Your Logo Here

"car free adventure"
self designed & self supported bicycle tour adventures


HOME | TOURING EXPERIENCES | TOURING STORIES | PHOTO ADVENTURES | Blog | Myanmar Bicycling Trip | NEW FORMAT PRACTICE

 BICYCLE TOURING - The Ride Across Nevada

 

Nevada Ride Journal

 select & click

 

Carson City to Fallon

Fallon to Austin

Austin to Eureka

Eureka to Ely

Ely to the Utah Border

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..commerce in Austin Nevada.. 

 

..with 4 riders car support is possible..we had carried everything on our bikes for the ride across California...

Bicycling in Nevada 

car free adventure __________________________

 

Our Ride Across America One State at a Time in no Particular Order or Direction (RAAOSTPO) continues.  We had ridden across our first state, California in 2006.  We bicycled through Eastern Europe along the Elba and Danube River Bike Paths in 2006 as our foreign adventure.  We planned to conclude the season with a ride across Nevada in September. 

 

We relayed our plan after returning from Europe to the Reno Bike Club.  The response was that it was very hot in September.  They recommended we have car support if we wanted to ride in September. 

 

Being successful arranging car support very early in the planning stage of a bicycle ride is difficult and trying to put it together in 30 days before the adventure was impossible.  We gave up on Nevada for 2006.

 

The Nevada weather information came from a bicyclist we met on the web from the Reno Bike Club during the planning for the “across California trip.” His information had been invaluable to the success of the ride and he also helped us get started by riding with us from Carson City to our first overnight stop near foot of the eastern slope of Carson Pass.  After we stopped he continued to the top of Carson’s Pass returning to join us for a meal before riding back to Las Vegas. 

 

After missing 2006 we started formulating a plan immediately to ride across Nevada early in 2007.  We asked the fellow from the Reno Bike Club to join us on our adventure.  He said yes and told us that another member of the bike club would join us. 

 

We selected May as the month to ride at the suggestion of the Reno Bike Club.  We had used Adventure Cycling’s bike map (Route 50) on our trek through California and it had worked out well.  We opted to continue along Route 50 per their map through Nevada to the Utah border. 

 

We would start in Carson City since we had covered the ground from Carson City to the California border on our California trip.  The route would begin in Carson City and we would ride to Fallon the first day. We would ride Fallon to Austin, Austin to Eureka, Eureka to Ely, and then Ely to the Utah border on the following days.  All of the distances were reasonable accept for a 120 mile leg between Fallon and Austin. 

 

We planned to have car support since we had four cyclists.  Unfortunately we would have to take two cars because we would have to say goodbye to the Nevada riders in Eureka. We would continue on our own to the Utah border.  

 

As an after ride bonus, we planned to stop overnight in Las Vegas on our return to LA.   In Las Vegas we would go to see Circus Oley a personal favorite of ours.

 

 We had the plan.  It was time to ride!

 

 Highway 50 the "Loneliest highway in the US

...note that Nevada is not flat and we climbed through several mountain passes to get to the Utah border....

 

 ..Ken our Reno Bike Club contact who provided us with much needed pre-trip information about the ride across California and Nevada..

 

 ...my wife the female member of the quartet...

 

..Hector the professional cyclist from the Reno Bike Club...

 

 ..me, the flower in the desert..



DAY 1 - Carson City to Fallon - 77 miles

       

 ...traffic along Highway 50 on the way to Fallon but the wide, smooth shoulder provided an excellent bike path...

 ..Highway 50 on the way to Fallon looked much like the flat desert drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas... 

 ...I do not remember riding into a strong wind on the way to Fallon but "drafting behind another rider" makes one forget!...

 ..it was mid-May and I dressed for cold but the weather was mild, but I did not feel over dressed on the ride...

Plan for the day - Today we would ride from Carson City to Fallon a distance of 77 miles.  We would use two support cars because the Reno Bike Club participants would have to return to Reno before we reached the Utah border.  Our plan was to alternate the riders and drivers and have two riders on the road.  Hector from the Reno Bike Club and I were the first to drive the cars. 

 

The planned route across Nevada was Highway 50.  We had used the Adventure Cycling Map for Highway 50 for our ride across California and planned to continue to follow the Highway through Nevada.  My wife and I had started our ride across California from Carson City so our ride across Nevada would begin from there.

 

A sight modification to the route had been devised by Ken who had ridden extensively in the area.  He suggested we start our ride from a park near Carson City which would allow us to skirt the city along side roads until our route intersected with Highway 50 east of town.   

 

Getting started - My wife and I were staying at a hotel in Reno. We got up dressed in our bike gear, loaded our luggage into the car, checked out of the hotel and drove off looking for a breakfast spot.  We had spotted an IHOP the night before while looking for a gas station to fill up the car.  We had failed to find an open gas station on the way to the hotel but passed an IHOP.  We located the IHOP and had our usual eggs over easy, bacon, hash browns, wheat toast, and coffee.  We paid our bill and drove along the street until we found gasoline.

 

Highway 395 is four lane highway between Reno and Carson City.  Our hotel was located on the I-80 so we drove the short distance to the 395 and turned south toward Carson City.  We would begin our ride from a park between Reno and Carson City.  This approximated the point where we had missed the turn the year before to begin our ride across California. 

 

We had met with the Reno Bike Club participants for dinner the night before in Reno and agreed to meet at 9:30 AM at the park and start the ride to Fallon.  Ken had given us a map and directions at dinner to the park were we would meet to start the ride.  We found the turnoff we had missed the year before and drove to the park which was located a short distance after the turn.  We arrived before 9:30 and began putting our bikes together.  Ken and Hector arrived and got their gear out of the car.  Ken had told me that the first leg of the ride would be the most scenic part of the ride for the day so I told my wife to start the ride.  Hector and I would drive the two support cars.  My wife and Ken headed out on their bikes.

