Published: May 5th 2010May 4th 2010
I knew that the first two weeks were going to be hard and hurt like hell ... I just forgot how much hell hurt.
God I'm unfit, and I'm talking day one of Biggest Loser unfit. This is going to be a little bit of a struggle methinks, but then the scenery ... god this is a beautiful place, I mean just take a look a some of my happy snaps.
Anyway, back to the beginning, after a bit of a restless and nervous night in St George determining my route out of town, I wobbled nervously out onto the road, turned right, rode up to the first intersection 30 metres away and promptly chickened out, straight back up onto the sidewalk and back to the hotel to confirm my chosen route.
If the beginning bodes anything from the end then it’s not looking good as I got the first turn wrong by 180 degrees, ie. I should have turned left not right onto main street. With that small matter clarified I headed out for sa second time to brave the US roads. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, as much as I might want to regale you with stories
of dodging great hulking SUV’s and RV’s and what ever other small acronyms they can devise for enormous great vehicles, the truth is that the traffic was pretty much a doddle and I soon found myself heading north out of town and out into the dessert, if that’s what it’s called.
I think the key to this is that Americans have both space and money, which means that not only do they build roads with great wide shoulders for cyclists to ride on, they then go and build fourlane highways alongside freeways, so that a cyclist ends up having sixteen lanes between them and the nearest vehicle ... and that all bodes well for the cyclist.
So the problem wasn’t my navigation (well it was), or the traffic, it was my fitness and all the weight I was carting around on the bike with me, every incline felt like the Alp D'huez, and I frequently found myself puffing up hills I should have cruised up. The ignominity of this was somewhat compounded by the large number of iron man race signs I passed on the way out of town ... there had been an ironman here the day
before I arrived, 2,500 people swam 2.4miles, cycled 122 miles and then finished it off with a marathon, and I can’t struggle up the first few inclines.
But 45 miles is only 45 miles, and slowly they passed one by one, until I found myself pulling into my campground just before 3pm, somewhat sore and ready for a shower. A shower which was not to be as the national parks campgrounds have no showers. Yay.
I had also tried stopping at several stores on the way to purchase “Denatured Alcohol” which is what they call methylated spirits (my stove fuel) over here, however being America, they either sold it by the Gallon or they wanted to know if “I meant propane gas, yea that’d be what I’m after, for sure”.
So no fuel, no shower, no hot food, one very sore bum, two sore legs, and a nice rock right where my kidneys were to lie on all night.
God bless you America.
I woke up after a pretty horrid nights sleep, and found a hundred reasons to stay in my tent and ignore the world. Eventually though, I knew I had to do something,
so I got up and started packing up, though with no definite goal in mind as to what I should then do. I'm still a long way from getting this into some sort of routine, and noticed yesterday that my bike had a definite pull to the left, so I tried repacking the weight more evenly, all of which took the better part of an hour.
During this, a nice lady dropped by from next door. She and her husband had come down from Washingot Stare for her 50th school reunion, and were now on their way back up to Washington, taking their dog (who could no longer stand) on his last camping trip because he loved camping so much. She was lovely, and she even had a pen friend in Hobart (or as she described it "under the foothills of the big mountain reserve they have there"). Anyway, she and her husband gave me lots of advice on where to go, and left me their address in case I wanted to drop in when I was up their way, then they set off in search of a new campsite and I decided I had better do the same.
After trying a few hotels (all $US110+) I decided to move to the RV park, it was double the price of my first campground, but it did have a shower and that was worth every cent ...Bliss.
I then headed off into Zion park for the rest of the day just wandering around. I won't try and describe it, just look at some of the photos ... this place is magic, and for all you suffering Tasmania's think nothing but blue skies and 30 degree days.
Unfortunately, Zion is also apparently the end of the road for cyclists as there is a 1.1mile tunnel up ahead which we're not allowed to go through. I had heard mixed messages about whether this is possible, but a very, very, very adamant park ranger at the information desk basically told me that he had my fingerprints and photo and if I so much as dared try getting through that tunnel, he'd have me shipped out of the State so fast I'd be on Pacific Time before I knew what had hit me. I should have just stuck with the advice from a ranger I met the day before who had
told me to just sneak up there and the rangers would try and get me through (she admittedly had a boyfriend who was cycling the Alaska - Chile route so was a lot more sympathetic to cyclists). But I think my ignorance plea is now blown.
My other dilema is that I came up here when I heard about the narrows walk from Sharon (Stephan's aprtner) but you've guessed it, I'm in the middle of a dessert and the canyon water level is too high, so it's closed.
So that's me, I'm sitting here on my hopefully free wi-fi in the RV park with my head torch on trying to decide whether to spend another day in the park, or if not which of the two routes around the park I should take, both involve a significant back tracking of about 25 miles, and then a lot more after that. My current fitness and the new longer routes makes me think it will be about a week to Bryce Canyon.
On the up sides, I managed to find a third of a litre of Denatured Alcohol at one of the camping shops here in town today. The guy didn't sell it, but some other traveller had just left it there as he couldn't fly with it, so bonus for me as I actually got to cook dinner tonight - beans and pasta. Yum!
There's also a young couple who are in the campsite next to me who have just come back from a hiking trip in Tasmania. Ain't it a small world.