Day #44) July 26, 2011. Roosevelt, UT to Herber City, UT: 98 miles in 8:32 hrs.
Damnit I did it! This old fart still has it in the endurance dept.
Went to bed at 8:30 pm last night knowing that I really wanted to give it a go for the big daddy ride to Herber City – nearly 100 miles away and containing a grunt of a climbing session up to 8K into the mts. Bad thing was that today in Utah was predicted to be a really wet day, what with a big line of storms moving in from the south. So I hit the hay wondering if, despite my mindset to shoot for the moon on the ride, the storms could put the kibosh on my ride either in the beginning or somewhere during the ride.
Got up at 3:30 am and immediately looked out the window to see if it was raining. It wasn’t, but it had rained sometime last night very lightly. Turned on the morning news out of Salt Lake City at 4:30 am and listened and looked intently at the Doppler map. And let me tell you it was just a mess of green, yellow and red, especially down in the south in the Canyonlands area. But up in the northeast, in Roosevelt, it was just thick cloud cover. The general forecast was that it could rain or it might not rain to the north.
That’s all I needed. I packed, knocked down a half a sub, ate 5 or 6 fig newtons and downed some motel room java. Due to the cloud cover I couldn’t get on the road until 5:45 am. It was just a bit too dark and the traffic in Roosevelt at that time – it was like the LA rush hour for God’s sake. Now I typically get on the roads that early and it’s like the dead zone. Not out here with the oil/gas boom. I’m guessing what with this boom out here, that there are crews who are working 24/7. I mean it sounded like the freeway out there at that early hour. I was just amazing. And it made me even more determined to get the hell out of this part of UT asap.
Put my reflective jacket on, turned on my headlamp and got it rolling. Double tanker trucks, single tanker trucks, a gazillion white Ford, Chevy and Dodge pick-up trucks and various other work trucks were just buzzing past me. It was just totally amazing. I actually think this is worse that the boom going on in ND. And I started playing games to pass the time, counting how many vehicles out of each ten that passed me were related to the gas industry. Did this umpteen times and the best I got was 10 out of 10 and the worst I got was 8 out of 10!. Just a steady of stream of trucks passing me. Thank God at that point I had a 3-4 foot berm – with a rumble strip.
My ride today was WAY slower from the start than yesterday’s, that because of the false flat climbing right from the gun. It was all I could do to comfortable maintain 11-12 mph. And what with 90+ potential miles ahead of me I sure as heck wasn’t going to cook myself in the first 5 hrs, while expecting the day to take somewhere around 7+ hours. Took me about 2:20 hrs to get to the town of Duchesne, that at about a 12 mph average. Now the traffic had slowed down considerable save for those damnable dbl tanker trucks moving west and east at 65 mph. Most of the site workers in their white pick-ups had already gotten to their destinations by 8 am. But even in Duchesne, the place existed because of nothing but oil related businesses. Good choice to blow that one off. I stopped at a gas convenience store to get some fuel for the long haul – a cold coke and a banana. Made it like a bloody bit stop in NASCAR and was back on the bike in like under 5 min.
And this is where the grunt began. And today’s grunt surpassed what Brad and I did getting up into the Rockies last week. So I started this false flat climb in the big ring. And then into the middle ring, and then into the little ring. It started just as I crossed over a branch of Starvation Res. And that pup climbed up for…..1:30 hrs! Honestly, an hour and a half of climbing. And it was grueling climbing not just this false flat lollygagging I’d done in KS. This was real, and this was extremely long. And the cavalcade of tanker traffic just continued uninterrupted. I’d hoped that the mess would all turn off somewhere in Duchesne, but not the tankers. They just continued to rumble up and down Rt 40 like a bunch of angry bulls. Now on the plus side, never did I have a problem with one of these trucks. They all made it a point to go over the yellow, or when it was dbl lane on the climbing, they’d move to the left lane. I’m really happy that I installed that rear view mirror. Cuz today I was looking at that way more than I was looking at what was in front of me!
Went through a water two water bottles by the time I’d gotten to the “top” of that climb. And thankfully, with the cloud cover, it was pretty cool, like in the 70’s. So I wasn’t going through water like crazy, but I was getting pretty thirsty what with all the climbing. Once I pseudo-topped out, I did this gradual descent to a little rest area with vending machines. I mean this stretch of road was just lonely, long, and hardly even populated, so seeing that little rest stop for water and food, that was a plus I hadn’t counted on. Guzzled water from the fountain until I felt like my stomach was going to burst. Then I bought a sweet and salty nut bar out of the vending machine. Refilled bottles and another quick pit-stop. Back on the bike and rolling again. Because of that 1.5 hr climb my average had fallen to like 10.8 mph from 12. And suddenly I was recalculating my eta.
Now I had two options on this ride: bag it at a mountain chalet that is over priced and way too foo-foo for my taste, or take it all the way into Heber City. I was just going to see how I felt, and see how the weather looked. Either way I was going to get in more that 80 miles today, and at 8 mph that meant that the day would be at least 8 hours long. So anyway I did a slight descent into the ….hamlet, community, whatever of Fruitland. Now this pup was smaller than Maybell. I mean it was a grocery store and about 15-20 houses/trailers and that was it. Buzzed through. I had emergency food and plenty of liquids, so I just wanted to keep the train rolling.
And that’s when the (&*%^*%#^%$ hit the fan. Right out of Fruitland the big daddy of climbs began. And this dog was a mountain climb easily equal to what I’d done in CO. It pitched up quick and suddenly I was in the little cookie doing all I could to save the legs from getting cooked. Welcome to the Uinta Mts! It was beautiful, granted, but wow, with like 50 miles in my legs already I was beginning to wonder if I’d bitten off more than I could chew for the day. I mean this thing just wouldn’t stop. The majority of it was little cookie. And I had dbl lane on my climbing side so I used the far right lane, on the white line, rather than the berm that had pretty much disappeared and turned into a foot of rumble and a foot of berm.
