Monday, June 2, 2014

Bike Tour - Phoenix to North Ogden

We have been in medical school pretty much since we got married four years ago. This has been a journey that has been a growing experience for us both as we prove to ourselves time and time again that we can do hard things. Probably the most challenging time was the third and fourth year rotations where Jogie was traveling quite broadly and was consequently rarely at home. He was in Guatemala, Mexico, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Utah, and New Mexico. During this time we determined that once we are together again we should do something. We wanted to do some sort of vacation. We talked about traveling abroad to Guatemala, or Peru. Ultimately we came down to two options: traveling to Japan or doing a bike ride to Jogie’s parent’s house in North Ogden, Utah. We chose to do the bike tour because we would remember it with much more pride than in being a tourist in a foreign land.

The plan for the bike tour was to ride our bikes from our home in Phoenix, Arizona and go to Jogie’s parent’s house in North Ogden, Utah. The entire endeavor was a surprise to Jogie’s family in Utah. Since it was a surprise they knew nothing about how we were traveling to their house when we would come visit them. They only knew when to expect us. My family knew about our cycling plans because we decided we would not have enough time to continue on to Boise, Idaho to surprise them. My Dad became slightly worried and wanted a phone call every day to let him know where we had made it that day. As the journey continued he became more involved and began plotting our travels on a map that he updated every day.

We determined that we would use Sundays as a rest day and not continue further on our journey on those days. These days were very nice because our bodies really craved a rest day when these days came around.

The route that we decided to take took us from our house in North Phoenix, AZ to Fountain Hills, AZ to Payson, AZ to Heber, AZ to Holbrook, AZ to Chambers, AZ to Chinle, AZ to Rock Point, AZ to Bluff, UT to Monticello, UT to Moab, UT to Price, UT to Provo, UT to Taylorsville, UT to North Ogden, UT. We determined on this route because we thought it would be more scenic as compared to the route we typically would take when we drove and we would be able to go to Arches National Monument along the way. We halfheartedly recognized that this route would be particularly challenging because of the topography. We let the promise of gorgeous vistas and landscapes persuade us to take the more challenging course. It was a hard ride on many days. I have learned that I hate hills – they wipe me out of all energy and make my muscles and joints ache. Jogie has learned that he hates riding in the wind – he says that he prefers hills because on hills he can see why he can not go as fast as he wishes he was.

Us just before we left for Founatin Hills
Friday, May 2, 2014 – what was planned to be Day One (but was not)

Throughout our preparations for the bike tour we were both getting more and more excited. All aspects of preparation was exciting. We were going to bike shops regularly. We went to ones in Phoenix as well as Albuquerque. We were reading up on blogs of people who had toured on the roads that we were planning on. We read up on packing lists. Jogie was very interested in physically preparing for long days of riding so he would insist on riding with me to work and then would ride back to pick me up so we could ride back together.

The hardest part of a journey is just getting out of the door. We had some home loan tasks that we needed to take care of while we could. We are in the process of purchasing a home in Dyer, Indiana. We wanted to take care of as much as we could because we knew we might not always have availability to take care of paperwork when we are on our bikes in the middle of the Indian Reservation.

We finally did a practice ride. We rode our bikes down the road to Sonic to get some dinner. We loaded the bikes with the weight of all the things that we were going to be taking with us. Each bike probably had about 35 pounds of weight in the panniers and then we each had a camelback on our backs. I felt that riding the loaded bike was very challenging. The bike felt very unsteady and it was hard to get on and off because I could not swing my leg around the way I typically would. The practice ride increased my fears and anxiety of doing a self-sustained tour. We were still excited but were also nervous about riding a bike with so much weight on it.

Day One – Saturday, May 3, 2014 – Phoenix to Fountain Hills
31 miles – 2 Hours and 15 minutes - Average Speed 12.2 mph

At our first Sunblock stop
We left our home around 4pm. It was hard to just get out the door. This was probably one of our nicest days of riding. The roads here in Phoenix are so nice! We are going to miss then so much when we move to Indiana. With the panniers all loaded we had some challenges with hills. Compared to our later hills this day’s hills were hardly hills.  But it was our first hill with the extra weight on our bikes. The roads were nice and the weather was warm. Initially we had the idea to continue on into the night time and camp on the side of the road. Because of our late start it was already dark when we reached Fountain Hills. We decided to call Day One complete and get a hotel for the rest of the weekend. We are really glad that we did because the next stretch of the course really was a challenge.

Jogie's view...
Random bike path as we headed to Fountain Hills
Day Two – Sunday, May 4, 2014 – Fountain Hills  - Rest Day
10.86 miles – 53 minutes – Average Speed 12.2 mph

The only riding we did this day was to church. We attended the Mountain Desert Ward. The chapel was five miles away. The way to church took us by the fountain in Fountain Hills. It was going off when we were riding by so we took some pictures.

