Thursday, April 5, 2007

White Rim, Part II

Chapter 6: Murphy's Hogsback

There are three major climbs on the White Rim Trail. The first comes at about 50 miles and is called Murphy's Hogsback. And yes, it really is as steep as it looks (see pic above). I was a bit startled by the climb. After cruising for miles and miles on flat road, all of the sudden I looked up, and there was this road leading into the sky. I kind of chuckled at the sight of it. My amusement was quickly diffused by the necessity of shifting into the granny and figuring out a way to make it up the climb. For some reason, I was driven to clean the hill -- to ride it without unclipping. And although at one point I think I was perpendicular to the hill, I rode it clean. I think I even saw a heartrate of 190. For a moment, I also thought I saw a unicorn. Lucky for us, we had lunch waiting for us at the top.

Chapter 7: My Hero

While we were eating lunch, we were overtaken by a solo, self-supported rider on a fully rigid single speed. Granted his bike was light, was titanium, was a 29er, and was pimped out, it was still a single speed (34x19). Single speed guy started with 170 ounces of water, took very few stops, and ended up riding the trail in 9 hours and 40 minutes. Tough.

Chapter 8: Riding Next to the Green

After descending the Hogsback, we rode for several miles next to the Green River. Unlike the first 50 miles during which we made frequent stops to see the sights, we rode the last 50 miles like we were on a mission. We lined it up and pacelined it on the trail. It was almost surreal as we cruised over slickrock and sand against the redrock backdrop, along the White Rim, which often dropped off several hundred feet, in view of the snow-capped Lasal Mountains, and next to the seemingly placid Green River. The scenery almost overshadowed the twinges of fatigue.

Chapter 9: The Death March

At about mile 90, the epicness and scenic-ness of the ride had nearly worn off and I had been lulled into grinding out the miles. I was shaken out of this mode when, again, for the third time, I looked up and was shocked to see the road climbing up a sheer redrock wall. At Hogsback, I chuckled. This time, I nearly laughed aloud. We had been riding for over seven hours, we were all fatigued, and now, awaiting us was a steep climb that switchbacked up a cliff of over 1000 feet. Again, I shifted into granny, and spun to survive. Again, lucky for us, at the top was a cooler full of soda and Gatorade. After a nice little break, we saddled up for the last time for the last leg to the cars. The last leg is a graded 15 mile dirt road that was surprisingly challenging, made so by the long miles we had put in that day. I'm not ashamed to admit that when the cars came into view, I raised my hands, pretending I had just won a Pro Tour race. I think I saw Jon shed a tear.

Chapter 10: Is a Bun a Given?

On the way home to SLC, we stopped at Wendy's. For some reason, the employees at this particular Wendy's were challenged. Aside from ignoring us, ignoring sanitary standards, overcharging us, and being unable to fulfill our order on the third try, we learned that getting a bun with your sandwich is not a given. While waiting in line, a fellow strolled in, walked up to the counter and handed the cashier a foil-wrapped sandwich, stating that it was not what he ordered. "What did you order?" the cashier asked. Fellow: "Meat, cheese, and ketchup, not a chicken sandwich" he said, exposing the chicken breast for the cashier to see. A few minutes later, the cashier handed a foil-wrapped package to the fellow, who took it, opened it, and promptly returned. "What's wrong now?" the cashier asked. "Well, there's just meat, cheese, and ketchup, and no bun." "Isn't that what you ordered? Meat, cheese, and ketchup?" Response: "I thought the bun was a given." "Oh," said the cashier, as she again reached for the foil-wrapped, bun-less package.


Several times this week I have had flashbacks of the White Rim ride (no unicorns though). It was undoubtedly one of the top 3 rides of my life. Many thanks to my fellow riders.

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