Started going through water again by the bottle, just taking these big guzzles on occasion that would empty a quarter of a bottle at a time. Now as I had read the road map, and I’ll have to say that it had no passes listed and no topo lines to denote elevation, it looked to me that I’d be climbing to Strawberry Res. and then climbing again to Herber City. So going into this initial climb I was really concerned that the climbing was just going to torch me. Did the mindgame stuff calculating my eta at various mph ranges, and it just continued to make the day longer and longer. I even felt some sprinkles of rain now and then which gave me a sense of urgency on getting this pup done. Tell you what this thing went on for another 1:20 min before I finally topped out at Strawberry Res. All of this high country area is part of Uinta National Forest. There were plenty of camping areas available, but they were like 5-6 miles off the main road and down along the lake to the south.
So I just kept rolling on Rt 40. So it looked as though the Res. sits in this big saddle, and getting around the thing – it’s big – had to take another 45 min of riding on flat road. And the big problem was that they were doing road work, laying a new layer of asphalt, and had the lanes restricted down to just a narrow lane on each side with orange barrels partitioning off the berm and lanes. I had NOWHERE to hide from the trucks. Now when I could I’d duck into the opposite lane to like the big daddies go by. But in one instance I just couldn’t get over there due to oncoming traffic. And I hear this horn just honking and honking away at me. And I’m thinking: “ok just where in the hell do you want me to go – into the gravel for God’s sake?” And the honking just continued all the way up to me. Now by that time I was tired, sore, hungry, thirsty, and not in a friendly mood, so I just flipped the truck off and yelled out the F-bomb. Well, turns out that the guy was warning me of the wide load, and the guy riding shotgun pointed back at the trailer. So I kind of calmed down and waved thanks for the warning.
Came around the corner of the north end of the lake and saw a Visitor’s Center for the lake so I pulled in to refill the water bottles. I swear, I went in there so parched and punch drunk. I filled the bottle three times and drank each bottle. Then I refilled the bottles and did more drinking from the fountain. Now while I was going through this “drink till ya drop” routine, there were two older gentleman in there manning the help desk and kind of talking, but also kind of checking me out. So I asked the one fellow how far it was to the foo-foo chalet, and he told me 6 miles, all up with about 400 foot more in elevation gain. Then he said something that kind of blew me away. “From there it’s all down,” he said, “it’s 24 miles all down mountain to Heber City. You’d be better off just riding down to Heber.”
Now at that point I had thought that I’d have to climb another 24 miles to Heber, seeing that the road map kind of presented it as sitting at the top of the mountains. So I told him that and he replied, “I wouldn’t lie to you there’s not one bit of up in that whole downmountain! The chalet is just below the summit on the west side, so you can just coast to Heber.” “Ok I thought, if that’s indeed the case I just might go for the whole cookie.” Because honestly, I was totally cooked by then, and I’d resigned myself to go to the chalet for dinner and lodging. That was a gamechanger. Thanked the man and on I went to finish the mountin climb. Now the fist 3 miles out of this climb was pretty good, and I could actually big ring it, but then when a sign popped up telling of dbl lane starting again, I know I was SOL. And it was indeed little cookie time. So I climbed for like five min out of the saddle and then just had to stop and pull out some emergency food - my honey stinger energy chews – which are just like the shot blocks. These were cherry, and they just tasted so good that my bloody mouth exploded. I could well have gorged on ten packs of those. It was heaven. I have to thank my bud Drew for those little goodies he’d given me back in Fort Collins.
So I got going again and eventually topped out at a bit over 8K, and just like the old timer had told me, there just over the pass with the chalet. So I decided to trust him on the descent and go for the whole deal, and ride to Heber City. Now the distance to Heber City up at the summit was listed as 17 miles. And I was hoping there’d not be one inch of gain on that whole 17 miles.
(Right now at 6 pm MST it is just black outside here in Herber City, and the big storms are already invading Salt Lake City with a deluge – I’m watching local news. So the rain has arrived, and I feel pretty thankful to have gotten this ride in on such a volatile day.)
So that descent was just a screamer. I was so tired and beaten down that I just didn’t want to stop and take pictures or put on the helmet cam. I just wanted to be done. Now I figured that for 17 miles, I’d be descending for about 40-45 min. And damn, the minutes just flew by, 10 in, 20 in, 30 in and still descending, sometimes at 35-40 mph, with that yak just pushing me down mountain like a giant hand. And as I got further down the mt the temps got warmer and warmer. Before you knew it I had been descending for 40 min and had the city of Heber City in view. Did it! And I’m pretty happy that I’d stopped at that visitor’s center to get the beta from that gentleman manning the desk.
Got a little efficiency right smack dab next to a Subway. I actually felt pretty good considering that I’d just spent 8.5 hrs in the saddle pulling a yak all over hell’s half acre. Got a bucket of ice and just started mixing ice and water in my bottle and guzzling like 4 bottles worth. Called Judy to let her know I was alive and then just went over to the Subway with my salt stained kit on and munched down on 2 footlongs. Then did a 30 minute shower and washed my kit. Next up was ice cold beer and then this blog. I’m playing hooky from work today because I’m just too damned tired. I’ll veg on TV after I finish this.
Well, that’s about it. Tomorrow I’ll head down to Provo, and ride north to Salt Lake City. Feels great to have knocked off such a big chunk of riding today. Late……..Pete