Church was very nice. There was a baby blessing which was really inspiring. The spirit of the infant and the love of the father for the baby boy was very strong. The baby boy was blessed with talents of missionary work and patience. I felt very intrigued to know what this baby boy is like as he grows up. Heavenly Father clearly loves this tiny infant. (D&C 84:20 “Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest."

We did some laundry. Even just one day we had plenty of dirty clothes to wash.  
Amanda at the Fountain

Day Three – Monday, May 5, 2014 – Fountain Hills to (almost) Payson
55.3 miles – 9 hours 31 minutes – Average Speed 5.6 mph - Max Speed 36 mph – 7539 elevation up – 5095 elevation down

This day’s ride I believed was probably going to be the most challenging of our rides. I knew that it was near Phoenix so it would be very warm. I knew there were some steep climbs. I also knew that this was an early day on our tour so we might not be used to the riding scheduled the way we would be later in the tour. All of these assumptions that I had made were correct. It was a very challenging day.

We began the ride at 9am. We had hoped to get started earlier but alas starting later than we wanted to is the story of the entire tour.

There were loads of uphill climbs. It was very slow going. Many times the going was so slow we needed to walk our bikes up some of the hills. I had bruises along my right calf from walking my bike because the bike pedal would hit my leg as I would pull it up the hill. The road signs that said things like slow vehicles next three miles, or save your engine – turn off your air conditioner were especially “encouraging.” There were some down hills as well. The up hills definitely outnumbered the down hills by far. On the down hills I would ride the stretch with my brake applied because I felt like I was going faster than I felt safe going. Even with the brake applied I still hit speeds of 36 mph.

The weather was warm and shade was scarce. There was shade under road overpasses. We would take breaks under these to reapply sunscreen and stretch.  We also stopped under one of these for our lunch. We ate an old military ration meal. Jogie said that these are at least 15 years old. High time that some of those meals were eaten. We had laid our bikes down in the shoulder and had climbed up to a flat shelf to have a place to sit as we ate. As we were eating a state trooper pulled up behind our bikes and got out. He said that a driver had seen just our bikes as they drove by and called 911 because they were worried that something had happened to the bikers.  We explained that we were fine and still had plenty of water.

We had brought 2 2-liter camelbacks, had 7 water bottles that would fit in the water bottle cages on our bikes, 2 Nalgene water bottles, and 4 disposable water bottles that we would use to refill the others. Because of how much we brought we never once ran out of water or even came very close. Some of the bottles we would mix in an electrolyte drink mix to give flavors and electrolytes. It was nice to have a bit of a variety of beverages. We had lemon lime, grape, berry blue, and strawberry kiwi flavors.

We do not like these signs...
During a downhill I was leading with Jogie close behind. The shoulder in this area had plenty of debris so despite the downhill I was hesitant to go very fast because the shoulder was so rough. There were plenty of things that I needed to dodge. At one point I saw what appeared to be a good sized rock in the middle of the shoulder. As I got closer to this rock I saw that the rock had sprouted legs and then the legs began to carry the rock in the direction of the road. It was clear that what from a distance I took to be a rock was in actuality a very large tarantula spider. I squealed and successfully dodged the moving spider. Jogie behind me followed suit and also successfully dodged the spider. I am glad that neither one of us hit the spider. Who knows whether the momentum of the wheel would have flung the spider up after being struck thus creating an angry flying tarantula that is posed to hit my person?  Those who experience fears of large spiders could imagine scenarios of potential outcomes of road bike tires versus tarantula spider.

The scenery was really quite amazing. The hills of cactus and great openness was quite beautiful.

We rode into the night time. We were about 11 miles from Payson and determined that we could go no further this day. We found a dirt road off the side of the main highway and pitched our tent in the middle of this road. 

Jogie resting under an overpass.

Snack break!

Day Four – Tuesday, May 6, 2014 – (almost) Payson to (almost) Heber
37.5 miles – 6 hours 23 minutes – Average Speed 5.9 mph – Max Speed 34.8 mph – 6437 up hill – 2992 down hill

This morning as we cleaned up our camp site and put everything back together on the bikes we saw our first set of bike tourists. It was an older couple who was riding from West Valley to Pennsylvania. We saw them from Day Four of our tour to Day Six when our routes parted as we went North and they went East. It was nice to have some cycling friends on the road to boost morale.

