Roosevelt to Price, UT

Hmm, this looks like real mountain stuff

I rode 85 miles today, and climbed 4000 feet. This morning, when I was checking out, the lady at the motel said "You are going to Price. You must like climbing mountains." "Mountains?" I said, "What mountains?" thinking the road from Duchesne to Price was relatively flat. "191 starts climbing right out of Duchesne." she said. I figured it was a 1000 foot or so climb. No big deal. I was way wrong. It was over 3000 feet of climbing and, today, it was climbing into the wind, sometimes a very strong headwind. Without the wind, this climb would be similar to the climb from Rustic to Cameron Pass in Colorado. With the wind, it was a much harder climb. So how come I didn't find out about that "mountain" - it is Indian Head Peak at 10000 ft - when I was planning my tour? I might have changed my route to avoid that climb.

Climbing out of the Uintah Basin

When I rode out of Roosevelt today, I climbed out of the Uintah Basin - Basin makes more sense than valley out there - and then rode down into the Duchesne Basin and rode to Duchesne. Riding west in the Duchesne Basin meant a long, pretty steady, climb at less than 1% grade. I was cranking along at 10 to 11 mph instead of 12 to 13 mph. When there was a bit of wind - the wind increased during the morning, my speed would drop to 8 or 9 mph. My average speed getting to Duchesne was less than 11 mph.

Descending into the Duchesne Basin were I rode to Duchesne

This is about a pretty as it got in the Duchesne Basin

And this is what it looked like near Duchesne
Note the farm entrance on the right
It is the Floating Feather Farm

This is the main house at that farm
What a difference a bit of water makes!

When I got to Duchesne, about 10 AM, I found a cafe - Duchesne doesn't have a lot of services - and went in. I had second breakfast, since, at 10 AM, they were weren't serving lunch yet. My second breakfast was as good as my first breakfast, but cost half as much since it was in a cafe rather than an upscale restaurant ;-}. Folks were friendly and I enjoyed being there.

Leaving Duchesne, heading south on 191

Pretty country and the sign on the right says "Frequent crossings by deer and elk"
I saw a chipmunk or two ;-{

When I left Duchesne, heading south on 191, I had my worst fears confirmed - 34 miles of road with chains or snow tires required from November through March. Ah, but it was pretty and there wasn't much traffic, so I was looking forward to this part of the ride. I realized that the climb must go up one valley, make the transition to another valley, and then go down the second valley. I hoped for 17 miles of gentle climbing, and easy transition to another valley, and 17 miles of gentle descending.

This point, where another canyon comes in from the west, was where I first had strong head winds
It was hard to ride across the mouth of that canyon!

I was climbing at 6 to 8 mph in my middle ring - a 2 or 3% grade - and, except when the wind picked up, riding was good. When the wind was blowing, riding often became a hands on the drops, head down into the wind, struggle to keep going. The higher I got, the more time I spent head down into the wind.

After a long climb, the road enters Ashley National Forest
And continues to climb

Seventeen miles came and went and the road was still climbing. I stopped for a snack break and enjoyed the beautiful canyon. Maybe 20 miles of climbing into the wind? Nope, still climbing. I stopped again at 25 miles for a second break. By this time I had been climbing for over three hours and I had emptied two water bottles and my 2 liter backup in my pannier. I used the water in my other bag to refill my bottles. I was wiped out and I must not have put the cap back on tight enough. It was gone when I finished my ride ;-{.

Looking back after 25 miles of climbing
This is near the start of steep climbing

Finally, shortly after my second stop, I saw that the road ahead appeared to head over to another valley. It turned out that the road now climbed steeply for another 500+ feet plus - I had to stop several times to rest - before making a dramatic descent - 4.5 miles of 8% grade - into the second valley.

The sign I had been waiting 28 miles to see
The steep part of the descent was 40+ mph, sometimes slowed to 20 to 30 mph by headwinds

I wasn't too tired to enjoy the 40 mph descent, but I also didn't really mind when the headwinds slowed me down to 20 or 30 mph. The trill of 40+ mph on a bike needs to be tempered by considerations of the consequences of mechanical failure ;-}. My visit with the paraplegic bicyclist in Steamboat - who got that way because of a fork failure - came to mind on this descent.

On the long, relatively gentle, part of the descent, I saw smoke from a big fire near Price

After the 4.5 miles of 8%, there is around 15 miles of gentler descent down to where US 191 intersects US 6. This part of the ride is pretty thumpy and hard on the behind. Some sections of it were quite beautiful, although none were as nice as the forest up above 9000 feet, but others were ugly, and, down at the bottom, there is the ugliness of a big coal fired power plant. As I was coming down, I saw and heard big fire fighting helicopters that were dumping retardant on a big fire in the mountains between me and Price. I could see the smoke plume while I was descending, and I saw it much more clearly, when I got here and walked over to a Chinese Buffet place to eat. There are several serious fires in Utah right now, and more are very likely because of extreme drought, high heat, and winds.

Speaking of high heat and winds, I'm beginning to question my plans for riding across western Utah and Nevada. Those aren't easy rides under good conditions and, given very high heat and bad headwinds, I'm not sure I want to attempt them. I'll see how things look after I get to western Nevada before deciding what to do. Maybe conditions will improve in the next few days. I certainly hope so for Utah's sake.

Not exciting or attractive, but this is the way to where I got to eat!
After eight hours of riding, six of them since my second breakfast, I was very hungry!

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