May the 5th was the first running of a new brevet called Backroads of the Great Basin. This 300km brevet started in Saratoga Springs and heading west into the desert before circling back around past the west side of Utah Lake. The local forecast for the day was kinda grim—continuous 15-20 MPH winds from the NW all day long (with stronger occasional gusts). The expected high was in the high 60s with a low in the mid 40s. The precipitation forecast was 20-30% as I recall.
I was glad to see seven cyclists checking in at our dawn start of 6:30 a.m. The forecast proved to be correct as bikes were getting blown over in the parking lots as we prepared to head out into the “wilderness” of the west desert of Utah. The temperature was a cool 45F. At the beginning, as we traveled west, we had a combination head and cross wind. The route starts with a gentle climb, immediately splitting apart the various riders. After about mile 10, we turn slightly to the south and southwest, which proved to be nice for a few miles as we were able to cook along at 25-30MPH with this tail wind. But as with nearly all rides, we changed direction again heading west, catching the wind to our right sides. The first checkpoint, near the route of the original Pony Express trail, brought nearly all the riders together. Some stayed longer to enjoy their snacks or stretch out, while others wanted to keep moving, lest their legs would seize up from inactivity. By now things were warming up a little and some shed a layer or two.
Our route turned south and southwest for the next 60 miles, so the wind was generally not a big factor until we rolled into Nephi, the southern most point of the brevet. From there on in, we pretty much had a head or cross wind for the balance of the day. Four cyclists were in one lead group, with two others in the middle and one solo rider bringing up the rear. As it turns out, Stephen, the solo rider, decided not to finish the entire route and took the most direct route home from Nephi, putting in about 140 miles for the day. As the balance of us rolled into the Salem checkpoint, the west-facing store front made the temperatures feel like 75 or 80F, though they were perhaps in the low 70s.
At the end of the day, three finished just before dark, with the three others using lights and reflective clothing to finish up this brevet. The continuous winds made for a rather chilly finish as fatigue and exhaustion take over the body. Despite the extra effort expended due to the wind, I commented to another rider, it could have been worse…“we could have had wind AND rain all day!”