30 July – 15 August 2013

I was planning a short day of 80k (50 miles) staying in Dixie NF where I camped on my way towards Grand Canyon. Consequently I took my time in the morning not leaving until 10.30am. It was beautiful weather so I enjoyed the ride even though it was mostly uphill the first 30k (18 miles) – I realised that the firefighter had picked me up right at the top just over 2,700 metres (9,000 feet), so I never got the easy ride downhill to the park. From the top it was downhill about the same distance to Jacob Lake where I spent 3 hours at the visitor center charging batteries while simultaneously sorting my (way too many) picures. Late afternoon I rode the rest of the way to my camp spot - well I didn't ride much as it was still downhill the whole way, so all I had to do was to break occationally. Another warm evening and night struggling with a headache for the second consecutive day.... I forced myself to eat a bit but mostly I drank a lot of water.... The day before my long 130k (80 miles) ride around the park I had the usual haircut leaving only a few milimetres hair, and though I didn't get burned the all-day sun is the only reason I can come up with for the headache....

Next morning I felt somewhat better and got up fairly early. 30K (18 miles) to Fredonia where I spent the whole day in the library primarily working on my homepage. It's not allowed to camp within city limits and nobody offered their garden (though a guy gave me cold 3 beers), so I headed some kilometres out of town and pitched the tent on public land close to the paved road – not as suggested further down a dirt road which I anticipated would be too muddy to get the heavy bike back should it rain during the night.

A very good nights sleep and only very little rain so I got up early and was at the library when they opened at 8am. Unfortunately, I couldn't upload pictures which cost me half a day communicating with my server provider who couldn't help.... Instead I spent the day doing other practical stuff e.g. writing many mails... On recommendation from the librarian I rode 5k up the road and pitched my tent behind a hill away from the road – a good spot where flies (and the sandy/stony ground) were the only annoying elements. The next morning I rode a few more kilometres to Kanab where I stocked up before the library opened at 10am. Fortunately, my amazing friend Lars (who has set up the technical part of the homepage) fixed the problem, so I spent yet another whole day in the library, though this time much more productive.... Again on recommendation from the librarian I pitched the tent some kilometres north of town – not the bet spot but it worked....

After a number of days with very little bicycling I didn't look forward to going north on highway 89 climbing the long hill towards the Zion Junction that I had come down some days before heading towards Grand Canyon – especially just having stocked up before going to Zion NP. However, I must admit that my perception of the grade was way off - it was much easier than expected being a long and gradual climb but not particularly steep. Or maybe I had just built up a lot of energy the last couple of days with limited activity....? A steep 8k (5 miles) downhill ride and then a long - but again – fairly easy climb up to Zion NP. The road through the park drops more than 1,000 metres (3,000 feet) from the east gate (where I was) to the west gate – taking that into consideration it was too late to enter the park even though it was only 14.00. I went to the the entrance to get some folders and talked ½ hour to a ranger Ethan getting recommendations for trails to walk the next day (as well as converdation about biking and travelling in general).... 7k (4 miles) back up the road where I pitched my tent on public land and had a quiet afternoon reading and relaxing....