On our way towards Heber...
We rode the last few miles into Payson. We ate a lunch/breakfast at Wendy’s. It was so nice to be in a town. We also filled up our water bottles here. To do this we would have the workers at Wendy’s fill up a large cup of water and then we would put the water into one of our bottles. Then we would return and get another large cup of water. We continued this until most of our water was replenished. It was comical to continue returning for one cup of water at a time but that is how they do it.

This days ride was also challenging. There were plenty of climbs. Especially ones where I felt like I needed to walk my bike up the hill. There was also a construction zone. This construction zone was a little scary because there were cones in the middle lane separating the opposing sets of traffic which caused vehicles to utilize the shoulder for travel. This section had traffic very close to us. Some of the bigger vehicles as they whizzed by had a rather unsettling draft that would sway my bike closer to the traveling vehicles.

Getting colder!
As we climbed higher and higher in elevation the temperature became colder and colder. I started donning more layers as I had them.

As it became ever colder and darker we decided to stop. We stopped at a campsite that was due to open two weeks later called Mogollon Rim. We set up our tent on the deck of the visitor’s center deck in front of the door. The building blocked all of the wind that would come our way. The deck on the backside of the visitor’s center had a fantastic view of pine trees stretched deep into the valley and onwards to other rims in the distance. It was still a very cold night. We slept in our fleece sleeping bags as well as our emergency bivvy’s. The emergency blanket works by trapping in the heat, but they also trap in the moisture. This makes it difficult to get up because the moisture makes the chilly morning air feel even colder.

Day Five – Wednesday, May 7, 2014 – (almost) Heber to Heber
25 miles – 1 Hour 47 minutes – Average Speed 13.8 mph – Max Speed 32.5 mph

Deck Camping - nice spot despite the cold
We did a shorter ride today. The previous two days with their intense climbs along with two days of camping had used much of our energy. We were ready to stay in a hotel to rest and recover. Additionally, we needed to wash our clothes as nearly everything had been worn.

The ride today seemed to have a lot of downhill stretches. That was very nice on our muscles.

The weather for today’s ride was quite cold. I had put layers over what I had worn sleeping. I had put on all of my colder weather cycling apparel. It began to have snow flurries as we were riding. I had to put on sunglasses so I could see through the flurries. The fact that it was snowing in any regard was crazy because two days prior it was 100 degrees.
At Dairy Queen wearing all of our cold weather clothes.

We made it to Heber and ate a lunch at the Dairy Queen in town. The lunch was very delicious. We got a hotel room at the Best Western – Saw Mill Inn. For dinner that night we ate at Casa Ramos in town and had Mexican food. The carvings in the chairs and tables were neat although I do still like the food at Valle Luna better.

This is the day that we had our only flat tire repairs at all. When we got to the hotel I found that my tires were both flat. I think I had hit a bump too roughly and it caused them to go flat. Fixing a flat tire in a hotel room I would imagine is much nicer than fixing one on the side of a busy road.

 Day Six – Thursday, May 8, 2014 – Heber to Holbrook
49 miles – 3 hours 50 minutes – Average Speed 14.6 mph – Max Speed 30.3 mph

We spent the morning and early afternoon working on home loan tasks at the hotel lobby. We did not get started actually riding until 3pm.

We rode from Heber to Holbrook which was a rather easy ride.  This ride had a nice down hill grade to it and there was hardly any wind at all. The only challenge on this ride was the fact that there was literally no usable shoulder to ride on. We had to use vehicle travel lanes to ride. Any car that wanted to pass us had to do so by utilizing oncoming traffic lanes.

Our shadows along the road as the sun began to set.
At one point Jogie had paused to plug in his phone to the portable charger and told me to go ahead and he would catch up. A few minutes later I hear him on the walkie talkie very out breath saying “where are you?” Then I hear, “I think I see you… Keep going…” He caught up when I stopped to take a picture of a cow.

When we got to Holbrook we stopped at Dairy Queen to use a bathroom. Then we continued down the road a mile to Taco Bell to eat some food. As we were locking up our bikes Jogie realized he had left his camelback at the Dairy Queen. This bag had our maps that we would need later as well as his wallet. He high tailed it back to the Dairy Queen and back again. Luckily it was still there. The fact that we were able to go back and it was still there was a nice answer to prayer. We would have been much more stressed to have our wallet out and about in the possession of someone else.

We stayed at the Days Inn in Holbrook. It was nice to not be camping. 

Day Seven – Friday, May 9, 2014 – Holbrook to (past) Chambers
62.4 miles – 5 hours 23 minutes – Average Speed 11.6 mph – Max Speed 39.2 mph

We saw the sign for Sparking Restrooms and had to stop.
This day’s ride took us along the I-40. Nearly the entire day was spent along the freeway. We learned what freeway cycling is like. Freeways are probably the best roads to bike on. The shoulder is massive and though there is plenty of heavy and fast traffic the shoulder is large enough that you do not feel the draft from the other vehicles.

