Canyon. We set up tents again in the dark. We got an early start on Wednesday, but it was enough to freeze our tails. We stopped at the Highway 89 junction at a cafe for breakfast just to thaw out our fingers and everything else rather than ride to Panguitch to eat. At Panguitch we stopped at the forest service office to take off a few clothes because we had warmed up by then. Big mistake. Neil started talking with a guy who claimed to be an avid local cyclist. He was pretty persuasive about us taking a road to Mammoth Creek rather than going up to Cedar Breaks. We had some Welsh bike riders warn us about Panguitch when we met them about 7 miles outside of Glen Canyon. Chris Terry and Paul were from Swansea, Wales. They warned us against staying in Panguitch. Chris said, "It is a Fascist town." They tried to find a pub there after a day's ride and a resident pridefully told them that they had run the bar out of town (and the tattoo parlor). They asked where we were from. I told them I was from Salt Lake, but that Neil was the head of the Panguitch Chamber of Commerce and tourist bureau. They laughed and said that maybe it was time to split. They were traveling very light on racing type bikes. We wonder how they will fare in the Rockies. I have their e-mails to see how things go for them in the days ahead. Back to that road to Mammoth Creek. Big mistake! We lost a day of riding and had to reclimb a couple thousand feet. I had been on that road 40 years ago when it was dirt, but couldn't remember all the details about where it ended up, etc. I should have looked at the map closer, but Neil seemed pretty convinced that it would be the route we should go. He's beating himself up pretty bad over the decision. Oh, well, we just have to make do with what has happened. We ended up sleeping at Duck Creek campground instead of 25 miles further west in Cedar. We see that there is a nasty storm coming in two days. The gusty breezes tell us that. We had snow on the ground up on the mountain at 10,000 feet before we started down to Cedar. The wind gusts in the canyon threw me around like a rag doll on the bike. My panniers catch those side winds pretty nicely and just throw me around. I had to slow down a lot on the downhill just to play it safe. After weighing all our options, we decided to stay here in Cedar tonight and push for Milford tomorrow. We look forward to seeing some of my family who are coming down tomorrow to give aid and comfort. Karen and Will are coming for sure. That will not only be a wonderful reunion, but could not come at a more opportune time. After Milford is the dreaded ride of 84 miles to Baker (with no services in between) on what is called America's loneliest highway. Becky saved our bacon in the Monticello to Glen Canyon ride and Karen will be a Joan of Arc for us on that stretch. The storm is scheduled to hit that day and snow is expected (about 70% chance). Not good riding weather. This may be the last time I communicate for quite a while as we are heading out in land where we may not find a terminal (or much of anything else). Just check the blog as Becky updates it daily with our progress and news. Also Neil just sent her a bunch of recent photos. Some of the drivers here have "given us a brush." Must be descendants of the Cedar MMM participants. That is code language that my MMM mates will understand. While eating at a fast food place, I saw Rick Turley's photo on a big electronic message board across the street at bank. It said he would be speaking here at the Cedar library later this month. Would have been fun to have got here when he was to speak, but can't linger with the weather. We saw an eastbound rider on the top of Cedar Mountain, but it was too cold up there to stop and visit and he really was moving. I don't know exactly, but I guess we are about 1200 miles into this journey now." Mel

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