Day 51: Capitol Reef, UT to Escalante, UT
Total Mileage: 43 miles (75)
I thought we were pretty much done with steep inclines and long climbs since our Rocky Mountain days were long done. Utah for the most part hasn’t been too hilly, but today was pretty tough. We’ve all learned that most of America is not flat, which makes biking across the country that much more fun and demanding. The reward when you finish a tough climb gives you a big sense of accomplishment, especially when you look up to the summit thinking it’s impossible to complete. You learn a lot about surpassing your limits and testing your will power.
We climbed the first seven miles out of Capitol Reef with an 8% grade for a majority of the stretch. They told us that it would be a pretty tough day and that team members from last year cried at the end of the ride because of how difficult it was. The hosts even warned us that highway 12 is a hard-hitting climb right into Escalante. Instead of teams, we went as climbing partners and my buddy today was Abigale, which became team Abifron. After our 7 mile climb out of Capitlol Reef, we had a donated breakfast at a hotel which consisted of toast with amazing homemade jam and apple juice. Then it was onto climbing again in Dixie National Forest. For 15+ miles straight, we had a consistent 8-10% grade climb up one of the mountains in the forest, which was tough. The climb was long, the grade was consistently 8 and above, and the weather was hot. After we reached the summit around 9600 feet, it was downhill for about 15 miles.Unfortunately, I ran into some bike issues again, but this time it wasn’t a flat. A mile into the descent, I heard a loud clinking noise coming from my chain and I couldn’t down pedal anymore, so I had to pull off to the shoulder to check up on my bike. Flipped Roxanne over (my bike) to check on the chain and saw that my rear derailleur was defective and I couldn’t shift properly. Athina and Sasha flagged down French tourists driving down the hill to tell the group ahead I had an issue with my bike.
I was picked up by the host van with Caiti, Rachael, and Will and had to force myself into the back where all the duffels and book bags were. Initially I didn’t think I would be able to fit into the van cause it was a pretty narrow area of space, but we made it work (played contortionist for about 35 miles, not comfortable). Those last 20 miles into Escalante looked almost impossible to climb cause the switchbacks were never ending, they had to climb for about 10 miles straight, and the top of the canyons had no guard rails. Even the host van was struggling up highway 12 to reach Escalante. The view from above was breathtaking from the car, so I can’t imagine how it would be on bike. I warned a couple of the team members about the upcoming climb to mentally prepare them. So proud of seeing team members roll into the host and extremely proud of having everyone finish the day. Team San Fran 2013 never ceases to amaze me.
A huge thanks to Escalante Outfitters and cafe for proving us with an amazing dinner. Never have I ever had such great and gourmet pizza. Also, thanks to Lamie for taking pictures on my camera today. Didn’t want the extra load on my bike when climbing.
Team San Fran 2013.