The mountains beyond Milford, seen from the pass before Milford
Riding from Baker to Milford is hard ride because of 84 miles with no services and three passes. That is the longest distance without services on this tour and, since it is desert riding, the food and water - I carried 5.5 liters - requirements meant a heavier than usual bike. I think my bike weight was close to 100 pounds at the start of this ride. It took me eight hours on the bike and about ten and a half hours on the road. The total climbing is well over 3000 feet, and the passes, and downhills, felt pretty much like the ones on US 50 in eastern Nevada <grin>, although the slopes may have been a bit steeper.
I have been lucky with the weather all through Nevada, and that luck continued today. Although I did ride on a few miles of wet pavement, no rain fell on me. I did have one, quite unpleasant, long uphill section with a tail wind that matched my speed and brutal sunshine, but most of the serious climbing I did today was done with tail winds that were fast enough to help me climb or gentle side and head winds which kept me cool. I rode most of the first hard climb with clouds blocking the sun. This ride, perhaps more than most of the rides in Nevada, would be brutal, and even dangerous, with bad weather. It was also the loneliest ride of this tour, with traffic levels not much higher than the section of old US 50 that I rode to Austin. When the wind was not blowing, stopping by the roadside meant being in an almost perfectly silent environment.
Leaving Baker at 7:30 AM
Yesterday, at the motel in Baker, I visited with some hikers from New Mexico who had been hiking in Great Basin National Park. They said it was very good hiking. I mentioned that the local store had no milk and they offered milk and fruit juice to help me start the day today. I got up at about 5:45 AM and my neighbors brought me milk and orange juice at 6:15, shortly before they left Baker heading for home. With their help, and the food I bought yesterday, I had a good breakfast before leaving Baker at 7:30. Riding conditions were close to ideal when I left, but, before I got to Utah, which is only six miles down the road, a headwind developed that chilled me until I put on my wind vest.
Entering Utah - lose an hour going to Mountain Time
A somewhat misleading sign just south of Garrison, Utah
After I rode through Garrison, their was a sign saying no services for the next 75 miles. Since Garrison has no services, that sign should right after Baker and the distance should be 83 miles. That is a long way to ride with not only no services, but also almost no human activity except a few vehicles on the road.
I was surprised by the beauty of Utah in the first ten miles south of Garrison
Utah 21 about 15 miles south of Garrison
Beauty in the Utah desert 20 miles from Baker
The land was green and, for a desert area, lush, south of Garrison. Part of that was from irrigation, but part was from a natural lake and marsh area that ran for miles along Utah 21. It was strange to see sagebrush next to a marsh!
I stopped about twenty miles from Baker for my first break. There was the usual problem of finding support for my bike and a sitting place for me. Today, I used culverts. Sitting on the warm steel of the culvert looking out a the desert was very pleasant. There was a flowering desert plant where butterflies were getting pollen almost directly in front of me, so, after I snacked, I removed my camera from the bike and took a picture of one of the flowers with a butterfly.
The long, relatively flat, first section of this ride, ends with a long gentle climb out of the valley that Baker and Garrison are in. The total climbing is only 600 feet, and it is spread out over about five miles. This is not an exciting climb <grin>, but it ends with an exciting downhill to the next valley. Part of that excitement has to do with the old, bumpy, road surface. The road was being resurface a mile or two before that descent, so the bumpy pavement might be better in the near future.
Having been quite spoiled by the paving of Nevada roads, Utah 21 is a bit of a come down. It isn't a bad road, and some sections are pretty smooth, but much of it is old and tar striped. At 35 mph - my coasting speed down some of the marked 8% downhills, it can be an exciting, but tiring, ride!
The first climb was only to about 6000 feet. The descent is to 5200 feet at the far side of the valley. There really is no flat section in either of the valleys in the middle of this route: The road simply descends less rapidly, for a while, before starting to climb, more gently, for a while before the next pass. climbing for the second pass starts at about the middle of todays ride, 45 miles from Baker. The climb continues for about five miles and the pass is at 6500 feet. I had a good tailwind for much of this climb.
Looking back at the valley after the first pass - note the shaded climbing
The descent into the valley after the second pass was a long one
The second valley as seen from near the top of the second pass.
You can see the road climbing into the next set of mountains
and you can see the ranch in the second valley in the near side center of the valley
After the second climb, there is a five mile, 8% grade, descent. The actual grade felt like it varied from 8% to 6%. This descent keeps going all the way down to below 5000 feet. It was on this descent that the road was wet from recent rain. At the bottom of the steep part of the descent, I passed the ranch in this valley. The ranch in the last valley was smaller and located near the start of the climb out of the valley. One ranch per valley!
This gentle climb out of the second valley was the hardest riding of the day because of the sun and the gentle tailwind
I stopped many times riding out of the second valley, this stop was the best because it had shade
I stopped to rest and eat at culverts in all three valleys. When I stopped in the last valley, I had a good tailwind. It was only a gentle tailwind as I rode on, up out of the valley. I had to stop ever hundred yards or so to cool down on that climb. It wasn't steep and I wasn't pushing hard, but the sun was hot and the air was still around me as I climbed. Not fun.
Even when the wind started cooling me, I had a very hard time just keeping going on the last climb. When I saw some shade under a tree (the only tree except for the ones at the ranch), I stopped and stretched out - it took a while to get the various bits of prickly plants out of my clothing afterward - and rested for a few minutes. That really helped my psychological state and the rest of the climb - another 500 feet to 6500 feet - was much better.
At the top - no signs at any of these passes - I could look out on the beautiful mountains beyond Milford. These mountain ranges just keep coming, but the sight of each new one excites me.
It is ten, almost all downhill, miles to Milford from the last pass. When I finally got to Milford, I rode past a semi-fancy motel, The Oak Tree Inn, and into town. The town is not fancy, so I rode back to that motel. It is a good one, and the diner (yes - 50s theme) offers a lot of good food at good prices. Most of the customers seem to workers for the railroad that runs near here. The motel has a 'computer room' that has PCs hooked up, emulating IBM mainframe type terminals, to the railroad's network and a line printer!