Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Day 12 - July 11, 2009 (Moab to Telluride, CO)

Ralph was a little miffed that I got up and rode without him yesterday.  I should have said something but I just wanted to ride early.  I think the early morning before dawn reminds me of the years I spent throwing papers.  A friend and I threw the morning paper from 8th-11th grade and it was a good money making job that did not conflict with any activities.  All the papers had to be delivered by 6 so we would get up about 4:50AM, roll them, stuff them into a gigantic bag and then deliver them on our bikes.  The route was about 4-5 miles and I rode A LOT before dawn.  My father would take us in the car if it was below 20 degrees.  I love the dawn but don’t like getting up.  So what’s unusual about that?  I rarely regret the effort once I am up....

Ralph and I decided to do a little more riding along the Colorado R before heading to the state.  Hardy and Daniel were sleeping in so we left a little before 8 planning to return by 10 or 10:30 to start the ride to Telluride.  Slightly after our left turn off US 191 we were on a deserted road.  The road I took yesterday (to the right) had many people camping but we did not see anyone for 10 miles. Then we saw a  large group camping at a picnic area and packing up slowly.  Intermittent views of the river and the ubiquitous soaring cliffs on a flat deserted road make for ideal biking.  Several archeological areas were noted on car turnouts so we stopped to read the details of the cliff art.  Easter island statues are pretty impressive.  These cliff wall scratchings don’t look too impressive,  more like vandals marring the surface of perfectly good rock.  I have seen a lot better gang graffiti...  But the riding was  perfect and we even got a tailwind when we turned around.  A very nice 25 mile warm-up for the day.

We woke the boys and Daniel was planning to ride today.  We had been up and down US 191 several times and thought it made more sense to drive to La Sal, Utah and start from there rather than ride up the busy highway at mid-day.  It was about 30 miles and positioned to give us a straight shot into Colorado.  This would be the first time we had ridden off the Adventure Cycling Association provided maps.  The Western Express route had turned at Monticello to head to south to Delores and we were planning a straighter shot into Telluride.  We unloaded the bikes at the two building downtown La Sal ( a post office and grocery), stocked up on Gatorade, and hit the road with dark clouds threatening to the North.  We had not seen a suggestion of rain since Ely Nevada and that was all of about 20 minutes.  The rain held off but 5 miles into the ride we discovered they were paving the road to the Colorado border.  They weren’t working but the roads were torn up, tar was everywhere, and the roadbed was predominately gravel.  I had the 35cc tires but Daniel was on the 6-13 with 28cc and Ralph on the Quattro Assi had 23’s. Bummer.  Traffic though was non-existent.  Vistas of the LaSal mountains were beautiful to the North where the thunderclouds loomed and the scenery was finally changing to a little bit more green.  We finally saw a tree!  Of course along the Colorado R there were trees but this was a tree with no visible means of support.  You feel proud of this tree like of your son when he gets a job and doesn’t need money from you to go to the beach with his buddies.  This will be a great bicycle route AFTER they finish paving it.  The scenery is great.  The wind did not seem to be moving the clouds closer but put a crimp in the MPH.  A slow road with a headwind is a grind.  We left Utah with no notice except a new road sign that we were on a Colorado state road.  Three states crossed, the destination in view.  The twisting route through the  Canyons opened up into the Paradox Valley, a gorgeous scene with the mountains of Telluride in the distance.

It was here that we had a minor snafu.  We were snacking at the top of the descent to Paradox when Daniel decided he would head on out because he descended slower.  Ralph and I took a minute or two to get ready and then started the glorious descent through the canyons to the floor of the Paradox Valley.  We didn’t see Daniel up the road so when we made the final turn we picked up an incredible tail wind.  Like in Nevada, what had been opposing us, turned to our advantage on wide open roads.  Both Ralph and I put our heads down and started pace lining at 30-35 mph to catch Daniel.  We would come up over a rise and see a mile down the road--no Daniel.  What had happened to him?  Was he trying to stay ahead of us with his new found cycling skills and better fitness?  Had he crashed on the descent and slid over a cliff?  Was he taking a leak?  We should have caught him by now but we were having too good a time with the tailwind.  We finally stopped in Bedrock, figuring he would have stopped or we would have caught him by now.  We grabbed some lunch fixings and Hardy drove up with the Sag.  Had he seen Daniel?  No?  If he wasn’t behind us, where was he?  We sent Hardy back up the road to find him.  He found him and the story was that he had made a wrong turn at the base of the descent.  There was a small road turning left ( I hadn’t even noticed it) that headed to Paradox .  No wonder we couldn’t catch him!  Case closed.  Paradoxically, lost and found.

At the Bedrock store we met two couples from Italy doing a mountain bike trip from Telluride to Moab.  It was mid afternoon and they were headed to Moab for the night over the La Sal mountains!  One of their bikes had broken and they were waiting at the Bedrock store for a tour operator to come bring them another bike.  They could not believe how hot America was!  The women looked a little frazzled as if their dream trip in America was their husbands(boyfriends?) idea and needed a little more dream and a little less reality right at this moment.  Apparently there are hostels in the mountains for over-nighting and the scenery is incomparable BUT  I detected a certain tension, that the ladies had had about all the riding they wanted, and the guys were talking about getting to Moab tonight.  I could tell that was not happening except in a car... I didn’t want to mention a brutal headwind, OUR difficulties on the road(paving project) as well as the fact that we had skipped the first 30 miles AND ridden on the road! They had just descended on trails and had a 30 mile mountain bike slog against a brutal headwind to even get to the canyons that lead up to the La Sal Mountains.  We had gone around the mountains which is certainly longer but climbing over 14,000 foot mountains wasn’t going to be “easier”.  They were going to be sleeping somewhere besides Moab unless they took a car/truck. 
       Time to hit the road again. Naturita is just up the road and joins busier roads.  The Paradox Valley narrows down to urban congestion and soon we are on Colorado xxx dodging RV’s.  It’s only 20 miles to Norwood (uphill) but the bloom is off the rose--we are facing 50 miles uphill to Telluride--it’s time to quit, put the bikes on the car and start another adventure. Go to the condo.  Admire the Colorado scenery.  Hit the hot tub and the summer on the slopes in the mountains.  This desert crossing is done. The trip is psychologically over.  Time to move on. 
  I achieved almost nothing of what I intended to do when I visualized this trip.  My "dream" was to ride across the country in one month and every night do a reflection:   since 9/11, what has happened to America?   The financial crisis?  An existential event to me but this entire trip I have seen nothing but Michael Jackson retrospectives. Can he really be the most important person to die this month?    We don't seem to have processed the importance of what the government response to the financial crisis has birthed.  We are living in a Potemkin village, a make believe world like Truman.  I don't know how to get from old world view to new world view but someone in the media or at the leadership level should be discussing it. 
   The World is in the vise grip of the Limits to Growth projections: Pollution & population Up, Oil and food production-plateau, resources/rate of growth-down. It is time to address IEEE and all I hear are crickets.  Same old same old from leadership.  Just don't let this sucker go down on my watch and I'll slide out the back, Jack. Perhaps all disjunctive change is like this--a trend for 30 years--a discontinuity--the world is changed, changed utterly. Whether a terrible beauty is born is another question.  I feel a certain revolutionary animus but coupled with a palpable inertia.  As they say, conditions that can't continue-won't.  

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