  

Today’s adventure - I followed Hector's car out of the parking lot and started looking for the riders along the road.  We passed several bicyclist but not my wife and Ken.  Finally Hector stopped and called Ken on his cell phone.  He said they had not started the climb up the steep hill we had climbed in the car about a mile behind us.  We drove back to the bottom of the hill and waited.  Soon they were there.  They stopped for a photo and were off again. 

 

We followed the riders in both cars for the next few miles.  At a traffic light we pulled up along side our two cyclists and as we waited to turn we discussed what kind of car support would work best.  Should we drive behind the riders or drive ahead of the riders and park waiting for them to arrive.  The riders suggested that we drive ahead a few miles and wait.

 

Hector and I waited with the support cars about a quarter mile from Highway 50 until the riders passed us and turned onto Highway 50.  We then drove the support cars about 5 miles ahead and waited.  The riders passed and we selected another spot about 5 miles ahead.  We used variations on this strategy for the remainder of the ride.   

 

When Ken and my wife had ridden about 30 miles, we pulled ahead and parked at the 40 mile point.  Hector and I got out of the cars and built our bikes.  When my wife and Ken rode up, Hector and I rode off.

 

Based on my past performance we had really burned up the road.  The road was basically flat all the way to Fallon and I do not remember a head wind.  Forgetting a head wind may have been the result of drafting on Hector for 40 miles.  Ken and Hector had pulled us along at a very good pace.  We had covered 77 miles in four hours which is roughly a 20 mile an hour pace.  Pretty heady for a novice rider! 

 

In Fallon we were to stay at the Holiday Inn.  When Hector and I rode into Fallon we looked for the support cars.  We spotted the support cars on the opposite side of the street in the parking lot of the hotel.  Traffic was heavy but we made it across after a brief wait into the parking lot.

 

Today’s landscape - My previous visits to Nevada had included driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and staying Reno to ski at various resorts in Tahoe.  Those experiences had provided little knowledge of the landscape of Nevada.  I assumed the landscape along Highway 50 would be similar to that along the Interstate to Las Vegas.  It was on our ride from Carson City to Fallon.  The soil appeared to be dark grey sand.  There were few plants and very little green.  I remember no trees after leaving Carson City.  There was little to distract from the cycling.   

 

I got a look at the landscape for tomorrows ride when Ken and I drove to Austin, our next destination town, to leave one of the support cars.  "This part of Nevada is very desolate," Ken told me when we were together in his car returning to Fallon.  He said it was nicknamed "The Loneliest Highway in America."    

 

Bicycling notes - We selected the month of May to ride as suggested by the Reno Bike Club.  The weather was good.  It was cool but not cold.  The sun was with us all day.  I do not remember any wind.  The road surface was good with a wide shoulder.  The traffic was moderate but the shoulder remove any competition. 

 

I had told Ken and Hector at dinner the night before about an annoying click that had developed in my bike.  After the riders exited the park east of Carson City, Hector asked if I wanted him to look for the noise in my bike.  We put Hectors front wheel on my bike because mine was in a bike case and we did not want to bother.  Hector got on the bike and rode around the parking lot.  He came back and said he had heard nothing.  I got on the bike and rode around the lot and heard nothing as well. 

 

He had told me the night before at dinner that the spokes could be loose in the front wheel which would cause a noise or pop.  So, we changed the front wheel to mine.  We both rode the bike and heard nothing.  We gave up.  I loaded my bike in the car and we headed out of the parking lot to locate our riders on the road.  I should add that Hector owned a bike shop in the San Fernando Valley before retiring to Reno and knew a great deal about bicycle mechanics.

 

I neglected to say that not only did Hector own a bike shop but he had been a professional bicyclist.  He was older than I but he set a wicked 20 mile an hour pace when we rode and I could not hang on.  He would look behind him and slow down so I could catch up.  He motioned for me to draft on him early in the ride which I did but I could not maintain the pace and would fall off. He was very kind, however, and did not drop me.  He would look back and allow me to catch up and then we were off again.  We set a very good pace for me and we rode our 40 miles at 17 plus miles an hour.

 

We would be cranking along at our 17 mile and hour plus pace and Hector would take his hands off of the handle bars and open a power bar or power jell, stretch his arms or back.  Once he leaned over to the side of his bike almost touching the ground to stretch his legs, he told me later.  That was amazing.  He avoided stuff in the road by quick movements back and forth with his bike.  The guy had complete control of his bike.  I was pleased that someone with that kind of skill would even ride with me.   

 

I told my wife later that I needed to master the stretching exercise that Hector had shown me on the bike as well.  She told me that I was about 30 years too late to be trying to master that skill.

 

On a climb Hector stood up and began to sway back and forth across his bike on each leg stroke as he climbed.  The climb was no more than an eighth of a mile so I thought I would give this technique a try.  I stood up behind him and began to mimic what he was doing.  I found myself maintaining my pace on the flat as we climbed the hill.  About three fourths the way to the top I sat back down thinking I would regret this effort later in the ride.  Hector noticed I was dropping behind so he backed off and let me catch up on the downhill.  But the stand up routine did not come back to haunt me later.  It had not been tiring.  I thought to myself that I would have to practice this technique on my own and master it!

 

Post ride activity - We checked into the hotel and unloaded our luggage from the car.  We cleaned up and put on our street clothes.  Having a variety of clothes to wear is another advantage of having a support car. 

 

It was only 3 PM when we regrouped in the hotel lobby.  Ken and my wife were hungry so we inquired about a place to eat at the desk.  They suggested a restaurant near the hotel.   It  was an easy walk so we went there to eat.  We talked about the day of riding and the strategy for riding as we ate our dinner.

 

Ken had suggested that we drive to Austin, Nevada our next stop and leave one of the cars and then drive back to Fallon to stay the night.  This would allow three people to be on the road cycling supported by one person driving the car.  We had discussed this before the trip and I thought this was an excellent idea and wanted to give it a try.  After the meal Ken and I drove the two cars to Austin. 

 

We located the motel where we were to stay the following night in Austin and asked the attendant if we could leave the car in the parking lot.  He said that would be fine so we left my car and returned to Fallon.  We drove back to the Holiday Inn in Fallon.  When I got back to the hotel I entered the boiler plate for the day’s adventure on my "trip" laptop.  Tomorrow we were to ride 111 miles to Austin!  We plan to leave at 8 AM. 

 

return 

 



DAY 2 - Fallon to Austin - 110 miles

       

 ..it was May and we had clear skies and mild temperature to support our ride...  

 ..driving the second support car to Austin the night before allowed us to have 3 on the road..

..preparing to turn over driving the support car to one of the cyclist approaching along  the road...  

 ..after a few trees along the road exiting Fallon the desert reappeared.. 

Petroglyph – (‘pe-tra-glif) noun French)) - A carving or inscription on a rock.

Plan for the day - Today's ride is from Fallon to Austin.  The distance is approximately 110 miles.  We had driven one of the support cars to Austin the night before.  We would have three riders on the road today which adds to the fun!  

 

Getting started - When we got up we opened the window to check the weather.  The weather was rather mild.  Later when we met Ken at the car he said the temperature was in the 60’s which experience has shown to be a great temperature for a bike ride.  I had been concerned during the planning about the temperature in Nevada because I assumed that it was hot 360 days a year.   

 

Fallon to Austin is a mere 110 miles give are take a couple of miles.  We assumed it would be a long riding day.  We had gotten up at 6 AM to get ready for an agreed upon start at 8.  We put on our bike garb for the day, packed our clothes, and went down to breakfast.  The hotel provided a complimentary breakfast.  Hector and Ken were already in the dining room when we arrived.  We ate breakfast and shared stories and adventures of the road. 

 

After breakfast we returned to our room.  We each made two bottles of water with our individual energy mix.  We moved our belongings from our room to the support car.  The three who would start the ride began to assemble their bicycles.  I would drive the first leg. 

 

A guy approached us in the parking lot to inquire where we planned to ride.  We told him of our plans to ride to Austin on Highway 50.  During the conversation he told us that he was involved in developing and dating archeological sites in the state.  He told us about a "petroglyph" site a short distance from Fallon along Highway 50 at Grimes.  He suggested if we had the chance to stop and visit it.  I found out that he was a retired Boeing engineer from Seattle.  I am a retired Boeing engineer from Los Angeles.   

 

Today’s adventure - I volunteered to drive the car first so Bren started the ride with Ken and Hector.  Since Ken and I had driven my car to Austin the night before I had some idea of what the terrain would be like on the ride.  I told Bren that the road was flat for the first 20 miles after leaving the hotel.  After that the road continued straight up a 5% climb for about 3 miles.  She could ride the first 20 then determine if she wanted to continue and do the climb or drive.

 

There was a large salt flat that began outside of Fallon and extended for several miles (I would guess 5 miles) away from the highway on either side and for several miles (I would estimate 10 miles) along the side of the highway.  I stopped there to wait for the riders and discovered that people had taken rocks and created shapes and letters in the salt along the highway.  The graffiti ran for miles on both sides of the road.  There were many hearts with John loves Mary or John plus Mary.  Some were humorous as well.  

 

At the 20 mile point my wife wanted to test herself up the climb.  We agreed that at 40 miles she would begin to drive and I would begin my ride.  There was no wind when we started in Fallon but a tail wind began about thirty miles east of town after the riders had climbed over the first pass. There were a few willowy clouds otherwise it was a beautiful day. 

 

At the 40 miles I drove the car ahead and put my bike together to start the ride.  The riders pulled up and my wife put her bike in the car.  I got on my bike and cranked away leaving the three of them at the car.  I was cruising along on a slight downhill when my wife passed in the car and stopped ahead of me.  When I rode up to her location and stopped she said that I should wait for the others because they were miles behind me.  I said you must be kidding.  Those guys are "world class" they will be passing me in the next 5 miles!  As I predicted they did catch me only they did not leave me as I had them.  They slowed there pace so I could hang on and pulled me along with them.   

 

I had passed Middlegate Station just before my wife had caught up with me to tell me to wait.  Middlegate Station I would assume had been a pony express station.  It was one of only two places that I found along Highway 50 between Fallon and Austin on the web that had rooms for rent.  The web told me that they were sold out today, the day of our scheduled ride.  Thus we had to bicycle 110 miles.  I assumed the odds were good that I would be able to ride 110 miles because Nevada is flat! 

 

I wanted some pictures of Middlegate Station so we would know what we had missed.  So during our interchange when she told me to wait for the Reno Bike Club participants, I asked my wife to go back and take some photos of the place.  She told me later that it looked like a dive!  But we were on "the loneliest highway in the United States" at one of the loneliest places on that highway.  What would we expect? 

 

I also discovered during my web search that a second overnight possibility had opened about ten miles further east of Middlegate called “Cold Springs.”  We decided to buy some sandwiches at Cold Springs to eat further along the highway so my wife drove ahead to make the purchase.  By the time we, the riders on the road, reached Cold Springs we decided to stop and have lunch there.  We were at the half way point of the 110 miles and we could use the nourishment.

 

Cold Springs had rooms to rent.  Like Middlegate Station they had 4 rooms.  Cold Springs was also booked when we set up the trip as was Middlegate Station.  We probably should have found out the dates when the rooms were available at Middlegate Station or Cold Springs and then designed our trip around those days.  But so far so good on our quest to ride 110 miles so the verdict will be rendered at the end of the day.   

