Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 42-46: HWY 50, "The Loneliest Road in America"

Well, as you can see from the title of today's blog, I am traveling down America's loneliest road. Luckily, I have Bob and Sam to keep me company (and our "Roadie", Mr. Mangum). We've been on HWY 50 since Baker, Nevada. You might also have guessed that either: A) I've grown tired of updating my blog (which is not the case!), or B) That Internet service along HWY 50 has not caught up with the 21st century. If you guessed B, then please pat yourself on the back. NOW, let me try to get you all caught up to speed on our journey over the past 5 days.....

Day 42 - Cedar City, to Milford, Utah (I made an error on my last blog...Milford in in Utah, not Nevada). The ride from Cedar City to Milford was rather short, we crushed 56 miles in 3 hours and 48 minutes (Go team)! It must have been the McLaughlin's french toast...delicious! The ride itself was uneventful, however, I managed to get myself into a bit of a pickle that night. For those of you who have been reading Sam's blog you are all aware of the infamous "Flat Tire Incident", but for those of you who haven't read Sam's blog please do (simply click on her picture to the right). I will not attempt to right my version of the story because what she has written is perfect. Enjoy!

Day 43 - Milford, Utah to Baker, Nevada. As we left Milford the next morning, we realized that we were literally biking into the desert as the sign out of town said "No Services for the Next 85 miles". We finally reach the bright lights and fast life of "High Rolling" Nevada....wait, am I in the wrong state? Nevada looks like Utah, except more desert-like with fewer rest stops (literally there are NO places to pee for miles on end). We once again get our picture taken with the state sign and after my initial excitement, I realize that Las Vegas and the sweet sound of slot machines are hundreds of miles away. Gambling isn't my thing anyway, and I'm more excited to see what these little Western towns have to offer. Baker was a nice surprise, we stayed at one of the two motels in town, the Silver Jack Inn, that also doubled as the town's restaurant, bar, and coffee shop. We hopped on our bikes the next morning to head for Ely, which is a booming metropolis of 4,000 strong. The ride to Ely would take us through a stretch with no services for 63 miles.

Day 44 - Baker, Nevada to Ely, Nevada. It took us 5 hours to cover the 63 miles to Ely. The road is considered the loneliest road in America, but surprisingly there is quite a bit of traffic. Along HWY 50 there are no houses, gas stations, or picnic areas. They even have a Passport you can pick up and get signed by each of the 6 towns along the route. They send you an official certificate stating that you "survived" HWY 50. Needless to say, I am working on filling my passport. The scenery is beautiful as well. A pattern has developed along our route. We see a mountain pass in the distance 10-30 miles ahead, we reach the base, we climb, we descend into another valley where the road stretches another 10-30 miles to the next mountain pass. All the while, there is desert, mountains, and clouds of all shapes and colors to look at. In most valleys you can do a complete 360 and see mountains in all directions. It's awesome!

Day 45 - Ely, Nevada to Eureka, Nevada....78 miles with no services. We completed this stretch in 5 hours and 45 minutes. Eureka is your typical "Old Western Town", it has a lot of history and a ton of character. At one time, it was a booming place when folks flooded the west during the Gold Rush in the late 19th century. However, the current population of Eureka is somewhere around 400-500. Many of the local townspeople talk of the town being haunted. It would certainly make a good set for a Hollywood horror film. The town has several small motels, several bars and restaurants (or saloons) that offer up slot machines and pool tables. We ate dinner at a place called the Owls Club and spent the evening there playing a few games of pool and listening to music on the jukebox. After a good night's rest, we headed out for Austin this morning...this time it was only 68 miles without services.

Day 46 - Eureka, Nevada to Austin, Nevada. Austin is a town just as quirky as Eureka. It is a town of 400 is nestled in the Toiyabe Mountain Range at about 6,600 above the desert valley floor. Our route took us over a the Austin Mountain pass at about 8,000 feet and our last two miles had us descending along a winding mountain road into Austin. The descent had me feeling as if I were not in Nevada at all. The mountain sides were a mix of emerald green, pale yellow, and a earthy brown. The sun beams were peeking their way out of some overhead clouds, cascading down, and illuminating parts of the mountain as we passed. We could also look down over the cliff to see our destination far below us. The road down to Austin reminded me of a spiral staircase, it was a lot of fun to ride! We found ourselves in a nice, cheap, clean little motel that caters to bikers of all types. Before dinner I walked around town, bought a T-shirt, and scoped out the ice cream situation. I also made a trip to the courthouse to have my HWY 50 passport signed. The weather the past two days has been cool and breezy, great riding conditions, however, the lady who signed my passport today warned that as we continue to head west, the weather will get much hotter!

Tomorrow we will ride 110 miles to Fallon. The team agreed to combine two days of riding into one so we could complete our last Century Ride of the trip (that is a ride over 100 miles for you non-cyclists). It looks like we'll have to get an early start to beat the heat, but from our days in Kansas, another 100 mile day doesn't faze us anymore. Woohoo, a 110 miles with only one rest stop 65 miles in....Bring it on!

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