Day 67 – Ely to Eureka NV

I knew that I had 4 summits to do today so I was up and out early to “beat the heat.” If I only knew that I would end up cold by 2:30 I might have slept in a bit more. But best to catch the morning light anyway and, hot or cold, I knew I had another 78 mile jump across no-mans land to Eureka so up and at ’em early.

I met the owner of this beauty who told me its only got 56,000 miles on it and once belonged to the Nevada Atty General.
Just out of Ely is a huge copper mine that was inactive since the 70s but started back up a few years ago.

I had an early morning panic about 5 miles outside of Ely. I had pumped my tires at the hotel parking lot before I left and I couldn’t remember packing my pump. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t leave it behind but once that idea got in my head I couldn’t turn loose of it. What if I left my pump and had a flat 35 miles from anywhere? That would set me back 2 days at least. So finally, just to put my mind at ease I had to pull over and check for it. It was right where it’s supposed to be, of course.

Looks like little picket fences but really they’re snow fences.
The big one is done

After the first pass I saw a van pulled over with a bike so I stopped to check it out. It was Graham, Daryl, and Simon from the UK. Graham is riding coast to coast in only 31 days, averaging over 100 miles a day and Daryl and Simon are driving the van, giving him support, and accompanying him on the journey. They are raising money for ovarian cancer and have the twitter handle @Bay2Hudson.

Daryl, Graham, and Simon. That’s some good friends who will SAG you all the way across the US.

They told me I’d be crossing paths with Buddy next, and sure enough on my way up the next pass I did. I think it suprised him a bit when I said “you must be Buddy” – the Western Express grapevine working well today.

Buddy was traveling with his Sis and her Fiance’ but she developed wrist issues and had to take a break.
I was checking out this old house when Buddy pulled up.

Buddy’s from Tulsa and is a forensic scientist who examines vehicle crashes and can tell you what happened. He’s hired by insurance companies and as an expert witness. He’s also got a sonar rig on his bike where he’s collecting data on how close cars pass by his bike. He records the type of car by voice when they pass and then he can sync that with his sonar measurements. I’d love to see his results when he’s done. Speaking with Eliot today (we rode together awhile – more on that) we both agreed that big trucks tend to pull way over to the other lane to give you lots of space, whereas passenger cars don’t seem to find it necessary and end up coming much closer. Not like they’d kill you any less than a truck at 70 mph, death being kind of a digital, on or off kinda thing. Buddy is blogging on:

Pass number two. Not that bad really.
The wildflower selection here has thinned a lot. They seem to only grow my the roadside but I’m not sure why.
Sort of a low summit but I’ll count it.
This shrine was on a completely straight piece of road.

My lunch time shade tree – juniper with huge berries in big bunches

Eliot caught up with me as I was having my noon snack on the road. I found a lovely juniper shade tree to relax under, have some coffee, an apple and a Kind bar. Then I hear this “Hi Jim” which surprises me because I thought no one was around and nobody calls me by name much lately. We decided to ride together into Eureka, over the last pass.

We were having a great conversation, comparing notes on our tours, life, etc and hadn’t ridden for more than 20 minutes when the thunder started to rumble and boom. Pretty soon the big drops started to fall, really far apart, but cold. That was the first thing I noticed – “these drops are really cold!”. So Eliot says “I hope it doesn’t turn to hail, which in about 2 minutes it did exactly that. First the rain started coming in sheets, wave after wave which we were really quite enjoying. I was on my 4th pass at that point and pretty toasty warm so the cool rain felt good. Then it started to hail these little pea-size hail stones which, when dropped from thousands of feet kinda hurt. So we ducked under the first decent tree we found to sit it out. Before long we were soaked, wearing jackets, and getting cold – certainly not the fear I had when I decided to cross Nevada in August.

That’s not snow, that’s hail.
Up the road the hail was so thick you could scoop it up like dippin dots. Half a mile up the road it never even rained.

The hail stopped after 20 minutes or so and we decided to get back on the bikes as the visibility was improving. As soon as our butts hit the seats, the rain stopped, and we were in the sun and clear all the way to the summit. We even had to ditch the jackets in about 10 minutes because it got hot again wearing them. Another day that started cool, got hot, then cold, then hot again.

The last pass today – already wam again. I got a good start on a beard just like Eliot’s. 

We had a fun run down the hill to Eureka which is a cool little town. Another mining town (this time silver) that was 10,000 people in its heyday but is now about 600. But its the county seat and seems to be holding steady there, and has a nice vibe to it. I had some time this afternoon to check out the Eureka Museum which is in the old newspaper building where they still have their old Linotype and press. I could spend hours reading the old newspapers packed in there.

The back room of the newspaper building.
The museum had lots of photos of old Eureka. These girls are recieving their diplomas from Eureka High School.
They had lots of memorabilia from odd old civic clubs.
Lots of old calendars too from local businesses back to the 20’s.
I love this mural. It took a minute to “get it” in person but its obvious in a straight on photo.

8 thoughts on “Day 67 – Ely to Eureka NV”

  1. Seems like you are meeting more people the further west you get. Love the old photos in the museum! Any new earworms to report?

    1. Yes – Rock This House, by the Stray Cats was good for the first 30 minutes but wore out its welcome. I had about 3 days of a song by Don Henley and the Eagles that I won’t name lest I infect others. And today it was all from my early teens, Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park”, more Steely Dan “Ricky Don’t…”, and lots of various Queen Hits.

  2. Hail in Nevada in August? I think you have added material to support your climate cause. I’m so happy that you and Eliot shared that moment together. I imagine having a like-minded friend to ride with for a while was refreshing after all your solitude. Glad you got to see that museum. Lots of history there. And the beard looks good on you!

    1. Thanks, Wendy, but I doubt that Megan agrees re: the beard. I think it’s good for about a week more 🙂

  3. Hi Jim ,

    I haven’t missed a post, and have wanted to comment many times. Today I will – prompted by the juniper tree. If there is a next time to have lunch under the tree – scoop up some fallen dried juniper berries. They are called Ghost beads.

    “The juniper berries are collected after ants have found the berries on the ground, nibbled off one end eaten the inside of the berry. The berry is then hollow and dry.

    Ghost Bead necklaces are made by Navajo and other tribes. They are thought to represent an interconnection of the earth, trees, animals and humans and they bring peace, harmony and safety to the wearer.

    They are a southwest tradition to protect one from evil spirits, ghosts and nightmares.”

    1. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll look if I see more trees but I just came down a few thousand feet so I’m not sure if I’ll see them again down here. The juniper berries here are huge compared to what I’m used to seeing in town.

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