Day 70 – Middlegate to Silver Springs NV

Middlegate is just a one of a kind place – probably the single most out of the way place I’ve stayed on this whole trip, and for exactly that reason, I fell into one of the oddest coincidences.

Last night I had dinner at the restaurant/bar/convenience store/gas station that is “Middlegate Station.” I wrapped up my blog and was catching up on correspondence and generally just hanging out having a beer and taking in the scene. Seems that people come from miles around because, well it’s the only place for 40 miles in any direction. After a while I struck up a conversation with a guy at the bar. He had said something that I thought was genuinely funny and we got to talking. He’s moving up to Tahoe to refurbish a house and rent it out and was hauling all his things in a Penske truck. He’s also done a cross country tour, maybe 10 years or so ago with some friends so we had lots to talk about that. After awhile he asked what I did when I’m not cycling and I told him that I’m an energy engineer. He said “That’s interesting, I used to develop software for energy engineers.” Then it struck me who he was – Colin from kiloWatthours – who I’d met several years ago. Folks at kW had even worked with him a bit to give feedback on how to make the software fit our needs. Then he realized who I was. So neither of us recognized each other, even though we’d had multiple conversations on the phone and a couple in person. We were so out of context, neither of us connected the dots until we were struck over the head with it.

We both really enjoyed the coincidence and had a great conversation, catching up on what we were doing, what’s coming up, etc. “What are the odds?” became the mantra for the night. The other odd part is that the whole reason that Colin chose to come this route (from Boston to Tahoe) was that he had stopped at the same bar/restaurant/gas station when he had come through on a bike many years before. It had struck him as a unique place and he deliberately came via route 50 to stop here. Makes me think it’s not my last beer in Middlegate.

Middlegate has a few wagons but, oddly, no manure spreaders. 🙁

The next morning I left early as is my practice these days. In about an hour Colin pulls up in his big Penske truck. He said “thought you might like some shitty lukewarm coffee” which was true and we chatted for a bit more over coffee.

Colin’s on his way to check out his new house in Tahoe. Bought sight unseen. That’s gutsy.

Then we each had to hit the road.

See ya Colin
I know it must seem like I stop at ever shrine but I don’t. Maybe I stop at half. I want to know the story behind each one.
Maybe it’s all the sage and brown that gets me so interested in the vivid colors of the artificial flowers.
Much of my last few days has been along the original Pony Express route. Did you know that it only ran for 18 months before it was replaced by telegraph? Riders were paid $25 a week (a lot) but were warned that they would risk death every day.
This shrine was for two parents, one a police officer from South Lake Tahoe, and a family friend. Their four children, also in the car, survived.

I was able to find out what happened in this case. Here’s the story if you’re interested. Knowing the back story makes these shrines just that much more solemn and meaningful.

Shortly after passing the shrine, I came upon another family stuck in the desert. This time they were “high centered” on a little road that ran parallel to 50.

Oh dear. How did you get there?

They mentioned something about investigating a mine. They had tried to turn around and got the middle of the van over a rock. The front-wheel drive had nothing to catch on and their efforts to get out had dug deep holes around the tires. I didn’t see any way to get out without a tow or some other vehicle to pull them out. We tried calling their insurance roadside service but they said they wouldn’t come out. Huh? Isn’t this what their for? The owner of the van, I thought, gave up on that pretty quickly. Again, no jack in the car, and no working phone (but 6 dogs who were no help at all). Also, the owner really said she couldn’t afford a tow. So Nevada HP to the rescue again. Their going to start blocking my number if I keep treating them like AAA.

So we called NHP and they once again said they’d send someone out. With that I took off, having spent the better part of an hour with them. I was starting to worry about the rising sun, the rising temps, the tendency of the breeze to kick up in the afternoon, etc so I took my leave. I wasn’t sure but thought I saw an HP SUV come by after 15 minutes or so. Then, in another half hour, here comes the white van down the road who honked in celebration as they came by, but didn’t stop. What the eff? I wanted to know how the hell they got out? They didn’t even slow down to shout howdy. My faith in others took a little setback. I suppose they were so happy to be unstuck, they were high-tailing it for home.

Today’s route went through the Salt Wells Basin and Four Mile Flat.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get more desolate, you find a new level of barren infinity. There’s a huge dune down-breeze from here called “Sand Mountain” that is pretty much the whole story there.

I went through Fallon around noon and had lunch there. The funny thing about Fallon to me is that I remember an engineering firm I used to work for did a long project there. Everyone thought Fallon was the end of the earth – tiny little town with nothing in it but the Naval Air Station. It’s actually the home to the “Top Gun” crew and I saw and heard jets screaming around the valley as I went through. But when i got to Fallon it seemed like this huge metropolis. Safeway with rows and rows of fresh produce! CVS for contact lens solution! All things things we take for granted seem pretty cool when you go without for a few days.

