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April 2017 Rockies: Tandem Cycling Expedition

*****

A few hours later I woke to the high pitched howls of a desert coyote seemingly within poking distance of the tent. However, instead of being scared like the last time we had camped in America I was merely excited and reached for my camera in hopes of recording its beautiful call. Unfortunately though, I also woke Rob up and he scared it away while trying to find it with a torch. Oh well; we’d be sleeping in the same national park tomorrow so maybe I’d have better luck then.

When morning finally came, my previous day’s worry of cycling 41 miles increased tenfold. For sometime after the coyote awakening my chronic pain had flared up, changing the sweet muscle tenderness of a full day’s ride into a raging hellcat bent on ripping my thighs apart until they were small enough to fit through the fine holes of a siv. Nevertheless, I rose and packed up the tent because we did not go through all of this hassle just to give up on the morning of day two.

My butt on the otherhand, dearly wished we had. A feeling Rob’s butt also shared despite his use of padded bike shorts.

wild camping at government wash road in Lake Mead
The first four miles was just torture as our butts had to readjust to the discomfort of our saddles next four was even worse as we struggled not to die of heat exhaustion due to the complete lack of shade and so we came up with a system where every time I drank, I then passed it up to Rob, and then drank again when he passed it back. But though we had found a solution to this problem, there were still many hurdles to come.

For we had barely passed the Bowl of Fire, a mere 16 miles from camp, when the frail wind behind us had decided to change direction and strength until we were battling a full frontal wind.

Seemingly up a constant stretch of hills.

And with sharp pain in my right thigh and an aching stiffness in both of Rob’s kneecaps.

But somehow we managed to cycle another 9 miles before taking our first proper rest at the Redstone trail – a place that was unsurprisingly covered in beautiful red stones. There we had a bit of not-nearly-enough lunch and a short half mile walk around the Redstone loop in hopes that exercising different muscles would ease the pain of our bike ones. It didn’t. At all. If anything, it might’ve made things worse…

But whatever. The stunning colours and shapes of Redstone was well worth it in my opinion.

Tandem bike at Redstone Lake Mead
redstone lake mead mri inside sandstone cave
redstone lake mead cave view redstone lake mead hole inside cave hole
redstone lake mead
overview of redstone lake mead

Even if that stop did mean we had to then cycle through a bit of rain and into even stronger winds due to hitting the edge of a storm right before our final rest of the day. I mean, it’s not like we were out and about through the roughest bit as we found shelter in the picnic area at Roger’s Spring – a lukewarm ‘hot’ spring that was full of fish willing to nibble at your back and legs. The small .5-1” fish were pleasant; the bigger 2” ones not so much as instead of staying still to feast, they darted in and out with rough vibrations of their mouth.

roger's spring lake mead
The question of whether our trip was real yet was cast back into the air as we waited for the winds to die and the rain to stop, but as I looked out at the beautiful mountains and powerful skies around me I found myself answering the same as always. “No, not yet.”

It wasn’t until we laid down for the night that my answer finally changed. But surprisingly it wasn’t due to both of my legs being a wretched mess (to put it lightly) nor to the annoyance of our packing. It wasn’t due to the blistering heat nor the funny tasting water we had filtered that morning.

Rather, it was when the dust blew under the tent overlay and through the mosquito net, that I finally looked at Rob and sighed: “Shit just got real.”


Ever been on a trip that didn't really hit you until a few days in?

lifelong vagabonds 2017 cycling expedition