Day 66 – Baker to Ely NV

I got off to a bit of a rough start today but it turned out to be a great day. And most great days lately are great because I met interesting, great people. That’s one of the big benefits of moving around with an overloaded bike is that, as my friend Geoff says, the bike is a great conversation starter.

I was up at 5:00 but with the time change that turned out to not be as early as it was yesterday. Sort of forgot that the sun does its thing regardless of what my iPhone says the time is. I won’t go into details on exactly how my morning started but I’ll just say that I wish there was a way to unsee what I saw in the men’s room of the campground this morning.  Eeew. Eeew. Eeeew. Hazards of traveling on the cheap I suppose. Nuff said about that.

Just outside Baker I passed this former restaurant and stopped to investigate the graffiti. They drew me in with the “Stop Extinction” tag. I agree with the sentiment but not sure it helps to spray paint it on a wall.
I did enjoy this critter and was poking around a bit when a couple of loose dogs ran me off. At least they gave me a courtesy warning bark before they started their pursuit for real.

 

Moving out into Nevada, my morning wildlife viewing has kind of thinned out. I see signs warning of deer and elk but don’t see any. I did really enjoy seeing a lot of jackrabbits (aka hares). They are much bigger than the cottontails I saw in Escalate in such great numbers. Where rabbits scamper low to the ground and dive for cover, jackrabbits bound over sage and bushes with great athletic leaps. They are a delight to watch but they make the same mistake bunnies make – often I don’t see them until they flee from me. If they just stayed put, I’d probably blow right by them.

I’ve only seen arches of horns larger than this one in one place – downtown Jackson Hole Wy.
I love the shapes of the horns

It was surprisingly overcast this morning, and the sun never really came out for any length of time until 1:00 or so. This and the higher altitude of the passes I crossed kept the temps pleasantly low, under 90 all day. Since it’s not humid, that’s pretty comfortable for riding and I hope my luck holds up. I won’t dip below 6000 ft for the next few days, until I hit Fallon so I’m hopeful. Fallon will be another story – it’s got a rep for high temps. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there (and maybe early in the morning).

After making it over the first pass today I had a five mile coasting descent into the Spring Valley. The valley was home to Osceola NV, a mining boom town that grew up after gold was discovered there in 1872. The mine was the source of the biggest gold nugget ever discovered in Nevada (24 lbs!) but played out over many years. By 1940 it was completely deserted.

My dad told me once that there is an “Osceola” in all of the 48 lower states in the U.S. I sort of doubt it but there are a lot of them. I suspect that there’s some group of native Americans that were screwed out of multiple homes behind that.

As I descended into the valley I saw a car stopped with a flat tire so I pulled over to see what was up. Turns out it was three young folks with a flat, no spare, no jack and no plan. They were considering walking to Ely (45 miles away at that point). I told them there was no way they were going to walk there and tried to impress upon them that they were in a potentially dangerous situation. You don’t just head off walking across the desert for 45 miles. The driver’s mom had cancelled their AAA so I told them I’d call a tow for them but they said they couldn’t afford that. I was kind of out of options and suggested calling the NV Hwy Patrol, which we did. They were happy to have help on the way and I decided to continue, still having 45 miles to pedal myself before the heat came up. 30 minutes later I saw the patrol car on the way to check them out, then 30 minutes after that it passed me back again, presumably with our travelers in the back.

Then a little while after I had left them, I passed these two, walking along the road. Were they in the same car and decided to walk?

Wait, are those folks walking out here? Are they nuts?

Turns out they were out here intentionally walking across the desert, and the whole US actually.

Danny and Abby are walking across America to raise money for a homeless shelter.

Well we had a nice chat, seeing that we had similar plans. They are super organized about their provisions and get picked up and shuttled back to their ending point when they need to. So they aren’t stuck out in the desert. They said usually they push a cart with camping gear, water, food etc but they have friends in the area that will pick them up so they don’t have to push the cart here. They are each on their 4th pair of shoes since beginning their journey.

We made plans to meet up for dinner or a beer in Ely and I’m looking forward to hearing about their adventure. If you want to know more, they have a blog at walkacrossamerica2017.com or www.facebook.com/walkacrossamerica2017.

I’m still getting over my mom’s fear of snakes but this little guy is beautiful.
I passed a lot of hillside cuts where you could see layers of, I think, slate. At least that lines up with what I heard last night – that one of the only operating mines around here is a slate mine.