Another nice thing about riding on the interstate is that bathrooms are advertised well in advance. We saw an Indian Trading Post that advertised Sparkling Restrooms. Despite not needing to stop for a bathroom break at the moment I decided we should stop and test out the sparkling restrooms. There were also neat things to look out in their store and in the lot. They had dinosaurs, teepees, and Indian weather rocks.

What Jogie pulled out of his tires.
(despite these he did not get a flat)
We took the exit for Chambers and continued about 15 more miles. We decided that the further we got on this days ride the less we would need to go on tomorrows. As it became darker we began scouring the side of the road for good places to set up our tent and stay for the night. We had stopped and were checking out the side of the road when a lady pulled over and warned us about drunk drivers that would come and bother us if we stayed near here because the neighbors who lived in that area were known for their alcohol usage. We continued a little further but ultimately setup our tent on the side of the road. This site was pretty good for what it was. It was a tree that was open on the side away from the road. We set up our tent there and were also able to put the bikes locked up in the tree out of sight.

Dinosaurs are fun to impersonate. 
Us at the Indian Trading Post

Day Eight – Saturday, May 10, 2014 – (past) Chambers to Chinle
57.76 miles – 4 hours 35 minutes – Average Speed 12.6 mph – Max Speed 41.4 mph

Before we began this day’s ride we had a couple of drunken Indian men come and want to visit with us for 15 minutes. They asked for names over and over again. They also wished me a Happy Mother’s Day numerous times. Eventually we wished them a good day and pedaled away.

We rode to Ganado and stopped at the convenience store there for lunch. The convenience store/gas station was the only commercial structure in the entirety of the town.

Us along the road.
We rode onwards to Chinle. Much of the route was very smooth and easy. As the afternoon continued the wind picked up significantly. It started to become very scary. The gusts of winds made it feel like I was unsteady on my bike. I was never able to tell which way the wind was going to move my bike. It was also very loud so hearing other things over the wind was challenging. The wind on this ride showed me how scary riding in wind can be and it showed Jogie how draining it could be. Finally there was a sweeping downhill and we were in the town of Chinle.

Me and the lucky shoe walking around Chinle

We checked into the Best Western – Canyon De Chelly hotel. As we were checking in I realized that one of my shoes had blown off of the back of my bike. So I had my cycling shoes with cleats attached and one shoe to wear when not biking. We had looked around the stores that were in the town and did not find any available shoe stores. We even asked the hotel staff where the nearest place to buy shoes would be. We were informed that the nearest place for shoes was two hours away. As I did not have a replacement shoe set I kept the one shoe so at least I could switch out of one shoe as desired. The one shoe that remained I dubbed “the lucky shoe” and the one that blew away somewhere along the windy road “the unlucky shoe.”

Day Nine – Sunday, May 11, 2014 – Chinle, AZ – Rest Day – Mother’s Day
2.6 miles This was a rest day.

At the canyon in my best hiking footwear
Church on the Reservation really was neat. There is only the one ward that meets in the building there so they had little quotes throughout the hall and in the bathrooms about how Heavenly Father loves us. It was Mother’s Day. In Relief Society the Primary came in and sang. The Young Men came in and gave each woman a plate of goodies such as chips, pies, and cakes. The Young Women Came in and gave each woman a pot with four flower pens inside. This ward feels to be very closely knit. The lesson in Relief Society was about the witnesses of the Book of Mormon. The teacher brought out more of how the Navajo ceremonies, mythology, and stories are also testimonies to the Book of Mormon. I never would have heard a similar take on the lesson except I was at the ward that I was in the middle of the Navajo Nation. She considers the people in the Book of Mormon her ancestors and family thus the Book of Mormon stories family history stories. I really enjoyed the lesson she prepared despite not grasping everything because I do not understand the Navajo stories to the extent that she does.
Spider Rock

After church one of the ward members offered the use of his vehicle to drive through Canyon De Chelly. We had no idea that this canyon was here. As we drove through the south rim it really was quite spectacular. Both of us really liked the Spider Rock formation this is a great monolith that sits in the middle of the canyon floor. There were also ruins built into the walls of the canyon. Somehow people climbed into the canyon walls and made these places home. There are still people who live in the canyon floor and live off of the fertile land that is found there. The canyon was stunning and we felt very blessed to have been offered the means to see it. When this ward member came to pick up his car he had also brought some of the food from their Sunday dinner to us. We felt further blessed with the warm meal. Following our encounter with this ward member Jogie has set a goal to someday do something similar to someone else who we do not know and would likely never run across again. Through this strangers service we felt Heavenly Fathers awareness of us and our needs as well as his awareness that we would really enjoy seeing this small section of the world that he had created for us.

