I set out today at the same time as Johnny Pierce, Marc VanOtteren (Michigan) and John Vanderveen (AB) around 7:30. We took our time across the first 20 flat kilometers and when another crew including Manley Barda, Tyler Buitenwerf and Nathan Beach cruised by and invited me to join them I stepped up the pace. They however stopped to wait at the first water stop halfway up the hill and I had no interest in waiting with them so kept pedalling and completed the hill on my own. I caught Eritia and Brian Garrit at the top of the climb and descended with them. Brian and I headed into Malta together, he let me know that he’s got some of his family reading my blog, Hi!

After chatting with some locals in Malta I picked up a cup of coffee for 50 cents at the gas station and then headed south. There was a huge pack of riders all pointed in the same direction, the largest I’ve seen yet on the tour. Video of the momentous occasion below:

After topping off water bottles the pack broke into half dozen subsets and Eritia and myself were both feeling rather fresh and didn’t bother trying to join any pace-lines. We ascended the next climb which was rather gradual but just seemed to go on and on forever. The headwind picked up towards the end and we were really working to hold 25 kph. The road was dead straight for many miles at a time and we had a heat mirage to watch as we rode.

heat mirage

After reaching the summit at around 100 kms we entered Utah. That’s a first time for me. To be honest it looks a lot like southern Idaho so far. Beautiful plains of sagebrush stretching off into the distance and medium sized mountains with patches of trees off in the distance. I quite enjoyed the scenery today, some are getting sick of the desert, I’m still happy to continue enjoying it at least until Saturday when we start into the Rockies.

We peeled off down the gentle decline for the next 25 miles into Snowville and I held a pace of 38 kph through a stiff sidewind. Eritia parked right in the draft over my left shoulder and for the next hour we watched as our destination grew slowly closer and closer. It’s not often that you can see where you’re going for a whole hour at once. I enjoyed it.

We had beat the gear truck into camp and arrived 2 minutes after Hans Doef and Aaron Carpenter (who we could see for about half an hour but couldn’t seem to catch. We pulled into the local cafe, dumped half a salt shaker into our glasses of water and ordered some fries. When the truck showed up we unloaded and got to work setting up. The shower we built here consists of one of our dinner tents shrouded in a tarp with a hose hanging from the roof. The temperature of the hose water is manageable but still garnered a few “Oh shit this is cold” comments from some of the more elderly men. Considering the fact that early on this summer some of the women were commenting on the “learning curve” about the communal showers in the change rooms today’s takes the cake. A dozen naked guys lined up in a hundred square foot tent to take their turn under the hose moves beyond learning to just plain laughing. I think we’ll only have potentially two more such shower situations.

The forecast said 94 degrees, and when you’re not travelling very quickly the breeze doesn’t cool you down as nicely as when you’re cruising along. I could really tell the difference between our pace of 38 kph and the 25 we did while taking in a bit of food. I can imagine that the 15-20 kph pace would be sweltering. I’ve overheard some comments while sitting here and typing that the support crew has had a rough day. That basically means that some of the weaker riders are having a tough go of it today and many are still out there as of 5pm while I’m writing this. Others have arrived and are pretty beat from the day. Len Riersma (Ohio) was rather tired at the end of the day and didn’t make it very far past setting up his tent before crashing, his feet still protruding from the tent. (photo below)


P.S. Thanks for the notes of encouragement via email.They’re… well… encouraging… you can also say hi by posting a comment on the website here.

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