Day 6: Long Road to Vernal

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that on Day 4, last Saturday, I screwed up big time, wasting 20 something miles and about 3 hours of my energy going nowhere. The following day plus some were spent reevaluating my route, looking at the schedule, and reevaluating our supplies. We deducted that in order to stay on track, I was going to have to make it to Vernal, Utah tonight. I also realized that I was going to have to take Highway 6 in order to do that. On Day 4, I also wrote a little bit about why that also sucks.

So, Monday arrives and I’m up and ready to go at about 4:00 am to pick my mom up at like 4:30. We drive to the mouth of Diamond Fork Canyon, where I had stopped biking on Saturday, unpack, and I start biking. We started at crap o’clock in the morning, hoping to avoid most of the traffic on Highway 6, which actually worked out really well. Still concerned, my mom tailed me with the flashers on to make sure no passing vehicles ran her youngling off of the road. For about 37 miles I biked up from 5,000 ft elevation to just under 7,500 ft along Highway 6. It was tiring, but at least I knew I was safe with my mom backing me up. While biking you get to see a lot of things that you would never notice in a car. For example, I was freaked out by a coiled up snake, I matched pace with a family of deer that was running alongside the highway, and saw a mysterious man on the train tracks with his two dogs.

I don’t know who Emma Park is, but there is road named after her that bridges the 6 and the 91. Thanks Emma Park. Your road saved me about 7 miles of biking on busy Highways. At the end of Emma’s road we took a break. Mom threw down a blanket for me to lie down on right at the intersection of Emma Parks Road and Highway 191. I must have looked as tired/dead as I felt, because a good number of them stopped to check that everything was alright with us. One guy even passed us, stopped and threw his car into reverse to make sure we were fine. After talking to the third or fourth car that stopped to check up on us, we decided to move up the road so I could take a power nap. It was super great to see how kind and concerned all of these middle-of-nowhere strangers were.

After nap time came the 191 climb. 7.44 miles. Starting elevation: a little over 7,000 ft. Summit: 9,114 feet. Pace: stupidly slow. But man oh man, was the initial downhill towards the town of Duchesne rad. My mom had had nightmares of me careening off of the road at high velocities for the past couple of nights, and insisted that I not go over 40 to miles an hour on the bike, but I definitely could have. Oh well. We made it to Duchesne, and took another little break. By this point I had already done 82.56 miles, bagged two summits (one much more significant than the other), and it was starting to catch up with me. It was slow going as I biked through the towns of Duchesne and Roosevelt, on a slight incline most of the way, even passing through some heavy road construction. The man controlling the traffic looked me up and down and told me that a mountain bike would probably be more suitable for traversing the muddy, rocky construction zone. I agreed with him, and continued anyways.

After passing the picturesque Bottle Hollow Reservoir by Fort Duchesne we reconnected with the 191, and my mom went ahead to vernal to get camp set up. 120 miles down, 24.1 to go. This ride would take me along the highway, now with no car shield behind me, and up another climb to the border of Vernal. After a smooth downhill ride into town, with a quick stop at the Welcome to Vernal sign, I rolled into camp with some nice pizza and a fire waiting for me. Thanks mom. Also, Vernal has a bunch of weird looking dinosaur statues all over the place which was hilarious.

After eating and cleaning up, mom and I sat around the campfire and talked with the journalist who took pictures of my friends and I during the Provo to Provo City Center ride over the phone. She interviewed both of us, and it was a great to think about what I was doing and more importantly why. Even cooler was listening to all the reasons my mom wanted to be a part of it. I loved the article the journalist, Karissa Neely, wrote. She really captured a lot of the essence of this trip. Here’s the link if you want to check it out.

At 144.1 miles, this was the longest bike ride I had for this trip, and it was only this long because I had to make up so much ground from my epic fail on Saturday. Thankfully I made it. After feeling so humbled and defeated the couple of days before, it felt amazing to accomplish a day of biking even crazier than I had ever planned on. I saw things from a new perspective, was surprised by the kindness of strangers, and had a chance to really think about the meaning of this pilgrimage by trying to explain it to someone who took such great care in trying understand it. Thanks again Karissa.

Daily Stats:

  • Miles Biked: 144.1 (almost as much as my first two days combined!)

  • Running Total: 413.24

  • Highest Summit: 9114 ft.

  • Temples Visited: 0, but stopping by Vernal first thing tomorrow!

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