My plan was to getaway at midnight so I could get in a good 9 hours of riding, half being in the dark. That plan didn’t come to fruition and instead I left the comfortable motel at 6am.
So after a super long stint of one night ride I was back to day riding. As it turned out, it wasn’t an unbearable thing as the temperature had dropped to a much more comfortable level than the past two days living too close to the sun.
Water is the most essential part of touring. Through these tricky long stages between services I was carrying 9 litres of water. You can certainly feel the extra weight (poor bike) so the uphills are now more arduous and the downhills are faster, ever so slightly.
After leaving the “Border Inn” motel I was soon isolated, bored and most definitely lonely. The road continued as I left it the previous night, straight as an arrow and barren. Bored, I began to play Eye Spy with myself – I got stuck on something beginning with “E”. Nevertheless I got all excited when I saw a curve in the road… how pathetic.
As predicted, there wasn’t anything around the bend apart from a rather unwelcome set of hills. The ascent began and three hours of hard slog later, I reached the summit. this particular downhill section was steeper than most and as a result it was over rather disappointingly, after pushing the 40mph barrier on the way down.
Rolling to a stop after the descent it appeared to be a suitable time for a break. There wasn’t anywhere to sit, but there was a cattle-grid. Somehow, I ingeniously managed to lie on it in such a way that I could get a quick nap in. I’m still unsure as to how I managed this but it wasn’t as uncomfy as it sounds.
Setting off 15 minutes later and my pace hadn’t resumed full steam yet. I got a very pleasant surprise in the form of another tourer riding up beside me. Could this be someone touring in the same westerly direction? Surely not… It turns out that Kathryn from Michigan, was indeed going west! And what’s more, was planning on hitting San Francisco the same time as me! I would have been far happier, but she was peddling hard, and I was peddling harder just to keep up!
We rode past a little funky looking bar but Kat didn’t seem to be slowing down. Naturally, I had to maintain the macho pretense and ride on but I wanted another 10 minute break and that bar looked so inviting! As though there were some cruel Flying Spaghetti Monsters looking down upon us, a gnarly hill loomed into view. We got half way up and I had to drop the machoness, I had to stop. Sweat was pouring out of me by the bucket-load. My eyes were stinging because my eyebrows weren’t bushy enough to divert litres of sweat from my brow to the side of my face. And so we stopped for ten minutes.
Whilst stopped Tim caught up with us. It turns out that I’ve got two cycling buddies to San Francisco! We talked for a bit, I dried off a little, and then we set off again up the not overly steep, but exceedingly long hill. And then came the rain. Oh how it poured. I checked my GPS, we were definitely in Nevada. The rain was the last thing I was expecting. I had waterproofs but decided against getting them out as the temperature was still hot. I figured that my skin is waterproof and so long as my body temperature doesn’t drop I won’t catch hypothermia.
It turns out I didn’t need to worry about my core temperature. We stopped at the top of the summit and waited for Tim to catch up. The evaporating water from my skin made me feel like a race-horse after the Grand National. We had a long downhill stretch ahead and I put my coat on so that my arms didn’t freeze and drop off at the bottom. As it turns out I’m already the stupid one of the group as I whizzed down the slippery hill, shifting my body weight to avoid the collections of water that were collecting. The last thing I wanted was to aquaplane, lose control, and die a horrible yet rapid death.
Surviving death hill was great but I had lost Kat and Tim now. Being heavier and stupider than them gave me a speed advantage on the ride down. I stopped in a small nature reserve to see if they would catch up but after 15 minutes they still hadn’t gone past. It was now getting cold, cold enough for me to don my jumper – apparently Nevada isn’t scorching hot. I carried on down the road and arrived at the outskirts of Ely. Since I didn’t have any way of contacting those guys, and no idea where they were staying, I waited at the KOA campground until they rode passed. An hour passed, I had consumed two packets of Doritos and endured further rain under some shelter, but still there was no sign of them. Just as I was about to ride back to check for signs of life, I saw them ride past the end of the access road – but there were four riders! I scrambled back onto the bike and rode hard to keep them in sight and catch up with them.
They all stopped at a Motel 6 and I rode up behind them and introduced myself to the other two. After a bit of deliberation and a bit of good ol’ British haggling on my part we got the room down to $15 each. I later found out this was the most Joe had paid for a room. He had been doing his trip on an incredible budget. Tim and Kat had one room, and Joe, Han and myself took the other. Once we had all dried off from the downpour it was time for grocery and beverage shopping. This is when I learned from the others the awesomeness of carrots as snacks. They work pretty well and are cheap too.
Back at the motel and we chatted lots and watched the 4th July fireworks from New York – it turns out the fireworks in Ely were disappointingly shitty. We attempted to make a monstrous load of spaghetti, and hats off to Joe and Tim the chefs of the night as they managed to make enough Spaghetti to feed the entire motel complex. We somehow got through most of it though thanks to the Budweiser, washing it down nicely.
Kat, Tim and Han started out their ride across country from Michigan and are riding to Portland. They are doing it for a cause after raising money at their university. You can find out more about it at www.pedaltofeed.com. Joe was doing it for similar reasons to me. He wanted to see how far west he could get and at this point he was more than likely going to make it the whole way across.
I love the irony of having just started riding on the self proclaimed “Loneliest Road in America” I meet four awesome tourers. All of a similar age to me and great fun to be around. Now I’m looking really looking forward to crossing Nevada, it’s already been a beautiful, scenic ride.