We wake up hoping the broken frame was just a bad dream. Nope, sure enough...it really happened!
We decide to simply ride and rely upon the “tent pole” repair we made the day before. It is actually quite sturdy and given the reduced weight of the fuel container, we feel that if we keep that weight forward and partially over the seat, the bike should be fine if we take it easy. Of course, Jim will be backing up against his gear all day, but, it should get us a couple hundered miles for the day.
We head out optimistic, though I am sure it is bugging Jim a bit. We make our way toward Richfield, UT. On the way, we ride next to a canal for quite a few miles. This takes us behind some peoples farms and even thru their backyards in a few cases! On the way, we see a man on horseback, leading another horse...it is such a “western” scene I feel compelled to snap a photo.
It isnt long before we are coming into Richfield, UT. We hit an ATM and ride down Main Street. Neither of us is saying it, but we are secretly looking for a welding shop or a UPS store that could at least lighten Jim's load. We pass one, then another Welding Shop! Can you believe two, in such a small town?! Both are closed obviously, as it is Sunday...in the middle of the country! We look at the buildings more closely, trying to spot a phone number thinking perhaps we could make a call??! No such luck.
We pull up to a McDonalds in a shopping area off Main Street. I say, “well, we are here...lets get some breakfast” (It is about 1030 am) As we get off the bikes, we look across the parking lot and see the UPS Store. It is, of course, closed. We shrug it off and go into McDonalds.
I see several people inside and I ask Jim, “you want me to just ask someone if they will ship your stuff??...worst they can do is say no”. He replies, “nahhh..”. I walk up to the counter and see the Manager standing there. She is in her 30's and something made me feel like I could ask...soooooooooo...I ask her, “This is going to sound odd, but...is there someone you know here in town that might not mind shipping a few items for us at the UPS Store over there tomorrow?! She initially looks at me with a puzzled...”did you just ask me that” kind of look. She then says, “well, my Mom and my daughter are sitting right over there”, she says, “Mom, come over here please”.
We tell her Mom, Judy, our tale of woe. She tells us she would be more than happy to ship our gear back home tomorrow! She asks what we are going to do about the broken bike? We tell her it really needs to be welded, but being that it is Sunday, we were out of luck until tomorrow...if we happened near a town with a welder. Judy tells us she knows the guys in town that run the Welding Shops. She says, “Let me try to get ahold of one, and see if he can fix your bike”. We look at each other in disbelief! Ok, that would be great!
Long story short, a few minutes later she tells us that a friend of hers, Travis, said he will meet us and weld the bike if we left for his shop right away. We toss what we are eating in the trash and follow Judy up the road to Travis' Welding Shop. He pulls up a few minutes later and tells us to roll the bike inside. He tells us he is on his way to the mountains, and we barely caught him before he left!
We exchange information with Judy and we thank her, and after we give her both Jim's gear and my camping gear ,(I am not camping if Jim's not camping!) I give her a hug and thank her profusely again before she drives off.
We dissassemble the rear fender area of the bike for Travis. His young son is with him in the shop, and I watch his son playing with a hydraulic press/sheet metal cutter that would scare me to even try to operate. That kid is terribly comfortable in this shop! Their dog is also in the shop, checking us out...wondering why his Master is in the shop on a Sunday no doubt!
Travis checks out the frame and gets right to it...arc here, sparks there...he comments on how thin the frame tubing is...”no wonder it broke”!! In no time at all he has the thing welded up/good as new!! Jim is elated!
Jim hands him a credit card, not caring what it costs...he is just happy that the bike is “whole” again! We get the bike re-assembled as Travis runs the credit card. He returns with the receipt and Jim's credit card. We thank Travis profusely...he tells us, “I was raised that way...help each other out”. We get the bike outside and we see Judy has returned. She said she wanted to be sure that Travis was able to fix the bike etc. We tell her it all worked out perfect...and we thank her profusely again. She replies, “its ok, that is just how I was raised”. (See a trend here?)
We all part ways and we are literally...back on the road!!!...a bit lighter even!! We double check our gear and reconfigure my bag, which no longer contains a tent, poles, sleeping bag and mattress pad. Jim checks the receipt for the welding that Travis performed...and he looks at me and ask, “what do you think he charged me for coming in and welding the bike”? I reply, “I dont know...day off, comes in on no notice...100 bucks or so”? Jim looks almost angry...he says, “Nope...24 bucks”. “What”?? He says it again, “24 bucks”. Wow. Jim tells me he is embarrassed that we would have only payed Travis 24 dollars for what was surely a repair and situation that would usually command a higher price. I chuckle and we agree we will be sending a few Thank You cards and a a few dollars upon our return home.
We head out of town and are back on the TAT! We head up some hills and find ourselves riding the “Paiute Trail”...a moderately difficult ATV trail with twists, turns and some climbs and downhills mixed in. This trail also had some of the deepest ruts we would see...some 10-14 inches deep!
