“I have compared Baker with Paris, in the sense that it is a collection of hospitalities and if you spend a day in town you will know what I mean. This tiny settlement in the Snake Valley a few miles from the Utah line is the capital of an enchanted realm in the high summits of Great Basin National Park, the subterranean mysteries of the Lehman Caves and the sleepy village itself, where peace competes with quiet to be the main attraction. It is nearly metropolitan now, with T&D’s store offering all provisions (including the good beer and wine with corks!). And you can always sip a cool drink on the porch while watching the clouds drift by”
This is precisely the feeling that we got as we crossed the border into our first little town in Nevada. With a population of only 65 permanent residents, most of the locals worked either as Ranchers in the area or Rangers at the Great Basin National Park which was only 5 miles west of Baker. Most of the riders decided to visit the national park and go for a short hike in the mountains. Some even reached the snow!
Nearly a quarter of the residents joined us for a huge dinner at the little church in town; whether on the move biking across the country or living in a tiny town, we had something special in common with the locals; we were both part of a small community helping one another.
Baker began our journey on Highway 50 in Nevada. And if other towns were going to be as hospitable and kind as Baker, we were in great shape to survive the loneliest road in America.
The hardest part about heading to Milford, Utah was leaving our gracious hosts, mountain views, and sweet digs in Cedar City. The weather was mild, cool, and cloudy. The road was gradual, smooth, straight, and quiet. The sun was rising to our right as we headed north, but seemed to take its time, lifting sleepily like a hot air balloon. Soon its rays were warming the road, the black asphalt lapping up the heat, eager to relieve its cold thirst. The gradual warmth was welcome to us riders, as each morning has been a routine of sleepily layering on as many warm fabrics as possible, only to quickly strip them away as the heat of the day barrels down from the sky within the first hour of daylight. Today’s lazy clouds slowing the sun’s abrasive warmth made us feel correctly prepared.
The mild gain in altitude on this northernly road was truly put into perspective after the thousands of feet of gain headed into the mountains that surround Cedar City. Milford sits lower in the Western Utah basin which meant we had only a small kicker of a hill to climb before reaping the rewards of a sweeping descent. However, the caveat of descending into desert valleys is that the metaphor of baking in an oven becomes less of a metaphor and more of an incredibly accurate analysis of what is happening to you. Memories of Louisiana, West Texas, and Oklahoma came flooding back to our minds as farms lazily rolled by on either side of the flat, straight road we road across in the afternoon desert heat. But hope was not lost. We knew what sanctuary was waiting in Milford, Utah. We didn’t know what size, what color, or what shape it would be. But we knew what it was. It was a swimming pool. A public swimming pool, with showers, generously opened by the town of Milford hours early for our private usage. We were thrilled. We splashed, thrashed, and jumped into the pool for hours before exhausting ourselves, ready for our camping/picnic hybrid dinner. Among the hours that lingered before and after dinner, we started a very special process. Distrubuting Bike and Build SUS ’19’s grant money allocation to grant applicants. It was a fantastic insight for those of us that are new to the Bike and Build grant process, and learning about new organizations and their projects provoked fantastic and productive conversation. We read about half of the proposals, saving the rest for when we could dedicate more time to them. It was a task that reminded us that Bike and Build is coming to an end, and this is a large part of our opportunity to leave a lasting impact.
Following a wonderful breakfast in St. George with some folks from the local Habitat, the team hit the road. A longer day was ahead consisting of roughly 90 miles with some gnarly elevation gain. Luckily enough, a large portion of the morning was spent on a bike path headed to Snow Canyon State Park.
After exiting the park, a B&B alum, Chris, joined the team for lunch. He brought food for us to enjoy including some of the best pies you will ever have. Seriously, they were tasty.
After more climbing, we made it to Cedar City beating the approaching storm. Our gracious host had dinner ready. After dinner crew gave a presentation educating the locals about Bike & Build, some of the team went for a hike while the rest of us went to sleep.
The team rode into Zion National Park (the third NP of the trip!) today. The ride was short, albeit with a couple challenging climbs and some marvelous descents. Upon entering the park, the team was in awe of the massive red stone faces surrounding them. With goals in mind to hike, climb, and swim, the riders quickly set up camp and left to check out all the area had to offer.
The next day, team spent their one and only “day off” in the park, but surely stayed physically occupied. Angels Landing and the Narrows were two popular hikes amongst the members. In theme with the other parks the team traveled to, a group of riders became junior rangers. Later in the day, the small park-side town of Springdale was a hub for riders wanting a meal or to shop.
Until next time, Zion. Two fantastic days well spent.
After one of the hardest and longest rides of our trip, we woke up in our tents (some of us hammocks or miniature tarp structures) in Jacob Lake. We had a beautiful night under the stars and singing around our campfire.
It’s a big alumni day for SUS’19 as well! 2 alumni joined us for the quick 36 mile descent sporting silly outfits from Moab, Utah. The 2 alum Jamie and Will completed a 5 month natural building internship with Community Rebuilds, an affordable housing nonprofit in Moab with our current SUS’19 rider Claire.
In comparison to yesterday’s climb, we all cruised into Utah today. We had fun taking state line photos and then enjoyed the rest of our evening at our welcoming and generous host church.
Our dinner was nourishing and plentiful with Lasagna, pastas and desserts. Many church community members joined us for the meal and our 3rd alumni was picked up from Zion and able to join us as well.
All of us are excited for our ride into Zion tomorrow and our day off Tuesday. We’re wrapping up the evening playing games and resting up for the fun to be had in the morning!
Thanks for the welcoming entree Utah. We’re excited to see more of your beauty this week!
Tuba City, AZ – July 5th Happy birthday to Kelley!
Our time in the Grand Canyon on the 4th of July was a highlight for much of the team but none of us knew about the beautiful descent ride we were headed for! Many of us took our time in the park, riding along the south rim and stopping off at scenic viewpoints to enjoy the canyon before having to leave.
Once we were out of the park, we descended into the Navajo Nation and ate lunch at the Little Colorado River Gorge lookout. The views heading into lunch were incredible! Some groups stopped to buy local jewelry along the way, namely turquoise, a stone that represents happiness, luck and health in Navajo culture.
Post-ride, we enjoyed burrito bowls/tacos and prepared for our upcoming century ride.
Rolling out of Flagstaff we were excited to reach the Grand Canyon, about half the team had visited prior and half hadn’t. It was a beautiful ride in, with tail winds (for the first time, thank goodness). Upon rolling in we spotted a 2016 Bike & Build jersey and the alumni wearing it spotted us! Spencer, a Connecticut to California alum hung out with us around the bonfire and graciously bought us all the fresh produce and food we had been missing. Thank you Spencer! Brit, a Northern route alum from 2018 also came by our campground, she was there training to be an outdoor guide.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to become junior rangers, as planned, because we missed a mandatory ranger event, but we consider ourselves junior rangers in spirit. We walked out to the rim around ten o’clock to see the stars which was a once in a life time view. It was a chilly night and my giant 30 degree rated sleeping bag finally came in handy.