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 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.
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.
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’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: www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Heart_Attack.
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.
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.
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.