 

About 40 miles before we got to Austin the real climbing began.  If the road had been trending up before we had passed Cold Springs I had not noticed the change and the foliage along the road had not changed.  Our first climb was over New Pass.  The night before when Ken and I drove the route I thought it was a short climb.  When we reached the pass today it was quite different. The climb seemed to go on forever.  Later Ken told me it was 5 miles long.  I had remembered it as being more like a mile.  The climb was not obvious. 

 

The Highway was cut into the edge of the hill or mountain giving me a false sense of it being flat.  But when riding it the pressure that you had to keep on the pedals told you the truth.  My inclinometer also gave me the news.  It was only 3 to 5% but after 50 miles it was ugly.  Even the Tour de France guys were not enjoying it.

 

I remember a false flat on the assent which I always find punishing.  The terrain looks like I should be cycling much faster and cannot do so.  It lasted for a couple of miles which adds to the frustration.  At times the road appeared to be going down but I was still climbing.  The climb was a grade of 3 percent.  I was grinding away trying to hold onto a 9 mile and hour pace for what seemed to be forever.     

 

Five miles after completing the New Pass climb we began the climb into Austin.  Hector took over the driving chores with about 15 miles to go before we reached Austin and my wife returned to the road.  We had a slight down hill then straight then we began the climb into Austin.  It was about 2 miles of 3 to 6 percent and I almost bonked.  Ken was about a mile ahead of my wife and I.  Hector drove the car along side and gave us encouragement.  It was brutal.  I had to talk to myself all the way to the end of the climb which was the parking lot of the hotel. 

 

At one point Hector told me that I should hang on the side of the car and let him pull me along.  I declined.  At one point my wife began to do the stand up routine that Hector had showed me the day before.  She slowed a bit so I pulled out and went around her.  I must have then slowed after getting around her because she came back and passed me.  I followed her until we saw Ken standing at the parking lot of the hotel.  We rode into the parking lot and stopped immediately.  I was bushed!

 

Today’s landscape - Today's landscape was a mixed bag because we were leaving the desert and moving into the mountains.  As we rode east out of Fallon trees had been planted along the Highway but after a few miles the desert landscape returned.  The landscape returned to the desert sand and plants as far as the eye could see.  

 

A few miles east of Fallon we rode past the entrance to Grimes were the fellow at the hotel parking lot had told us we should stop to see the petroglyphs.  A few miles further on we rode past the desert salt flat where visitors had laid out their thoughts using stones. 

 

But today my belief that Nevada was flat would be found to be false.  Highway 50 remained relativity flat until we passed Cold Springs.  From Cold Springs we had 50 miles left to ride before we reached Austin where we would spend the night.  We began to climb to New Pass summit a noticeable climb.  The terrain changed as we climbed.  The desert foliage gave way to trees and green plants that could survive the heat.  The view from the bicycle stopped at the edge of the road.  I could no longer see to the horizon.  

 

After coming down from New Pass we began the climb up Austin Pass.  The town of Austin is located at the western side of the Pass.  The summit of Austin Pass is a few miles east of Austin.  The climb into Austin was difficult.  It was a long slow climb that went on and on until we reached the parking lot of the hotel.  The foliage changed as we climbed into Austin but not as dramatically as it had on the climb to New Pass.  My belief that Nevada was flat had been proven wrong.    

 

Bicycling notes - The weather continued to support our ride.  We cycled in sunshine.  The temperature was in the high sixes low seventies which I believe is perfect riding weather because I can always add clothes if required.  Insects do not do well at this temperature.  The road surface was good.  Traffic was very light.  The climbing was a challenge for me. There was little wind. 

 

Dropping the car in the arrival town worked.  The drive to and from Fallon to Austin was too long.  But a normal distance of 60 to 70 miles would make the trip to drop off the car reasonable.  We divided the cycling as follows:  Ken bicycled the entire 112 miles.  Hector rode 90 miles.  Bren biked for 64 miles.  I peddled for 73.  I drove first.  Bren had driven second.  Hector had been the driver for the final leg into Austin.  Note that Ken cycled 112 miles and we met him at the hotel in Austin when we rode in.  

 

Post ride activity - We stayed at the Pony Canyon Motel in Austin.  It was recommended by triple A.  The accommodations were basic.  But, we had two beds in the rooms, it was clean, the water was hot and towels and linen were clean. We had all ridden between 65 and 100 miles so it was great to get off the bike.  We were at 5000 plus feet so there was no air-conditioning.  The room had a small TV but it was connected to satellite and got HBO East and West!  The place was perfect.  We got to watch the Sopranos and Entourage so we did not fall behind.

 

We showered, changed into street clothes and headed to downtown Austin to find the evening meal.  Austin was an average small town which gave the impression that it was thriving.  But, when we went to locate a restaurant we found everything closed around us.  About three blocks away we found an open restaurant.  Since it was the only place we could find open we selected it.  We all ordered orange ruffie which is a fish that I have eaten many times, and like very much, but we are in the only restaurant open in town.  The waitress returned to tell us that they only had two baked potatoes and two servings of mashed potatoes left.  We had ordered four baked potatoes.  Things were not looking good.      

 

The food arrived and it was excellent and it was not because we had just finished a long day on the bike.  The food was great!  We ate and told wild bike stories during the meal.  The cook came out to clear away our dishes and inquired about the food.  We told her it was excellent.  She appeared pleased because we were obviously bicyclist who is accustomed to only the best.  We finished our meal, paid the bill and walked back to the motel.  On the way back we selected another restaurant which had a sign on the door that read “open 6AM.”  This would give us a chance to compare the food from other places in Austin with the other place that was open!

