Leaving Zion behind I headed north, my next destination was Cedar Breaks National Monument. It was a short trip up I-15 to Cedar City, and I soon could see my fellow IBR rider that had been at Zion. Traffic was moderate for the few minutes I was in Cedar city as the town was waking up. Soon I was behind the Gold Wing rider heading out of the town on UT-14 moving up Cedar Canyon.
We were both behind a long line of cars, with at least one truck pulling a trailer. Nothing will burn time faster than going up a mountain road behind other slower vehicles. Going for 30 miles at 40 MPH in a 55 zone makes the trip take 40 minutes vs. 33 or 22% longer. Getting around cars on these kinds of roads is vital if you want to keep to your schedule. I pass cars as quickly as I safely can.
I assumed that my Gold Wing rider would be taking a similar approach to mine, but at the first passing opportunity he didn’t pass the car in front. I know many people do not like to just leapfrog a single car when there is a long line. But that is just not a good practice on a mountain road. Just before the passing zone ended I passed the Gold Wing and the last car in the line. Within 2 miles, I was out clear of traffic and moving up the canyon. The Gold Wing rider was still mired back behind me and dwindling fast.
It was a very scenic ride up the mountain to the park, I highly recommend it if you are ever in the area. Soon I was turning into the park and a few miles up the road I spotted Jon Good and Ande Bergmann-Good heading the opposite direction. They must have just come from the bonus stop. I’ve been in several events with Jon and Ande, they are a really good team. They are in the Military and stationed overseas these days. But use up a good amount of their vacation time to do rallies. I knew I wasn’t too far off a good route if they were close by.
CEBR – Cedar Breaks National Monument
40.6 Miles Since ZION Arrived 07:26 Departed 07:29
I had to actually get more than a few steps off the bike to get a picture of the required building. But I was soon mounted up, just as I started to pull out the Gold Wing rider was pulling in. I waved and at the entrance to the parking lot Nancy Lefcourt was pulling in as well. There’s no better illustration of not dealing with slow traffic than that. It’s not a lot of time, only a matter of minutes, but if you wonder why top riders can out-score you, start adding up the minutes you waste in long bonus stops and riding behind cars.
My next stop was in Nevada at Great Basin National Park. Now I knew this was not the best place to go. It was out of the way and would be a long ride for not many points. But it was in Nevada, and would help me get my target number of states for leg 1. There were more points to be had by staying in Utah, but north of Great Basin in Idaho there were a cluster of stops that were worth some decent points. It was a more direct route to go into Nevada, and speeds are high, so the distance wouldn’t be too bad.
I’ve traveled many lonely highways. While US50 is billed at the loneliest road in America, that’s far from true. But I will say that many of the loneliest roads in America are in the neighborhood of US50. I enjoy the temporary solitude that these kinds of roads offer. Certainly my trip on Utah 21 out to Great Basin National Park offered a lot of time to contemplate everything but the company of other human beings.
Sadly one of the things I did have to contemplate was road construction. There was fresh oil on the highway for long stretches. Luckily there was no actual construction going on, so I wasn’t really slowed much. But I was a little concerned that my tires would get greasy. The fuel continued to drain properly and soon I was crossing the Nevada border and pulling into the access road for Great Basin National Park. Pulling out of the road were Jon and Ande once again! I figured I was making great time if I was seeing them.
GRBA – Great Basin National Park
164 Miles Since CEBR Arrived 08:52 Departed 08:56
Headed north out or Great Basin I was heading to the town of Ely, NV. Ely is the start of the Cognoscente rallies, and I’ve spent a surprising amount of time in the town since I’ve moved to the west coast. I knew that I’d need to get fuel there as there are no services for a long ways north of the town. As Ely came into view from the distance I spied a McDonalds right across the street from the gas station. I was still craving my missed Sausage McMuffin from the morning and figured as it was still early why not get a bite to eat!
Ely Gas Stop & McDonalds
66.5 Miles Since GRBA Arrived 09:46 Departed 10:05
Now if you go back and look at my original plan you’ll notice that I was supposed to be at Great Basin at 12:53. However, I had arrived 4 hours early. Minidoka National Historic Site was my next scheduled stop. It was 335 miles from Great basin, but at my current rate I would get there long before my 19:45 scheduled time. Once again my unaggressive schedule was not helping me much. I decided to add Hagerman Fossil beds to the itinerary. It was only a short extra trip and worth a good amount of points. It was one of the many alternate side trips that I had built in contingencies for.
Licking the crumbs of my McMuffin of my fingers I got back on the bike and started moving north.