I wake up at 8:30 am. It’s day 4 of the Epic Ride 2016. I’m sore and tired. My body won’t let me sleep in even though my phone’s alarm has been silent since leaving Reno. I’m stressing out over the need to find a bolt for my foot peg. It’s not dire, but it sucks having to stop every couple hours to re-tighten the one remaining bolt. Packing up the bike, even though I’m not in a campsite, takes longer than it should. I slept like the dead and am still a bit lethargic. Breakfast is in order!
The Burr Trail Trading Post, next to the Hell’s Backbone Grill , is supposed to be a general store. Maybe I can find some bolts or some wire or something to jury rig my foot peg back into shape. As it turns out, it’s just kind of a new age, hippy gift store with a coffee counter. Not the worst thing in the world, so I order coffee and an oat meal.
The coffee is damn good and the oatmeal is transformative! So rich and flavorful. An honest to god breakfast treat. I may never eat instant oatmeal ever again! As I sit there, a lady comes in wearing a blue izod styled shirt with an official patch on the front. Low key, for sure. She. Strikes up a conversation. I get the impression she’s some kind of law enforcement. Seems she’s been told to not wear her normal uniform, since the attempted bombing of BLM office nearby. FBI is investigating or some shit. It seems reality always finds away to intrude on my vacations. The lady gets her coffee and leaves. As she leaves a 30ish guy comes in and just starts to fawn all over the lady behind the counter. Complimenting her on her performance last night and what a wonderful talent she is. Then, a young guy pops in, early 20s. The whole room explodes in excitement. They all give the guy a hug and welcome him back. I start to feel like an interloper. Everyone I’ve seen this morning seems to know each other. Last night, at the restaurant next door, it was the same way. I half expect some one to grab me by the hand and lead me to the wicker man!
I ask the woman behind the counter if there’s a hardware store or garage in town. She says no, but gives me directions to Loa, about thirty miles down the road, that does have one. She writes it down on a sticky note for me and tells me to be careful. Lots of deer on the road this time of day, and the cows. Watch for cows. It’s an open range in these parts. I pay with cash, thank her, and leave. I hit the road.
I did not get any good shots of the deer or cows, but there were enough to freak me out and slow me down significantly. I need to get to the to the town of Torrey and it takes me 40 minutes of winding roads, the same ones I took to get to the full campsite, to get there. I then need to get off highway 12 and make a left on 24 to get to Loa. But first, gas and something to drink, I’m parched.
Yeah, that’s the look of total panic. When I went to swipe my card to get gas, I noticed that my ATM card was gone. I freaked out a bit at the pump, tearing apart my tank bag, my jacket, wallet, and even my panniers. Nothing. The heat is building up or maybe just my stress level. I’m sweating like a whore in church. I grab my phone and look up the number for the Trading Post that I had coffee and oats this morning. Number is not listed, but the little grill next to it is, so I call them. Guy on phone is next to useless. I hang up. I look up the place on Yelp…the phone rings and rings. I let off a slew of profanity. I call the grill again. A lady picks up, this time she gives me the number of the damn trading post. I call. My server from earlier picks up. She says no card has been found. Fuck! I then look up Hell’s Backbone! Boom! They have my card. What a fucking fiasco.
Now I’m weighing two choices. Continue to Loa to fix my foot peg and then ride back to Boulder where my card is. Loa is closer, but still 20 minutes away. Ugh. I look around this shopping area. There a sporting goods store, maybe they have something I can use. Nope. Thy tell me to check out the Chuck Wagon general store, 5 minutes down the road. I ride down there. People in that store give me blank stares and I leave. I’ve been getting a lot of that kind of reactions from people in Utah and Nevada, these people are like aliens. Dull glassy eyes looking at me like a bug. I ride on. At the edge of town, there’s an RV Park and Repair Shop! I maneuver through the park to the gate that leads to the garage.
