Saturday, August 20, 2016


Blackie and Robbie archived by Adventure Cycling
The official weigh-in at 87 pounds
The man himself...Greg Siple
ACA entry door handle
  Blackie and I completed our Montana ride with a visit to the Adventure Cycling Association headquarters in Missoula, MT. ACA created the first cross country route in 1976 for the American Bicentennial. Today this route is known as the Trans America Route and is the route I am primarily riding this summer. Adventure Cycling has increased this initial route to 45,003 total miles of charted bicycle routes that cris-cross the country through predominately small towns and back roads. In the back of each issue of their magazine are photos that co-founder Greg Siple has been taking of bike tourers when they visit Missoula. I consider it an honor to be included in this historic archive. Greg has over 5,000 photos accumulated since the first taken in 1982.   There are many aspects of bicycle touring that I highly enjoy.   Fragrancies...
  • Particularly the morning smell of sage in arid environments.
  • The smell of Ponderosa Pines as I climb from dry regions to the cooler, higher elevations.
  • Fresh cut wheat and grass.
  • Blooming alfalfa fields, sweetly aromatic.
  • Approaching rain showers...not very frequent this year. It has only rained once where I wore my rain jacket...on the Rocky Mountain National Park hike at over 12,000 foot elevation in a too-close-for-comfort rain, hail, and lightning storm. There have been more numerous late evening showers after I settled in for the day.
Meeting fellow travelers on-route and also locals...
  • Just being on a bicycle with lots of gear raises questions that lead to good discussions.
  • Everyone mostly at some time of their life has ridden a bicycle; some more than others. Several people are reminded of the long rides they did in earlier times and want to share their experiences with me. Some are still out there, such as 80 year old Ray ridding with 61 year old, slightly overweight Carl. They are from Helena, MT on a three day bike ride centered on the Big Hole Valley. Ray is a mentor to the younger Carl who is just taking up the idea of long distance bicycling.
  • Meeting fellow riders and then days later encountering them again. JT was riding with Corky and Marty when I came late in the day into Ennis, MT. We spent some time sitting outside the local library sucking up its internet access before riding out to the state park at the edge of town and on the Madison River. The camping fee stated $12 per person or per unit. I decided we were a unit, a family of sorts for a day, so we split the fee four ways. I met Corky and Marty in the small bicycle shop of Paonia, CO a month earlier as I replaced my worn out chain. Corky and Marty were making some final purchases before they set off on their first bike tour. They are traveling the country as WWOOF organic farm workers. I hollered out "Wahoo!" as I rode up behind the three riders on the street of Ennis. Corky and Marty remembered me! I did not recognize them in the newly placed beards they now sported. We all were up late that night sharing stories. The next day Corky and Marty headed north to a Bozeman, MT organic farm. I turned west to proceed to Dillon, MT. I lost track of JT. Then three days later upon arriving at a WarmShowers host in Missoula, MT, JT greets me at the door. He had ventured to Butte, MT just for the interest. JT was a commercial electrician in earlier life. Now, after many years of hiking the Appalachian Trail (three times), the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and biking cross country he decided he could write a better novel than Bill Bryce's "A Walk I the Woods". Bryce actually never fully hiked the AT. JT wrote "Black Heart on the Appalchian Trail: A Novel." One reviewer writes: 
    • T. J. Forrester’s narrative explores the weird heart of American darkness with echoes of Flannery O’Connor, Faulkner, cousin Raymond Carver, and the young and very talented Brad Watson. At times this book makes Cormac McCarthy’s The Road look like hallucinogenic cotton candy.
    • I will read this after completing the current journey.
WarmShower hosts are the greatest...
  • Darby, MT host Patrick and Haley, with their one week shy of five year old daughter Auburn and baby brother, welcomed me royally after a morning's telephone call. That evening I was treated to a warm shower, grilled chicken, and fresh linen. Breakfast included "perfect" eggs and ground elk...very tasty. Patrick's father began to experiment and ferment honey mead in early 2000. By the time of the 2008 recession the family retired their masonry construction business to devote their full time to the brewing of honey mead under the label Hidden Legends. 
    I am going to buy a few bottles of the caramalized, slightly burnt-flavored Dark Mead for Matt to try out at his wood-fired Asheville restaurant.
  • Missoula, MT host Bruce Anderson opens his house freely to all bicyclists as they come through town to sleep on the plentiful floor space or set up tents in the yard. Showers, laundry, kitchen, wifi, and computers are available. I have yet even to meet Bruce, though I have met Vince, one of the other house residents.
  • WarmShower hosts epitomize the graciousness, hospitality, and kindness that a bicycle tourist finds across all regions of this country. The realization of this kindness in so many that I encounter on this journey is truly the greatest benefit of bicycle traveling. It is my firm belief that people are inherently kind and compassionate to their fellow man...unless misguided by certain egotistic and self-centered movements I see in this current political season.

