I was excited this morning looking forward to the day’s ride to Panguitch. That’s probably not something you hear from a lot of people – “I’m going to Panguitch! Wohoo!” but I have my reasons. First, I’ve been to Panguitch before, twice actually. And I knew that the ride through Bryce would be gorgeous. Also I travelled though here maybe 10 or 12 years ago for work and detoured here to go fishing. There’s few things that endure a location to me more than a good fishing experience, and I remember having a great time here. Megan and Jonah know that’s code for I caught (and released) a lot of fish.
I was up early and on the road by 7:00. Not exactly dawn but early enough to catch the sun rising over the mountains. Early enough too to see the morning critters, of which there were many, mainly rabbits. I passed a huge field of scrub brush – exactly the kind of cover they like – and saw 28 rabbits in a matter of 20 minutes or so. For awhile I was seeing 4 or 5 at a time as they snuck out of the cover to feast on the grass growing by the highway. Not a coincidence I suppose that I saw one fox too. I didn’t get close enough to see if he had bunny breath.
As I was riding out of Escalante, the morning breeze was in my face a little and my spokes started to sing. I’ve noticed that if I’m going a little fast, or there’s a bit of breeze, the spokes vibrate and make a continuous note – kind of a hummmmmmm that’s maybe about a middle “C”. It usually means that I’m moving along pretty well and I’ve developed an almost Pavlovian joyful response to it.
You might think that by this point in the trip I would surely be sick of riding a bike but I’m not at all. I’m reminded of some of the early descriptions of riding a bike from the late 1800s where people often compared it to flying. With the breeze in your hair, simply experiencing the simple joy of turning back and forth over a smooth road is really like nothing else.
I’m so accustomed to my bike now I feel as comfortable on it as I do walking across the room. Without looking I can put my hand on the water bottle exactly as though it were a part of my body. And having been with the same 4 bags of stuff, I know exactly what is with me and which bag it’s in. Except the stuff that’s lost of course and I know where some of that stuff is too. If anybody is going over. Lizard Head pass anytime soon, can you pick up my GoPro charging cord? You’d think that the awareness of stuff would help me not to lose things but no. I am a total airhead when it comes to leaving stuff behind. Recent casualties include my belt (didn’t really need anyway), some clippy thing on my front pannier that came off on route (substituted gorilla tape), and broken reading glasses (medical tape repair – looks as bad as it sounds).
Have I mentioned yet how much I love Kind bars? Kind, you’re welcome to sponsor me on my next adventure. They are delicious, low glycemic index, satisfying and you can now get them in convenience stores across America (even in Kansas!). I’m hooked.
I saw three cyclists today but none were touring. The last touring cyclist I saw was between Dolores and Rico, almost 400 miles ago. It’s a shame because this route has been fantastic – beautiful, no trouble with cars and lots of easy access to great camping. I did meet a bikepacker (for those not familiar; it’s like touring on a bike but backcountry on trails and fireroads). He waved me down and we had a nice chat about where we’ve ridden.
Panguitch also has a great little campground run by a couple of West Texan transplants. They’re super friendly and the camp has a clubhouse, showers, awesome wifi – everyone I need. A couple of geology grad students have been here over 5 weeks working on Masters thesis research – a nice bunch. But dining choices will be limited tonight. Most restaurants here are close on the Sabbath.