Archive for the ‘Utah’ Category

Day 33- Moab, UT

Posted: October 29, 2010 in Utah

Waking up the next morning was exciting, for two reasons- we would be crossing another state line, and we would do a real century. We didn’t have a choice in either matter- Fruita was the last town we would be able to stop in with services until reaching Moab, and reaching it only subtracted 11 of the 102 miles we would be riding that day.
We took off through Fruita, following what appeared to be a back road through town trying to reach I-70 (it turned to be Highway 50/US 6). We passed signs saying that there was no access to the main highway, but those signs also had the “Colorado Bikeways” logo which usually indicates that the route is, surprise surprise, suitable for bike travel and is an alternative to the main road. After about an hour, however, we started to question the validity of that thought as we had done nothing but pass through ranch land, with houses growing further and further between. The quality of the road decreased with every mile towards the state line. Far off in the distance we could make out the movement of semis on the highway, but there didn’t seem to be any sign of where we would eventually connect back to I-70.
At some point we encountered our first cattle guard and a sign informing us that we were now on the open range.

We stopped for a few minutes, taking in the surroundings. I felt a little bizarre, staring at the unending countryside all around, taking in the the feeling of being 100% in the middle of nowhere. I wondered if we had passed the state line yet, if there was even going to be a marker for it.
We couldn’t stay for too long however; baking in the full-on afternoon sun is just as tiring as not stopping at all, and we took off down the road again. After many more miles and a couple more cattle guards, we suddenly came upon a small white obelisk, covered with graffiti and bullet holes. We had finally reached the state line, and managed to orient ourselves a little bit.

Almost immediately upon crossing the state line the road turned to utter crap. The road was littered with large rocks, loose gravel, and potholes up to several inches deep. The sections that were still relatively paved were jagged from a old, worn-down chip-seal job that looked as if no one had attempted to repair it in 20 years. This section of Highway 50 west of the state line, while about a fifth as long as the stretch to the east, felt far more grueling than the distance we had just covered.
Eventually the road came to an abrupt end, meeting back up with I-70. We hopped on the interstate with its wide, smooth shoulders, happy to be leaving old 50 behind. We made great time on this stretch of the highway, only taking a couple of breaks. The sky had slowly been growing grayer and grayer as the day passed, and we were starting to see storms far off. There was no fear of riding through should the storm overtake us, as we had seen no signs of lightning and we were no longer in the mountains.
The sign for the Cisco turn-off finally came into view, which meant that we would be leaving I-70 and heading through the open desert towards the town with a population of six that has been listed in travel guides as a ghost town. After an hour or so we arrived in the middle of it: open fields containing decrepit shacks with caved-in roofs, rusted, derelict cars and farm equipment over grown by flora, sharp winds blowing brush and dust, whipping amongst the detritus. Despite the proof of a former human existence here, Cisco felt even more lost and alone than the open range we had traversed earlier that day.
We ran out of water right around this time, but we knew we would be meeting up with the Colorado soon and had water purification tablets. The sky was gray and the air had cooled off as the rain moved closer. We lay in the middle of the road, relaxing for some time. After about half an hour we suddely heard the sound of a vehicle approaching, and to our fortune it turned out to be a rafting crew. They let us fill our water and wished us well.
After another hour or so we finally came to the turn-off for Castle Valley.

Jon, being much taller than me, managed to get a Gear Exchange and Spokiz sticker thrown up on the road sign. We snapped a pic then took off to finish up the last stretch. The landscape was still not showing signs of change, and I was starting to wonder what the big deal was about Moab.
As we made our way down 128 and met back up with the river, the rain finally caught up with us a little bit. It was nice and light, a cooling summer shower coming down in infrequent intervals. Slowly our surrounding became more and more interesting, until finally we were surrounded by the red canyons walls. Despite the green grass and blue sky, it felt a little alien. Arid, mostly barren rich red dirt, towering cliff faces, boulders the size of elephants lining the road- the landscape started to take on a Martian feel. Eventually the canyon opened up and we received some stunning views.

We pushed on through the canyon, stopping once for water at the Castle Creek Winery. I was anxious to get into town; despite how beautiful the ride was my energy and enthusiasm were definitely draining fast. The only other stop we made before entering the city limits right around nightfall was at the spring on the very edge of the canyon. Jon asked someone if it was the same spring he remembered from his previous visit, and he was told the story of how the city had tried to close it off after the discovery of some unknown organic compound in the water. The townspeople ripped the cement off, stuck a little makeshift spout on the end, and city never bothered trying to close it up again.
We stopped at a convenience store on the north edge of town and figured out what our next move would be. We had less than ten bucks between the two of us, so food-wise it was time to get resourceful. We rode around town a little looking for a place to crash, and once we did I was out in about five minutes. I quickly fell asleep, lazily watching for shooting stars and constellation gazing at the sky above.