No Name Tour: Day 44 – Taken

Last night’s dinner of a hot roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes, broccoli, and a side salad was augmented by a large beer. Large in the sense of could barely lift the mug.

I sloshed back to the surprisingly nice hotel where I watched the second Democratic debate for about 30 seconds. That’s all I could take of Eric Swalwell.

After a starchy hotel breakfast (Nevada does not do fruit), I rode up a small hill out of town. For the next 28 miles I was cruising at speeds in the high teens. Through Devils Gate and Yahoo Canyon into a basin for 28 glorious miles. Then I was punched in the face by a wind gust.

Uh oh, here it comes. The next five miles were like sparring with an invisible opponent. Then the wind became constant. Once again I was grinding away at low speed. So frustrating.

I climbed over 6,556 Hickison summit before riding into another wind in my face basin.

58 miles in, I turned north and up . Climbing, even with a tailwind wasn’t happening. There were stops and there wS walking.

I arrived at Bob Scott Summit and found no sign. Bite me, Nevada. I biked and, mostly walked, all this way. I want a damned sign.

Down the back side I rode, accelerating through 30 mph. A pickup truck surprised me as it passed uncomfortably close. My mouth opened and a large black bug landed on my upper lip. And sting me. So here I am, riding down a ridge at over 30 mph with a pick up truck just off my left elbow and I getting stung by an unknown creature that nearly got into my mouth.

This could ruin your whole day. Trust me.

I survived the ordeal and rather enjoyed the descent once the pain subsided. Then the road turned upwards again. And steeply. With dead legs, a gallon of water and over 30 pounds of assorted crap on my bike I had to make a choice: destroy my knees or walk.

No brainer.

After a half hour of pushing The Mule I saw the sign for Austin Summit, 7,484 feet. The last three miles were a steep, curvy descent to Austin, another town like Eureka. A few businesses, several dilapidated old storefronts, a couple of bars, a cafe, and a few hotels.

I stopped at the cafe and, on a whim, checked my rims. They were hot from all the braking I did on the descent

At the cafe, I had a proper lunch because nothing I ate during the day proved adequate.

Austin is on a hill so I rode down in search of a hotel that had decent WiFi. I needed to Facetime with my wife to fix the WiFi at home. The Cozy Mountain hotel had a room and rural Nevada WiFi.

After discussing behavioral economics with the motel owner (I turned her on to Dan Ariety and we discussed Nudge, Thinking Fast and Slow, a few Michael Lewis books, and Thomas Piketty, I checked in and did the call with my wife. (I didn’t fix the problem. Bike riding economists aren’t very useful.)

I went out to dinner and had undercooked pizza and beer that was over 20 months past its sell date. Haute cuisine in small town Nevada.

In three days I should be in Carson City where I get to make a decision: continue on to Portland via the Sierras or ride across the mountains to Sacramento.

Some of you may have heard that I was served a subpoena to appear in court in a civil matter in mid-July. I learned today that the case has been delayed so the tour can go on on its own merits. (It’s a personal injury lawsuit involving two cyclists injured by a security gate on the Mount Vernon Trail.)

Tomorrow, MOTS, more of the same.

Miles today: 70

Tour miles: 2,534.5

Top speed: 33.3 mph

No Name Tour: Day 43 – Rest Is Good

After a day off and switching to a much nicer hotel, my body and brain had recovered from some seriously hard days of riding. In Nevada, if the miles and hills don’t get you, the wind will.

Breakfast was provided courtesy of the Denny’s in the hotel. I hit the road at 6:45 and was allowed passage through the work zone on the edge of town.

The road wound it’s way through some seriously high mountains with barely an incline. Just outside of town, at the top of one of the mountains, I could see evidence of a massive copper mine.

A cool tailwind pushed me over Robinson Pass at 7,607 feet. The descent was encumbered by a blustery side wind, the result of the road turning from the north to the south and west. It battered me as I crossed a basin and wended my way into the Butte Mountains.

