I learned a valuable lesson a few months ago. A desert road is 2 times harder to bike on than an average gravel road. There is super soft sand, washes, ruts, and rocks to make travel with a fully loaded rig difficult. A friend and I decided to bike this 165 km (102 mile) loop unsupported–meaning we would carry all of our food, water, and camping gear on the bikes for 2 nights and 3 days. The word “suffering” certainly has new meaning after this ride. But it wasn’t that bad–the beautifully remote and rugged terrain, clear sunny skies and cloudless nights makes one overlook the pain.
It is 1600 feet down to the White Rim–which means when you bike down, you eventually have to bike back up. The last 15 miles of the loop involves the original 1600 feet plus an extra 1000 feet to complete the loop back to the truck. Most “supported bike tours” skip the last 15 or so miles. We had to “cowboy up” and finish the loop without water or food. That is why these trips always involve some form of suffering–but builds character, I guess?
About 40 miles a day is all we could manage out here. Luckily I was able to bum some water off a passing ranger. We also did a 6 mile roundtrip hike down to the White Rim to cache a gallon of water each prior to the start of the bike trip. I was completely dry on the last two hours of the ride.
I have never seen a night sky as amazing as out in the middle of the Utah backcountry. With morning came the rising sun and breakfast of hot chocolate, sweet red plums picked the day before off of a friend’s tree in Grand Junction, and a now day-old cinnamon roll. The roll was hard and stale–perfect for dunking in hot chocolate!
Until the next adventure…