 

My wife and I watched TV after returning to the motel.  I entered text on my laptop. I got up to go out to get something out of the car and noticed Hector sketching something on a pad.  I asked what it was and he showed me.  He was sketching a scene from the front of the motel.  It was quite good and I commented so.  He then showed me the other drawings in the book and they were all quite good.  He later showed me pictures from his camera of some painting he had done which were also quite good.  I told him he should show his work but I got the impression he just wanted to enjoy the creative process.         

 

I returned to the room and crashed.  Tomarrow we get to start the day by climbing Austin Pass!  Oh joy!

 

return 



DAY 3 - Austin to Eureka - 72 miles

       

 ..the shoulder along the road provided ample room to escape from the few cars that passed us on the climbs... 

...I had been cold at the hotel and had dressed in my GORTEX jacket but I got very warm on the climb...

 ..as we climbed higher the foliage became a bit more robust...

..The only concern on the down hill was how to stay upright doing 50 miles an hour plus...

Plan for the day - Today we plan to bicycle from Austin to Eureka.  The distance is approximately 72 miles.  We will return to driving both support cars today with two riders on the road.     

 

Our day will begin by continuing the climb up to Austin Pass.  The climb begins on the street in front of the motel.   While checking into the Pony Canyon Motel, we were told that the climb to the summit would be 2000 feet. 

 

Getting started - We had agreed to meet for breakfast at 7 AM.  We had selected a place we passed returning to the hotel the night before which had a sign hanging on the door which read “open at 6 AM.”  We got together at 7 and went to the restaurant but it was closed.  We continued along the sidewalk and found a second place that was closed.  We decided to walk to the place where we had dinner the night before. 

 

We ordered breakfast and picked up where we had left off with our bike stories.  Hector talked about his experiences in pro-bicycling. The food was very good and we decided that all of the other places had probably been run out of business by the excellent food served at this place.

 

My wife and I would be first to ride.  My wife headed back to the hotel early to get ready to ride while we continued with our stories.  We left a short time later and when I arrived my wife was ready to challenge the climb.  She loaded the last of her stuff into our car and got on her bike had headed up the mountain. 

 

It was cold on the walk back to the hotel so I put thermals on and my GORTEX jacket.  I made some energy drink, packed my clothes and loaded the car.  I was ready to ride and set off.  Ken told me that I was over dressed and would be burning up on the climb. 

 

Today’s adventure - The climb began at at 5 percent at the bottom according to my inclinometer.  As I climbed a sign indicated that the grade had changed to 7% but my inclinometer indicted that the climb continued at 5 percent.   After passing the 7% sign I tried to keep cool and not push too hard looking for the grade to tip up.  But I got all the way to the top and my inclinometer stayed at 5 percent.  My wife told me later said that she thought it had stayed at 5 percent to the top as well.

 

Ken had been right about the jacket.  I got hot as I climbed.  After about a mile I unzipped the front of the jacket.  I unzipped the zipper that ran beneath the arms of the jacket soon after.  I was not hot with my jacket open but I was still warm. 

When I caught up to my wife at the summit of Austin Pass, I stopped and zipped my jacket up before beginning the decent. 

 

My wife told me that she was pleased that she had done so well on the climb.  She said she had not been in any difficulty.  Since I had backed off waiting for the 7% to begin I had not suffered as well. 

 

I gulped down some energy drink from my water bottle and my wife and I began our decent.  It was quite steep and just before we started a trailer truck left the parking area where we were stopped.

 

I passed my wife and began a rapid decent.  The wind was really blowing and it seemed to come from every direction.  I caught the truck and followed at a safe distance to the bottom.  I noticed that at the bottom of the decent the road began to climb again.  I reached the bottom and began a second climb. 

 

My wife and both support cars caught up with me.  My wife was a few yards behind me at the start of the climb but fell further back by the time I reached the summit.  I rolled down the opposite side and began a long steep decent.  I reached speeds of 43 miles an hour and would have made 50 if I had not applied my breaks.  I was a little afraid of going 50 miles an hour especially in the wind which was playing games with my bike.  It first came from the side, then from the front and then from the back.    

 

At the end of my roll I began to climb again.  Ken had driven his car up to support me about half way through my ride.  After about 4 miles I began to climb again.    This climb was only 3 to 4 percent but I had decided that it must be 5 percent because the first climb out of Austin had been marked with signs for the trucks at 7 percent.  I had read only 5 percent so I assumed the current climb must be 5 percent.   I wanted it to be 5 percent because it was difficult for me.  The wind was blowing from the side and the road turned into it before I reached the summit.  I also was still sore from the day before and my legs were talking to me after two long climbs. 

 

I finally made it to the top and Ken was waiting taking pictures of my reaching the summit.  I stopped at the car and dumped my jacket and finished off one of my water bottles and left it at the car.  With that I was off down the opposite side of the pass.  I looked at the road before me which went straight as an arrow across the valley floor. 

 

The four of us had divided the ride into 36 mile increments.  I had a little less than 10 miles indicated on my odometer.  The valley floor looked longer than 10 miles.  I decided that the climbing was over for me for the day.  I would not have to climb another pass on my shift!

 

I started to crank and hovered between 20 to 25 miles an hour.  The wind was all over the place.  It would blow from the side, from the back, from the front, everywhere.  I remember at one point going 25 miles an hour and suddenly the wind shifted and came directly at me and I immediately dropped to 17 miles an hour.         

       

I reached my goal of 36 miles and coasted for about 1 mile looking for a place where Ken could start riding.  A sign appeared that said there was a rest area one mile ahead.  Ken had driven along side earlier and asked what my mileage read and it was 34 miles at that point.  He rolled up again and said this would be a good place to start his ride.  I agreed and he drove ahead to the rest stop. 

