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May 8-10

May 11, 2019

Loaded up with dog food and spare thorn-resistant inner tubes for Jax’s trailer, we set out for Provo, with a special stop at the Utah Central Association of Realtors headquarters in Orem. My colleague, Aaron Drussel, owner of BHGRE Influence Partners, arranged for us to share information about K9s For Warriors at a Women’s Council of Realtors luncheon there.

We nearly missed the meeting. When we were only 7 miles from UCAR, weird things started going wrong with the rear end of the bike. One at a time, the rear brake stuck, the rear fender dragged and the rear derailleur threw the chain off and stopped shifting. Each time I tried to make little adjustments that would at least get me there, which would last maybe a mile. Finally, I dismounted, unhooked the trailer, took off all the bags and sat down to get a close look at what was going on. Now I could see what all that gear (and my hurry to get somewhere) had been concealing: After about a thousand miles of hauling Jax, the trailer had begun to loosen the skewer that holds it to the back of the bike. That skewer also holds the wheel and everything else at the back of the bike together. All I had to do was put the chain back on, re-tighten the skewer, return the brake and fender to their original positions and Boom, we were back in business. We made it to the meeting, met some wonderful people and then proceeded to Provo without incident.

I was very glad we made it to the Women’s Council of Realtors meeting. Interacting with a roomful of awesome, community-minded professionals is way better than sitting on a curb with a greasy bicycle chain in your hands!

On May 9th, we left Provo and headed for Price, on the other side of the Wassatch Range, the western edge of the Rocky Mountains. It was a 76-mile ride crossing a 7,477’ pass (Soldier Summit), but still, it took way longer than I expected. Almost 12 hours, including stops to eat, let Jax out, etc. The problem wasn’t the climb, it was the road. U.S. Highway 6, according to a helpful man I met at a Chevron in Spanish Fork, just before I turned on to that very highway, “is one of the three most dangerous roads in the United States.” He went on to suggest an alternate ride route that would take us hundreds of miles out of our way. No thanks. Why, I asked, is it so dangerous? “People are stupid.” Hmmm, alright, it was nice meeting you. And then we turned onto the Road From Hell.

At first it was fine. The shoulder was nail- and glass-strewn for miles, but it was wide. One hint of what was to come was the way the rumble strip, the perforation in pavement meant to warn motorists when they wander off the road and onto the shoulder, itself began wandering all over the shoulder. Then at some point, the shoulder would completely disappear, then reappear with a rumble strip right in the middle. These strips that produce a sudden hum when a car drives over them make a Bam-Bam-Bam sound when a loaded touring bike and dog trailer stray onto them. Body-shaking and potentially spoke-breaking stuff.

On the right side of the shoulder, when there was one, there was often a 6-inch drop off to a gravel, rock and road debris-filled strip. For many, many miles, one wheel of Jax’s trailer had to roll either in that strip or on the rumble strip. That made us go even more slowly than normal… something I hadn’t believed was possible. But it didn’t stop us, it just slowed us down.

Maybe 9-10,000 cars passed us that day and not one showed any outward signs of having a stupid person inside. No one gave us an angry horn honk, though we did get honks of encouragement as we approached the summit. I even counted three separate “Beep, beep-beep-beep, beep, Beep Beeps” during the ride. That didn’t actually disprove the Chevron guy’s stupidity theory, but it was downright friendly!

But the road itself… it’s almost as though it was designed to force bicycles and motor vehicles as close together as possible. It isn’t just the narrow shoulders at various points, it’s a combination of elements that force sudden direction changes and increase the chance for miscalculation. I included a couple of examples in the video below, but they don’t do this road justice. For future readers/cyclists with trailers considering taking this road, I give it a grade of F-minus. For cyclists without trailers or with one-wheeled trailers, it’s a solid D. But Jax and I made it and we’re moving on now. Tomorrow, we ride for Green River.

The town of Price when we arrived

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  1. Danielle permalink

    This is frighteningly vivid. My favorite part?…. “All I had to do was…” LOL— ain’t no thing for J&J.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gary Segers permalink

    Unbelievable John. Been over that summit a couple of times but never looked at it as a road to ride bike and trailer. State of Utah should be ashamed of designing a road like this for bikes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cathy Price permalink

    John, Our prayers are with you and jax, I was worried when you mentioned that you were going to Price, I knew that this was the canyon you would go. All I knew I could do was pray….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Catherina Price permalink

    My husband wanted to share this..
    So glad your both safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Catherina Price permalink

    This is Spanish Fork Canyon in the Snow.
    My husband wanted to share this..
    So glad your both safe.

    Liked by 1 person

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