Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Statistics for Week 2

Carson City, Nevada to Millford, Utah

477.30 miles
17 summits, maximum elevation 7722 feet

Day 8 - Sunday June 22 - Carson City to Fallon NV

Our bike today began our first day of many on the 'loneliest road in America'......and they were not kidding.

the road to Fallon.JPG
Though we got a 7:00 am start and had a nice tailwind on a "relatively" flat road, it was dry and hot (in the 90's) very early......did we mention the road was pretty boring?
rte 50 to Fallon.JPG

We would have liked to have gone longer, but Fallon is the last stop before the next 120 miles of uphill climbing......4000 feet to 8000 feet.

Luckily, we'll have some company.
Zach & Randy.JPG

We met Zach and Randy on the ferry from San Francisco a week ago; they too are heading east (Erie PA). We caught up with them again in the mountains searching for water and we've been tag teaming with them ever since. Zach just graduated from high school and is riding to raise money for cancer research; but this is a specific research with some very positive results (Cycling For A Cure blog and Video). The four of us will head over the mountains together (if we can keep up) and fend off the lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
We may be out of communication for 2 - 3 days, but our SPOT should still work.

Day 9 - Monday June 23 - Fallon to 10 miles east of Middlegate

Tried an earlier start today (6:30) to try to beat the heat. Apparently, there is no beating the heat unless you ride at night and that's not going to happen.
We biked past the Salt Flats,

Nevada Salt Flats.JPG
the local target practice range (note all the holes)
target practice.JPG
and more long roads.
long rte 50.JPG
We did run into two guys heading west, one from New York and the other from Germany
heading west.JPG
but that is it.
Middlegate is the only thing between Fallon and Austin, and i do mean ONLY.....and that's not saying much (population 17 - all at the trailer park behind a restaurant!).
We reached there at noon and felt like walking into the bar and ordering whiskey;
Middlegate Bar.JPG
we settled for lunch. Our original plan was to stay in Middlegate at their 'motel'; we decided camping would be just as good. We took a nice long 3 hour break in the shade and picked ourselves up and heading out again to try to put more miles in before the next day, plus we had to see the Shoe Tree.
the Shoe Tree.JPG
As we were contemplating where to stop to set up camp, we passed 3 Diamondbacked rattlesnakes on the road (luckily, all dead);
wasn't getting a warm and fuzzy feeling about camping. But after 2 hours of climbing, we called it quits and camped by the side of the road, literally.
camping east of Middlegate.JPG
Only one car the entire night, no snakes or coyotes and 60 miles logged.

Day 10 - Tuesday June 24 - east of Middlegate to Bob Scott Pass

Sunrise at 6:00 am was beautiful and in the 40's ....bbrrrrrrr!

sunrise east of Middlegate .JPG
The cold air was welcome, though, for our 9 mile uphill climb to Carrolls Summit (7500 ft. elevation).
the climb to Carrols Summit.JPG
After the summit we biked across the high plains desert, which means hot (95 - 100 degrees) and no shade, for 35 miles. I think the only trees in this entire state are the ones planted in Vegas.
high plains desert.JPG
We did manage to see an antelope,
who seemed as startled by us as we were by him.
Our last climb (2000 feet) was to Austin.
our way up to Austin.JPG
A small little mining town who's best feature has got to be Lynda, the local newspaper editor. She knows more about the state than probably the Chamber of Commerce and had some great side stories to add for color. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with her.
Camped again, but this time among the pine trees (okay, they have trees at the top of the summit-7600 ft). Two weeks ago we would not have been able to cross the pass due to snow.......snow to 100 degrees in three weeks!

Day 11 - Wednedsay June 25 - Bob Scott Summit to Eureka NV

On the loneliest road again today! Got out at 5:30 am this morning to try to beat the desert heat.

sunrise at Bob Scott summit.JPG
......colors of the morning are beautiful.
am desert colors.JPG
It started out great; though it was 50 degrees when we pulled away from the camp site we had a 7 mile decent to jump start our day. Most of the ride was flat; we had one 1000 foot climb early and then just a long boring road. The pictures just don't show how desolate and shade-less the road is.
lonely road.JPG
There was a slight breeze from the northwest, so that kept the morning cooler than usual. It wasn't until about 11:00 and 40 miles in to our 64 mile day, that we really started to feel the desert sun (ie: in the 90's).
entering Devils Gate.JPG
We really should blog before noon every day, as it seems that the day really seems to drag in the afternoon. Today, our last 10 miles were bad. The nice breeze we had early, turned into 30 mph wind in our face.......nothing like a hot canyon wind to make you feel like an army is marching through your mouth. The last five miles were uphill. There were signs every mile warning of a dust hazard.......you're not kidding. We watched several dust tornadoes (i'm sure there is a proper term for them) in the fields we slowly road by. In fact, in our last two miles of climb we got hit by a gust so strong in knocked us both off the bike......luckily, we landed on our feet (only because we were going sooooo slowly). Riding in to the town of Eureka was like riding into a cowboy town of yesteryear.
We stopped at the first hotel in town and will rest up for our very, very long ride tomorrow. We only hope the winds either switch to be at our backs, or go away altogether.