I knock on the door. An older guy comes out. I tell him my situation. He goes back in and comes out with a couple bolts and some tools. He puts thread lock on a bolt and screws it onto the bike. It’s like 5 minutes total. I ask how much. He looks down, then up at me…uh $20. Whatever. I pay him. A bit opportunistic, but at least that headache is taken care of. Nothing is cheap in Utah. The shop did have a nice view…
I hit the road for Boulder…again. Another 40 minutes through the same winding roads and cattle that I had done a couple hours before. Hell’s Backbone Grill is still serving breakfast, so after collecting my ATM card, I order more coffee and this lovely dish…
Eggs and potato cakes with sausage gravy and biscuits. One again, Hell’s Backbone does not disappoint. I need to get out of this damn town. I’m becoming too familiar with it and its inhabitants. I going to need to buy property if I hang around too much longer!
Pretty sure Torrey Utah is in the Bryce Canyon area. Really quite beautiful. Although I’m in a hurry to get on my way, I can’t stop taking photos and enjoying the scenery.
Capitol Reef is where I see my first petroglyphs. Worth the stop.
Crazy Mormons wanted to get away from religious oppression, so they came out to largely uninhabitable regions of Utah. This area was fertile, but flooded frequently. Settlers didn’t stay long, apparently.
Moving on past Capitol Reef took me to some equally insane landscapes that were a bit less colorful and the towns got a little more trashy and destitute. Not sure what the story is out here, but it felt way more lonely and depressing.
Hanksville Utah brought back a bit of the tacky to this endeavor. I went inside to check it out. Nothing special, but did seem to be cooler inside. I went in to buy a sticker to put on y panniers. The lady inside said NO STICKERS, like how dare I even suggest the idea that stickers would be sold here! Was an odd response to say the least. I ride on. I’m trying to make it to Moab before it gets dark. Tired of nighttime tent setups!
As I get closer to Moab, the drivers start to get more agro. This is the land of off-road vehicles. Douchebags in every sort of power sport vehicle converging on their 4×4 Mecca. I’m trying to keep the KLR up to speed, but it’s been kinda lurching weirdly when I accelerate. A guy on a bad as KTM flies onto the highway from some trail on the side of the road. I’m seem him in my rear view mirror. He catches up with me and rides my ass for the next 30 miles or so. He’s decked out in so much gear. He looks hardcore. We pull into Moab at a Maverick gas station. I don’t need gas, I just need a break. I’ve been riding pretty hard since Boulder, UT some 192 miles. Been a long day.
Robin, from Quebec. He’s been riding nothing but trails from Tennessee on the way to Oregon. The Trans-America trail, or some such. Seems like insanity, but this guy looks like he knows what he’s doing. Offhandedly he mentions that my chain looks to be very loose and that I should get it checked out. He also tells me not to buy gas at Maverick, it’s low quality, and then rides off into the sunset. Thanks, Robin, for planting more seeds of worry and stress in me. Now I gotta think about my chain. Explains the hurky jerky ride I’ve been experiencing for the last 500 miles. Guess I should be grateful for the heads up. Ugh.
Moab is a small town, like many I’ve passed through on this trip. It feels a bit different, though. More hotels and restaurants and outdoorsy shit. Bikes, motorcycles, jeeps, and pickups. Unfortunately, I’m not exploring any of that aspect. I need to find a campsite, as it’s getting close to 9pm.
More beer, ramen, and pudding. All that Boy Scout training coming back to me. It’s actually all I need, since all I’m doing on this trip is sitting for hours and hours. Not as if riding burns a lot of calories. I am sweating off a lot of water weight and I’ve not been good about keeping up the hydration. Unfortunately I’m kinda wired, but I don’t have a campfire to relax next to. Damn you fire restrictions! I do laundry instead and update the blog. I create the first of the Bats! videos without a damn fire! It seems to have worked.
The moon is bright. I stay up late enjoying the cool night air and the steadily increasing wind, finally able to relax. I crawl into my tent and sleep like the dead.