Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grand Canyon Bicycle Tour, Epilogue


This account has probably been somewhat more exhaustive than even people who like me pretty well are interested in reading.  But while researching the trip, I failed to find very much information on the Internet related to the routes I needed to take.  Many of the details were provided in the hope that what has been recorded here will prove useful to some fellow bicycle traveler in the future.

Getting Home

My family and I spent the next day touring the Canyon, and I took my daughter on a very short hike down Bright Angel trail.  My son and wife waited for us at the top.  On our way back up, we saw some mule deer.

On the Bright Angel trail

We were able to go back to the Tusayan ruins and see the museum.  While there, we also participated in an activity in which a park ranger taught us how to make split-twig figures.  These animal effigies were made by ancient canyon inhabitants and used in hunting rituals.

On Father's Day we left the Grand Canyon, retracing my route as far as Kayenta.  It was strange, after my slow trip by bicycle, to find myself hurtling along at terrific speeds through the desert.  West of Tuba City, we stopped at a dinosaur tracks site.  There we were guided by a Navajo woman and shown the footprints of several different types of dinosaurs.

In Kayenta, we headed north on US-163 into Utah.  This took us near Monument Valley and a number of other attractions.  The landscape was pretty impressive.

Near Monument Valley, Utah

That night we camped out near the town of Monticello, Utah, in the Manti-La Sal National Forest.  It was very nice there - much more green than I expected from the desert we had been driving through.  The dense undergrowth was home to many mule deer, and I saw one wild turkey hen.

Dalton Springs Campground, Manti-La Sal NF

The next morning we headed for Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  On the way, we stopped for lunch at the Moab Diner, and later visited a dinosaur museum in Fruita, Colorado.

Dinosaur museum in Fruita, Colorado

The overnight stay in Glenwood Springs was pleasant.  That evening we ate at the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub, and the next morning we spent an hour or two at the hot springs swimming pool.

The Rocky Mountains always make me feel like I'm coming home.  Usually when I return to Denver, whether travelling for work or to visit family, I'm coming from the east.  But even approaching from the Western Slopes, it felt great to be back in the familiar mountains of Colorado.  It was a beautiful drive along I-70 and it felt wonderful to be back home.

My family at the Grand Canyon


I was happy to discover that, of all of the equipment that I took with me which went unused, most of it was bike repair gear that I don't regret having packed.  The only thing that was really useless was my plate.  Since I wasn't cooking for more than just myself, it was much easier to eat out of the cookware.  There are enough cycle-touring packing lists published online already, but in the future I may decide to write about specific items that proved useful.

Riding through the desert wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  The air was dry and constantly moving over me while I rode, so my body's own temperature regulation did its job admirably.  The temperatures were frequently in the 90s, but I never felt hot while riding.  Still, plenty of water, electrolyte replacement drinks, and salty snacks were certain to have helped.

By all accounts, the "drunken Indian" warnings were legitimate, but not a problem for me.  The thing I'd been told to watch out for mostly were people driving drunk along the desert highways at night.  Since I wasn't riding after dark, there was no issue.  And I was told to make sure I was not visible from the road if camping in the desert, lest I be harassed by said drunken drivers.  This is a basic principle of stealth camping, but I had to admit that discouraging trespassers hardly seems like an unfair practice.

I went the entire trip without any mechanical problems to speak of.  Not even a flat tire.  Mysteriously, after we got home, my front tire went flat from a goathead even though I hadn't ridden it since it was stowed in our room at the lodge.  And naturally, my drive train was filthy.  I pulled the chain, cassette, chain rings, and idler/tension pulleys off and scrubbed everything down in the parts washer.  Now my bike is ready to take me to work on Monday.

1 comment:

  1. There is no apology needed, old friend. Having just finished all of what you've written here, I can honestly say that I've enjoyed the account of your journey and am somewhat inspired to attempt my own little walkabout - though, not being a cyclist, I may choose another medium. I applaud your accomplishment and look forward to the day I can come visit and have you show me some of those beautiful landscapes that you enjoy. Love to you and your family, papa Hinds - k