Torrey to Escalante
Today was going to be an extremely hard day and it started out with 41 degree temperature. We woke up to everyone putting on riding tights, gloves, skull caps and underarmor. We were at 6800′, but were going to be climbing two summits today in the first 24 miles of our route.
As I started out, I was feeling pretty weak as I was in my granny gears within the first mile of the day. The first summit was at approx 8700′ and we would reach it around mile 14…so that was two hours of grinding in my lowest gear with a few slight downhils along the way. I was pretty amazed that I could grind around that mountain for two hours without getting off to walk considering we had anywhere from 4-8% grades all the way. Mentally you just had to stay with it. Finally I got to the first summit and you would think it was a party instead of a water stop. Everyone was cheering and each new person as they made it in. The view was spectacular and everyone took a little break before we had a small downhill before hitting the next uphill grind.
As I worked on grinding up the next summit, I was a bit surprised that it didn’t seem quite as bad or maybe I was just numb. It took about an hour and a half to reach this next summit of 9600′. I had my photo taken with the sign … as my celebration. We had one more little up and downhill before we cruised downhill for 11 miles to our lunch stop. I barely touched my pedals those 11 miles, but my breaks were smoking a few times as we had a few hairpin turns and a cow decided to cross the road.
We had lunch at the Anasazi State Prm Museum in Boulder. It was shaded and everyone was in a celebratory mood after our morning’s ride. We thought the afternoon would be pretty easy as it was suppose to be a lot of downhill, but we had a rude awakening. It actually started as a nice ride but soon we were climbing the face of a stone mountain that, as you rounded the corner, you just knew you would continue to round the face on the otherside and up the adjoining mountain. Then we were in Dixie National Forest and soon the Grand Staircase…. what a spectacular view. I must have taken 50 photos of all the grandure. We had some great 14% down grades in here with a few dangerous turns as we came down to Calf Creek Falls. This was a very green and lush area. We followed the creek for a period that was like being in a canyon between two mountains but soon we were climbing again with one steep grade after another. It was getting pretty hot and I still had 17 miles to go so it was not to fun climbing for another hour or more to get to the final 10 miles of down grade into Escalante.
Once I got to town my first stop was for water. I was bone dry by then and ready to relax. It was a long day and I just wanted to hit camp. We stayed at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park which was two miles beyond the town… not something you want to hear after the day we had but it wasn’t too bad of a ride. Set up camp, showered and hung around with a group of riders that either sagged in or got in before me. We have become a close group and it’s a lot of fun to sit around and talk. We even got surprised by an elder biker that apparently was playing hopping showers. We saw him naked… going from one shower to the other, where he apparently grabbed a towel and then proceeded to go back to the shower he had been in…and then got to the wrong door, turned back to go to another one and ended up dropping the towel on the way… We were all laughing hysterically. And just so you know, the showers were in a brick building that had like six stalls built in… so you had private shower areas. Very nice and in this case, very entertaining.
The fun didn’t end there… we actually had to pile in the back of a pickup to get back to town for dinner that evening. 13 of us piled in and flew into town… It was quite a day!!