If you’re not already awake by the time you start the decent down Shafer (about 7 miles in); you soon will be. It’s a pretty exhilarating 1500ft descent through alpine switchbacks – if you take it easy on the dusty / gravely corners you will probably make it down in one piece.
The rest of the first day’s ride was fairly flat, fast and easy – following the natural contour that is the White Rim. We made decent progress despite frequent stops to enjoy the stunning views.
My trusty Garmin 800 had few issues in some of the more sheltered canyons but we clocked up a fairly easy 19 or so miles on the first day.
We arrived at the Airport campground mid-afternoon – which left plenty of time set up camp, play some Petanque / Boules, eat dinner and explore a little and get to know our fellow riders. But mostly we were trying to get out of the wind, which, by dusk had picked up enough to threaten my trusty antique tent (note RimTours provide much nicer, much newer tents). This is the same tent that my wife and I used to back-pack around Greece and Turkey about 25 years ago.
The camping gear we bought was :
- 2 x inflatable roll mats
- 2 x inflatable pillows
- 2 x 4-season (ie .very warm) sleeping bags
- 1 very old – 2-person, 3-season tent
- 2x headlamps
- 2x solar chargers
In hindsight – I should have bought a newer tent or rented one from RimTours and a large beech blanket or something to throw on the floor of the tent would have added to the comfort. Aside from the first night – we were warm and dry and slept pretty well.