Salt Flats, Lakes, and Cities

Trip Start Jun 04, 2011
Trip End Jul 26, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lets start this with a cheesy but applicable quote I stole from the Tumblr templates page:

"It does not matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop." ~ Wisdom of Confucius

 Yesterday was the new longest ride of my life... as was the day before that... as was last Friday. Yesterday, however, was 120 long, hot, highway miles. It was a very unique ride, however, since I honestly felt like I was riding my bike on another planet for most of the morning. The Bonneville Salt Flats look like a scene from Star Wars. There are rocky jagged mountains all around a lightly textured, white, pancake flat desert. Surprisingly, it was a little bit soft, even somewhat moist. It was almost reminiscent of snow, although it never melts.

I was glad to leave the city of Wendover behind, but setting sail into a sea of white that you could literally see falling off the end of the Earth was somewhat intimidating. There were a few mountains ahead of us that it took us all day to ride past. I spent some time riding in fast pace line with a tail wind, I spent some time riding slowly into a headwind with my dad and brother, and I spent a lot of time in between. (A lot of time). We started the ride at 6 A.M. The sun rose at 5:57. 

Our first support stop was about 40 miles into the ride on the side of the road at the end of an exit ramp. There was a large flat dirt area where our support vehicle was parked. I regret not taking a picture of it, but there was also a large pile of burned trash nearby. While I was shoveling peanut butter-banana-Nutella sandwiches into my mouth and pockets as fast as humanly possible, others were digging around the burn pile for scraps of a love letter collection. They ended up with about half a dozen pages. I feel bad for the poor heartbroken soul that drove 40 miles straight into the desert and burned her letters from a lost lover. She was probably rolling in her grave as we read (and laughed heartily) at her love lost. (We also found pictures of her and her ex-lover, and I think it's safe to say that if she's not rolling in her grave now, she will be soon, as she looked to be about 100 years old.) There was also an artfully arranged collection of burned silverware sticking out of the dirt near the pile. It turns out Utah is every bit as strange as Nevada.

We finished the ride around 3:30 without any major incidents. The good thing about doing a ride as long as yesterday's was that every other ride we have on this trip instantly looks more tolerable. Last night I was given a certificate at our nightly route rap in recognition of my completion the day before of my first Century ride... a milestone for many cyclists. We also had to say goodbye to two of our riders, who had only signed up to ride to Salt Lake City. One of those riders, Robyn, is a 67 year old woman from New Zealand who is nothing less than inspiring. On the hardest climb of our trip so far over in California, (some sources labeled it a Category 1 climb), Scott, my Dad, and I were riding in front of her as we approached the climb. The climb was long, steep, and wound through the trees on a small road. As Scott and I were waiting at the top of the climb for our dad, whom we had "dropped" somewhere along the climb, we were surprised (and somewhat worried) when the next rider to crest the hill was not our dad, but instead a grey-haired mountain goat of a woman wearing a pair of sandals. (Sorry Dad, I know you say I don't paint you in the most favorable of lights in this blog - but this is a good story - and it's meant to demonstrate Robyn's toughness, not your... well... you know... I love you and you're a great rider). Anyways, in addition to being an inspiration, Robyn is fun to be around. She's got a great sense of humor. One day in California, she found a great deal on a bottle of wine. However, one of the stipulations our touring group has is that they cannot transport alcohol in our luggage. Robyn knew this, but she accidentally told them to be careful with her bag as they loaded it in the trailer since she had a bottle of wine in it. They reminded her of the rules, and she knew there was no use arguing. Rather than leaving her bottle of wine, she decided to pull her rain gear out of her bike bag (against the weatherman's advice for the day) and carry her wine with her instead. Scott and I could always count on company in the hot tub with Robyn. We tried as hard as we could to convince her to ride further with us, but she has already ridden across the country once this year and she's ready to go back to New Zealand and play some golf. What a woman. 


Today was our day off and we spent it in the great Salt Lake City. For the record, I was in a less than pleasant mood today. Fortunately, I'm the only one with a blog, so I can selectively report the day's activities. What's that called, revisionist history? - that sounds good to me.

Dad got up and paid the bills as Scott and I pursed the truly ubiquitous teenage dream - sleeping in. I woke up naturally just in time to catch the end of the hotel's very impressive free breakfast (Comfort Inn at SLC airport). I treated myself to a breakfast, and then another, and then a third... and I didn't even ride my bike today. I then updated the Wendover post which I had been to tired to write completely a few nights ago. We took the free airport shuttle to (you guessed it) the airport, and then took the free shuttle from the airport to the Temple in the center of town (which is offered as a service mission by the LDS church). We visited the beautiful and impressive Temple square for a while. My favorite part was taking a tour that brought us up to a pair of observation decks on the 26th floor of the church office building on the corner of the Temple Square. Salt Lake City really is a beautiful city nestled into a gorgeous mountainous bowl with a big lake on one side.

We walked around the city, stopping to get a hair cut for Scott, a new bike seat and handlebar wrap for my dad, and some ice cream for me. The streets are wide and relatively uncrowded in the city. Things are clean. People were dressed quite nicely all across the city - men with ties and women with dresses. The city is laid out on a grid, with every street labeled and numbered with respect to the Temple... a nice change from Boston. I want to move to Utah.

Distance: 118.75 mi - 858.25 total
Time: 7:31:44 - 61:01:41 total
Elevation Gain: 3,042 ft - 35,921 total
Av. Speed: 15.4 mph - 14.0 overall
Av. HR: 125 bpm - 130 overall
Calories: 7,384 - 60,924 total
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theconcernedmom on

Hey,hey hey in your Dad's defense (well you know...) He has not had the leisure time to put in the miles much less already have rider across the country. He may not have experience but he's got "true grit" Love you Mark &lt;3

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