Thursday, 16 April 2015

Crossing borders, heading West and dealing with head winds

Location: Kanab, UT, USA
Weather plays an important role during the day.  When we broke camp Saturday morning just off Highway 89 in the Navajo Reservation, Northern Arizona we had been rained on once, had two cold nights at the Grand Canyon and the only wind to write home about was an amazing tail wind that meant we sailed to Las Vegas two days quicker than we expected.  Coming from England, Sophie and I feel that we cope with the rain because our two week tour in September 2014 saw us get rained on everyday.  The cold is harder but generally we just wear all of our clothes and get on with it.  The wind, however, creeps into my brain and turns me into an angry, frustrated mess.

We left the wild camp site early and carried on north towards our destination for the day, Page.  We had a decision to make further down the road about which road to take.  Highway 89 continued on all the way to Page and the section we were riding and had ridden the day before had a good shoulder and we were happy with it.  The other option was Indian Road 20.  This had been recently paved because of a landslide on the 89 and was, for a time, the only way into Page.  But we didn't know the condition of the road or how good the shoulder was.  We um-ed and ah-ed until we got to the gas station at The Gap and talked to a few people.  From these quick talks we decided to take Indian 20 because it was apparently paved and most people would be using the newly opened 89.  Also the 89 was mainly flat apart from one really steep section coming into Page, whereas the 20 was fairly undulating but finishing with a good downhill.  Off we went and made the correct decision.  The Indian 20 was a quiet, good road and really good riding.  The final down hill was ruined by a strong head wind but we arrived into Page early and tasked ourselves with finding a place to stay.

Page was the first place we had met that the cycle touring hospitality network called WarmShowers failed us.  We contacted two hosts but got no replies.  This was a slight bump but no major worries.  We had heard of a good bike shop in town so headed there to question them on possible places to camp.  Alas, when we arrived the shop is only open on Wednesdays and Sundays.  This was a bummer but we headed to the supermarket to pick up some supplies.  Before we had even rested our bikes a lady appears asking where we had cycled from that day.  She was amazed by the distance and we asked if she knew of anywhere we could camp.  After a brief chat she invited us to camp in her yard, so we got Nina's address and said "See you in a bit".  Then arrives Molly who, with her husband Alex, has done a bit of cycle touring and asked about the trip.  After a chat she invites us round to meet her husband and newborn baby and carry on the conversation over dinner.

After finishing the shopping we head to Nina's to drop off our bags but don't have enough time to set up the tent before heading for dinner with Molly and Alex.  Dinner is an amazing Brazilian Stroganoff with rice and tasty fritters.  Then Alex surprised us with a visit to Horseshoe Bend, which was about 10 minutes drive from the house down highway 89, which we didn't know about but were both so happy we visited.  After food and the spectacle we needed to fix Sophie's tire before heading back to Nina's.  This is our second flat of the trip.  After showers and a chat Nina offered us a bed to sleep in rather than setting up the tent.  After a comfy night's sleep we awoke to freshly cooked eggs and hash browns.  The hospitality of the American seems to have no boundaries and with food in our bellies we headed off to Kanab, some 75 miles away.

We crossed the Glen Canyon Dam and heading north to the Utah border for the obligatory state border photo; seeing but not really taking note of the State tag line "Life Elevated".  After a pretty flat and still morning we got a few maps at the visitors centre and continued West after lunch; this is when the wind started, just gentle at first but a constant headwind none the less.  Being told that it was pretty flat to Kanab (Page being at 4,300ft and Kanab at 4,970ft) we were still looking at a standard day of riding.  Then the climbing began and the wind started blowing harder and harder into our faces.  Although the elevation difference between Page and Kanab is only minor we did not notice the summit we had to pass at 5690ft into a vile headwind.  I am not good in the wind and after hours of swearing, begging, cursing and threatening the wind Sophie and I had some food and a little chat.  Trying to be more "zen" I focused on calculating our speed using the mile markers and my watch.  We got down to 3mph at one point when we were 20 miles from Kanab, meaning another 7 hours in the saddle and smashed my tiny amount of resolve.  After another chat we carried on, got over the hill and arrived at the Crazy Horse campground.

After the ordeal that was the journey from Page to Kanab we decided to have a rest day and check out the town.  Kanab is a really nice little town.  Two major things to note: 1) It hosts the Coyote Butts Wilderness lottery to visit the Wave and 2) it was the town that was instrumental in a vast amount of wild west films before, during and after WWII.  We entered ourselves into the lottery but were not one of the lucky ones to win; which turned out for the best because we had no way to get to the trail head which was 30 miles back towards Page.


  1. Replies
    1. The Wave is an amazing rock formation that, from photos, looks amazing. The rock is amazing colours and looks like waves. Have a search online for images