Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wind, Salt and 117 Miles to SLC Day 11

We reached Salt Lake City today, but not without effort! The wind was blowing from the north and the east, either across from our left, or directly into our faces. Until now, we've been very lucky with the weather (if you don't mind a one hour snowfall while climbing the Sierras).

Our route went from the Nevada-Utah border, across the Bonneville Salt Flats, to the Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City. It was a challenging day for everyone, riding into the wind. We only had a few hills to climb, and it seemed quite hot as we pedalled up them.

For the first 40 miles, we had a group of 7 to 8 riders taking turns "pulling"--i.e., riding in front, into the wind, while the other riders "drafted" behind. We experimented with single and "double" pace lines (e.g.two lines of riders, riding beside one another). Each man (sorry, that's not sexist--only guys were in my pace line) "pulled" for one mile, then rotated to the back. The scenery wasn't the best unless you were upfront, riding hard!

We stopped a few times to take pictures of the salt flats (that's Wayne, above, who even tasted the salt--"hmmm, I think it needs a little paprika"). At our first SAG stop (after 40 miles), we still had 77 miles to go!

The group broke up in the middle part, after we left the flats. Andrew had two flat tires--we ultimately patched a small hole in his last inner tube, then used a granola bar wrapper to "boot the tire"--i.e., we found a small hole in the tire as well, and placed the wrapper as a barrier between the inner surface of the tire and the outer surface of the inner tube. It lasted to the end of the ride, but he'll buy new tires and tubes tomorrow on our "rest day".

Between the heat (mid 80's), the constant sunshine, the exertion against the wind and the long distance (added to the previous two challenging days), some folks were really tired when we arrived. However there was a spirit of accomplishment as we celebrated at the hotel. We've ridden 855 miles in 11 days, and climbed over many high mountains, big hills and even those overpasses which burn the legs when you're exhausted!

BTW, the Bonneville Salt Flats cover ~ 30,000 acres, and, along with the Great Salt Lake, are the remnants of ancient Lake Bonneville. Wind and water combined to create the flat surface of salt, and in winter a shallow layer of standing water floods the surface of the salt flats.

The first recorded crossing of the Great Salt Lake desert region was in 1845 by Capt. John Fremont's survey party, with scouts Kit Carson and Joe Walker. The salts include potassium, lithium, magnesium and sodium chloride. (Info courtesy of the Utah park service).

Tomorrow I hope to explore Salt Lake City.

No comments: