Fruita to the Colorado River, near Moab - Grand Junction to Durango 1991 - CycleBlaze

April 13, 1991

Fruita to the Colorado River, near Moab

I awoke early this morning, hoping to maximize the daylight hours for riding.  I showered, shaved and strolled over to the simple and good cafe next door for a corned beef hash feast.  I was all packed up and on the road by 8.

The first 20 miles were a biker's delight - a partly sunny sky, a soft tailwind, no hills and great scenery as I followed the Colorado and the Denver & Rio Grande Western right of way west through Grand Valley.  The stretch on Highway 50 between Mack and the junction with Interstate 70 was virtually traffic-free - only two cars passed me in 15 miles - because the road is no longer maintained and has an occasional bad patch.  It was wonderfully quiet.  

Near the I-70 junction, four antelope danced across the road and off into the sagebrush about 200 yards ahead of me.

A few far-off pronghorns, near Mack
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Also at about the junction, the weather began to change - the wind shifted, becoming a mild headwind; the cloud cover became denser; and the distant land formations became less distinct.  For the next twenty miles conditions deteriorated steadily.  Between the effects of the miles already covered and the mounting headwinds, my progress and energy both waned.  I pushed myself on to Cisco, spurring myself on with fantasies of pie and coffee.  Sadly, when I arrived I found a ghost town.

In Cisco, a colorful ruin. Looks like it's been awhile since they offered up pie and coffee.
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East of Cisco the road turned south and angled down to the Colorado River, giving me a fairly easy seven or eight miles.  At the river I took a break on the now abandoned Dewey Bridge: built in 1916, it was once the second-longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi.

The old Dewey Bridge, the longest wooden suspension bridge in Utah. Built in sections in Chicago, it was shipped west and assembled on site in 1916. It's unbearably sad to learn that it was completely destroyed in 2008 by a 7 year old boy playing with matches. I was so looking forward to seeing it again when we ride through here this spring.
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Dewey, Utah: April, 1991
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I managed about twenty five miles more today, stopping frequently to eat, take photos, and just look at the river.  This is a great cycling road - it follows the bank of the Colorado as it descends through a narrow, high walled canyon of sculptured and varnished red sandstone.  The scenery is splendid, highlighted by Fisher Towers, Castle Rock, and the snow-covered Manti la Sal mountains in the distance.

I started the day with visions of a 120 mile excursion ending in Arches National Park.  Forty miles of headwinds helped me to lower my sights to Moab (at 90 miles) and a probable motel (the sky still looks menacing and the air is still chilly); but about ten miles east of Moab I finally decided it would be dumb to spend another night in a motel, and settled into a lovely campsite in the willows by the river.

The Colorado River, along UT 128
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Fisher Towers and the Colorado River
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Today's ride: 80 miles (129 km)
Total: 120 miles (193 km)

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