Day 12 - Thursday June 26 - Eureka to Ely NV

Great but Grueling!
Last night we stocked up with food and about 50 pounds of water because the next town was 78 miles and four summits away. Our plan was to spend the night somewhere along the road or at the very least pitch the tent in the middle of the day for several hours and wait out the heat...............and now, the rest of the story!

We left the hotel at 5:15 AM (can you believe it-desert heat is a great motivator) and instantly had a 1700 foot 5 mile climb to our first summit (7376 feet); got there at 6:15. I think we both got frost bite on the 2000 foot descent.

Downhills are always a double edge sword; feels great for the few minutes it takes to get to the bottom, but you know you'll have to make it up before the next summit.........which was 16 miles away.
By 8:00 am we are top of Pancake Summit, which was anything but 'flat as a pancake'.

We did see another antelope and three foxes playing by their den on the side of the road. We came within six feet of one of them as he curiously watched us go by.
Our third summit was 20 miles away with lots of high desert in between
but, we got to the 7438 foot summit by 10:00 am. There was a fabulous pine at the top of the summit beckoning us over. We pulled out our drop cloth and had lunch.
It must have been over tuna and beef jerky that our plan changed, though i'm sure we did not discuss the change. We had 22 more miles of desert to cross before the fourth summit. Though it was hot, today we were blessed with a slight breeze which kept us cooler than the last four days.
Apparently, cool enough to not stop for some shade in the middle of the day. The fourth summit was 15 miles from Ely and since we were there by 2:00,
we figured why not go all the way.
Eleven hours, 15 bottles of water (and Jerry had half) and 78.18 miles later, we were in Ely.........nighty, night!

Day 13 - Friday June 27 - Ely to Baker NV

We had 63 miles to conquer today, so we started later. That doesn't mean it wasn't tough. Our legs were pretty shot from yesterday, so we 'moseyed on down the road' as Jerry sang. The first couple of hours were cold...

.....amazing that you can get close to frost bite and heat stroke within a few hours of each other.
Saw a pretty little stream,
which is one of maybe three our entire trek through Nevada.

We'd passed a couple of signs like this already and decided we just had to include it.
We only had two passes today, but our legs were tired from yesterday and the climbs were long. Our first pass was 4 miles up and took an hour and a half to climb, but we did it.
We've told you the roads are long,
but you can't imagine just what the heat can do to a biker that can't make the climb.
Or to the locals with maybe too much time on their hands...
....yes, the entire gate is antlers.

Summit # 2 was a 5 mile climb, which took two hours.
The last mile up we got hit with a head wind, which added to our uphill struggle. It also slowed our descent to the point we had to peddle going downhill......but we were going downhill and had 18 more miles to go to town.

Five miles before Baker, we finally turned off of the Loneliest Road on the Planet; can't say we'll miss it.
Welcome to the town of Baker, Nevada.

Day 14 - Saturday June 28 - Baker NV to Milford Utah

Yes, today is supposed to be our rest day. But aside from the very colorful cafe where we stayed

and the Great Basin National Park, which is supposed to be beautiful, we would have had nothing to do in the town; we just didn't want the boredom.
We did agree to sleep in and have a real breakfast (our first since California, I think) and decide what to do from there. But we were dressed, packed and loaded to go before we sat down for coffee at 6:30 am.
From Baker the next service of any kind was 85 miles away. We agreed to go slowly and STOP AND CAMP when we were too tired to go further, 50 miles max!
Our first leg was 16 miles of flat road with beautiful mountain tops in the distance.
So we were casually pedaling along minding our own business, when we get hit with a 20 mph headwind with stronger gusts. We calculated that we might reduce our 50 mile max to 30 miles.
But we did cross the stateline into Utah,
and seemed to go from a sea of sage brush to just plain prairie desert....
.....but how did we get into Georgia?
Once again the desert sun was unmercifully hot and shadeless...........duh, you're in the desert! We did manage to find a small piece of shade at the top of our second summit....
....25 miles into the ride.

As we rode the summit down, we could see the third and last summit......
.........surely, the next 20 miles to the top of that summit cannot be that bad............well IT WAS and stop calling me Shirley!
Not sure why we both continued. The temperatures were well over 100, the wind even hotter and we were reminded again just what the desert can do.

We did find an real oasis between the two summits. What seemed like a mirage of a real green shade tree in the distance, actually was. Even better, there was a hose connected to a pipe coming out of the ground with water, cold water, running freely through it. Although all we could think about is pouring out our now boiling water bottles and refilling them with fresh cold water, neither one of us wanted take the chance on the purity of it (see, still thinking). We did soak our heads and shirts to cool off.............this was probably what drove us over summit #3. With our bodies cooler, we felt more human and biked on.
We saw rabbits, several falcons, herd of antelope
and a couple mule deer.

But the 8 mile climb in 100+ temperatures just about killed us. No pretty pictures at this point; all we wanted was to get off the bikes.
But the town of Milford was 15 miles away and all downhill........we had to do it.
Not in the plan was having to pedal as fast as we could to get down the mountain in order to beat the sunset (which was beautiful, but at our backs and we were not about to stop). It took us 13 hours (9:22 riding time) and 84 miles to get here..........didn't we agree that was NOT the plan?....but we made it.
Only 58 miles to the next town!