Being a good little road, it turned to the northwest affording me s tailwind over Little Antelope Summit at 7,438 feet.

The road nudged to the west but the crosswind through the next basin was bearable. Up and over 6,517-foot Pancake Summit then down into the Newark Valley, with an increasingly strong side wind that occasionally blasted me in the face.

Next up was 6,433 Southgate, an unmarked summit they preceded a turn of the road to the north.

Tailwind ablowin’ I rode 5-ish miles to 7,376, mostly in my middle ring. To be honest, I was knackered at this point, stopping to reload my water bottles and munch snacks.

Once I was over the top the fun began. A downhill with a tailwind is a mighty fine thing. I was over 40 mph in no time, feathering my brakes to avoid disaster.

I smiled, slightly terrified, all the way to Eureka, my stop for the night.

Before grabbing a hotel room I stopped to talk with Giovanni and Cristina, tandem riders from the northwest of Italy. They were struggling with a broken tent pole that they managed to repair as we talked. They are participating in a cross country bike race. Their legs had some nasty cuts and scabs from mishaps along the way but were a blast to talk with.

Another, solo rider from the race stopped by. His name is Indiana. He chatted for a few minutes then took off on his bike packing machine bound for Battle Mountain.

Eureka is an old western town with a few businesses making a go of it. My hotel is mighty nice, a surprise after hearing unflattering things about the town from a rider who is a few days ahead of me.

Tomorrow is a repeat with few climbs until the last six miles heading over into my destination, Austin, Nevada. Back to back 7,000 footers. Oof.

Miles today: 77.5

Tour miles: 2,464.5

Top speed: 44.4 mph

No Name Tour: Day 13 – Second Eureka

After dinner of peanut butter on flour tortillas and an apple, I read some of Corey’s Crazyguyonabike.com journal. The sandman whacked me in the head at 9:30 and I didn’t move a muscle for eight hours.

After a mediocre motel breakfast, The Mule and I hit the road, west bound for Benedict with a strong cross wind.

I spotted what I thought were statues of three horses near the road. Then I realized they were real. What beautiful creatures. They posed for a picture but wouldn’t say hello.

Corey and Mark caught up to me. I think they are on PEDs. Or maybe I’m just old, fat, and slow.

At one point I passed a baby snapper turtle in the road and pointed it out to Mark who nobly stopped and saved to grow and wreak havoc.

Once we turned north and had a tailwind we made like bakery trucks (and hauled buns).

After 40 miles we stopped at Lizzard Lips Cafe for lunch. We were each given little plastic lizards to attach to our bikes. I took the pink one to match my WABA socks. Now my tour has a mascot. It needs a name. Suggestion welcome.

After lunch we headed west to Eureka, my second Eureka of the trip. The road was s busy highway. We had 19 miles to go and we’re racing the predicted arrival of thunderstorms. Along the way we met Ian Graves who was heading east on the TransAm. He gave us the forecast.

We pushed the pace. Well, Mark and Corey did. I kept them in view and hoped my left knee would survive the trauma.

I did stop to take a selfie with a sign.

Thankfully it did and the motel that Ian recommended was adequate and walking distance to a beer store.

Tonight we dine at Pizza Hut. (It’s nearby what can I say.) We will be joined by Sweet T, another TransAm rider who we’ve been an hour behind for the last few days.

One thing has been very clear: had we come this way a day earlier we’d have been sitting for days waiting for the flood waters to recede. So despite our inconvenience yesterday, all has worked out surprisingly well under the circumstances.

Miles today: 62

Total miles: 827.5

Evidence of flooding was all around us but the flooding near the Verdigris River was astonishing. The highway passing through some farm fields was raised above the fields like a causeway. The fields were filled with flood water for as far as you could see on either side of the road. About two feet from the road was debris from the peak of the flood. The water must have been at least a foot higher. That’s a mind boggling amount of rain.

The road had no shoulders and a drop off on either side. Strong crosswinds and passing cars and trucks made for a hairy mile of riding.