Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Monument Valley, UT
Elevation: 5,330 ft.
Distance: 102.4 mi.
Odometer: 2,524.4 mi.
Today started off easy enough due to consistent downhills, and by mile 50, I'd lost all the elevation I gained yesterday. That's when things got ugly. There were basically no flats the entire rest of the day, and many of the grades were steep, as much as 16%. Add that to the headwind I had to fight in the second half, which kept getting stronger, and it wasn't an easy day. One of the most picturesque, though. Why are the pretty days always so hard?
In one particular spot, I saw a sign next to the road, though there was nothing around for miles. What was it announcing? Upon inspection, I found out that this specific spot had been used in countless movies, especially westerns. Included among them was Forrest Gump, in the scene where he decides to quit running, announcing "I'm pretty tired, think I'll go home now." How appropriate.
Halfway through today I found out that Monument Valley had a few places to camp, so I decided to head there and overshoot my planned destination by about 30 miles. Two days from now I was supposed to do 130 miles, so I'm trying to even things out.
Met a ton of French speakers today, including a group of Harley riders from Quebec and a French married couple at the Monument Valley overlook. My accent must still be pretty good, because the married couple thought I was French for a minute!
My left knee had a few bothersome pains yesterday on hills, but today it became a problem. I couldn't really push like normal, which is probably why I resorted to my granny gear so much. In one day, I think I've doubled its use for the summer. I'm putting some ice on my knee tonight and hoping for the best tomorrow. I think it'll get better as I get out of the mountains.
After spending an entire extra day of riding to see Monument Valley, I took the four-mile turn-off and got a magnificent view that rivalled Arches.
I wanted to camp at the Navajo Tribal Park right at the overlook, but they only accepted cash, and their ATM was broken. There was also a hotel, but it cost $215 a night. Yikes! I pedalled the extra six miles to the other RV park, which had water, flush toilets, a pool, and showers. Good choice.
After I’d gotten my tent set up in a quiet area at the edge of the RV park, what shows up but about 100 French teenagers? For the third time in the same day, I met French speakers in a desolate corner of Utah. What were the odds? For a long time, I didn’t say anything, until I finished brushing my teeth in a crowded bathroom and blurted out (in French), “Why are there so many French people here?” Within seconds, I was surrounded by a bunch of curious teens, asking about the bike they’d seen next to my tent, where I was from, and if I’d biked the whole way. They were on a long school-sponsored road trip in the American Southwest (they don’t have similar landscapes in Europe). When I revealed that I was a science teacher, they thought that was a hoot. I imagine they don’t have many teachers that do something quite like this with their summers. Though considering their awesome road trip, they’re not far off.
from Pedal for Potatoes