 

I reached the rest stop shortly after he did.  While Ken put the front wheel on his bike and got ready to ride I went out to the road to look for my wife and Hector.  They appeared and within a short time were close enough to see me pointing to the rest area entrance.  They turned in.  My wife had only been a few minutes behind me.  We had cranked!

 

My wife and I loaded our bikes into the "support vans" while Hector put the front wheel on his bike and prepared to leave.  They finished putting their bikes together and rode onto Highway 50 and headed for Eureka.  I finished arranging the stuff in the van and shut the rear door.  I went to Ken’s car and started it to head after the riders.  My wife was stretching as I pulled out of the driveway.  It had been a tough but fun ride.

 

I caught up with Ken and Hector after a few miles and began to follow them with my flashers on.  Ken had said that they must have one pass left to climb before getting to Eureka.  They were cranking and we were still riding through the valley.  There was no pass in sight. 

 

My wife arrived in the second support van.  The cross wind was howling.  My wife pulled her car along side the riders to shield them from the wind.  I continued to drive behind the riders as my wife drove along side. 

 

This worked well when the traffic was light.  But the traffic picked up and the complication of passing two cars driving slowly with cyclist hovering between a car and the shoulder of the road outweighed the effort required to push the wind. 

 

I began to drive ahead of the cyclist a few miles and wait returning to the road as they approached t locate another spot.  My wife continued to drive behind them.  After my third wait I found a sign when I returned to the road which read 3 miles to Eureka.  There would be no pass to climb.  There was a slight up hill but no big deal especially for these riders.

 

I pulled off the road and waited and soon the riders were there.  I followed the second car and the riders into town.  I saw the hotel but the riders rode on by.  My wife pulled over at the hotel and I drove by.  When I drove along side I yelled at the riders through the window that they had passed the hotel.  They turned around and rode back the half block to the hotel.  

 

Today’s landscape - Austin is located at the foot of Austin Pass.  We began the day climbing "most" of the 7484 feet to the summit of the Pass which was the path over the Toiyabe Mountains.  We dropped back down a few thousand feet on the other side and then began our climb over the Monitor Mountain Range.  Hickison Pass at 6564 feet took us over the Monitor Mountain Range.  

 

There was radical change in the plant life as we climbed up from the desert floor.  Before the climb the plants on the desert floor were small and located several feet, I would guess 50 feet, apart.  As we climbed the plant population grew until the ground was covered with plants.  As we climbed even higher small trees appeared along the road and grew in height as we climbed. 

 

After passing over the summit of Hickison Pass the road returned to the desert floor and the plant life returned to more sparsely populated desert landscape.  The landscape did not change for the remainder of our ride into Eureka.

 

Bicycling notes - The sun was out and the temperature was cool but not cold.   The wind was vicious.  The road was straight for long intervals and the surface would have supported a 50 mile an hour plus descent but my bicycle skill level was suspect.  Traffic was light.  The bugs were still hibernating.

 

BY the time my wife and I finished our leg of the ride the crosswind was howling and making the riders progress a bit dicey.  We devised a scheme to shield the rides by pulling one car into the opposite lane driving along side the riders to shield them from the wind.  I continued to drive behind the riders to alert traffic that slow traffic was ahead.  When we began the shielding process traffic was light and we could do this uninterrupted for miles.  

 

At first when a car did come along in the opposite direction the car driving along side would pull forward ahead of the riders until the car passed.  When a car came from the rear we would drive the blocking car forward until the car passed.  

 

We then shifted strategy and began to ride just inside the center line pushing the riders closer to the side of the road. When cars came from the opposite direction they pulled over very close to the shoulder to pass.  The cars were only feet from ditch along the road as they passed. 

 

At one point a group of cars packed up behind the following car that I was driving.  I turned off my flashers and passed both my wife's car and the riders.  Each of the cars then passed in turn as I drove further down the road to find a place to pull over.  The cars passed me as I drove looking for a place to wait.  When the riders arrived my wife had dropped behind and followed with the cat flashers on.  We decided using the car to block the wind as the traffic increased had become a bit too dicey.  The experiment was terminated.    

 

Post ride activity - We were staying at the Best Western which turned out to be a brand new hotel.  They did not have our room ready so we went down the street to get a snack.  We located a restaurant a short distance away and my wife and I had soup and a chicken sandwich. 

 

A man came over and told us he had passed us on the road.  He said his ranch was about 50 miles south.  He had horse back riding, balloon rides, rooms, food, etc.  He had a website and gave the web address.  Two other people asked us where we were bicycling to.  They said they had passed us on the road as well.

 

We left and went back to the hotel.  The rooms were ready.  I took a shower and then began to work on my journal.  Ken came down and talked for a while.  We discussed what type of riding he liked and what he liked about endurance cycling vs touring.

 

Hector came by later and we went for Chinese across the street.  We talked about bicycling.  I told him I would pay and then the girl said we do not take credit cards and I only had twenty dollars.  Hector had to pay for his own meal plus pick up the tip.   

Ken and Hector head back to Reno tomorrow so it is just us guys on the road.  It had been a good ride with the cyclist from the Reno Bike Club.  Tomorrow we ride to Ely on our own!

return



DAY 4 -   Eureka to Ely – 77 miles

       

 ...a lonely rider on the loneliest highway...the Reno Bike Club riders had to return home!

 ..we had to dress for cold today.., the sun was out but the morning temperature was 30 something..

 ...the higher we climbed the more robust the plant life became...

 ...we climbed Pinto, Pancake, Little Antelope and Robinsons passes today along Highway 50 on our way to Ely...

Plan for the Day - Today we ride to Ely.  The distance is 77 miles.  Ken and Hector would be returning to Reno after breakfast so it would be up to me and my bike buddy to complete the ride across Nevada. 