Old downtown Fallon has a “Maine” Street instead of a Main Street.
Loving the textures in old buildings. There were a few old casinos downtown, and an old theater that’s still running new movies.
I brake for hoopties. But you know that by now.

Mariah was again at my back all day which made progress quick – when I was on my bike, and not always in the right direction. Damnit I took another wrong turn today – or rather I didn’t turn when I should. I was supposed to stay on 50 but the road I was on became “Alt 50” and I missed the turnoff to stay on old 50. So I make great progress to Fernley. Only problem is I wasn’t intending to go to Fernley.

Old market in Hazen. I might have realized at this point I was on the wrong road, but I was making such good progress! … in the wrong direction.
At least the added miles were pretty and Mariah had my back so they went fast. The hills around here are starting to look like California.

Well I made the course correction, which shows up clearly in my Strava route below. By the time I got to Silver Springs I was so hungry I practically inhaled a 10″ pizza myself. No leftovers. I’m going to miss being able to do that. Colin said after he finished his tour he put on 15 lbs because he had a hard time adjusting his diet.

Sounds like Eliot and company may have caught up with me. Looking forward to hanging out again and meeting his buddies.

8 thoughts on “Day 70 – Middlegate to Silver Springs NV”

  1. Two months and you’re almost in CA, really incredible. Reading all your posts makes me realize just how little I know of the US and just how rich and diverse this country of ours really is.

    And I like the phrase you used in a previous post about “spinning mediation”, that’s how I feel every time I ride. It’s good thinking time for introverts.

    1. Yes, really diverse, beautiful and the kind and generous people outweigh the jerks IMHO. Not sure that I believed that when I started.

      I can’t take credit for “spinning meditations” though. That comes from Mr. Snaith. I think likely you’ve met my buddy Colman?

      1. Yes I have met Mr Colman. I can’t believe how many spinning meditators there are in the energy industry.

  2. Fun coincidental meeting in desolate NV. and great photos of barenness and memorials. I recall now tha Jess and I drove east on 50, not 90, from Tahoe. Where we pulled over for a pit stop, you stay the night. Man, are you going to enjoy Tahoe after these slogs through NV. Hope you take some dips before climbing then coasting home. Recommend highly Sugar Pine Point SP on the west side. In NV, near 50, Sand Harbor beach, but i dont know if they have camping.

    1. Thanks, Marc. Grover hot springs is high on the priority list today, followed closely by eating to my stomach’s content.

      Sadly I won’t really go through Tahoe, there’s a huge pass between Carson pass and 88 that I’m on, and the lake. I remember driving that once in your car searching for a oil drain plug to fit my car. Amy had just told us all that she was going to have a baby (Alex) at the time. A lifetime ago, literally.

  3. Great infinity images. Looks like you are going a little south of where we are now (Graeagle, CA, it’s north of 80 about 1 hr from Reno). We will be here thru Friday morning and have an extra bedroom and warm shower if you’re route takes you along the Feather River. Then we head to the finish line.

    1. That’s a bit out of my way but I’ve been there. The Feather River Canyon is beautiful (and great fly fishing too). Glad to hear that you guys can join us at the finish!

      Here’s some mood music for your descent through the Feather River Canyon. By Red Simpson, of “Convoy” fame, on driving his truck down that canyon. It’s corny as hell but that’s part of the charm.

  4. Due to the coincidence factor, this was my favorite blog entry from your whole trip (and I think I’ve read ’em all). I mean, even narrowing it down to the subset of people who might ever go on Highway 50 for any reason, the odds are still pretty astronomical you’d both end up there at the same moment. I love it that you didn’t even recognize each other at first, until it all clicked.

    As you enter CA, I was thinking about early in your journey, when you mentioned lots of people had suggested you do the trip West to East, but you went against that. In retrospect, I think it was nice that in those first several weeks when you were still toughening up and getting your daily routine down, you were in relatively small, populous states where you had a lot of options for places to stop and distances to ride. If you’d had those 84-mile no-water-stop days in Nevada just a week into your trip, that could have been dicier! And it seems from reading that quite a large amount of the time, you either had Mariah at your back or she didn’t enter the picture much, because of how you started early and arranged your day. To me it’s kind of a metaphor for the business you built and other challenges you’ve met… the conventional wisdom was “the jet stream blows west to east, you should ride that way” but you started with “no, I want to finish in Orinda” and through a series of 75-ish well-planned rides you made it a *way* better trip than what it would have been, had you gone with the conventions. So enjoy these upcoming days of net-downhill cycling!

    Anyways… I’ll put down the (imaginary) doobie now and continue on with my (by comparison ridiculously sedentary) afternoon. 🙂 Cheers!

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