Day 14 - How Bland Blanding Became the Best Town Ever

Day 13 was pretty much the polar opposite of Day 14.  I pulled into Hanksville at the end of Day 13 after a hard day's ride (136k), but still got there early and had no problems along the way.

I was faced with two stretches of "no services" ahead of me.  50 miles to a small rest stop in the middle of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and another 74 after that.  The plan was originally to stop overnight at that rest station, but that didn't last long.  I don't particularly love those no services stretches, so I decided to get it out of the way.  All 198kms. 

The morning 80 km ride was easy.  Pretty much all downhill, with the sun still low in the sky, I made the rest stop by 11.  Good thing I decided not to stay there overnight - the food selection was not quite as I was led to believe.  I had hot pockets for lunch...I should have just opened a packet of my Ramen supply. 

I got out of there quickly enough.  The afternoon ride (118k) was predictably more difficult.  I had a 3000ft climb to escape the park and return to civilization.  After that easy morning, I was very ready for it.

Despite the length of the ride, and the intensity of the climb, I must say, I was having a great time with it.  There wasn't much wind to speak of (my worst enemy) and the park was particularly beautiful.  Supplied by the Colorado River, green things had sprouted all over the red earth.  In the background, over the tops of the higher red mesas, you could see snow capped mountains and a blue sky, fitted nicely with little puffy clouds.  Quite stunning. 


Along my ascent, I met Jodiah.  Jodiah was heading west, and pulled over to chat with me for 20 minutes or so.  I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the kid.  He had no route, no end goal, no destination in mind.  He was just out touring.  His travels seemed to have taken him on a criss-cross circuit of the national parks, often doubling back on himself.  I admire the guy - I could never just GO like that.  I need the finish line to strive for, some goal in mind.

The only hiccup during my ride out of the park was my stop at the Visitor's Centre near the park's border.  One of the only sources of water in the area, it was a planned water refueling stop for me.  I only wish someone had told me that the road to the visitor's centre was a 4 mile detour off route!  AHHH!!  Oh well - had to be done.

30 miles from the visitor's centre to Blanding.  Full water bottles, full belly - let's ride.  Time passed, and I found myself passing a sign advertising the city limits within 3 miles.  Yay!  Food!  Sleep!  I was pretty beat at this point, and was enjoying coasting into town.  But really, what better way to end a day's ride than to rip into town at a healthy pace?  Thus, I shifted into a slightly higher gear, and....PING!  ZIP!  KAPOW!  BATMAN SOUNDS!   My chain exploded under my feet, sending one link spiralling off into the shrubs on the side of the road.  Within 3 miles of town.  After a 124 mile ride...what luck.

Within minutes, however, Mitch roared by on his motorcycle, and promptly turned around.  He went to get his pickup truck, and hauled my sorry but to his son's motel - Cliff's Palace (25$, super clean, and very much exactly what I was looking for).  Mitch then introduced me to Bob, a local cyclist and car mechanic/restorer.  Apparently the local cycling community is huge!  Of course, I pull into town on the very day most are away at a triathalon...thankfully Bob was still in town.  No spare chain links were to be had, so we just shortened my chain.  Looks like I'll be my big gears for a while. 

How long, you may ask?  Well, by the looks of things, the closest bike shop is 3 days ride away. 

Did I mention that I snapped a second water bottle holster today?  How, I don't know.  Maybe it got jealous of all the attention the chain was getting. 

 

Picture near the Hite Recreation Area.  Imagine this for an almost continuous 124 miles.  

Picture near the Hite Recreation Area.  Imagine this for an almost continuous 124 miles.