Day 61: Battling Sand and Night
Sunday, July 31st
Green River State Park --> Capitol Reef National Park
93 mi. +3182 ft. -1801 ft.
Hi friends! Today was a hard day. At this point on our trip, we have started to rely on everyone else setting alarms (oops) so an intended wake-up time of 7am easily slides into 8am as sleepy faces emerge one by one from the tents. Leaving at 9am turned out to be somewhat disastrous later on in the day.
The biking was quite lovely at first. We met another cross-country cyclist named James who was biking from Washington State all the way to the Florida Keys! It is always exciting to see one of us on the road. You can check out what James is doing here and read this blog post about our serendipitous meeting! He also recommended for us to stop by the Mesa Farm Market (one of the only points of civilization along the path to Capitol Reef).
Although warned against it, we somehow ended up on this almost non-existent sandy road during the first part of the ride. This is probably the worst path we've had to take on the trip so far (yes gravel roads can be bad, but tires sinking into sand = no biking). There was even a section that fell straight into what appeared to be a riverbed.
We finally made it to lunch where Simone had spotted one of the only trees on the horizon and set up our food and foam pads. Resupplied with slightly cooler water from the car and a lot of ice, we thanked the little tree by giving it multiple drinks from the warm water in our bottles. I love trees. Thank you, Edith Marsing!
Got some more ice cream at this gas station. We have become ice cream fiends (yay!). One of our favorite gas station ice creams are these fruit bars called Helados but I think the brand actually has different name (coconut, mango, and pineapple are just a few of their amazing flavors). This gas station was actually carved into a giant rock!
Hard day but a small highlight were all the selfies with Mariela <3 Also I had no service and had listened to my downloaded songs too many times so Mariela blasted her tunes and let me pedal alongside which was fun :)
But then it started to get very dark (cue ominous music). We were still 25mi or so away (surprise surprise we knew we had a 93mi ride ahead of us, started out pretty late and spent several hours on a sandy road), but we had no service to contact Simone so shuttling was not an easy or even possible option. What to do? We kept biking telling ourselves "it's just a coffee ride we'll be there soon " (not sure if we have referenced this before, but there's a popular ~23mi biking route in Boston that passes by a café and splitting up our longer rides into these "coffee rides" make them seem more manageable).
A few of us didn't charge our front-lights (totally calling myself out) so we had to rely on our weak phone lights so that the person in front of us could see where we were in their handlebar mirror. We also saw some tiny bats (!!) and stars, which would normally be very exciting but I was pretty tired and all I could think about was pedaling and watching my shifting shadow formed by Franklin's insanely bright helmet light (so grateful for that extra bright illumination since we were biking in the middle of a pitch-black forest at this point on the journey).
About 10mi from the campsite, we saw Dora our Ford Explorer and a worried Simone coming our way! It was comforting to see our little home-on-the-wheels after hours of biking in the dark. Not being able to communicate because no service is a bit scary and we all pondered once again whether or not we should acquire a satellite phone (even though we only have 19 days left!!) Reassured that we were okay to bike the rest of the way, Simone headed back to the campsite where she had prepared a heart-warming candle-lit dinner of spaghetti.
Another challenge of the day: no showers at the campsite. Ah well we had our trusty baby wipes and everyone crashed pretty soon. Extremely grateful that we had planned a rest day.
Honestly I think I would enjoy biking at night if I wasn't so tired and if I had properly charged my illumination sources ahead of time. Yes, we are still considering a midnight or super early morning ride. James told us that when he was passing through Nevada, he would get up around 4:30am (!!) for mainly one reason: the sunrises. Also escaping the heat but that was more of a bonus. You know when someone has seen something so beautiful that when they talk about it, it's not so much their words that impress you but the look they have in their eyes? That's what talking about sunrises with James was like. Biking east to west, the sunrise will be at our backs unfortunately, but I still can't wait to experience it.
Goodbye for now! Also, handlebar mirror selfies could be a thing :P