 

We decided I would ride the first 38.5 miles and then my wife wound take over.  I would begin my ride by completing the climb to the summit of Pinto Pass which began in Eureka.  After that I would climb Pancake Pass and then Little Antelope Pass.  My wife would take over and roll down the other side of Little Antelope and then climb Robinsons Pass.  After climbing Robinson’s Pass she would ride down the other side for 15 miles into Ely.

 

Getting started - It was cold in Eureka when we got up.  I don’t know how cold but there was a white board in the hotel that listed the day's temperature.  It indicated that the temperature today would begin with a low of 27 and climb to a high of 63.  It felt cold. 

 

We met Ken and Hector in the dining room to enjoy the hotel’s complimentary breakfast.  After breakfast they would begin their drive back to Reno.  Ken was selling his house and had a bid that had to be finalized.  Hector had been knocked down by a car door in January and had suffered multiple broken bones.  He had just quit walking with a cane two weeks before starting the ride across Nevada with us.  He did not want to tempt fate further. 

 

Ken and Hector had been excellent bike partners.  They had been great fun to ride with.  Both were excellent cyclist and I learned a great deal about cycling during the time we spent together.  I thought they were very patient as we struggled to keep pace and I appreciated the fact that they volunteered to ride with us across Nevada.    

 

We ate our breakfast together and continued to tell bike stories.  Afterward we went back to our respective rooms packed and loaded the cars.  We put our bike clothes on.  Ken and Hector headed for Reno, we rode to Highway 50 and began our ride to Ely.  

 

Today’s adventure - The wind was in my face from the time I got on the bike.  There would be no one to draft behind today.  I missed my bike buddy on the road!  I was forced to push though the wind.  It was brutal and made the ride difficult. 

 

It was very cold when we started but I was dressed warmly.  I heated up climbing up Pinto Pass but rolling down the other side I got very cold.  I was a bit more comfortable on the climbs up Pancake Pass and Little Antelope Pass but the wind took its toll on my legs.

 

My wife took over after I crested Little Antelope.  She cranked away blowing down the back of the pass.  Then the wind took over and made her ride difficult.  The climb up Robinson’s pass was difficult and the wind made it very difficult.  When she reached the summit she had a down hill run into Ely but the wind was so stiff she had to peddle going down hill. 

 

Ely was much bigger than the other towns we had stayed in.  The hotel was at the extreme eastern end of town which added 3 miles to the ride. 

 

Today’s landscape - The ride had multiple passes which took us through some very pretty country.  It was very green compared to the first two days we had ridden from Fallon to Eureka.  The road had been cut through the rock in some areas producing cliffs which added to the background.  In the higher areas large pine trees were growing.  In places there were fields of plants which did not have the appearance of the dessert foliage we had observed at the lower elevations.  

 

Bicycling notes - The sun was out all day but it was cold.  The wind was brutal and continuous from east to west which impeded our progress.  The traffic was light.  The road surface was good but the shoulder would not have supported heavy traffic. 

 

We only had one cyclist on the road today.  Multiple cyclists on a ride are preferred for obvious reasons.  When climbing or when conditions such as wind are difficult riders can share the lead.  It is good to have someone to provide encouragement and often the conversation during a ride can reduce or eliminate fatigue from being foremost in the rider's mind.  There is also the element of attempting to "show off" a bit which makes a novice rider perform at his or her best for many miles.    

 

Post ride activity - When we arrived at the hotel we went inside and checked in.  The place had a smell of cigarette smoke but when we got inside our room it did not.  We had reserved a no-smoking room! 

 

We unpacked, collapsed for a bit and then went to look for a restaurant to eat dinner.  My wife rejected the restaurant in the hotel because of the smoke smell so we went downtown.  We drove the van.  It was about a mile and a half.  We parked and got out of the van and walked along the street.  We saw three stores or restaurants that had been closed as we walked.  It must be hard times in Ely. 

 

Two of the restaurants we had been told about at the hotel were closed for the day.  The Italian restaurant which had been recommended opened at 5.  It was 4:30 so we decided to shop until 5!  After a brief visit to a few stores close to the restaurant, we went back to the Italian Restaurant.  The place was nice, the food  and the service were good. 

 

We took a piece of cake with us back to the hotel to snack on.  We used the Jacuzzi at the hotel to repair the physical damage and get warm.  Afterward we returned to our room and crashed.  It had been a hard cycling day. 

 

return



DAY 5 -  Ely to the Utah Border  - 63 miles

       

 ...bicycling into the wind made progress on the flat difficult...

 ...my ride for the day is complete...my bike buddy would carry the flag to the border...

 ...we rode together briefly on the last climb of the day before the start of the push for the border....   

 ...we made it! ... the Utah border...our ride across Nevada is complete...

Plan for the day Today we Ride from Ely to the Utah border completing our trek across the state of Nevada. The distance to the border from Ely is 63 miles. 

 

The sky was clear when we got up and it had dropped to 30 degrees overnight.  The temperature had dropped to 27 degrees overnight the day before but the cycling will keep us warm.

 

We had solved our room dilemma of where to stay after we finished today’s ride at the Utah border.  I could not find a hotel in Baker, Utah which had been our planned destination after reaching the Utah/Nevada border during the planning for the trip.  It had been left to be solved on the road.

 

Last night we had decided the obvious.  We decided to ride to the border and return to Ely and stay in the hotel we were staying in! The following day we would drive to Las Vegas.  The road to Las Vegas begins, for us, in Ely. 

 

Getting started - We ate breakfast in the hotel.  We had the usual eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee for breakfast.  It was very good. 