The alarm woke me up at 6am and I left an hour later after admiring a beautiful sunrise over the valley while packing and having breakfast. A short ride down to the park where I arrived just as the sun started coming up over the mountains colouring the spectacular rock formations – excellent timing as 10 minutes before would have been too early. It was downhill all the way so I could focus on enjoying the views and only breaking occationally e.g. when I almost rode into a goat couple in the middle of the road; she was more clever running for shelter amongst the trees while he stayed in the middle of the road. And pleasantly few (all heading uphill) cars at this time of day (if you ever go to Zion bring your bike and ride downhill from the east gate early morning – it's a truly amazing experience). After 45 minutes I made a stop and did the short Canyon Overlook Trail – a short walk providing incredible views of Zion Valley below with numerous switchbacks – the road I would soon after ride. First, however, I needed a ride through a long tunnel where bicycling is not allowed (allegedly there have been several accidents in the past) – a ranger made sure nobody broke the rule and after 15 minutes of waiting I got a ride with an English family in a big RV. After the tunnel I could continue by myself – what an incredible experience riding down to the bottom of the valley – absolutely gorgeous views. Well down in the valley I headed north towards Temple of Sinawava – a 10k (6 miles) ride where no cars are allowed; only shuttle buses and bicyclists.... what a treat and what fantastic views – I haven't seen so beautifully rugged mountains since the Andes in South America some years ago... At the end of the road I left the bike behind a shed hoping nobody would take my stuff while I hiked the Riverwalk Trail for some hours - an easy hike and most of the time actually in the river. Not until just before I decided to turn around after an hour (because it startet looking the same, I didn't want to leave the bike too long and I wanted to do another hike) did the ridiculous number of tourists decline somewhat, so it never became a very enjoyable experience. .... After a quick lunch I bicycled half the way back the road and left the bike at the lodge and hiked up to Emerald Pools. Again a lot of people on the path and not much water in the pools, but nice to do a bit of hiking for a change... During the last part of the hike dark clouds came into the valley and just as I got back to the lodge it startet pouring down – though not for long.... everybody had taken cover under the same roof, so while waiting for the rain to stop I talked to many different people curious about my trip... From the park I rode 30k (18 miles) west to Virgin (on yet another horrible southern Utah road) where I pitched my tent by a small creek – a great place had it not been for the many flies and especially ants (hundreds were crawling all over my feet and legs within minutes coming outside the tent)....

The next morning I continued west to La Verkin and Hurricane and north of bigger St George that I had no intention of visiting (partly because of the size and partly because it was further down the valley). It was an easy ride downhill to 700 metres (2,500 feet) and then a lot of rolling hills. I hadn't been in this low altitude for months and the temperature was awful – more than 40C (104F) and very little wind so I took refuge in bicycle shop talking ½ hour to the staff and a customer – the latter told me it was an easy ride (gradual ascent) up highway 18 but either he had never been there or he must have been sedated.... it was steep uphill 30k (18 miles) until Veyo where I took refuge at a gas station – however, I got dizzy being cooled down so quickly that I had to sit outside in the shade for ½ hour trying to eat some bread and cheese but having absolutely no appetite. I continued another 10k (6 miles) up to Central where I needed water before pitching my tent in Dixie NF. Though it never got to that - climbing up the mountain I thought it was a long time since somebody had invited me in and of course it happened. I asked for water at Wendy and Phil's but ended up getting the full treatment. Guestroom, shower, laundry, food and drinks on the terrace... once again amazing hospitality and generousity..

I left close to noon the next day having a short ride to Enterprise where I spent the afternoon in the library though the internet was so slow as I have only encoutered in less developed countries. Early evening I asked the librarian for advice to pitch my tent and she suggested her family's place – only challenge was the Mormons were having a get-together there that evening. After stocking up I got there at 19.30 and was immeditely invited to join in – being fed numerous burgers and hotdogs and homemade ice cream..... immensely kind people and many interesting conversations....

I left at 9.30am the morning heading north on highway 18 – an easy slowly descending road for 20k (13miles) before I turned west on highway 56 towards Nevada. Mostly farmland and lots of hawks, buzzards and turkey vultures. A 40k (25 miles) long gradual ascent to the border and also some strong headwind - juniper trees and sagebrush but otherwise not a lot to see. After riding countless miles on bad ("stony") Utah roads, I was hoping for improvement but fearing something worse when entering Nevada.... Fortunately it was better – not fantastic but more tar and smaller stones... a steep ascend and tough side/headwind before a long downhill (1,000 metres ~ 3,000 feet) to Panaca. Most of the (few) bicyclists I've met along the way are younger, ride in groups and have a van following them but this afternoon I met French Jean-Pierre going the other way around the world, and so like me – same mindset and roughing it like me not paying for accommodation... I stocked up in Panaca and rode the 19k (12 miles) pretty steep uphill to Pioche where I arrived mid afternoon. It was my birthday but not much opportunity to celebrate in a small village like this. I went to the mini-mart to buy beers, snacks, etc. and the owner was kind to take the bill – the generousity never stops on this trip..... Then I pitched the tent at the free village RV park (as the only one) though I had to wait some hours before the crazy wind settled down a bit.... here the locals call strong wind for a breeze – I would soon find out why....