Us at Canyon De Chelly

 Day Ten – Monday, May 12, 2014 – Chinle to Rock Point
50.8 miles – 5 hours 21 minutes – Average Speed 9.5 mph – Max Speed 23 mph

Jogie is grumpy because it is windy
and he is not currently eating a cupcake
This day’s ride was chilly and very windy. Jogie complained the entirety of the day regarding the wind and how we could not go faster because of the wind. He determined that he was so bored when we reached the first convenience store that he needed to buy a Hostess Cupcake to make himself feel better. He continued the purchase of cupcakes throughout the tour. He would purchase more cupcakes whenever we stopped at a convenience store whether or not it was a tough day of riding or not.

We rode through the towns of Many Farms, Round Rock, and Rock Point. All of these towns were very small and had only the service of a small convenience store.

A couple individuals stopped their vehicles to see if we needed anything. One girl offered a ride which we turned down (and regretted as the next burst of wind came along). Another woman stopped and visited with us for a minute and told us about the lack of hotel accommodations along the road ahead and also what the road would be like for us later in the afternoon.

Near our camping site
We knew we would be camping this night so we looked for big rocks or items like this that would block the wind. We found one and headed towards it. One of the neighbors who lived near the dirt road we were riding along stopped and visited with us. She asked us if we were looking to camp for the night. She told us we were welcome to camp near that rock and that the neighbors around it were very nice and that we would not be bothered at all for our camping experience. We thanked her for the welcome and set up our tent in the shadow of the great rock. The wind was blocked and it was one of the most beautiful camping locations we tested out. 


Day Eleven – Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – Rock Point, AZ to Bluff, UT
46.5 miles – 5 hours 18 minutes – Average Speed 8.7 mph – Max Speed 25.9 mph

Eating Navajo Tacos and Navajo Burgers
From Rock Point we continued north until we reached Mexican Waters. Mexican Waters is a small collection of service stations. We ate at the restaurant here. Since we were in Navajo country we got some Navajo food. Jogie at a Navajo Taco and I ate a Navajo Burger. Despite our ongoing state of exercise I was unable to finish eating the Navajo Burger.

Not long after eating our Navajo meals we found ourselves at the Arizona Utah border. It felt like a huge accomplishment to reach the Utah border. We of course took a celebratory rest at the sign.

We made it to Bluff Utah. This small town seemed to be full of hotels. Our biggest challenge was deciding which one we wanted to stay at. The town is near a river, plenty of hiking, old town sites and likely other fun outdoor activities. We picked a hotel that did not have laundry facilities. We washed our clothes by hand. This took quite a bit of effort and the clothes were not dry by the time morning came around. We did hand washing only this one time.

We ate ribs at the Cottonwood Steakhouse. We shared a full rack of ribs. It was understandably messy and we ate the entire platter easily. The waitress was worried that she steered us wrong in sharing the full rack as she was worried that we did not have enough food between the two of our appetites. We explained that it was just right. 
Jogie riding into Utah

We made it to Utah!

Day Twelve – Wednesday, May 14, 2014 – Bluff to Monticello
49.2 miles – 6 hours 1 minute – Average Speed 8.1 mph – Max Speed 31.9 mph – elevation up 4259 – elevation down 1555

After staying the night in Bluff, UT we started the day’s ride with a climb out of a small canyon which was quite scenic. This also means that it was a tough ride from the get go. The day’s ride included plenty of climbing. Including some god climbs as we rode through some road construction. On nice thing about riding through the road construction was the road was brand new and was thus very smooth and even. The dream road.

We rode through White Mesa, Blanding and finally reached Monticello. While we were riding out of White Mesa Jogie was leading and I was behind. A dog charged out of a yard as I rode by and charged at me yelling all sorts of obscenities. I was incredibly terrified. At all previous points in the tour when a dog came out Jogie was nearby to divert the dogs attention away from me. He was too far ahead to recognize the distress I was immediately under. When I had pushed through the immediate canine danger I stopped and walkie talkie’d Jogie to have him stop. When I caught up to him I had to take some time to recovery from the great paralyzing fear that the dog was unkind enough to instill.

We ran across a solitary bike tourist that was touring the west and was picking up some mail in the city of Blanding.

