Monday, July 21: Got up this morning with a better attitude. I pretty much decided last night that I’d rather ride berm and continue on the itinerary and keep on riding on asphalt as I did yesterday. Heck, my whole introduction to American Dirt Utah had been on asphalt, In a state that’s famous for awesome mt biking! Go figure? I pretty much scoured the gazetteer and did a bunch of google map study last night and just could not come up with an alternative through route up to Moab. Most of the 4WD stuff to the southwest is just not in my direction or if they do trend north, they kind of dead end at vista points or die out in or near the Canyonlands Rim Recreation Area. Nope, my original route was the most direct, and the most efficient with respect to gravel roads. So with that in mind I figured that I’d go berminator on Rt 191 north and then go back to my “bypass” route to get through the city on dirt and then continue north trending along Rt 191. That was my only option, so that was THAT. Done. 

All that thinking made me hungry last night and I ended up cooking up 4 dogs, then I ate two chocolate chip cookies, and chased it all down with a nice big Forsters Lager Oil can. Let the good times roll! 

We ate at last night’s cafe, and I of course had the breakfast burrito, which was awesome. Judy did this granola parfait with yogurt and fresh fruit. Damn, she eats so well, and here I am just a garbage gut taking in thousands of freaking useless, junk calories, and yet I’m still on the X-country weight loss program. It’s sick! I’m at the stage now where I’m hungry all the time in the evening. 

So we got going from yesterday’s end point and I had to do asphalt up to Rt 46 because there is like zero berm on this little country road. I’ve found the bigger state and federal routes usually have much better berm. And that was indeed the case with Rt 46 where I had to ride on some sketchy stuff, but it worked! Took that to the junction with Rt 191, and found the berm to be of a wide variety of states…great, good, moderate, fair, poor, total shit, shit squared and unridable. But the net ride was all a descent, as we had to drop some 2K in elevation, so that made some of the really crappy sections more tolerable. Still, I had a couple sections where I had no choice but to hit the pavement for anywhere from a few feet to avoid a bloody 3-foot deep hole, to a section of maybe a couple hundred yards long where the road just hugged rock wall. But by and large I was on this slanting, loose gravel berm with light vegetation cover. 

Ended up holding about 10 mph through the whole stretch down to this junction with FR 157 that I knew was gravel. So I went R, northwest on that and I had Judy follow me, but right off the bat we came to this massive 4-foot deep washout where there was no way the van could get through that slash in the earth. And it was likely caused by the major rains they’ve been experiencing out here this summer. There have been numerous flash flood situations from what I’ve gathered through the weather forecasts. So I continue on 157 and Judy had to go back to 191 and go south. Now I’d been on the roads out here several times, and this was part of my itinerary on how to kind of bypass the downtown area of Moab. So at this point I was back on track. 

I junctioned 157 with Spanish Valley Rd, and went L, north on Spanish Valley. This is asphalt, but has this great berm, almost a line wide on both sides. It’s red soil and gravel with some plant growth, but its solid, and quite fast to ride on. Took this pup all the way to within 2 miles of the downtown district. Then met Judy at a Shell station to give her the lowdown on the next step. I had her drive to Kane Creek Blvd, while I took the junction of Spanish Valley Rd with E. Mill Creek Dr, where again I had good berm. It dead ends into Grand County HS, where I rode on the grass through the campus, then down this little dbl track dirt trail that goes to Canyonlands RV Campground and to Kane Creek Rd, where again there’s this super berm. Hell, it’s almost as it the mt bikers use it to ride back and forth to some of the mt biking tracks, so it’s a piece of cake. 

Now at that point I wanted to continue just a tad further to the northwest to pick up this trail that will take me to the Colorado River Xing on the bikeway, but Judy insisted that I first go to the hospital to get my stitches taken out. The hospital was just 2 blocks from where we were. So I capitulated, and threw the bike in the van and we drove to the hospital. I was hoping to get this done in like a CVS type of pharmacy by a nurse practitioner, but we were told by folks at the health center, first stop, that they don’t have that here. My best bet was going to the Doctor office attached to the hospital or worst case….going to the ER in the hospital. 

