Monday, November 3, 2008

Surprise visit....

I had a very nice surprise visit a couple of weeks ago. My old friend John and his wife walked through the door one Saturday and were able to spend some time. We hadn't seen each other in several years. John and I are the same body types - tall and thin. I call us twin sons of different mothers (after a Dan Fogleberg/Tim Weisberg album name).

We worked together at Pacific Coast Cycles in the 80s and rode together many mornings on the road. In 1989, we decided to do a tour on bikes. Initially, we talked about a California coast tour but ended up just "going for it" and riding cross-country. We decided on Boston as a destination because he had a friend who lived there - and well, where else are you going to go to get genuine Boston clam chowder?

So, one morning in June, 1989, we met a big group of friends at the bike shop, rode a block over to the beach, dipped our wheels in the Pacific Ocean and headed east. That first day was pure hell. We had put in a lot of miles on the road together. We were both pretty fast riders and did some racing as well. That first day kicked our asses. It was very hot and the air quality was not so good. We pulled into our first campground wondering if it would be okay to ride home the next day. We were so beat and bonked and our lungs were seared by the smog that I'm not sure if we really ate any dinner. This was the insult to the injury we received earlier when, after leaving a gas station where we bought cold drinks, John lost his wallet. First day and this happens - not a good sign. In it were his credit cards and many hundreds of dollars in cash.

The next morning we woke up feeling pretty darn good. John had some cash stashed in his bag and the credit card company was located in Vegas, which we were going to be riding through, and said he could pick up a replacement in a few days. Alright!

So on we pedaled, up and over Big Bear into the heat of the Mojave Desert. We camped one night in Baker, CA - the home of the world's largest thermometer which told us it was 117 degrees at 5:00 in the afternoon. Blistering heat, but we rode through it.

We made it to Vegas and the headquarters of the credit card company. John went in to get his replacement (not and easy thing to do when he also lost his driver's license and had no ID) while I waited outside in their fountain. Yes, in.

Fresh credit card in hand, we left Vegas on Interstate 15 through the Virgin River narrows, into St. George and then on into Zion National Park. From there we went over to Bryce Canyon and then up and over to Moab. In Moab, we stayed at a private campground owned by Hank Barlow, the editor of Mountain Bike for the Adventure magazine (which was to become the Rodale publication Mountain Bike). Hank took us up into the La Sal Mountains for some mountain bike riding and that sparked our interest in riding our loaded touring rigs up and over those mountains into Colorado.

After another day in Moab (this was about July 1 and it was roaring hot in Southern Utah) spent riding Slickrock, we loaded up and headed up and over Geyser Pass. Coming down the eastern flanks, we had some impressively steep descents but we finally made it to Paradox, CO. A little more riding on the road and we were back on some logging road riding into Montrose, CO. Some more road riding up to Delta, CO and over to Paonia and we were back on the dirt heading over Kebler Pass (elev. 10,007 ft.) into Crested Butte where we met up with a bunch of friends who were in CB for the annual Fat Tire Festival.

That's a very quick glimpse of about 3 weeks on the road and trail. John's visit really reminded me of how fun and hard that trip was. I've got hundreds of slides from that trip and a really bad slide scanner. I managed to get it to perform some semblance of a scan to show some photos.

Here's John pointing out the obvious and sublime somewhere on the road in southwestern Utah.

Somewhere near Hanksville, UT in an area of almost nothingness. John picked the lone flower and posed.

John wasn't much of a mountain biker but made the best of having a good time on the Slickrock trail in Moab.

Even got a shot of me. Were my legs that tan - ever?

Heading up to Geyser Pass. That's Mt. Tukuhnikivatz. Say that 10 times fast.

Coming down the back side of Geyser Pass.

This is really steep!

I'm pretty sure this is heading up the Uncompahgre Plateau on our way to Montrose, CO.

Kebler Pass - it's all downhill now.

Finally we made it to Crested Butte. Those folks in the background are getting ready for a rousing round of bicycle polo.

Maybe I'll get around to scanning more slides later, or I'll have a service do it. Let's see if this slideshow thing works too.

(What's playing: KPIG radio)


Jim G said...

Mike, gotta know -- what's that orange bike you're riding? Looks like a drop-bar converted MTB?

blackmountaincycles said...

Aye. That would by my blue/orange Salsa sportin' the drops - as it still does.