Zion to Fredonia - Cedar City to Flagstaff 1987 - CycleBlaze

August 11, 1987

Zion to Fredonia

Arising early once again, I made use of the washroom before the throngs arrived, washing myself and my shirts before leaving Zion for the town of Springdale and breakfast.  On my way out, the park bestowed one final gift - rounding a bend, I startled a mule deer doe and her spotted fawn on the shoulder of the road.

Breakfast was inspiring - a spanish omelet and fried potatoes in a Yuppie cafe offering an awesome view, with new age music burbling in the background.  Over my meal I made the major decision to change my route and head east to the town of Hurricane, and from there southeast to Fredonia rather than doubling back through the park to Carmel as originally planned.  My justification was that Hurricane had the closest store carrying inner tubes, and I was now spareless - the blowout left an 8 inch rip in the tube.  I was also slightly influenced by the vision of backtracking uphill for 15 miles and then riding UPHILL through the tunnel with an impatient ranger to the rear.

The 22 mile excursion to Hurricane through the Virgin River valley was scenic and enjoyable but uneventful.  My arrival in town was heralded by another flat!  Rear tire this time.  Strange - something, the inner liner I suppose, had sliced it lengthwise. There was a slight groove for the entire perimeter of the tube, ending in  three inch gouge with  small aperture in it.  I successfully healed it with FOUR patches.  It reinforced my sense of wisdom over the detour decision.  At the hardware, I picked up three spares.

I managed to dawdle in town until about noon, stopping in various stores, looking for a map of Arizona, and so on.  By the time I finally left it was getting HOT.  This was the first day on the trip for which heat was an issue.  I fortified myself well for the afternoon - with a quart of milk and a Sprite inside me and three full water bottles, a beer and a bottle of orange juice in the hold, I headed east toward tomorrow's breakfast in Fredonia, 52 miles away.  Pacing myself to the tune of "We are biking to Fredonia", I persevered 10 miles downroad and 2000 feet uphill before collapsing by the side of the road in the shade of a juniper to catch up on my journal.  One hour and one beer later I resumed, with Colorado City, 12 miles away, as my next goal.

I was eager to reach this place.  A clerk in Hurricane said he thought they had a store there but didn't know if they would serve me.  "They are a bunch of polygamists and don't care much for strangers", he cautioned.  Well.  It is a curious place alright.  It is very neat, clean and orderly in appearance, seeming a bit misplaced out here in this barren, exposed landscape.  The grocery store is huge by middle of the desert standards - it is probably the best stocked one I will find before Flagstaff.  The people here though were of course the most interesting aspect of the town.  Clearly they were of some common order.  their dress was uniformly as tidy as the town.  The women (the matrons, I supposed) all had their hair pinned up in braids on top of their heads, while the maidens all wore it hanging down.  The most striking feature of the population to me though was the children.  There were LOTS of them - gangs of them visible everywhere.  I believe I saw a hundred of them there.  Going forth to multiply was clearly a tenet of their beliefs.  These children were curiously timid.  While I was obviously an oddity in their community, none of the boys asked about my bike and none of them would even acknowledge my greeting.

By the time I left Colorado City it was 4 PM (Arizona time - back on Standard), and I had only about four hours of daylight left to cover the final 32 miles to Fredonia.  I was hot and tired, but didn't have much choice - the countryside was BARREN.  I could see no prospects for shelter anywhere.  The road stretched ahead, featureless and straight, for miles.  The landscape was much prettier than this suggests though - the entire afternoon's ride has been rimmed to the north by a multicolored mesa with occasional gaps affording views of the Zion region to the north.  The desert I'm riding through is colorful as well - up close it is just endless sagebrush punctuted by an occasional cow, falcon or windmill; but at a distance the features blend together into a motley of creams, greens and reds.  It is really very lovely.

Happily for my tiring legs, a stiff tailwind picked up, handing me about 30 effortless miles in my highest gear, flying all of the way into Fredonia.  This being the midpoint of the trip, I decided to celebrate by buying an $18 bed at the Blue Sage Motel; and after cleanup duties in the shower and at the laundromat I collapsed for the night.  It turned out to be a good decision.  In the middle of the night I was awakened by a huge electrical storm - one that made all of the previous ones I had seen seem trivial by comparison.  It lasted quite a while and dropped much rain.  It was a very good night to be indoors.

East of Hurricane
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Near Colorado City, with the cliffs of Zion in the distance
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Near Colorado City
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The Vermillion Cliffs (now a National Monument)
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Today's ride: 85 miles (137 km)
Total: 267 miles (430 km)

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