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Day 19
June 23rd, 2004
KOA Campground
Nephi, Utah


After a good nights sleep it was time to get on the road.  I was loaded and packed in a short time.  By this stage of a tour, I have a place for each and every little thing.  I can grab it, and place it right where it belongs without thinking about it.

It was going to be another perfect day in the weather department.  The sacrifice I made to the climate gods those few miles in Canada must still be getting me a pass.  If it were possible to buy the same deal for every tour, I’d sign up right now.

A white Freightliner tractor was hooked to a nearby RV.  It was smaller then a full version and the man advised it was made for just what he was doing; pulling RVs and small trailers.  He said he was tired of being underpowered and the Freightliner solved the problem.

At 7am I was the first out of the campground .  I took SR 132 and picked up where I left off yesterday.  The route carried me by green, irrigated valleys, and large mountains.  It was very scenic.

The air was cool, and I managed with just a T shirt under the Roadcrafter, but my hands were cold, so stopped at a snow chain area and changed to lined gloves.






















           Early morning on Utah 132.  Mountain Bound

Unlike Nevada, the mountains in the area were green.  After a short ride on 132, I went to SR 116 to connect over to U.S. 89.  The highway was not especially twisty, but it was scenic and proved to be a stellar ride on a perfect morning.  Farms and homes dotted the valleys, with cattle grazing in the fields.  Traffic was just now and then, and I thought to myself what a great ride home I’m having.


























I spent a  perfect morning working my way north on U.S. 89
through the central mountains of Utah.  Great riding.


U.S. 89 ended at U.S. 6. I veered right and changed directions east.  Three slow moving vehicles were chugging uphill on the approach to Soldier Summit, I moved out quickly intending to take only the first 2, but when I saw a clear shot to the top of the hill I poured it on and disposed of all 3.
For some reason I doubted my notes, and took a quiet side road near Indian Peak to verify I was going in the right direction.  I had a strange feeling I was supposed to be going north. A quick check confirmed I was on course.  I guess I should try a GPS someday, but until they incorporate a unit into the cockpit I’ll just stay with my map and notes.  I don’t like anything on my handlebars, interfering with the lines of the bike.  Besides, I like writing my routes down using the big picture only a map can give. My atlas allows me to see ALL the roads in the 500 miles between here and there. Studying routes and making notes gives me a feel for the land I’ll soon be in.  Towns, elevation and landmarks are easy to see, and prepares me for the next day’s ride. What I CAN see doing, is researching routes from the atlas, and once the decisions are made, inputting them into a GPS device.  But there is something romantic about the hand written notes on my left arm; I’m often asked about it.

At Price Canyon I left U.S. 6 for U.S.191 north.  Funny, I would reunite with 6 again in another 300 miles.  It was the most direct route to where I was going, but y’all know, that means nothing to me.

U.S. 191 to Duchesne will go down on the favorite road list.  The road is twisty and the scenery nothing short of spectacular. Traffic was nil. The highway took me past Gray Head Peak, a 9,000 foot mountain peak.  I went through Ashley National Forest and saw how Bad Land Cliffs got its name.  I was too lazy to think about carving "lines" and was content to just ride.  Highways like 191 serve to confirm I made the right choice when I bought the 1300.  The bike is way better than I’ll ever be in the curves, and the motor deliverers smooth effortless power.  The comfort and refinement of the bike make it one of the best in the business.
























 
                              U.S. 191 leans Long Riders around and through the canyons



Unfortunately, I had to pass several good photo ops.  It was difficult to find a safe and level shoulder to pull off to; the gravel and sand used in a mountain winter collected on the edges, making a foot plant something of an adventure.  I learned my lesson about pea gravel; it does not make a good platform when stopped on a bike.  Last year in Arizona I stopped the 1100 for a pic, placing my left foot down with a lot of pressure on it, and when the gravel caused my foot to slip, down I went.  I came out of it with just a slight chip on the left mirror.

The ride through the canyons and hills was as good as it gets.  A few farms were crammed in the tight spaces between the mountains, but nothing else, most of them appeared to be cattle ranches.






















 
U.S. 191 northbound,  bending and carving its way to U.S. 40.
Roads like this are why I ride a sport-touring bike.  Their speed,
agility, and comfort, allow me to tackle challenging highways,
with precision and speed.


I was in a full left hander, when all at once I was confronted with a southbound 18 wheeler and cow grazing a few feet from the south bound lane.  It was like the skunk incident all over again. The cow had his back to the truck, and I feared the big rig startling him, forcing him to bolt out in front of me.  Everything happened at once, and I never took my eyes off the cow.  The beast never flinched when all 3 of us came abreast.  Cow, truck, and I were all lined across the road for an instant.  The scene went by without incident.

I was taking pictures a few minutes later when 5 south bound Gold Wings ambled by. All of them waved at me.

