Sunday, May 15, 2011

Utah Hill Circumnavigation

Utah Hill is the mountain just west of St. George. I-15 wends it's way to the south through the Virgin River Gorge on it's way to Las Vegas and the Old Hiway 91 bends around the north. On the Western slope the Woodbury Wilderness Study Area was created by the BLM and Angus M Woodbury in 1977 because it contained the oldest population of marked desert tortoises and possibly the oldest marked populations of vertebrates in the United States. 

The infamous JRuss of Sabrosa Cycles fame and I have been kicking around the idea of circumnavigating the Mt in a clockwise direction for 6 or 7 months.  We finally settled on a date and made the customary invitations to all of our riding acquaintances to join us on our foray.  At the appointed hour we found ourselves completely alone, no one else was there to share in the adventure.

The initial climb was interrupted by the crack addled whisperings of a lady who had caught a flat on her 1994 Toyota Fourunner, she had no jack and had spent the night pounding In and Out fries, smoking meth and waiting for help to arrive. In her mind altered state I am not sure that she knew where she was or could direct rescuers to her position.  JR, ever the boyscout offered to help but without a jack you can't change a tire. She was gone by the time we got back.

Reflecting on the ride I would recommend that unless you have a masochistic need to pedal your bike uphill, there are alternative routes to seeing what is on the backside of the beyond.

The Joshua Tree Forest.

Another 360 picture of the terrain. Fullscreen mode is the way to see this.

Cedar Pocket road (Joshua trees) in Arizona

A day earlier I had cached some water where the dirt road meets hiway 91.  The weather was perfect, a little overcast with a couple of sprinkles to keep the temps manageable.

After the water stop JR developed some intestinal difficulties. That has happened to him on back to back rides with me.  I think he may be allergic to my mediocrity, even in a nauseous state he can still put the hurt on you.

JR resting after taking solace in the relative privacy of the wash.

The trucks, parked at Navajo Dr. were a welcome site. Just because I could have gone further does not mean that I wanted to.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Day on the White Rim

Last year a friend of mine attempted the infamous RAWROD. Do not google that! It stands for Ride Around White Rim One Day. I don't want to call his attempt a failure because he is a loyal reader and a dear friend but my lexicon is not large enough to come up with another word. Sorry D.
He then asked me if I would join him for a 2011 attempt and I agreed with a hearty "I'll do it if you do it." Indubitably that phrase has lead to much pain and anguish since the invention of the English language.  

Our merry band was supposed to be 7-8 members strong with a support staff of one. Big ups to CJ for his willingness to do the SAG duties. 
Without going into too much detail, weather, scheduling conflicts and plain old softness reduced our numbers to just 2 participants. Can you be a merry band with only 2 people?

CJ's 14 year old son came along and did ride the first 6 miles with us before he piled it up and broke 3 spokes of the rear tire and received numerous scrapes and bruises. You will see that later on in the program.

The White Rim is an 84 mile jeep road built by the Uranium industry around what is now the "Island in the Sky" National Park. So named for the exposed white sandstone exposed over the eons.  We rode in a clockwise manner from Shafer to Mineral Bottom.

There are no pictures or narrative that can aptly describe the vastness and grandeur of the WR. 

I did bring my helmet cam to try and record the events, I am becoming more and more disgruntled with the whole set up and you may see the camera on Ebay before too long. The software is iffy and as I have said before, a fully rigid bike makes a lousy platform for video that doesn't make you nauseous.
I had to slow down the clips to 75-80% of regular speed to make them watchable. I hope you like Cat Stevens.

 So BK and I hammered it out riding side by side like Ponch and Jon cruising the So. Cal highways of the early 80's.  I got to be Ponch because I habla the Espanol.
Leaving out the Murphy's Hogback and Hardscrabble climbs it's an easy ride, with grand and ever changing vistas around every corner.
After 78 miles the sand and wind had taken it's toll on me and I opted out of climbing out of Mineral Bottom, that piece of road is quite the feat of engineering and determination. I could also hear the fajitas calling me from La Hacienda back in Moab,

During the ride I had decided that I would never need to ride it ever again, now 3 days later and I wish I was back there now. Weird how that works.