Length of the State of Utah Bicycle Trip

Wednesday, September 20th 2006


When we woke up this morning, we encountered the first vestiges of the inclement weather that had been plagueing the northern part of the state.  It was cold and cloudy, foreboding of rain. 


We ate breakfast at Subway, and began cycling at 11:00 AM, having waited under a restaurant veranda for a squall-line of drizzling rain to pass. 


It was a cold morning as we left Panguitch


We started pedaling, and didn’t get rained on, but it was cold, and we had a moderate head-wind, making the going tough. 


After a long ride, we made it to Bear Valley Junction, hoping to find a convenience store.  But the only store there appeared to have gone out of business decades ago. 


We stopped there for about 15 minutes, waiting for the road to dry out from a rain squall that had apparently been there awhile before we came. 


We were soon underway again, and entered a section of the Sevier River narrows.  I explained how the mountains to the west scrape the moisture out of the clouds coming generally from the west, leaving this valley relatively dry.  At this, I broke into a song:


♪ We’re cycling in a rain shadow.

Rain shadow, rain shadow.♫


The thought of our being protected from rain by 12,000 ft peaks reassured me, but it was to be a false hope. 


You and me against the world, in the Sevier River narrows


The weather did clear up a bit, as we outdistanced a storm passing just to the south of us.  We even got a tail-wind for awhile, coming from the downdraft of that storm.  As the valley opened up, approaching Circleville, the sun came out a bit, and it was even pleasant for awhile. 


Along that stretch, some dogs came out of somebody’s yard, barking and chasing us.  Malcolm sped up a bit, pulling ahead of me, saying “I only have to outrun you.”  I smiled, remembering that as the punch-line of a bear story.  But the dogs were swarming around me (being behind).  Very soon we reached the edge of the dogs’ territory, and they sat down dutifully, watching is pedal away in peace. 


We made it to Circleville


We stopped at a KOA camp store, snacked, and used the restroom.  A person there told us that the bad weather in the north extended south to I-70, and that Richfield was socked-in with rain.  That was a disappointment, since I had been hoping to perhaps make it to Richfield this day.  He did say that it was clear weather from Marysvale south. 


We talked for awhile, then continued on.  The wind (which mercifully had been from the south for about a half hour, changed to coming from the west, and as we cycled on toward the town of Junction, came from the north again, making the going harder. 


Junction is the county seat (of Piute county?), but it is a small town, and the courthouse seemed not to be used anymore for its original purpose. 


We stopped in a convenience store there, and snacked.  When we came out, it was threatening rain, so we went back in and holed up there for two hours.  Later we decided that it looked a bit better (and feared it wasn’t going to get any better than that).  Hoping for the best, and bouyed-up by another assertion that the weather was OK in Marysvale, we pedaled on toward Marysvale. 


The wind was now cold, and strong from the north.  Making things worse, the road goes straight north, climbing the broad, high, alluvial fan west of Piute Reservoir.  And this climb we had to do against a stiff headwind. 


Climbing high above Piute Reservoir


More climbing, against a head-wind


As we travelled north, a drizzling cold rain began.  With the head-wind, it seemed to dry up about as fast as it fell, but it kept us cold. 


As we got closer to Marysvale, there were stream drainages to cross.  It cheered us up to at least get a bit of downhill once in awhile.  That cheer quickly faded when we discovered we had to gear-down and pedal hard to go downhill! 


Strangely, it wasn’t as bad going uphill, because we were a bit sheltered by the hill.  But the moment we reached the hill crest and started down the other side, the head-wind hit us with its full fury, and we actually had to gear-down at that point.  Malcolm said this part of the ride was worse than anything he had encountered in riding across the U.S.A. years ago. 


We came to a drainage, where I was certain Marysvale lay, but there was no town there, and we had to keep going.  Finally, a few miles onward, we finally saw Marysvale ahead, nestled in the bottom of a stream drainage valley.  It was a welcome sight for weary, cold travellers!  It had taken us three hours to cycle from Junction to Marysvale. 


We arrived at 7:00 PM, and got our motel room, then ate in a restaurant.  Malcolm says this was the hardest section of the trip, but to me, the worst was yet to come. 




On this day, we travelled 48.7 miles, averaging 11.4 MPH.  The bicycles were moving for five hours and 25 minutes.  We took 8 hours to do it.  It was a hard day. 


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