Harry on his Bike

Days 17-18

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Day 17.   September 20
     Today my goal was Price, Utah. Although the distance was only
75 miles, the map showed a high point 7448 feet at Soldier's Summit,
45 miles from Provo. All I needed was a good breakfast to feel up to
the challenge.
     When will I learn? I pedaled out of Provo while looking for a cafe.
Saw nary a one. After 8 miles I came to a new gas station that had a
small gafe with a couple of tables. But they didn't open until 10:30 and
I didn't feel like waiting for an hour. Maybe there would be an eating
place where Highway 89 met Highway 6, another three miles.
     Nothing there but frightening winds, right in my face. The presence of
one of those big electric-generating windmills let me know what I was in
for. My map showed a small town, Thistle, 10 miles up the canyon, so
that became my next goal.
     Fortunately, the wind died down as soon as I entered the canyon about
a mile later. The road was fine, with a gentle grade. Across the river was
a mountainside covered with fall colors to rival any I saw in Vermont. 
Now if only Thistle has a cafe.
     After my odometers showed I'd gone the 10 miles I came to a historical
marker. It described a big landslide that occurred there about 20 years
ago. I asked a man standing there where the town of Thistle was. He
pointed to a pile of mud in the bottom of the canyon and said "Under there."
Thistle was no more.  I guess they just kept it on the map for
sentimental reasons. When I told the man I was hoping to find a cafe,
he said that about two feet of the old cafe was sticking out of the mud,
but he doubted they'd serve me breakfast. My next chance might be
at Soldier's Summit, another 23 miles up the hill.
     Well, I had to eat something before then, so I stopped at the next
shady spot and got out my emergency vittals. Now to find a comfortable
spot to eat. There, right next to the slope which went down to the river
a hundred feet below was an inviting two-foot section of a railway tie. I
sat down, the rotten bottom of the tie collapsed, and I did a backward
somersault down the slope, stopped spreadeagle by the fates only because
I ran out of cusswords. Had I been in Sydney I would have been awarded
at least a 9.65, losing only a few tenths because I failed to stick my
dismount, but in the middle of Utah my performance went unrecognized.
I gathered up my groceries and my pride, scrambled back up the slope
(completely uninjured), and managed to find a lumpier but more-stable
log on which to sit.
     Finally it was time to eat. I finished off my last granola bar, and
to the peanut butter, crackers, and jam. As I was opening the strawberry
preserves I happened to notice the small print on the label: "refrigerate
after opening". Let me think: I bought it on day 8 in Oregon, it is now
day 17 in Utah. Nine days in black panniers through several days of 90-
degree heat. Does that qualify as being refrigerated? Sure. I opened it
and it smelled fine. There were a few fussy green spots on the surface
but after stirring they quickly disappeared forming a grey mass, and ....
(relax, Mary---I'm just joking!). Anyway, I figured that if Lewis and Clark
can eat rotten elk I can probably survive unrefrigerated jam, so I had a
very satisfying breakfast, and so far have noticed no ill effectectectects.
     The next 20 miles was a steady climb on a good road with a generous
shoulder. When I finally reached the summit I felt fine, and went into the
convenience store to get a cold drink. I wanted either milk or fruit juice,
but had to settle for a root beer. Three swallows and I was full. I should
have just stuck to my water, into which I'd been putting a bit of salt.
     The lady at the counter said that Price was 30 miles away "all down-
hill". A fellow standing next to her confirmed that information: "Yep. All
downhill." That was very good news and, except for the three ten-minute
gut-busting climbs en route, accurate as well. Never believe what a
non-cyclist has to say about hills.
     But, I agree that it was mostly downhill, and I averaged 14 mph for
those last 30 miles. I stopped to get orange juice and another package
of granola bars. Coming into Price I noticed a sign advertising a "National
9 Inn" motel for $34, so I knew I wouldn't have to camp. I could have
found a cheaper one, but that motel was conveniently located next to
a new shopping center with several restaurants. So I pulled in.
     The lady at the desk said that I could have a no-smoking single on
the lower floor for $41. What about the $34-room, I asked. Well, that
would be on the second floor. Not anxious to move the bike up a long
flight of stairs, I asked about a smoking room. None of those. Where
are the stairs, so I can assess their difficulty? At that point, she gave
in, and said I could have a no-smoking double on the lower floor for the
$34, but "when my boss finds out I'll probably be in big trouble". I told
her what a nice person she was.
     After the cleaning chores I went to a new Chinese restaurant in the
shopping center. OK meal, not nearly as good as the one in La Grande,
and their Chinese Zodiac placemats were not as flattering. The fortune
cookie said something profound like "you will cross water". But the
fried rice I took back to the room tasted great at 2 a.m.

Day 18. September 21
     Summer ended with the arrival of rain. I left the motel under
skys swearing that I would not leave Price without breakfast. A few blocks
away I stopped at a franchise restaurant, JB's, parked the bike and put
on the bike cover just as it started to rain. I had a craving for biscuits
and gravy. The menu had them for $4.75; they also offered a breakfast
buffet for $4.49, which had biscuits and gravy as one of their items. My
keen mathematical mind opted for the buffet, so I got a few other goodies
as well as the biscuits.
     After a satisfying meal I uncovered the bike and covered myself:
Gore-Tex jacket and gloves. Although the gloves also say Gore-Tex,
which is supposed to shed water but allow vapor to pass through, these
act more like a sponge. So I pulled out a couple of plastic newspaper
bags and stuck my arms into those.
     The rain was reasonably heavy, and I'm sure I looked miserable to
those who drove by in heated cars, but I was really quite comfortable.
The main irritation was the spray thrown up by passing trucks, covering
my glasses. Normal rain wouldn't get on my glasses because they
were partially shielded by my helmet visor. I would stop periodically
and wipe them off.
     The rain quit for awhile, I shed some cover, but a few minutes later
would have to don it again. In between showers I admired the desolate
     The best part of the weather was the wind, which was over 20 mph
right on my tail. I easily maintained a speed of 25 miles an hour, and
I don't care if it rains Noah's flood if I can get a tailwind like that. My
destination was Green River, 64 miles away, and I soon realized that
I'd be there shortly after noon. I looked at the map and saw that Moab
was the next town sure to have a motel, and it was another 54 miles
past Green River. If the tailwind continued, I'd just go on to Moab.
     That dream was shattered when I reached Interstate 70, only four
miles from Green River. As I entered the freeway (naughty me!) the
wind shifted and I suddenly had an equally-strong headwind. The last
four miles took 50 minutes, so I knew that the day's ride was ending.
     I rode through Green River, checking out the motels. All seemed
about the same, so I chose the Robber's Roost Motel ("family owned
and operated"). It turned out to be a good choice. They didn't have an
ice machine, but the lady got some from her refrigerator even though I'd
already signed the VISA!
     After the usual cleaning and a nap, Dan's Cafe right down the street
served me a so-so liver and onions dinner. I wished there was a Subway
     Back to the room, where I had time to do some figuring. I've now
covered 1107 miles. My main goal is Miami, which is (according to my
GPS) 2731 miles from my starting point, the Seattle-Tacoma Airport.
I am now (GPS again) 1963 miles from Miami, which means that I've
biked 1107 miles to get 768 miles closer to my destination. So my
"efficiency" has been 69%.
     But my "sub-goal" has been Albuquerque, specifically the home of
my sister-in-law Jean, where I will rest for about three days. My
efficiency towards that goal has been a tad better: 76%. (I suppose
I could increase my efficiency by biking across the landscape but
I suspect that would increase my travel time somewhat.)
     Fatigued by such heavy mathematics, I finally went to sleep.

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