 

After breakfast we dressed for the ride and made some water with energy mix. I went to the car and built my bike. It felt like it was warmer, but I decided to go back to the room and put my thermal shirt on under my riding shirt because it would be a bit colder when I started to ride.  By the time I switched my shirt my wife had loaded the car and we were off. 

 

Today’s adventure - We had to backtrack through town to get to Highway 50 east.  It was two traffic lights down from the hotel.  My bike buddy would be driving the car for the first leg and she drove ahead to find a spot to wait while I rode to the start of the day’s ride along highway 50.  I reached the intersection and turned east and headed for Utah. 

 

The profile for the first part of the ride was up for the first 20 miles and then over the summit of Conner’s Pass.  The climb did not seem as bad as the profile warned.  There was no wind for the first 10 miles which was a blessing. I made good rime.

 

After 10 miles the wind picked up.  It was swift and head on.  My progress dropped to a crawl.  Even when I was not on a climb I was cranking at a very slow pace.

 

I was using my watch to estimate my miles per hour rate and by the time I reached the start of the climb up Conner’s Pass I estimated I was doing 13 miles an hour which was acceptable.  I started the climb up the pass and with the wind my average suffered.  I was clunking along at a 6, 7, 8 mile and hour rate until I reached the summit.   

 

The rest of my ride was downhill but the wind was fierce.  It not only held me back but blew me around on the road.  To compound my uneasiness as I descended the wind would at times completely disappear on some stretches of the road and then would hit with more force on the next turn.  I reached the bottom and continued along until I had reached my allotted 33.5 miles for the day.  It was my wife’s turn to ride.

 

My wife got no relief from the wind.  It continued with gusto as she cranked along.  I pulled up beside her and asked if she wanted to draft on the car.  She said “sure let’s give it a try.” 

 

She would bicycle along beside the car trying to shield the bike from the wind.  This worked with a little success but the wind was coming from all directions.  We finally got to bottom of Sacramento Pass and My wife started the accent.  The wind was fierce and my wife had to push hard against the wind.  I told my wife I would drive to the top to determine the distance. 

 

I got to the summit turned and clocked the distance.  It was 1.8 miles.  When I reached her I asked if she wanted me to take a turn and she said no.  We chugged along for a bit and I decided that I could park ahead and ride with her.  I drove forward about a tenth of a mile, parked and got my bike out of the car. 

 

I rode back to my wife, turned and began to ride with her.  We passed the car and about a half mile from the summit I turned to return to the car.  I wanted to take a picture of her reaching the summit. 

 

I rode like the devil, got to the car and drove to the top.  When I got there my wife was already approaching the top.  I jumped out and got my picture.  We also took a picture of my wife holding a paper towel which was blowing straight out in the wind in front of the sign which indicated the climb was 7 percent.    

 

The next 15 miles were down hill but the wind forced my wife to pedal.  When the road leveled off about 5 miles from the Utah border, I drove in front of my wife so she could draft behind the car.  I was driving at 20 miles an hour and she was right behind me. 

 

My wife rode up beside the car and asked if we should have turned.  I said no that the border was one mile ahead.  I told her I would drive to the border to make sure and was off.  I drove to the “entering Utah” sign and returned.  I told her and she cranked to the parking lot of the hotel, bar and gas station complex that was built on the border.  Did I mention that they had a casino also?  The ride across Nevada was complete.  We had done it!   

 

I took my bike out of the car and carried it to the border sign for a picture.  We had planned to set the camera on the car but I saw two motorcyclists standing by the service station gas pumps.  I told my wife that I would ask one of them to take the picture. 

 

One of the guys noticed me and I motioned with the camera and he indicated yes.  He walked back to the sign with me and took the pictures.  I asked him where they were riding to and he said they were returning to Kentucky where he lived.  I told him I had grown up in Shepherdsville. He said he was from Madisonville.  We wished him a good trip and he returned to his bike and left.  His name was Gouch.

 

Today’s landscape We returned to the high country again as we bicycled to the Utah border.  We rode through forests which had large pine trees.  At one point during one of my climbs 4 deer appeared at the road side and watched me climb.  As I approached them they darted across the road and into the forest on the opposite side of the road.

 

My wife completed the climb over the last pass about 20 miles from the Utah border.  The road dropped back to the desert floor and returned to the expected  desert landscape which was present until we reached the Utah border and continued into Utah.         

 

Bicycling notes The traffic remained light. The road surface was a bit rough but did not present a problem on the downhill runs. The sun was out in a cloudless ski. The wind continued to be brutal.  The wind blew east to west so we had to push through it.  There were no bugs this early in the year.   

 

While I was making the room change the night before requesting an additional day at the hotel in Ely, I overheard a conversation about a motel located on the border.  The person said the motel had 30 rooms.

 

When we reached the border there was a large store, gas station, and motel complex.  The complex was on the Nevada side of the border so that gambling was available.   As a rule of thumb it can be assumed there will be gambling complexes with hotel accommodations at all of the major roads leaving the state of Nevada.

 

Post ride activity - We loaded our bikes and parked in front of the cafeteria and went in.  I took pictures inside the store.  We toyed with the idea of buying t-shirts with “I survived Highway 50” on the front.  We did buy a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream bar. 

 

We left the restaurant and drove back to the hotel in Ely.  The wind had stopped.  We checked for wind several times on our return drive.  We have had the same experience in LA with the wind. The heat of the day excites the wind and in the morning and evening it is calm.

 

We passed a Mexican restaurant on the way back to the hotel and decided we would have dinner there.  We got to the hotel, did the Jacuzzi, showered, dressed and went to the restaurant.  The food was very good. 

 

My wife said the margarita was the best and that she should know having tried them all over the world.  We returned to the hotel and watched “Lost” on TV.  It was the season finale.  Tomorrow we head for Las Vegas and stay overnight.  Then it is home to Los Angeles the next day.

return



"car free adventure"