• Maxwell Yun

Day 57: Entering Hatu... or Utah?

Grand Junction, CO to Thompson Springs, UT

84.6 miles. 1,563ft elevation gain.

Wednesday July 27, 2022

We woke up at our host Erika's house, the sunrise revealing a panorama of desert scenery from our back porch. After a delicious breakfast and good conversation, we left for our 85-mile ride of the day.

Our ride from Grand Junction to Fruita took us along some beautiful bike paths. At Spokes, we're a huge fan of bike infrastructure. We've gotten accustomed to riding, at worst, narrow shoulders with trucks barreling by at high speeds. But here, we had luxurious space. The ability to bike at our pace, un-hassled by cars, was much appreciated. City planners, take note: bike paths are quite nice!

At Fruita, referred to as "the end of civilization" on our hand-annotated map, we stocked up on water and snacks at a Sinclair gas station, then rode into the desert. After I opened the tricky back door of the gas station, the store manager (?) offered me a job on the spot! That sounded like a good proposition in today's job economy, but I had to return to my main job at hand: biking across the country.

The desert was empty and flat; we were biking through some active pasture. We stumbled upon the occasional tree, taking water breaks in the shade to avoid dehydration. No cows to be seen, unfortunately, but we did see signs of their presence: tree bark rubbed bare, and cow patties scattered every now and then.

We were greeted by the Utah border after some riding, marked by the sketchiest sign we've seen: a spraypainted piece of plywood haphazardly drilled into some lumber. We met up with the car here for lunch, and got creative with our foam pads to create a shade/sitting area. It was a sight watching Franklin marinate chicken for dinner in the middle of the desert, squatted over the barren earth.

Upon crossing the state line, the road turned into loose gravel, and our pace slowed down a bit. As a (newbie) mountain biking enthusiast, this road sat in the grey zone between trail and mountain biking, with bumps and features greater than typical on a trail, but without the flow and tight turns of a good mountain bike course. The riding was gradual, but slow.

We wound up in Cisco, Utah for a water break, finding ourselves in a ghost town / artist community with population 4. We saw some cool art -- a school bus that had been engorged by a giant snake, for example -- which really reminded me of Slab City, another desert artist community I've visited.

Biking some more difficult gravel mileage, with a headwind slowing our pace considerably, we arrived in our destination, the Thompson Springs RV Park. Mariela and Robert greeted us with a sumptuous chicken taco dinner, which we scarfed down ravenously -- this is the chicken that Franklin painstakingly marinated in the middle of the desert! After setting up camp, showering, and taking a breather from that day, we dozed off in our tents.


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