Group photo atop Murphy Hogback (click for larger image). I'm standing tallest in the back.
Mark Albrecht arrived at my house and we loaded the van and left around 3:30 pm. We had some good conversations on the way down - mostly bike talk, imagine that. We arrived at the RAWROD camp site above Mineral Basin around 7 pm and made camp. Thanks to Kenny, Elden and others, we had incredibly tasty brats for dinner. I passed around some oatmeal scotchy cookies Jolene had made and they seemed to be a hit (if I may be so bold, my wife makes good cookies). The talk around the campfire was entertaining with stories, snide comments and teasing. It was fun to observe and be entertained. It got late so I went to the van to sleep (it took me an hour to get to sleep).
I woke up, ate a banana and pop-tart for breakfast and finished packing up for the ride. I hung around on the road waiting to get started. Brent from Holiday joined me and since we were both getting cold and just wanted to start this leg slow, we got going. We had a good chat as we rode and after 5 miles or more some other riders passed us. It was a calm and cool morning and it felt good to roll along.
After the Horsethief dirt road we rode down to the park entrance where we paid our $5 and turned off onto the dirt to head down the switchbacks of the Shafer Trail. It was loose and rough, just like last October. We regrouped at Mussleman Arch for photos and eating, drinking and resupply from the support truck.
Some of us stopped at Monument Basin for some photos. Here I am with a typical Canyonlands scene behind me that looks like something out of a Roadrunner cartoon.
The next stop was White Crack where we ate lunch and regrouped. I was warm when I arrived, but the nearly constant wind chilled me even with full sun.
Moving on there were scenes like these.
Then all too soon it was time for the climb up Murphy Hogback. On my first time riding the White Rim last year I decided to be conservative and bail out on any strenuous climbing to make sure I could finish. But for this 2nd White Rim ride I decided to try to make it all the way up Murphy. I did OK on the lower part that isn't very steep, but on the first steep pitch I spun out and fell over. Assessing the situation I determined my goal was unrealistic - I'd need to get stronger to do Murphy Hogback in one shot. But after I walked up this steepest section I got back on the bike to see if I could ride the rest. It was still mercilessly steep and I was really suffering on the last 20-25 yards to the top, but I dug deep and gutted it out. At the top I stepped off the bike, flopped down on the ground and panted until I had recovered.
As I was riding up I was passed by Chris Holley on his single speed! I was in my lowest gear spinning the cranks slowly due to the steep pitch and here was Chris doing 1 revolution to my 8-10. He was straining hard with each push of the crank and I marveled at his strength and power output. It cost him his lunch, but he made it - Murphy Hogback on single speed!
Murphy Hogback was another regroup site so we sat around and watched the riders come up.
The next section had quite a bit of downhill and some fun riding. I looked down at my cyclocomputer and was surprised to see 75 miles - 3/4 done!
I was pretty tired when I reached Hardscrabble, but I made an attempt. Elden and Adam encouraged me to keep going (the "Eye of the Tiger" song did help!). At the top of Hardscrabble was another regroup and I filled up on water and CarboRocket. Shortly after starting off again I got a flat. As I was fixing it Kenny stopped and gave me a hand and a shot of C02 then I rode back to the support FJ Cruiser and used the pump to top off the tire with air.
I could tell I was getting pretty tired, but I kept rolling OK. I was pretty slow on any uphills and I walked the long and deep sand pits. Those miles after 90 seemed to pass so slowly. I was dreading the coming climb back up to camp. I had no idea how I'd do. Eventually it arrived and I went right down into my 2nd lowest gear and started chugging up. The pitch got steeper and I went down into granny and that's where I stayed. I made it about half way up then stopped to rest after a steep pitch. I tried to ride again, but made it only a little ways before I was panting again and I stopped and walked. The walking felt nice - less strenuous and using different muscles. But once the grade mellowed a bit after 40 yards or so I got back on the bike and rode it to the top. I opened the van, pulled a chocolate milk from the cooler and savored the refreshment. I also drank some Coke - I'm not much of a cola drinker, but after a big ride it hits the spot like nothing else.
From my cyclocomputer, the wheels were turning for 9 hours and 45 minutes and my average speed was 10.2 mph.
Mark and I loaded up the van and then drove to Green River for a 1/2 lb cheeseburger at Ray's Tavern. It tasted so good! We saw several other RAWRODers there. After dinner I gassed up the van and drove home, arriving around midnight. I took a shower to wash the sunscreen and caked-on dust off (leaving a sandbar in the tub) and fell into bed and didn't wake up until it was light outside.
A great ride! A big thanks to Kenny and all those who helped put on this ride!
P.S. I must mention that Brad, Kenny and Adam rode the White Rim fast (as a time trial) the day before (Friday) and all three of them rode it again today and finished ... on single speeds no less! Amazing.
P.S.S. Not enough? Read about my first White Rim ride in October 2007.