 

The second pass had at least 5 miles of climbing at 6% grade. I’m pooped and ready for some downhill. Tomorrow I have 3 passes again. Yikes.

The scenery here is greener than I expected. The trees here don’t grow large, the biggest are maybe 25 feet. They must grow slowly and live on little water. There are pines, juniper, cedar and lots of varieties of sage (some smell lovely).

The forests near the summit are quite beautiful and stretch for miles. There’s not much ground cover and these trees must be very patient about their water intake.
I had a little picnic at the summit to rest, refuel and cool down.
So many pine cones.

After the summit I made quick work of the last 20 miles – it being mostly downhill or flat. I cruised around town checking out the lodging options when I spotted Eliot at this convenience store. When I see someone on a bike like this, I pull over.

My new buddy, Elliot, is riding across the US from Boston to SF with a couple of friends.

Eliot and his friends are riding separately today. They wanted to try night riding to escape the heat and that didn’t really work for him. (Personally I agree, crazy early 4:00 AM riding yes, 11:00 PM no thanks.) We compared route notes and we’ll be on the same path for the next several hundred miles so I bet we see him/them again. They are also fundraising (who isn’t out here?) for world bicycle relief – a charity that makes sturdy bikes for distribution in developing countries. 70% of their bikes go to girls to help them get to school. You can check them out at bike frog USA.

I’ll sign off with a brief thanks to all of you who read and comment, either on the website or emails. You folks keep me going when it gets tough. I’ve been getting a bunch of “thumbs up” from drivers too, with one car giving me applause as I cruised by. I don’t always get to answer all the comments but know that I really appreciate all your encouraging words.

12 thoughts on “Day 66 – Baker to Ely NV”

  1. Curious to hear daydreams about future rides. I’ve always wanted to see Bryce and even more keen on Utah now after hearing/seeing from you about good cycling infrastructure and easy to tour in (although your definition of easy may be on another level). Always great to hear about and see each day’s journey with you, that you were well stocked with water for desert stretches and to meet your fellow travelers. Hope the weather stays relatively cool too.

    1. Thanks for all your help along the way, Allison. Bryce, Zion (former trip) and all of Southern Utah were pretty amazing. I continue to be blessed by the weather gods. I was actually chilly starting out today and it maxed out at 80-something. When I go down to Fallon, and Sacramento, that’s when it will be hot.

  2. Jim,

    I love hearing about your adventures. Makes me want to do it someday (I love biking, too).

    I’ll be at the IBPSA Building Simulation conference in San Francisco next week, so I’m sure there will be lots of people you know there.

    When you return, I look forward to talking to you about your adventures!

    Stephen Roth

    1. It would make me feel like my tour was successful if I got others to try it. It’s not that hard, just takes patience more than anything.

  3. Do you use flashing LED lights in back and/or front? It makes bicycles much more visible to drivers even in daytime, especially in shaded areas. Hope you’re well lighted at 5 a.m.

    1. Yup I have running lights 24/7 though I only use the flashing one at night and early morning. Also I have a hi-vis, day-glow vest for dicey situations.

  4. Amazed that you’re in deep NV already. I also remember all the passes in between desert stretches. In fact that’s all I remember from rte 90. Ely sounds familiar. I bet the beers with the walkers and cyclists was a nice reward. Thank goodness for the Nvhp too.

    1. I can’t believe I’m a week from home! How did that happen? Bummer but the walkers stood me up. They were pooped and their dad was in town.

  5. Thanks for the email blast on Day 62. It prompted me to look at your blog and I have been binging ever since. I am now caught up and looking forward to each new entry. And yes, that road from Boulder to Escalante is a favorite.

    I’m sure there will be many more touring “adventures” after this, but I’m curious what will supplant the blogging. I imagine long daily emails to the company staff, sharing your thoughts about manure spreaders, lawn mowers, and water storage systems.

    Enjoy the home stretch. If you’re in Chicago in January, I hope I can buy you a few beers.

    1. Glad that you’re tuning in, Mike.

      I hope to keep blogging on behalf of energy efficiency. Maybe not everyday but this trip has shown me how easy it can be once you’re in the habit of writing everyday.

      I’ll be in Chicago – you bet. I will not be biking there, unfortunately.

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