Day 8: Flashing Lights and Sirens
We woke up early but took a while to actually get on the road. Mom surprised me with a hearty breakfast of eggs, toast, sausage and bacon to start the day off right. I swear I must have eaten better in the middle of nowhere than I did in the cities. Finally after the food was eaten and camp was broken down, I hopped on the bike and continued through the Mountains of Western Colorado. We biked for just under 50 miles with only one minor break to appreciate the view at the highest summit of the day, before we finally made it back to civilization, a little town named Loma. The ride was about 15 miles of constant uphill at first, followed by an easy down hill the rest of the way. We hung out for a little bit, and munched on some pb&j sandwiches at the fist gas station we saw. From there we hopped on the US-6 business highway headed west back into Utah.
This freeway was chill, well maintained. I crossed paths with a flock of swallows, passed a large tree that looked extremely out of place on the rolling hills I biked through. Behind it was a cross on top of a pile of rocks. I wondered who might be buried there, and how they ended up in such a unique location. We pressed on until what I’m assuming is the Utah/Colorado border (I never passed a sign) and the road turned to crap. It was bumpy and super uncomfortable to ride on. The bumpy torture on my butt occurred for wither 8 or 10 miles, I can’t remember, until I finally crossed paths with I-70. I don’t know who is in charge of Highway 6 in Utah, but you guys really gotta step it up. Colorado seemed to have it figured out. I took a break to rehydrate and cool down with Mom in the shade of an underpass beneath I-70 before heading south on another 7ish miles on BLM roads. The roads were smooth, wide and empty and then Google Maps told me to turn right. Right onto the Kokopelli trail.
I stopped and looked right at a very obvious lack of asphalt. Before me stretched a seemingly endless trail of loose red sand. With memories of the Diamond Fork Canyon fiasco flooding back into our minds, Mom and I frantically tried to search the directions Google had given us to see how long this trail would last. Without strong reception we were confused and decided to try it for a bit. I attempted to ride on the trail, but after a little over a mile of near constant breaking, sinking into the sand, and walking through muddy sections I got a call from Mom and we decided it would be better to double back and do something we had been trying to avoid: bike on a major interstate, I-70. I met her back at the Kokopelli trail head and she gave me a ride to the Underpass where we had taken our last break, our last checkpoint if you will.
We discovered that after 12 miles of biking on the Interstate we would meet up with Highway 128, the road that would take us all the way to Moab, where we had made reservations to camp for the night. 12 miles, that’s it. It was decided that she would follow behind me, driving on the shoulder with her flashers on, like we had done on Highway 6.
“Just put your headphones on, put on the loudest music you have, and bike as fast as you can so we can just get off of this freeway as fast as possible,” Mom instructed me as I got ready to go. Our system worked perfectly. Mom and I made our way down the highway, while I pushed myself with my angsty, loud music. Trucks cars and motorcycles were very respectful and accommodating. One group of bikers eve stopped under and underpass to wave to me as I passed by. Occasional large gusts of wind would freak me out a little bit, but overall we were good. This system worked for about 9 miles until…
Honk. HONK. HOONK. HOOONK. I looked back over my left shoulder to one of my least favorite sights: red, white, and blue flashing lights on top of a white SUV.
By the time I had circled back. My mom had already handed an officer her driver’s license and was frantically explaining, “Officer! You don’t understand! This is the only way we can go. We tried the other way but it was impossible. We only have a few more miles.”
“I’m sorry ma’am, but you’re not allowed to drive on the shoulder. It’s illegal. It’s just not safe.”
While they were talking, the other officer in the vehicle came over to talk to me.
“So, you going on some kind of long bike trip or something?”
“Yeah, you could say that.” I tried to explain the pilgrimage and the situation with the Kokopelli Trail while listening to the continued banter between my Mom and Officer 1.
“I’m driving here so he doesn’t get hit or hurt somehow.”
“Well it’s not illegal for him to bike on the shoulder, just for you to drive here.”
“How would that make this any safer!? I have to protect my son!”
Officers 1 and 2 looked at each other for a bit.
“Well you could just put the bike in the car and drive to the exit.”
“That’s not the point!” Mom exclaimed, hands in the air with exasperation. I tried my best not to laugh.
We discovered that we only had about 3 miles left until the desired exit. The officers decided that the overall safest option would be for them to just let us finish this segment the way we had planned, and let us off wishing us luck with our trip, going with an undoubtedly fun story for the wife and kids. Thanks for being chill officers. We got off the interstate, and took a moment to celebrate our little victory over I-70 and the law, but there was still more biking to be done.
Google maps shows what appears to be two towns along Highway 128, Cisco and Dewey. We determined that these would be good resting points. We were wrong. Cisco felt, at best, like an abandoned, post-apocalyptic ghost town. Outfitted with only small crumbling buildings, and abandoned trailers, a shiny mailbox was this indicator that this area should even appear on the map. Dewey, on the other hand, seemed to just be one giant farm tucked between giant walls of red rock, very pretty but sparsely inhabited. I biked on and on until we were travelling alongside the Colorado river into a breathtaking red-walled canyon. We biked until the sun began to set and the towers of Castle Valley came into view, before we pulled over into the parking lot of a BLM campsite that would be serve as our checkpoint for tomorrow morning. The sun continued its beautiful setting as we drove through the canyon and into Moab, where we spoiled ourselves overpriced burgers, a dip in our campground’s pool, and a hot shower.
Miles Biked: 121.33
Running Total: 614.21
States Biked In: 2 (Utah and Colorado)
Consecutive Nights Spent Camping: I guess we’re up to 3 now
Mom Minor Freak Out: 1
Cops Coerced: 2
Post-Apocalyptic Ghost Towns: 1