We awoke this chilly morning to an orange glow from the east. Our campground was quiet except for the few stirs of our fellow bike and builders. Gabe, Emily, Janine and Dylan were careful not to tumble from their sleeping perch atop Betty (the van.) Few others had slept outside, myself being one of them. As we carried out our usual routine, the antelope/deer of Flaming Gorge frolicked in and out of the campground. We broke our daily route meeting with a huddle and a cheer… today would be an adventure.
Our route, at first, had us backtrack about 3.5 miles to get out of the park where we had camped. We then turned on Hwy 530 and headed for lunch. This particular morning was an amazing ride. The air was cool. The terrain wasn’t too hard. Everyone was in good spirits. We rode into lunch in little groups. Lunch was very near the top of our toughest climb for the day. After grubbing out on PB and anything sandwiches, we took off towards the long downhill to Green River for a big American cheeseburger and some freedom fries. Not 2 miles later, as we neared the crest of our climb, the road became treacherous. A repaving project was underway, and we were caught in the worst of it. The road had been “shaved” down to make a base for new asphalt to be put in. Riding on the shaved road can be best described as taking a jackhammer, turning it upside down, putting a bike saddle on it and turning it on. The faster you went the worse it was. The only other option that presented itself was riding on the 1-2 foot shoulder that was not covered by road shavings. This route presented a whole new danger of having your back wheel slip from beneath you due to the loose dirt. The six miles of what was supposed to be our rewarding downhill had been ruined by silly roadwork, and McDonald’s was the only place to get a burger at the bottom.
We were all digesting the distinctly American McDee’s burgers and freedom fries when we learned that our original route had been changed. Instead of taking the interstate, we would take a gravel/dirt service road for 10 miles. I would only make it a few hundred yards down this new road. Near the bottom of the first gravel downhill I lost control of my bike and saw a pile a dirt around a raised manhole. I hit it and jumped it. My best guess is that I launched about 10-12 feet before I landed on my head/arm/hip. After jumping up and pacing around pissed off for about 10 minutes, I began the short walk up the trail where the van would scoop us up and bring us to our destination for the night. The brief ride brought us to a First Baptist Church, and I continued on to the hospital. I learned that my injuries were no worse than superficial scrapes and bruises.
The tough and frustrating day came to an end with restful sleep on our air mattresses. We all pondered what tomorrow’s 100-mile day would have in store for us.