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Day 15: Washboard

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

I woke up at 6:00 AM. Having few things to pack, I was quickly on my way. There was a gas station nearby, and I thought I would refill water there only to remember that the gas stations aren’t open that early and I would not be able to refill. The previous night I drank two more of my bottles, so I was down to one. I did spot a hose, however, and reluctantly filed up my two bottles with the hose water. I gave it a quick taste, and it was pretty rank so I decided I would drink it only as an absolute last resort. It was only just over 20 miles to Arches National Park, and I usually can do 20 miles on one bottle, especially in the morning. However, it was 20 miles of dirt… The gas station was pretty fun, though, as it has a mystery machine and lots of other fun art.

Initially, it was smooth sailing and the road, although sandy, was ridable 95% of the time. That changed when I got to the washboard.

While it may not look like much, washboard is miserable to ride on. Especially loaded down with gear on a rigid bike. You can't go fast because it’ll rattle you to your core and may cause parts to fall off your bike or cause your bags to come loose. Going slow is also hard because you are still being bounced around irregularly. Often, you can ride on the side of the road and escape some of the washboard. But in the desert, the side of the road consisted of 3 inches of sand, making it impossible to ride through. So I was stuck on the washboard for about 20 miles and hated every second of it.

It also meant that the ride was much more difficult than anticipated, and I still only had the one bottle of water that I wanted to drink (the rest were filled with hose water). I made it less than halfway before my water in my good bottle ran out. I continued on, but near the end I gave in and tried the hose water again. I wouldn’t be doing that again.

I finally come out on to paved road again and B line towards the campground, where I thought there must be water. After a little searching, I found some! Hallelujah!

Now being able to actually explore the park, I got to appreciate an arch I saw from way out on the road. However, being on a bike means I couldn’t get very close to any of the arches since I had to stay near all my stuff so it didn’t get stolen.

I continued on through the park to Delicate Arch, the arch recommended to me by Jason as the best bang for the buck I’d likely get on a bike. It was a little out and back to a viewpoint, but nothing crazy out of my way. You can hike to the arch itself, but again, no bikes…

I left the park soon after, but enjoyed riding through the high rock walls on both sides. I’ll need to come back in the future (without the bike) to truly experience the park.

It was only a short ride to Moab on a great bike path, and before long I found myself in another bakery to escape the 118 degree heat. I ordered $30 of different baked goods. Toffee bars, Boston cream pie, scones, monkey bread, and I ate another family’s leftover quesadilla that they couldn’t finish when they offered. There’s just about nothing I won‘t eat and won’t eat a ton of. Virtually all money spent on this trip so far has gone to food and I can’t say I regret a thing about it.

I then went to meet my Warmshowers host. I was told to meet them at 4:00 PM. After waiting for over 45 minutes in the heat and numerous calls, I ended up meeting them. They had fallen asleep prior to my arrival. Understandable, given the heat. Another 10 minutes later and they were back to bed. I soon passed out on the couch for two hours myself. I woke up later around 9:30 PM and decided I would just stay up and leave in the night to escape some of the projected heat to come. I passed the time catching up on shows and other Internet activities I hadn’t had the time to do on my trip.

The house itself was some kind of art project. When I originally pulled up to the house I was greeted by several mannequin heads hanging from nooses. There was all kinds of art instillations all over the property. Some of them were glass, others were dolls, and others I'm not exactly sure what they were. But they absolutely covered the yard almost everywhere you could walk.

For some reason, I don’t exactly know why, my host was highly uncomfortable with me not sleeping and just staying up. I find it far more difficult to get up from sleeping and go than simply staying awake, but this was not liked by my host. Through Warmshowers, I am receiving a place to stay for free, a shower, water, and often more, and I really want to be nothing but respectful to my hosts since they are allowing me to be there only through their kindness. The situation just felt so uncomfortable to me between my host and I that I just decided to leave earlier than I was going to because I just didn‘t want to cause them any more stress (my staying awake seemed to be causing that.) At 3:40 AM I was back on the road in the nice 80 degree weather Moab was experiencing in the middle of the night.

When I had arrived in Moab I also picked up my credit card that I had lost back in Austin, NV where the man at the gas station I left it at had kindly mailed it out to me. Thank you, Woody!

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Wow, that washboard road looks crazy! ( Your dad and I were on a similar road, with the VW bug, in Death Valley years ago; I remember your dad saying: go faster, it will make it less bouncy!

( Which it kind of did...).

Anyway, the physical "hardships" you are enduring are truly amazing to me- 118 degrees, minimal water, miles of washboard/sand roads...mind boggling.

You deserve ALL those baked goods!




I wish I could say I’ve been relishing the baked goods, but no, they each last about 15 seconds apiece… I wish I had some car suspension on my bike so that would work and not just rattle my bones…

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