The road out of Bluff, UT
Us riding out of Bluff
Amanda taking a picture
Amanda in front of the Monticello Temple

Day Thirteen  - Thursday, May 15, 2014 – Monticello to Moab
53.4 miles – 4 hours 48minutes – Average Speed 11.3 mph – Max Speed 36.2 mph – Elevation Up 2323 – Elevation Down 5269

This day’s ride was very nice and very scenic. There was more downhill stretches than uphill. We stopped by places such as Hole in the Rock and the Wilson Arch.

At the Wilson Arch we did a sunblock stop. If I had a pair of off bike shoes I would have really enjoyed hiking up to the arch. As it is I had only a pair of cycling shoes. We did some pictures and enjoyed a short break. Jogie and I both really enjoyed observing the arch and our close proximity to it. Jogie was insistent that the arches at Arches National Park would be much more exciting.

At Hole in the Rock we checked out the novelties that they showcase there. We decided not to tour the house that is built into the cliff. Perhaps another time we will do this. But, we did follow the signs for Bigfoot and located this.

We rolled into Moab and had some difficulties finding a favorable deal for a hotel room. Everything seemed to either be incredibly expensive or had no vacancies. We had really wanted to stay at a hotel but it did not seem like this was going to be an option for us. We rode down the road a bit and found a campground in the city. We pulled up closer to it and the office said it had no vacancies. Jogie determined that he would go in and enquire regarding tent sites. They had tents sites so we were in luck. (The sign was for RV sites.) We felt blessed that we were at least able to find a place to stay for the night.

Since we had reached a larger town we were finally able to find a shoe store. I bought a pair of flip flops so that I could use them the next day when we were planning to do some hiking at Arches. I had been missing off bike shoes since I lost one shoe when were on the Indian Reservation. 

Wilson Arch
We are Awesome!
At the Wilson Arch


Day Fourteen – Friday, May 16, 2014 – Moab and Arches National Park
31.2 miles – 5 hours 18 minutes – Average Speed 5.9 mph – Max Speed 38.7 mph – Elevation up 4170 – Elevation Down 3793

This day’s activities involved riding our bikes to Arches National Park. We found a bike path that took us right to the entrance to the park. We paid the entrance fee for individuals coming into the park on bicycles. Then we rode our bikes on the road as we explored the park. Our goal was to get to the trailhead for the Delicate Arch where we would do the hike. Then if we had time then we could check out some of the other rock formations.

At the entrance
As it turned out the road was quite challenging to ride on. The hills were incredibly steep. The traveling was slow going. We saw only one other biker in the park. She looked at me and my load and pointed out that I was hauling a lot of weight. I nodded and continued. If we were thinking we would have paid for two nights at the campsite and left everything at the site and instead took just our light bikes into the park. Alas we hauled the extra weight through the park.

When we made it to the Delicate Arch trailhead I switched out of my cycling shoes and tested out my brand new flip flops. I determined that I would use these shoes for the hike. Jogie being the podiatrist utilized athletic tape to tape up my arches to provide better support and also applied tape under the straps of the sandals to help prevent any blistering that could happen with new shoes. The hike was wonderful. It felt so good to be off of our bikes and walking around. The Delicate Arch was also impressive. Jogie was really excited to be at the arch and took many pictures. He had come as a child and had fond memories of what the arch looked like to him at that age.

Sunblock break
As we had biked into the park we knew that the road we were riding into the park was the same road that we would be riding out of the park. Thus up hills that we rode into the park would be down hills on our return trip and any wonderful down hill rides on the way to the Delicate Arch would be rotten climbs as we headed back out of the park. It was the rotten climbs we were dreading as the afternoon wore on and we were preparing to cycle out of the park. We debated the damage to our pride if we were to hitch hike out of the park. We decided we were willing to accept a ride from a stranger if it meant that we would not have to bike that hill. Unfortunately, we were too prideful to stick out a thumb and be more open with our intents to the motorists. Instead we stopped at a stop sign and ate a snack and endeavored to make eye contact with those that passed us. We hoped that we looked pitiful enough that someone would take pity and offer everything that we desired without any further effort on our part. We were each praying that someone would just rescue us from the return ride. As we finished our granola bars no one had stopped to rescue us and the day was growing older so we realized if we were going to make it out of the park it was going to be under our own power. So we started up the hill that we were at the base of. We had the energy we needed to make it up the hill somehow. Then we continued on through the park. As we were nearing the entrance an RV was parked on one of the road pullouts. The couple who owned the RV walked towards us where we had paused to take more pictures. They offered everything we had been praying for not long before. They offered a ride out of the park. They offered to take us to their campsite and let us set up our tent on their site as they were not using it because they were staying in their RV. Then when we had set up our tent they prepared a dinner for us so we could have something to eat. Because of them we did not have to ride in the dark, we did not have to scrounge out some granola bars to eat for dinner, and we had a place to camp for the night. We had planned to ride out to the same location as their campsite and there was a sign that stated there were no available camp sites. Running into them really was a blessing because otherwise we would have been out of luck to have any place to set up out tent.

Our experience in Arches really showed us that Heavenly Father does indeed answer our prayers. However, he does not swoop in to rescue us because we wish it really hard. Instead we really do need to take the steps to rescue ourselves. To do all that we are able to do first. We had to climb that hill that we were dreading. We had to do all that we were able to before Heavenly Father would send someone in to help us find relief. 

Us under the Delicate Arch

Day Fifteen – Saturday, May 17, 2014 – Moab to Green River
56.96 miles – 4 hours 56 minutes – Average Speed 11.5 mph – Max Speed 29.5 mph – Up Hill 3238 – Down Hill 3113

This day’s ride was very warm. We both started to get sunburns because of the heat despite frequent sunblock breaks. I decided to wear more layers despite the heat to help protect the skin.

Bridge in Moab
Along our ride on this day we had a bike tourist join us. He hails from Belgium and was touring the western states. We introduced him to riding on the interstate as we rode the I-70. We explained that biking is permitted on the freeways as long as it is not near busy cities and that in actuality the road conditions of the freeways are among the best for cycling. The I-70 was a very fast ride and was quite nice.

When we reached Green River we found that their hotel accommodations were priced higher than we wanted and that many of them did not have vacancies. We lucked out with finding the run down place we did that had the wild hotel manager had wild windswept hair and walked around bare footed on bunions and then had his dog do tricks for us before checking into the room. While the hotel manager was the most eccentric individual we’ve met for a long while he really seemed to take pride in his role as a hotel manager. It was quite nice to be settled for a rest day.

We walked down the street to do some laundry. Jogie while walking noticed a large bug in his pathway and verbally acknowledged the big bug in front of him. At this point the bug then hopped onto the toe of Jogie’s left shoe in reply. Jogie’s surprise really brightened my day and we laughed about it quite a bit. 
Along the route

Jogie being amazing

Amanda and her muscle picture

Day Sixteen – Sunday, May 18, 2014 – Green River – Rest Day
0 miles

Church was near enough to the motel that we were staying at that we did not even need to ride our bikes to get there. We just walked. It was really nice to have a Sunday where we did not biking whatsoever. We attended the Green River Ward and felt quite welcome.

After church we walked down the road and checked out the river for which Green River is named. Near the river was a museum that we checked out also. It was the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. This museum was focused on early river exploration of the Green and Colorado Rivers. It was interesting how dangerous river exploration used to be. Now it is a source of recreation and energy. They had some replicas of boats that would have been used by these early explorers. 
Jogie at the Green River bridge

Day Seventeen – Monday, May 19, 2014 – Green River to Price
64.13 miles – 5 hours 56 minutes – Average Speed 10.7 mph – Max Speed 28 mph – Up hill Elevation 3543 – Elevation Down 2001

On to Price!
This day’s ride was fine. There were some climbs but they were more gradual than in previous day’s. Perhaps we are getting stronger.

As we came into Price we saw the Miller’s Travel Center. We did not stop because we felt we were so close to our destination for the day. We enjoyed seeing our last name on a sign. As we went further into Price we found a Walmart. We have not seen a Walmart at all since we were in Phoenix. Jogie being a professional shopper was very excited. We had to stop and purchase some items. We got jerky, chocolate and licorice. Seeing the Walmart also made us feel that we were getting that much closer to our destination.

We were blessed to stay at the home of the parents of one of our friends from our Phoenix ward. It was really nice to be in a home. 

We are getting closer!

The Miller Travel Center

Day Eighteen – Tuesday, May 20, 2014 – Price to Provo
83.26 miles – 6 hours 35 minutes – Average Speed 12.6 mph – Max Speed 40.9 mph

The ride for this day was both the most enjoyable riding conditions as well as the worst. At the beginning of the day’s adventure we had some climbing until we reached the point called Soldier’s Summit. There were some windy conditions that made the going challenging. The worst part though was what I called the double rumble strip. It was a two lane highway and the shoulder consisted completely of rumble strip. There was the newer strip which could easily be seen; but there was also the older rumble strip which was nearly invisible but highly effective as we rode upon it. When traffic had a lull we would ride in the travel lane as it was smooth; but as traffic returned we would move to the double rumble strip section and suffer the jarring ride until traffic had another lull. This section certainly was sore to ride upon. As we passed Soldier’s Summit the double rumble strip disappeared and we experienced some of the most enjoyable rides as we rode down the winding canyon roads. The roads were fast and smooth and very well maintained. The scenery as we flew through reminded me of Jurassic Park. Everything was so green and appeared to be very much alive. It was a very enjoyable section.

