Nineteen days, over 1,000 miles solo in the saddle (plus an additional two-hundred with my Dad touring by my side), countless margarita flavored Clif Shot Blocks, two tires, and an unholy amount of chafing in some VERY unpleasant places I’ve reached the final stop on my crazy halfway-across-the-country bike tour. My dad and I are camped for the evening at the Craig, Colorado KOA. Tomorrow morning we have a hop, a skip, and a mere 40 miles of easy riding for a victory lap to reach our final destination of Steamboat Springs. I’m feeling a little melancholy on the eve of THE TOUR’s end.
Rather than spending this entire post reminiscing on my manic misadventures and on-the-road-education (I’ll save THAT for a later post), let me spin you the epic saga of my Dad and I’s previous two days of cycling. Believe you me: reaching Craig in one piece was a pretty epic adventure!
We left our campsite at Antelope Flats on the banks of the Green River two days ago.
Natural beauty and interesting geology may be found in abundance between Flaming Gorge and Craig. One reason this region of the West retains its raw, unspoiled serenity is a definitive dearth of major metropolitan areas. There aren’t really any minor metropolitan areas, villages, hamlets, or truly any towns to speak of, either. We decided to do some primitive camping on BLM land where our route intersected a creek, so that we’d have access to drinking water.
To reach our intended oasis, a bend in the river named Douglas Draw, we first pedaled our way along Utah’s Brown’s Park Road: 40 miles of principally packed dirt with some steep sections of climbing and loose gravel thrown in for good measure.
Even though conditions were challenging, the scenery provided some distraction; those red rocks simply slay me every time!
Even with the unreal Utah landscape to take my mind off of the effort, I have NEVER been so elated to cross a stateline during this whole trip. I grew up in Colorado; returning to my home state made me feel that everything is right in the world. Perhaps even more importantly: the road transformed into transcendently WONDERFUL pavement right at the entry point to the radical rectangle, rocky-mountain-high, weird, wonderful, beautiful, colorful state of Colorado!
After 20 additional miles we reached Vermillion Creek, set up our camp, and began filtering water.
The spot we selected featured a flat area to erect the tent and vivacious view of the Vermillion waterway, but lacked significant coverage from the scorching afternoon sunlight. We escaped the heat by playing at being hobos and hanging out under a nearby bridge. I slept like Lazarurus after our long dirt-bag day of riding. We woke up this morning fully refreshed, fantastically filthy, and ready to move forward. First, however, I had to answer the age-old question: “Does a biking blogger relieve himself in the woods?“
We began our biking for today by climbing up and out of the Green River Canyon.
Once we created the canyon walls and moved away from the river today’s touring was mostly monotonous. We spent seventy miles along gently winding, undulating roads.
Midway between our campsite and Craig we discovered the delightfully tiny town of Maybell. We stopped at a gas station to refuel, and replace the iodine-treated water in our bottles with fresh H2O from a faucet. Maybell might be relatively remote, but miraculously I was able to find a signal for a quick bananaphone call. Thirty miles from Maybell we crash landed in Craig, exhausted but exhiliarated, proud and patriotic.
I’m sad that I’ve reached THE TOUR’s twilight hours, but I think I’m mentally and physically ready to spend some time off of the bike. I’m going to enjoy tomorrow’s short spin and soak in every moment, before soaking my sore bones in some sweet hot springs.
Thanks for following me this far!
Forever progressing forward!