Those things are treacherous should you get into one as I did on a downhill. It seems I overestimated my front tires ability as I found myself gaining a bit more speed than I wanted, as I braked down a steep hill lined with these ruts. I tried to turn up/out of this 12 inch deep rut and instead of grabbing, the tire just wedged into the rut and sent me head over heels off to the left of the bike, as the bike slid a few feet and stopped. I was not going very fast, so after I layed there for a second, I got up..brushed off some dirt and checked the bike. A scrape here and a slightly bent front turn signal there...otherwise the Sherpa was unharmed.
Jim comes down the hill laughing...though he was not treated to the spectacle in person, as he was a ways behind me when I bit it. He asks if I am ok...I say yeah and tell him what happened. He tells me...”yeah, you get in a rut..you have to ride it out!” Ummm yeah Jim, thanks!! We get moving and get down the hill, no worse for the wear. We take a break and grab a snack as we check the maps and see that we will be stopping in Kanosh, UT for fuel.
It isnt long before we are riding into Konosh and we see an old Sinclair (think green Dinosaur) service station. We pull in and observed 4 older guys sitting outside talking...the service station garage doors are open and it looks like there is stuff in there that hasnt been touched since the 60's! This place took me back to my Uncle's Mobil Station of the 1960's,,,the look, the feel...the guys hanging out...everything!
We get off the bikes and start pumping gas as a couple of the guys start asking us questions about the trip, the Paiute Trail, what kind of bikes we are riding etc. We take some time and talk to these nice guys and we learn that the Service Station belongs to “Bob”.
We B.S. With these guys a while as they joke around and give each other a hard time. Friendly folks. Bob gives us a few pointers on our upcoming route and tells us he can save us some time if we follow his directions....ok!!....we take note and head out according to Bob's directions.
We find ourselves pretty much in the middle of nowhere. We were told that it would be over 120 miles until we saw another gas station etc. And we even saw a couple signs confirming this. It was simply hot, dry and desolate as we took some gravel west towards the mountains in the distance. The gravel was relentless...not much in the way of scenery...just put yor head down...making time...alone in your thoughts as you ride together...but apart. There is a whole lot of time to think as you ride this terrain!
After making our way up and over a small mountain range, that included a starkly white mountain ….we take a rest break in an open area covered in amber colored grass with a few tiny cactus scattered throughout. The mountains we traversed are to our east and behind us. It is extraordinarily quiet out here...with a bit of a breeze that does nothing to cool the 100 degree heat that is inescapable.
We take a couple of pictures here. It is a pretty place, especially if you are simply looking at a photo and dont have to bear the heat! On a trip like this, I have occasion to remind myself that it is the diversity of climate, scenery and terrain that makes for a great adventure. This is one of those occassions. In the distance we can see a rain storm over another mountain to the north of us. I wonder how the cool rain might feel on my face, if I were there instead of some 20 miles to the south!
We get back on the bikes after a couple of “Lara Bars” and some water. Taking time to pause like this on the TAT, even if but for a few minutes, cannot be over empasized. It is too easy to get caught up in putting miles behind you and making the day's distance goals. I said it before, I will say it again...I wish we would have done 120-140 miles per day...it would have allowed us a bit more time to soak in the ride...the experience.
We are soon riding the gravel road again...as the sun moves lower in the western sky. We are making good time and hoping to get to Border, UT by days end. An hour or so later, the air begins to cool and the sky takes on the color that comes with the sun's exit. Jim and I have both commented each evening, how much we like riding at twilight...sunset..if you will. The temps are lower, the wide open skies are littered with clouds and color...it has been absolutely awesome riding late evening during each days ride(s). We agree to disagree with the “up at 7 and done for the day by 6” method of tackling the Western TAT. We prefer up/out at about 9am and done at about 9pm. Your mileage may vary, but this is what we came to prefer as we rode.
By this time we have exited the gravel and are riding a barely visible trail. The trail is old and winds thru the grass and sagebrush....very faint...easy to lose in the twilight, but fun due to the challenge of simply staying on it! We follow the roll map directions that thankfully include a few landmarks, lest we simply not see the trail as it turns! We are riding east and as I ride up a gentle rise in the path, I am suddenly intersecting a freshly paved, blacktop road!!?? I check the roll map and sure enough....we are on track! Never in a million years would I have imagined there was a road out here!! Haha, Sam tricked us!!
It is only a few miles and we are in sight of Border....it is dark by now and while we are ready to call it a day, we felt good...and had really enjoyed the days ride. Border was basically a Motel and gas station....but frankly, that is all we wanted or cared about! We checked into a room, and enjoyed a couple of great burgers in the adjoining restaurant, as we reviewed our photos for the day. The photo below was actually taken the next morning.
The room was small, and could have come right out of a 1960's movie...but it was very clean, air conditioned and had all the amenities. In short, a GREAT spot for an overnight on the TAT! I dont even remember laying down for the night...slept like a rock.
More to come,