We passed the windmills at the mouth of the canyon and took the turn on the 89 and rode into Mapleton and Springville. This road was really nice. The shoulder was the width of a car and then some. The road was also incredible smooth and fast. We pointed out how close we were to our Alma Mater at BYU. We made a stop at the Missionary Training Center so we could take a picture in front of it to send to my brother who was there at the time preparing to go to San Jose, California for his mission.

Getting into Provo made us feel like we really were getting closer to our destination. We realized that we were less than 100 miles from our goal. 

Provo Temple
Beautiful scenery
Not sure what he is complaining about...
Price Canyon
Jogie riding pas the windmills
Jogie along the route
Water Break near the windmills
Day Nineteen – Wednesday, May 21, 2014 – Provo to Taylorsville
52.8 miles – 4 hours 56 minutes – Average Speed 10.6 mph – Max Speed 30.6 mph

Before we began our day’s travels we threw away the disposable water bottles that we had been carrying the entirety of our journey. Since we would have access to water any time wanted in the city we did not feel that we needed to be carrying them any longer.

We began the day riding on the Murdoch Canal trail. This bike path was really nice. It was perfect and had regular bathrooms and drinking fountains along the trail. This path was one that we would recommend and would ride on again. It was such a pleasant trail.

Next we rode on the Jordan River Trail. We got on this path at Thanksgiving Point. At this point the trail was scenic, well used, and well cared for. We passed a scout troop that was picking up garbage from the path. As the path continued there was not nearly the traffic there was on it before. We found ourselves doing an incredibly steep climb that had my lungs burning in a way they had not done before. We know that the incline was greater than 10% grade because later there was one that was labeled 10% grade and we were much more successful with that hill. Who builds bike paths with death hills? The 50 foot section that hurt so bad was ridiculous. Even the stretches around Payson were not nearly so rotten. If the death hill was not enough the path just ended for no reason. So we had to find a way to get off the trail and use the roads to travel in the northern direction we wanted to go. We continued using regular roads and the Jordan River Trail when we could find it (and were willing to trust it).

We stayed at a hotel in Taylorsville for the evening. We had just one more day until we reached Jogie’s family. We were very excited and antsy to greet them. 
Jogie along the Murdoch Canal Trail

Amanda along the Jordan River Trail

Day Twenty – Thursday, May 22, 2014 – Taylorsville to North Ogden
57.21 miles – 5 hours 1 minute – Average Speed 11.4 mph – Max Speed 34.7 mph

This was the conclusion of our bike tour. We rode on the Jordan River Trail, Legacy Trail, and Denver Rio Grande Trail. As we continued on bike path after bike path I was very eager to get off of the path and ride on the roads again. The bike paths became very boring and it was challenging to really know where we were in relation to where we wanted to go.

Jogie’s family was expecting us sometime this day and was eager to know when we would arrive. In the early afternoon Jogie’s dad had called and wanted a phone call when we made it to Provo. We instead offered that we would call when we were closer and knew when we would arrive. We had no intentions of going through Provo this day as we had already been there and ridden through that. When we reached South Ogden we estimated that we could probably be at Jogie’s parent’s house in an hour. We gave them a call and let them know the estimated time for our arrival.

We timed our arrival so that we could catch as many people at the house at once. We saw that Jogie’s dad was in the driveway having just arrived home from work. We gave a phone call to his mom to say we came and would like her to come out to help us with our bags. His mom when she came outside was in disbelief and repeated many times “what?” His Dad became the observer and began snapping pictures. His sister who was at the house was the most vocal with yelling her comments such as “they’re here!” “You rode your bikes!” Jogie’s mom was sure that we had our car parked down the road and that this was all a great joke. I invited her to smell her son to prove that we did not just unload bicycles and ride down the road. Jogie’s body odor seemed to be persuasive.

Jogie’s family was excited that we were able to ride our bikes to their house. They gushed about the surprise they had when we arrived to anyone. We were so glad that they were surprised and excited that we had a great adventure cycling to their house. 

We are so glad we were able to do the bicycle tour. We rode over 850 miles over a period of 20 days. We had one flat tire and one time where the chain fell off the gears. We rode up way, way too many hills. We used up four large bottles of sunscreen and still got minor sunburns on shoulders, ears, ankles and the back of knees. Despite that neither one of us appears to have a tan. If we have a chance to do a bicycle tour again we would probably do it. Although we would check out wind speeds and topography much more extensively and choose an easier route.

1 comment:

  1. What an inspiring journey! I'm so glad you made it, I was so worried about you. Thank you for writing it all down in such detail.