Teton National Park Photos

Tetons at sunset
Tetons at morning
Teton valley pioneer cabin

Yellowstone National Park Photos

Yellowstone Lodge
Prismatic Pond
Hot spring
Yellowstone River waterfall
Yellowstone River canyon...yellow colored slopes named the river
Blackie hanging out in Gardner River hot spring soak
Only hot spring to soak in in Yellowstone

Montana Photos

UK riders
Hunter's paradise
Beaverhead Rock...where Sacagawea with Lewis and Clark meet her Shoshone chieftain brother
Not the best idea some road engineer had
Lone late 1800s wilderness church
Blackie getting up close with Mary
My one artistic sunset shot
Near Big Hole Nez Perce Battleground
Teton, Yellowstone, Montana
   509 miles @ 8 ride days @ 63.6 miles avg per day, 37 saddle hours @ 13.7 avg mph @ 15,750' elevation climb
3,252 miles @ 53 ride days @61.4 miles avg per day, 265 saddle hours @ 12.3 avg mph @ 136,870' accumulive climb

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


  Southern Utah is a vast landscape of eroded rock with a few green spaces enhanced by industrious pioneer Mormons or an infrequent stream. It's a hot, arid environment. There are several national parks enticing visits. I can't visit all of them. I ride through and hike within:
  • Mesa Verde NP (southwest Colorado, but thrown in here with other close-by high desert areas)
  • Natural Bridges NP
  • Glen Canyou, Lake Powell
  • Capital Reef NP
  • Boulder Mountain
  • Escalante NMonument
  • Bryce NP
  • Cedar Breaks NMonument
  • Zion NP
Mesa Verde cliff houses
One way in
Sleeping Mountain of Ute legend
Natural Bridge NP
    Riding in southern Utah when temperatures reach over 100 degrees by 4:00 in the afternoon takes extra thought.
  • Where is the next camp site down the road? I don't want to stealth camp without water supplies.
  • How far can I ride before the heat builds up?
  • If I will be in lower, really hot communities at the end of the day are there motels available for air conditioning?
  • Do I need to have extra food with me or will there be restaurants available for lunch, dinner, and/or breakfast?
  • Are the restaurants and grocery stores still open? Or have they closed during the past recessions?
  • Will I have enough water for the day's ride?
  • There are two major climbs reaching over 10,000' elevation. Can I place my camp location so to split the climb between late one day and early the following day?
  This takes a lot of juggling. So far it has worked well. I have been leaving camp by 5:00 AM when the morning temperatures are sometimes a cold 65 degrees. After an hour of riding with a head light to see the road, the morning light becomes strong enough to see. I have the road to myself. Cruising through a series of canyons as the rising sun plays on the upper heights I pass in and out of the shadows. Towering rocks makes for intriguing riding.  The greatest presence of the Utah heat was on day two after entering Utah, on the shores of Lake Powell, and the lowest elevation I would be in Utah of approximately 4,000'. I arrived early, before noon, and the temperature in the shade was 104 degrees. Fortunately there is a BLM supported store and way station with air conditioning where I can find refuge from the over-bearing heat. Outside, there is no escaping the trees, no breeze unless it is convection heat. There are rental manufactured homes, air conditioned, where I can take a shower. The way station is manned by a young couple with their 18 month old daughter...this is a dire summer job! The woman lets me know she will leave the rental unit open so I may use the restroom during the night. Upon retiring to my tent that night, lying on earth that has been cooking all day and still hot, sweating from the cool down to 85 temperature, it suddenly occurs to me that there is an empty, open, air conditioned house just nearby...I sleep on the couch!
Early morning shadow rider
Crest rider
Leaving Lake Powell
Slot canyon
Morning canyon ride
Weather colors
Ms Collared Lizard
  On the morning that I followed the Fremont River into Capital Reef National Park was especially notable. The river tempered the surrounding air. It was cool on the road and whenever it dipped to lower levels or crossed the river the coolness became more noticeable. I was riding in 65 degrees for the first morning hours. By 4:00 the temperature had risen to 106 degrees. Along the route once inside the national park, it was permissible to pick tree ripened peaches originally planted by Mormon settlers in late 1800s in the preserved community of Fruita. The Mormons were intent on making a paradise in the desert.
Picking peaches in Capital Reef NP
Pictographs in Capital Reef NP
Just in case you thought it was flat here
Calf Creek, I camped nearby
Calf Creek pool
  By far the most dramatic erosive rock is Bryce National Park. This is a small park with many trails that drop down steeply into the canyons surrounded by amazing formations. The late summer monsoon rains were just commencing. Dry drainage gullies would soon be flowing after heavy afternoon storms. Not a good time to hike narrow canyons.
Bryce NP
Bryce NP
Bryce NP
Bryce NP
Bryce NP, hoodoos
Bryce NP
Bryce NP
Bryce NP
Bryce NP, Windows
Bryce NP, hoodoos 
Bryce NP, window
Bryce NP
Bryce NP, slot canyon
      There have been encounters with others on route, including my brother Allen and his wife Susan who met me in Mesa Verde on their return from a west coast trip.
Three men and a Susan (and a Lacie)
Four men and a bike from three years ago, prior to my Dad's passing
Shane and son Solomon of Perth, AU
Meeting Shane and Solomon
Great thanks go out to Joe Gregory of Cedar City, UT. Joe is an exceptional WarmShowers host. I stayed with him in this southwestern Utah city three nights resting from the taxing heat of the days prior. Joe even loaned me his car so I could venture down to Zion NP to see the northern canyon and distant plain that drains into the Zion canyons, such as The Narrows that my friend Spike, wife Marilyn, and I hiked three years ago. Cedar City is a great town to take a rest day...good bike shop,wonderful local food, local theater scene, grand view of surrounding mountains.
Joe, epitome of kindness
Farewell at Joe's
Zion NP, north rim of Grand Canyon can be seen in far distance; these rocks are 1,500' high from base
   534 miles @ 9 ride days @ 59.3 miles per day, 44 saddle hours @ 12.2 mph @ 31,529' elevation climb
2,743 miles @ 45 ride days @61.0 miles per day, 227.5 saddle hours @ 12.1 mph @ 121,122' accumulive climb