August 24, 2010:

“I feel like I’m off-roading a Gold Wing,” I analogized.

“Well, you practically are,” laughed one of the Fishlake National Park, quad-riding fishermen.

I was up at 4:45 at the crack of dawn to escape my illegal campsite before being found out and charged; I’m on a shoestring here. I packed-up, dropped my white tent and said goodbye to the mystical red rock elephant as I left the Valley of Fire; so surreal and Dali-esque that you think he’s really saying adieu as you roll by.

Through Overland and other classic American small towns that maintain themselves through the social security income of grandpa and either mining, from the looks of it, or the remnants of what once was a Lake Mead recreational headquarters, I nodded at the morning walkers and coasted by the main street cafes and churches.

I rolled into a Saint George, Utah RV park at 8ish and swiped a picnic table by the bathroom. I boiled up some water for coffee and oatmeal, filled my Camelbak, and took advantage of the “no one has said no yet” bathroom facilities. I checked my maps in preparation for Trans-Am round 1; starting just north of the I-15/70 split.

I aired down my tires and tried to get used to the extra body of bags swaying counter rhythm on my tail. I must note: I’m packed and loaded to live on my bike, not only to travel the Trans-Am, but to make many stops and attend many events along the way and to continue into Central America. That said, not only do I have the basic Trans-Am gear, but I’m also carrying a Spanish/English dictionary, notebooks, a laptop, clothes to go somewhere other than under my Aerostitch, blah, blah and more stuff.

I came to the first water crossing and stopped next to the trailhead marker stating “difficult” to take a peek at it. The water was shallow, but the path was a sharp, single-track “V” that dropped into the creek and rose with a sharp, off-camber left. I thought I might as well try, I ain’t gonna die and this is just the beginning! But just as I was about to do a rather common “Damn, why not,” Brienne maneuver, two men on a quad rolled down the hill. The driver took a look at me and piped, “I wouldn’t even think of trying this trail on that bike,” and proceeded to direct me to a more manageable crossing.

“Saved,” I thought; from my lack of concrete thinking. I can’t thank the man enough, although, I get a ‘phew’ when I experience that I’m still driven by a little mental fever. With my heart in my throat I continued down the Piute Trail blabbering in my helmet, “Momentum, momentum, go, go,” through water crossings or “Rear break, rear break, keep it up,” down soft dirt hills, I made it to Richfield.

I found a KOA Campground, paid five-bones for the shower and then found a farmers field for some free and peaceful sleep.