So we went to the Family Practice Center adjoining the hospital, and I was really lucky enough to get in on a cancelled appt., and within an hour I had the stitches out, the wound cleaned and bandaged, and giving a small lecture on doing a better job of “airing the wound & bandaging with fresh gauze every day”. I’d been doing the bandage thing every other day, and never airing the wound. So lesson learned. My sister told me as much, but sometimes I’m just a bit thick-headed. But anyway, the prognosis was good, the wound is healing. 

Ok, so by this point I had 26 miles in for the day, and I really wanted to complete this segment by continuing around Moab, and then up out of the valley to the north. With this in mind we went and got a motel in town, then I had Judy ride with me to complete the segment. We rode the short distance from the motel back to where I ended on Kane Creek Blvd. I did berm to this really big area, a delta on the Colorado River, that wraps around the river to the Rt 191 bridge. I tried to get into this delta area where I knew there was a trail that went right to the bridge, by accessing it through these single track trails. Now let me tell you that Judy is NOT a single track rider. She rides her mt bike on nothing harder than gravel road and cinder bike and hike trail, so this series of single track had her cursing me up and down. 

I mean we came to words with this, and quite honestly, this stuff was just like flat as a pancake and super easy - no technical stuff at all here. But buddy, she was just bitching to such an extent that I had to ride her back to Kane Creek Blvd, and then go back on my own. Well, while Judy rode on Kane Creek Blvd, I explored all these single tracks and to no avail. Not one went in the direction I was hoping. They all dead-ended. So back to Kane Creek Blvd. and not more than a half mile further was the key - the trailhead! 

Went back and got Judy to ride this with me, and then again, same thing happened - “weeds were touching her.!” Ok, so I sent her back to town to get on the bike trail that leads out of the valley north for 9 miles. I’d do the trail and meet her at the bridge over the Colorado. This thing was just a cake of a little dbl track trail that went for about 4 miles and took me right under the bridge. X’d the CO river, riding over pavement of course, and then I went on the berm of 191 out of town. This time the 191 berm was really quite good - for UT anyway. Judy rode on the bike and hike paved trail which parallels the road. Only negative here is that this is about a 8 mile climb out of the valley, with about a 1K elevation gain. So the riding was slow, but good. Now there were several single track trails that I saw along the way, but these were all single track loop trails, with none going due north, so I just continued plodding along on the berm to the top, out of the Moab valley. Made the junction with FR 313. And that was the day. 

Judy had turned back in the interim so I just got on the asphalt trail and descended down to Moab by myself. Got back to the motel and I was pretty done for the day, with 58 miles in for the day. The elevation gain for the day was a measly 1.3K, and most of that was up 191 north out of Moab. Today wasn’t pretty, but I did my best to make it work. I’m sure there are tracks and trails I’m unaware of that would have better served my goals, and if I had more time I’d likely have used them, but at this point in the game, I just have to make progress each day on a soft surface.

I’ve come to understand that there is no “best route” or “better route”, just the present route. I can only do my best with the time and funds I have available, always knowing that with more time and more money I could do better. But it’s that way with anything really. This isn’t my job, nor my career, this is just something I’m really doing to see if I can do it, to challenge myself, so I have to step back at times to accept that for what it is. I know deep down this won’t be perfect, and I know that someone else with the same passion could probably do better with this task what with the foundation I’ve laid. I hope that day comes and I’m able to help that person take this a step further, to make it better, purer, more dirt and less berm and asphalt. So I’ll go to sleep tonight in a much better frame of mind. I can’t castigate myself for gaffs and blems along the way that are out of my control. I have to keep this fun! And I will.

Until tomorrow….