I got up early next morning and left at 7am – it was 176k (110 miles) north to Ely on highway 93 and nothing along the way, so I brought a lot of water in case I had to camp out along the way. It was beautiful weather and fairly flat - long and gradual uphill and similar downhill but never really steep. Interesting how it's easy to lose perspective of distance – 10 miles look like a few miles and bicycling 30 minutes it's still the same view... and talking of views not a lot to see along the way – sagebrush, juniper trees and a few mountains but no desert – and then the many white plane lines in the sky... At one stage 5 big elks crossed the road just in front of me – first one, then another and finally 3 more.... why do they run along the side of the road to cross in front of me when they see me coming?..... Completely open fields so nowhere to take shelter for the sun until 104k (65 miles) where there was finally a tree close to the road (and not behind fence). I took the opportunity and had lunch. Heading north I was lucky to have a pretty powerful side/tailwind – not since a long time which I really exploited.... It turned out to be a pretty easy ride 130k (80 miles) in less than 5 hours to Majors Junction. People had told me ithere would be a long steep ascend, so my initial plan had been to camp before ascending, but I felt good and it turned out to be only 6-7 percent incline for 10k (6 miles), so I pushed for Ely. It was only mid afternoon so I went to the library until 19.00 expecting (as always) it would be easy to find a place to pitch the tent..... it wasn't since I was in the tourist end of town (motels, giftshops, etc. but no people living there and thus nobody to ask for advice) and the road towards Eureka was supposed to be uphill and through a gorge for the first many kilometres. A guy in a videostore recommended to climb up a nearby hill and pitch the tent next to the old railway and since it was late I took the advice....

When I got up at sunrise the next morning it was cold and there was a strong western wind – not the best conditions heading out on highway 50 called “the loneliest road” (a lot of it along the old pony express route)... I left at 7 and it was a pretty cold experience biking through the gorge where the sun couldn't get this early and with a strong and cold headwind... especially my toes (in sandals) and fingers suffered. After 45 minutes however, I was in the open where the wind died down and soon the air was nice and warm.... There was almost no traffic at this hour so I enjoyed the long gradual climb up to the first pass at 2,300 metres (7,600 feet).... Riding steep downhill on the other side the strong headwind was back and despite pedaling hard I couldn't go faster than 30 k/h (18 mph) – without the wind I could easily have gone twice as fast.... Down the valley the strong wind continued from southwest so it was a tough ride to the next mountain range where I had to climb back up to about 2,300 metres – this time a shorter but steeper climb.... Heading down the other side the wind was crazy – I haven't experienced anything like this since hiking in Torres del Paine in Chile... permanent winds of 60-70 k/h (38-45 mph) and gusts over 100 k/h (65 mph) – now I understood what the locals meant when they said windy. Quite dangerous partly because the gusts made it hard to keep balance but also passing trucks made temporary vacuum – I was close falling over a few times..... Along the way I saw some distant dust storms and many dust tornados passing the fields and sometimes rhe road. A couple of lower passes and then the last big one before arriving at Eureka mid afternoon – only 130k (80 miles) but one of the toughests days on this trip.... not because of the many mountains but because of the fierce wind - maybe "the windiest road" would be a better term. Crossing Nevada I thought I would go through the desert so I was surprised that it was still sagebrush all the way. I camped in the local park and in the evening got to talk to Garrett from Boston that I had passed during the day. He is biking cross country and had actually been pushed into the ditch during the day – fortunately nothing serious....

Since the wind tends to pick up late morning, I decided to start early again – got up at sunrise and left around 7. It was fairly flat so I made good progress. After 50k (31 miles) I caught with Garrett who had startet an hour before me and we biked together the rest of the way to Austin. Really nice to have company – partly for the conversation but also it took the mind of the strong headwind and the kilometres seemed to pass quicker... The day ended with a couple of steep mountains just before Austin where we camped in the local park together with a group of 30 bicyclists going coast-to-coast - though the easy way with a van following them with supplies and luggage...

