We are riding the Western Wildlands Route (WWR) on bicycles northbound and started at the AZ / Mexican border about 3 weeks ago. Since we are tackling the route northbound, “Segment 7” is our third segment.
It’s a little hard to pull yourself away from the beauty of the Grand Canyon, but we had miles to ride. Our hard work was essentially done for the day, and we cruised downhill for nearly 30 miles to the town of Cameron.
During the ride, we crossed the boundary to the Navajo Nation. The Navajo typically generously allow riders of the route to traverse their land, parks, and back roads with a permit. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, all Navajo Nation parks and back roads were closed. Therefore, this isn’t the typical experience one would have riding Segment 7 of the WWR, and it left us with the only option of riding the highway between the Grand Canyon and Kanab. Not ideal, not impossible. We resupplied in Cameron and got a spot at a no services campground in the tiny Navajo town.
We started our morning extra early hoping to get ahead of the traffic that was heading north towards Page and Lake Powell. It was a hot day with two major climbs matched with two seemingly endless descents. We spent our day pedaling hard and listening to music as car after car whizzed by us on the busy highway. While we wished we were out on the dirt, the scenery from the highway did not disappoint. We enjoyed the cruise by massive red rock monoliths and canyon walls that stretched for dozens of miles. We somehow finished 80 miles of riding and got to Page by 2:00 and headed to a hotel room for the night.
We moved our watches into Mountain Daylight Time, happy to have an extra hour of light in the evening, and headed to Kanab, UT. Leaving Page, we crossed the Glen Canyon Dam and headed basically due west. We were grateful for the reduced traffic compared to the precious days’ ride. But the day came with a new challenge – a relentless head wind. We pedaled frantically trying to overcome the feelings of despair. It was a long day we were both ready to be done with. Just as I was about to surrender to the wind, we arrived to Kanab thrilled to get out of the elements.
Two really delightful things happened in Kanab. First, we headed to a small pharmacy in town and got our final dose of the COVID vaccine. Woohoo, what a gift! Second, we headed to Lynn and Richard’s house to take a day off of riding.
We met Lynn and Richard in 2019 after our thruhike of the Arizona Trail. Lynn was so gracious then to pick us up from the northern terminus about an hour away from her home in Kanab and bring us back to “Chateaux Relaxo.”
Now, in 2021, Lynn and Richard were spoiling us again. We arrived on the same day they were hosting some friends to share photos of some rock art Richard and two others had recently encountered on a grueling hike. Our hosts and their guests welcomed us warmly, and we thoroughly enjoyed being included in the presentation.
We spent the next day resting, nursing sore arms and mild post-vaccine symptoms. Lynn was overly kind in driving us to the store for resupply and then making the most fantastic vegan dinner for us that I am still dreaming about – pecan crusted sweet potatoes, falafel, roasted mixed vegetables, quinoa, cashew cream topping, a cranberry sauce, and a garden salad. I am drooling just thinking about it.
After a delightful early breakfast, coffee, and conversation with Lynn, we packed our bikes and headed north excited to be back on the roads far less traveled.
Well, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed to have missed the actual route here. It’s just an entirely different experience riding on the highway vs riding backroads. Of course, the reason for the closure is justified, and I hold no grudge. I only have the desire to return to see what Segment 7 holds.
The highway work around was fine, nothing too terrible. We did have a couple sketchy stretches were we held our breath and hoped the drivers of the death machines passing us were paying attention. Arriving in Page and then Kanab safely was a huge relief.
Lynn and Richard were such a huge blessing on this trip, and we are just overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you for your kindness, support, and hospitality that you bestowed upon us and continue to give the hiker and biker communities. We can’t wait to see you again!
(miles and elevation gain tracked with Strava)