Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Escalante to Boulder, Utah June 25

Boulder, Utah is nothing like Boulder, Colorado, I'll tell you that. A small town of 200, including the ranches outside of town, Scenic Bypass 12 goes from one end to the other in less than a mile. What made it such an appealing place for me, was the fact that there is NO civilization between Escalante and here, and if I didn't stop here, there is no civilization for the next 37 miles until I get to Torrey, Utah.  The distance itself is not a factor, but the mountains and the climbs made the 28 miles that I rode, seem like 128. I had short, steep teasers coming out of Escalante, but ended up pretty high, overlooking the Escalante River Valley, which looks like one giant rock. The valley below me at that overlook was a beautiful brownish white, with a few trees dotting the landscape. There is a reason that this area is the last region of the continental US to be explored and mapped. Rock. All of it. I blew down the 8% grade from the overlook for two miles. I hit 39.8 mph, but every time I started to roll, a sharp curve with no guardrails had me hitting the brakes. If bike brakes could overheat, mine would have. There were hairpin turns, no shoulder, and no guardrails. This will be the most challenging terrain Pam has ever navigated in the RV. I'm glad I'm not driving it!
      Once I got down that hill, there was some reasonable road, until I came to another 8% drop just like the last one. This one took me all the way down to the Escalante River, its beautiful valley filled with cottonwoods and plush greenery, and I gradually went upstream on Utah 12, until the climb out of the valley began in earnest. A guy in Escalante told me I would have a 'pretty good pull' to get out of the valley, but holy crap! I didn't know it until I saw the sign near the top of the hill, but I had two miles of 14% grade that I had just climbed. It was a challenge, but not terrible. There was once again very little traffic so I could serpentine my way up the worst parts, okay, all that I could possibly serpentine up. The advantage of this method is that the hill is easier to climb, but also, as I go side to side, I can look at the scenery on both sides of the road. This includes shear rock face on my right, very close to the road in most areas, and sheer drop off on my left. ( how do you spell shear/sheer in this case? ). I climbed 1100 ft in three and one half miles, shattering anything I had ever done before. To add insult to injury, the 'plateau ' that I was on for the next four miles gained another 300 ft or so. When Pam passed me on this plateau, I was relieved because there was some serious driving to be done, and she did it. All good plateaus have to come to an end, and this one did with an 8% bomber into Boulder. I rode through some farm country, part of the time listening to a guy playing guitar and singing on his porch as I rode by. I had a little climber up into Boulder itself, and I noticed how fried my legs were. Pam and I had agreed to meet in Boulder and discuss whether I wanted to go any further or not, and I decided that I didn't. Here is why. Boulder Mountain, between here and the next civilization, 37 miles away has a steep five mile, yes I said five mile, climb to nearly 10,000 ft. We are at about 6700 here in Boulder, and with 37 miles of 8-10% rollers culminated with this climb of climbs, I decided to save it for fresher legs tomorrow. 
      We found a little campground that barely fit our motor home into it, and hunkered down. It was another challenge for Pam to fit the RV into the space, dodging poles and low trees. There a no spaces anywhere on this stretch for a coach as big as ours, because nobody is crazy enough to drive one on this road. We spent the rest of the day at the Anasazi Museum next door, and walking to the 'grill' that was one mile back down the road for supper.

At the top looking down.  Not many pictures today because we were too busy flying down the mountains!

Great views up here!  Yes, were are going down there!

Don't know if you can appreciate the drop off!  But the bike does!

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