Another day another 400 k, that’s pretty much how 7 randonneurs approached this day’s ride. All but 1 rider was experienced at this distance and 3 in the group were using this ride as preparation for the Cascade 1200 in a few weeks. It was good to have a solid group of riders.

The route immediately started on a climb right out of Hurricane and then continued east into the rising sun. About 20 miles out riders crossed the state line and into Arizona. The Arizona RBA might have been offended for this encroachment but she was on the ride and offered no complaints to me. The towns of Colorado City, Pipe Springs, Fredonia and Kanab all wheeled by without incident. Just past Kanab the climbing started again up to Coral Pink Sand Dunes junction followed by a swift descent to Mt. Carmel junction. After that, more climbing and more exotic locations, Orderville, Glendale and Todd’s Junction all marked points on the climb up the Grand Staircase, the predominant geographic feature of this region. This passage follows the course of the Virgin River up to its headwaters beginning with the deep red sandstone common to the Zion area on up to the white cliffs and Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. Once at Todd’s Junction however you enter into the Great Basin and begin following the Sevier River for the next 50 miles. The elevation is now over 7000 feet and even though it is June, temperatures are quite pleasant. Ponderosa Pines and green meadows are the rule in this area.

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Just outside the town of Hatch we had our first incident, a call for assistance. It seems that one rider had eaten something bad and was throwing up at the side of the road. The RBA rescue squad responded and within an hour or so was on the scene. Apparently if you have an open flask of gel, keep it in your car for a few years and then eat it you will get an upset tummy.  I guess even experienced randonneurs can learn something new occasionally.

The weather continued to be good and even the winds were often favorable. Once riders turned south again along I-15 they had a fast section with a good tailwind. That gave them a break and a chance to rest a bit while cruising along at 25 mph. Darkness fell again somewhere between Parowan and Cedar City for most riders but they still kept a good pace.  From here on in with the exception of a bit of interstate highway the roads were mostly quiet rural roads with little traffic. That made one less thing to worry about for this tired bunch riding in the dark.

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Back in Hurricane at RBA headquarters I began my vigil, waiting for the riders to show up. I was hoping not to get any more calls for assistance so I didn’t have to abandon my post, mostly so I could get a nap in. Eventually the first riders turned up at 2:00 am and the next riders a few minutes later, while the last pair rolled in at 3:20 am. All were in surprisingly good spirits considering that they had just been on the bike for 21 hours or so.

Overall the ride went well.  The weather had been good, traffic was light, there were few mechanicals and everyone except the vintage energy gel eater finished the ride. Congratulations to all who participated in this challenging event!

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