It was a blissful 50 miles to Duchesne.  The kind of ride that is good for your psyche. The ride was quiet and peaceful through the mountain canyons.  I strongly suggest it if you ever find yourself nearby.

























Nothing can put a price on my freedom as a Long Rider.
To rise early on a perfect Utah morning, and spend hours 
carving routes 132, 89, and 191 just because you can, is 
a great feeling.   

I spent my formative years like everyone else.  Working hard to have stuff.  I think stuff should take a back seat to freedom, because it is the most elusive.  To get out of bed in the morning with the biggest decision to be made for the day is what route to take, is something I wanted to have ever since I was 14.  I can say unequivocally, if some joker offered me a 2 million dollar a year job, but I had to work 60 hour weeks, for the next 15 years, with vacation days scattered here and there, I'd flat turn it down.  Noway I sacrifice what I have now for a few bucks.  Sure, I could have all the motorcycles I wanted, but when would I ride them?  Besides the city pays me well, I have all that I need.  I rode north with the biggest grin you'd ever want to see.

Now, if he had made that job offer when I was 24?  I'd take it, but at this stage of my life, time is valuable.

Duchesne was a contrast of old stores and new buildings.  The small city appeared to make a living off the few that move along U.S. 40 on their way to somewhere else.  I found a Chevron gas mart, topped off the tank and went inside for a break.  I bought a Mountain Dew and a Payday Bar.  I left the 13 at the pump, because there was absolutely no movement outside the glass.  Not a moving person or car could be seen. It kind of reminded me of that Twilight Zone episode, when a guy was trapped in a little girls miniature play town.  He went over to a squirrel and discovered it was stuffed, and the train was a toy that just went in circles around the town.  At the end of the show he found out he was just like a hamster in a cage.

While I was sitting at the table I called ChrisK for a weather report.  He asked how the riding was and I said it was "OK."  I didn’t rub it in on how good it really was, because I knew he was stuck working.  He reported no rain was anywhere west of the Mississippi, and temps would be below normal for this time of year.

I took U.S. 40 East and set my sights on Colorado.

The things that pass for rivers in this part of the country are something else. I’d see a sign at a small bridge, "Fox River" only to find out the "river" was nothing more than a ditch you can virtually step over.

The riding was less climatic along U.S. 40 to Vernal, in fact it was a little boring.  The 1300 has 2 trip meters, and I failed to realize just how handy they are till I got a bike with them.  In the beginning I used meter B to track gasoline, but now I reset it whenever I stop.  The 1300 already has a computer tracking mpg and miles to empty, so I began using it to track miles between stops, much more useful for a guy like me, who has a tendency to stop often.  I’d reset meter A each morning to give me total miles at the end of the day, and meter B each time I took a significant butt break (lunch, Mountain Dew, tourist trap). Sometimes I’d reset B when I passed a miles to sign like, "Craig 123 miles" It was always good to know how far away my next objective was.

The drive-in theatre in Roosevelt was featuring Shrek 2.  I saw the marquee when I came into town.  A few blocks later another sign said to turn left here for the library.  I followed it down a few side streets, and parked the 13 across from the building.  A city pool was next door and the sounds of kids playing and splashing were prominent for 3 blocks.  A scribbled note was on the front door reading the internet was down, when I saw it, I made a 360 back to the 1300.

The ride into the next town was routine.  Traffic picked up because I was near a few "population centers," other than that, nothing else to report.
Vernal, Utah’s claim to fame is dinosaurs. Located near a large fossil bed, it has made a mark for all those wishing for a Jurassic Park setting.  Many businesses along Main Street sport large reptile themes, or named after one of the extinct creatures.  The city has a large museum to lure tourists into leaving a few bucks.



























                                The famous Vernal, Utah dinosaur


I left a few of mine behind at a mediocre Chinese buffet located on the main drag.  I was seated at a table, but when I returned from fixing my plate, I was led to another.  I was given no explanation for the reassignment.  The food was bland and cold, and kind of expensive.  Like all Chinese places, my service was unwavering, if I took a sip from my glass of Dew the young lady rushed to top it off. I think it would be a good idea if hospitals recruited them for nurses.  I mean, look what they do for a 2 dollar tip, no telling what you would get for the 27 bucks an hour nurses garner.

Dinosaur National Monument is a short ride east from Vernal, but I skipped it, not really interested in that sort of thing.

The empty landscape of U.S. 40 remained the same when I crossed into Colorado.  In the starkness of such land the smallest thing can catch my attention.  When I passed an old motel/cafe near the state line I noticed the satellite TV dish still standing.  The dish was located near the front unit, the one usually set aside for the family.  I bet in the waning years of the business, the owners, desperately trying to lure tourist inside, touted HBO, ESPN, and CNN.  Hoping it would be enough to convince them to stop for the night.  A hot shower, bed, and a night of cable tv could not overcome the fact not many folks traveled U.S. 40.

























I discovered this old motel  on U.S. 40, a few miles
east of the Utah state line.

A Greyhound bus shot by me while I was taking the motel picture, the strong gust swayed me in the saddle of the 1300.  About 20 miles later I overtook the bus, with an ease and grace only a select few can relate to.

I was nearing Craig and because the day was still young I decided to push on to Steamboat Springs, and get a head start on the next day’s ride.  Besides, I was anxious to see the Rocky Mountains.

A solitary cloud shadow was moving east along US 40.  I could see it on the road ahead and decided to race it to the top of the hill, judging its movement on the ground, I guessed it to be moving about 30 mph.  I lost, but not by much.
























I lost the race with the cloud, only because I stopped to
take this picture.   


I love the approach to this beautiful mountain range.  No matter if I enter the Rockies in the Tetons, Sawtooths, Wasatch, or the Bitteroots I gaze in awe.  I could see the mountains in the distance and to think in a few miles I'd be in their midst fires my inner most being.  Nearing the mountains I could see no snow caps, testimony to the unusually hot dry summer in Colorado.

I shared the approach into Steamboat with other 2 wheel Long Riders.  All along US 40 cyclists were pedaling to the ski area.  I later found out they were on the annual "Ride The Rockies" rally.  I don’t know the details, but the cyclists spend a few days in the mountains riding to different ski towns.  I have a recreational fitness bicycle I ride 50 miles a week, I have an idea in the difficulty cycling these mountains at 10,000 oxygen starved feet must be.

Having skied and visited several Rocky Mountain ski areas, I was surprised by the trailer parks and grade 3 housing in and around the city.  I was looking for the KOA campground when I entered the city but after riding all the way through town, I missed it.

Thanks to golf and mountain biking, there really is no off season for a Colorado ski resort.  Steamboat was jammed packed.  Thousands of golfers and cyclists stuffed the town into overflowing.

Unable to find the KOA, I stopped at the local fire station for directions. They sent me back to the west side of town.

The reason I couldn’t find the KOA is because the campground is no longer associated with the franchise.  It is my belief KOA pulled it, because the facility is poorly run and managed.  I was shocked at the price of putting my tent up-25 dollars!  But alas, Steamboat is a ski town, and I justified it by telling myself the cheapest motel was going for 100.

Camp sites were ragged and weedy, and not very inviting.  I set the stand at site number 31 after an enjoyable 391 miles.  I was off the road early, and looking forward to a little down time.

A man a few sites down, looked like he was LIVING in his campsite.  He looked dishelmed and hungry.

After setting up camp I took a short ride looking for something to eat. I settled for a Italian meal at a place called Mazzolas.  I was going to have to park the 1300 on the street, and needed a quiet spot.  I wanted to avoid nearby traffic, to lessen a chance of some SUV backing over my bike.
I took a seat at the bar, and watched the news while I waited for supper.  A local man not far from my table was talking REAL loud on his cell phone.  What is it about cell phones that make folks holler?

When I finished supper I made notes on the Axim, and called home.

I gave a loud sigh of relief when I came back out and a SUV had backed dangerously close to the 1300. I wondered if I was lucky, or if this guy was that good.

It was still early when I made it back to the tent. I took out my atlas and planned the ride for the next day.  When I planned this ride from my study last December, I thought western Nebraska would be a reasonable goal for day 20. Now, sitting in Steamboat, I KNEW western Nebraska would be too easy.  With an early start I could very well make it to Salina, Kansas, and from there a easy ride to the Ozarks and home a day early. Shaving a day is no big deal, and I wouldn’t sacrifice a trip plan just to get home a day early, but this scenario allowed me to complete my objectives and still put me in my home bed a day early.

I put the 13 on the center stand and inspected the rear tire.  It looked significantly more worn then yesterday.  Getting home on the tire was going to be close.

I took a long hot shower and had a nice walk back to the tent.  Many sites were occupied with cyclists.  I exchanged curious looks with many of them.

With the night time dark overtaking me, I retreated inside my tent, and watched a movie, and went to sleep as soon as it was over.

Next: out of the mountains and on the Great Plains. Trouble in Nebraska


Footnote-  On 08-03-04, I received a phone call from John Cooper.  A good friend of mine and fellow Long Rider.  We've traveled many miles together as readers of my past rides know.  We rode togethre at the Grand Canyon and the Soo in O3.  I especially remember a ride brother John and I made on a foggy morning leaving Wawa last August.  Click here to refresh your memory on John Cooper
John called to tell me he was in Steamboat the same day on his other 2 wheels participating in the Ride the Rockies Rally.  In the small world category, we missed each other by just a few minutes at Mazzolas.  I had just left when when he arrived.  He saw me the next morning as the 13 and I climbed US 40 to Rabbit Ears, he was one of the thousands of cyclists I passed that day.  He said he KNEW it was me by the gray Roadcrafter and blue 1300.





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