The next day was a 175k (110 miles) to Fallon. I wasn't sure if I would go all the way since I still had 3 days to get to Carson City (to visit Stephen that I met in Yellowstone) and only 300k (180 miles) to go.... Consequently, I tried to sleep in but as expected the inconsiderate noisy big group of bicyclists made it impossible despite me camping as far away from them as possible. I got up at 5.45 and left at 7 starting with a long downhill and then across a valley before riding up the first couple of passes before a beautiful long downhill through a narrow gorge and hills. Yet another long downhill and then a long, flat ride through a valley – here I got to see a bit of sand... though not desert but a dried out lake... A long hill up to Cold Springs (after 80k ~ 50 miles) where I caught up with Garrett who had startet an hour earlier – as he went to the local shop I continued and didn't see him again. Another long downhill and flat ride through a valley where I encountered a couple of trees - one of them a Shoe Tree (see pictures). More climbs and then 50 flat kilometres (31 miles) northwest to Fallon – for the first time through what could be considered a desert. Had the wind been southwest as the previous days it would have been fairly easy with a sidewind but this day it was from northwest so even the flat ride was tough. In town I stocked up and asked for advice where to pitch the tent – most people only knew the local campground but after a while I talked to a guy who suggested a place by the river a couple of miles out of town – it turned out to be a nice (deer and many different birds) and secluded area as the company who was to develop it had gone bankrupt... During the last 20-25k (13-16 miles) into Fallon the bike had made a sound as if something was touching the rear mudguard but despite numerous stops to try and locate it I never managed. When I got the luggage of the bike and took a closer look, it turned out that the back tire was completely worn down after less than 3,000k (2,000 miles)....

As I had an extra day before visiting Stephen in Carson City I had considered riding around Lake Tahoe but the tire changed my mind. I slept in and went back to Fallon to find a bicycle shop. A friendly guy on a bike told there was none but I was welcome to borrow his foot pump – very kind family who also provided fruit and cake for the road. Incredible a town of 30,000 people – but then again Nevada is ranching, mining, drinking, gambling and prostitution. I spent most of the afternoon in the library and then headed 40k (25 miles) towards Carson City. People in Fallon had told me there was a lot of public land to pitch a tent on but I couldn't find it and the few local farmers didn't know. They sent me different places but it always turned out to be “no overnight camping” or the state park requiring an entry fee as well as US 16 for camping. The good thing about looking around for a place was the many birds along the river amongst other a golden eagle – though I didn't get a picture.... The lake/reservoir is very low at this time of year and so after 16 additional kilometres (10 miles) I finally found a place on the dry bank just of the road behind a few bushes.... a bit noisy but it worked out....

The next morning I rode the last 75k (45 miles) to Carson City and went to Bike Smith to complain about the tire. It is without comparison the least durable tire I ever used doing less than 3,000k (2,000 miles) – the second worst did more than twice that distance. So DON'T by Specialised Armadillo tires – they are not worth the money and the 3 months guarantee is useless. The shop manager Mikey called the company and they rejected every responsibility. Mikey however was very helpful – besides giving me 2 tires for free he also did a quick free service check on the bike. My life in a nutshell – bad/annoying things are always followed by something good.... Waiting some hours before Stephen came home from work I went to the library but I did very little as I got to talk to many homeless people providing endless information on how to get free food, shower, laundry, etc. They seemed fairly happy considering their situation telling me that Carson City is the best place in the state to live being on the street.

Stephen has just relocated from Boston and rented a big house on a hill outside town. Around 16.00 I got there and we had some great evenings together; it was like meeting an old friend – I only talked to him and his girlfriend Kelly for some hours in Yellowstone and then he lets me stay 3 days – amazing.... Besides updating my homepage, buying tickets to the eastcoast when I go in September and other practical things, I cooked and ate a lot trying to re-gain as much weight as possible..... A really enjoyable stay and a delightful way of finishing this part of my trip....

Adding 1,200k (750 miles) brings the total up to 11,200k (7,000 miles).... 

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Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
After about 100k (65 m...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
And then finally a bit...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
A large part of highwa...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
I'm sure there is a go...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
After the last pass it...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
A sand mountain....
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
In Fallon I stocked up...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
A nice place by the cr...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
The last 20-25k (13-16...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Fortunately I had a sp...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Late afternoon I rode ...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Most locals said I cou...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
After additional 16k (...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
An easy last day of 75...
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Grand Canyon, AZ to Carson City, NV
Stephen just relocated...
 
 
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