Packed. I would say "packed and ready" but the ready part was undoubtedly untrue. This was supposed to be a full moon ride. For many reasons it was not, chief among them I must have been looking at the lunar chart on crack since the real full moon was 10 days away.
I arrived a little before midnight. Wrong gear choice, bum leg, and thunderstorms all along I-70. But the sky was clear and there were a million stars out on Mineral Bottom road and I was determined. A call to the visitors center earlier in the day let me know the rock slide had been cleaned up and I was headed off the opposite direction as my first trip around the rim.
I rode conservatively all though the night. I hadn't exactly done much training the past couple weeks and certain was in no mood to fall in the middle of nowhere. The rim was deserted. It was me and the animals and that was it. The stars came out at times and other times it was clouds and rain instead. It was so warm I never put my jacket on though. By 2am I was fighting the sleepies pretty hard and at 4am I broke down and drank my coffee while I sat on a rock and looked around at the desert all around me. I knew Murphy's would come soon. Plus I had to keep moving since I kept imagining mountain lions stalking me out there.
Sleepy eyes and LEDs. I pedaled on and the closer I got to Murphy's the more I woke up. I changed the last set of batteries at the top and flipped the lights on high to begin descending. I was happy for the outhouses too, my stomach was less than perfect. Still it wasn't bad at all. I was enjoying myself despite the challenges and I couldn't wait to watch the world around me come into view at dawn.
By Candlestick I was getting ready to turn off the lights. I was rolling faster and faster now as I daylight came. I saw the only other humans sleeping at Candlestick and they didn't even stir when I rolled though.
The rest was mostly as I'd remembered it and I just kept turning up the wick as much as my gearing allowed.
It was very peaceful out there and totally silent when I stopped. If I hadn't told Marni when to expect my call and been so pokey avoiding mud from the rain before the Hogback I would have lingered longer down by the river.
Hardscrabble was just as I remembered, not bad at all. In fact there hardly seems like any climbing on the whole 104 miles compared to most rides. I walked only a few spots but the constant rocks and sand did keep my attention and remind my ass and hands I was riding rigid.
Pillars appeared in the distance, I would ride to them and then they'd appear far down the trail. The miles really clicked off as the sun rose.
The last section from Hardscrabble to the base of mineral bottom road took longer than I remembered but there was only one wash I had to walk though. I wondered how many other people rode there bikes out here in August. I kept moving, it would be hot soon and I had a decidedly dialed in amount of water.
Soon I arrived at the base of the climb and after one last picture I headed on up. I was determined to clean this one so I did. Switchback by switchback I grinded it out and less than 20 minutes later I was up. From here it was a long rolling climb up to the car.
I love the big rock walls.
Time to climb.
Climbing done. The rolling road saw me pass 3 more vehicles headed down to the river no doubt. I was ready to find a Sobe.
All wrapped up. Somewhere under 11 hours total time from car to car. A touring pace for sure but quite fun. Some people might say that it is strange to ride the rim so much at night but I truely enjoyed it. Watching sunrise from the trail is becoming one of my favorite things and it's so dramatic to go from darkness to the huge landscape appearing all around you. I like this ride and it's so much more than it's "stats". Next time I come back it will be much cooler and perhaps I'll be riding much fatter tires. Until then I'll dream about huge red walls, the river and mountain lions following me.