Tour Day 2: Moab, UT to Moab, UT

April 28th, 2009

60.59mi / 6:04:52 time / 9.9 mph avg. / 33.5 mph max. / 3905 ft. climbing
Staying at Dead Horse Point State Park Campground

Just as we went to bed, the wind whipped up exactly as it had the night before. So much for falling asleep to the soothing sounds of the nearby Colorado River. Luckily, the symmetry ended there, as no precipitation followed the wind this night.

But there was still a pretty stiff wind that we had to fight for much of the way into Moab, along with a lot of ups and downs while following the river. Luckily, the canyon continued to be spectacular the whole way, maybe even getting more impressive the farther we went. Towering cliffs, lone buttes, spires, and fins…the route is officially designated a “Scenic Byway”, but even that wholly underestimates UT 128.

The canyon suddenly ends when the river makes it to US 191, and then Moab is a couple of miles south. We stopped at the first restaurant we saw (a Denny’s) for what was a later breakfast than we intended. Then it was on to the nice Moab Library since there was no WiFi at the Denny’s (really? What is this, 2005?) A final stock up at the “City Market” grocery store (our third “City Market” in 3 days in 3 different “cities”!) and we backtracked north out of Moab towards Canyonlands National Park, or more specifically, Dead Horse Point State Park. DHPSP is sort of a junior Canyonlands, with the added benefits of running water and reservable campsites (rather necessary for cyclists arriving late in the day at peak tourist season).

The only trouble was that Dead Horse Point was over 2000 ft. above Moab, and worse, much of that climb was straight into the teeth of a 30mph headwind. Even though the day was only 60 miles, it was probably one of the hardest days of cycling I’ve ever done (as evidenced by the record-low 9.9mph average speed). As we fought onward at 4.5mph without our destination seeming to come any closer, we considered many options: camp at an earlier BLM campsite and beg for water (which we were running dangerously short of), turn around and go back down the hill to Moab (a long way at that point, also with no water along the route), or flag down a pickup and ask for a haul up the hill (though traffic was getting pretty thin by that point in the late afternoon). Instead, we simply fought onwards, eventually cresting 6200 feet, and then having it a bit easier for the final 8 miles to the park. Still, as a sign of how beat we were, we seriously considered stopping for a long break even when we knew we were only a quarter mile from the campground!

To slightly make up for our pain, the campground was considerate enough to be really awesome. It had an intimate layout nestled among junipers that provide shelter on the high plateau. Plenty of water, a sink for doing dishes, a flat pad to pitch our tents upon, electricity to charge some of our stuff, a roof and two walls surrounding the picnic table, a light over the table(!) and a cupboard(!!) And still, with all those amenities, it didn’t feel like a sterile commercial RV park, which takes some skill.

Somehow we managed to cook some dinner and then hit the sack pretty early. The Point would have to wait for tomorrow, but I know where you could have found a couple of dead horses that night…

2 Responses to “Tour Day 2: Moab, UT to Moab, UT”

  1. Swati Says:

    I’m always amazed at reading biking blogs how much I take for granted. Winds, speed, water. 😀 It’ll teach me to be more aware now. Am glad you made it there well. The fact that the site was gorgeous was a big plus. Ha! I knew I wouldn’t be the first with the “dead horse” joke. 😉

  2. Mom Says:

    Congratulations, Neil and Dennis!!!! Job well done despite a bum knee! Lucky you aren’t a horse. 🙂 WIND…I’m reminded of your first training ride with Dennis here in IL. Swati “rescued” Dennis and you on your return home because of strong winds and potential snow. WATER…I didn’t realize that you would have the need for so much more water in Utah. Adds a lot of extra weight!! It’s obvious you are well aware of your water needs but winds and a longer ride can cause a shortage. Interesting to learn what options you and Dennis considered (smart men) when you were getting low on water. So glad it worked out the way you and Dennis wanted.