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It was nice to have a day of rest yesterday with no biking at all. My semi-sore butt liked it too. Today however, I will be rewarded with my rest by immediately starting a 15-mile continuous ascent up 4,000ft  as I ride 60 miles from Cedar City to Panguitch, UT (fuhhhh….). The steepness of the grade will vary 8% – 12%. It will be a test for sure — but at least the wind won’t be as fierce as it was two days ago when I first rolled into Cedar City.

As I prepared my bike with the daily ritual of checking the tires, chain, gears, etc., foremost on my brain (besides the grueling 15 mile climb) was my website, and the prayer that during my ride my webmaster and my friend would be able to resolve the issue of the domain name by end of day. Please, please, please. I had eaten a ton of carbs at a salad bar (including a scheisser-load of pasta) the day before, in anticipation of this ride. About 1/4 mile from my motel, I began the climb… the scary thing is that there was no shoulder and cars were wizzing past me, so I had to be incredibly aware of my surroundings, and really use the rear view mirror attached to my helmet to see what–and when — something was coming up behind me. I also needed to be aware of what was coming ahead and estimate — based on what I also saw approaching behind—if there would be enough room for all three of us, or if I should just get the hell off the road. If I am going fast, that’s cool… cars approaching from behind have more time to adjust if needed. But when climbing a steep mountain for 15 miles at 5-7mph, it’s more dangerous dealing with traffic, as the time to make a good decision and adapt with each other being on the road, is more quick and abrupt.

I was breathing hard, as I climbed this mutha of a steep grade. It was bright and sunny and I could feel the sun all over me (yes, I applied sun block :). I rode and rode and rode, and after about 2hrs of continual climbing I puked all over myself — no! just kidding! I actually stopped and rewarded myself with a good chug of water. I also took some pics of Ashdown Gorge Wilderness, which was like a Grand Canyon Jr. , but even though Jr. it was still vast and awesome (with red and organge limestone). So hell yeah! …I was on level ground; no more climbing as I was at 9,500 ft, the pinnacle. From there I literally coasted between 25-40mph for about 8 miles (so freaking cool…just keeping your head low to minimize draft and go!!!).

I stopped at Panguitch Lake, about 15 miles from the actual town of Panguitch (pop. 1,500) and grabbed a couple snacks at the local log cabin convenience store. I rested for about 30 minutes, chowed on a banana, a can of beans, and a mixture of gatorade and water. I was back on my bike soon after, and for the remaining 15 miles I felt so strong. Even on some slight climbs I was really pumping hard, and when there was a slight decline, I would really fly. It was so much fun….and I felt very confident, knowing what my body could take and that right now… it was at optimal strength. I arrived into Panquitch much earlier than anticipated and surprised Matt, when I saw him at the Hitch N Post campsite. I immediately put down my things, found a Core Power recovery drink (www.corepower.com) in Matt’s car and slammed it down. I’m tellin’ ya, the stuff really works (and it tastes great). Then I put up my tent, took a shower, and went to the grocery store with Matt.

Matt and I grabbed some food and drink and brought it back to the campsite, where an older guy, Gary, invited us to cook our food on his already-burning grill. Sure, why not… so we shared our beer with him and cooked away. Gary is an interesting dude. He’s about 5’6″ in his mid-60’s, has a scruffy beard, has a thick N.Carolina accent (where he was raised) and lives in Panguitch during the summer. He sells hand made leather goods, and makes a good enough living. He lives in San Antonio during the Fall and then not far from Austin, TX until summer arrives again. He’s a character….telling stories about how and why people act as they do. He had dry humor with sarcasm, and was a good guy to boot. We all ate together, and then towards the end of dinner Gary said there was a Hot Air Balloon Festival in two days. A few were already here, and if we got up early in the morning and went down to the baseball fields, we’d see them.  If we offered to prepare their balloons for flight, we might also get a ride in their balloon. Would we be up for that? Matt wasn’t so sure, but Hell Yes! …I’m there. I went to bed early.