Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hanging in Virginia City

Hanging in Virginia City,and trying to catch my breath after climbing up Six Mile Canyon. Decided to short cut this way as I got tired of bucking the headwind. One more climb to the top of Geiger Summit then downhill into Reno.

That was hands down the steepest grade I climbed on the entire route!  I survived it though.  I pedaled over to a gas station and got a bottle of water just so I would have enough to get me down into Reno.  Crazy to think after 1,300 miles I am now just an hour or so away from home.  I have gone nearly full circle.

V is for Virginia City
After the brief break in VC to catch my breath it was time to pedal the rest of the way to the top of the climb up Gieger Grade.  Tons of traffic out it being a weekend and all, and of course people driving like idiots.  This road has plenty of shoulder on it, but people still need to come as close to me as possible without yielding any road.

fun bombing down Geiger Grade
Fortunately on the top I timed it good to bomb down the west side without a bunch of traffic around me.  I descended confidently spinning out my highest gear.  Again it was time to play the game of descending all the way to the bottom without using my breaks.  This time I succeeded.  I leaned the bike hard into several of the tight turns.  Good fun bombing down this steep section.

I stayed to the East of HWY 395 here following Veterans Parkway
Down at the bottom of the climb I made my way onto familiar roads that I trained on all summer.  I had a decent bike lane to follow here which was nice as it was overwhelming riding with city folks all of a sudden.  I decided to take another short cut off McCarran onto Lakeside vs climbing to the top of McCarran and bombing down Skyline back to my home.  I was feeling like I had covered plenty of miles and didn't need to throw in one additional climb.

bagged the last climb up McCarran to Skyline and took Lakeside all the way home instead
As I rolled into my driveway at home I thought back on the 1,300 miles I had just covered point to point from my front door.  Pretty crazy and I definitely know the road better than I would having drove the same route.

elevation profile for return leg from Nampa to Reno

Couldn't believe it was actually trying to rain

the ride near Stagecoach, NV
Couldn't believe it was actually trying to rain this morning in Fallon. I made the correct choice getting a room as I didn't have to break camp in the rain. I was able to wait out the rain in my motel room. I enjoyed the shade though this morning. I am now in Stagecoach, but heading into a pretty solid headwind. Got about another 30 miles to go to Carson City. Looking forward to rounding the bend. Might make it home tonight.

This morning in Fallon it was trying to rain out.  I decided to stay put and drink hot tea and eat danishes.  Around 9AM it started to clear up to the west as the storm moved east.  It was a good call to get a room as it meant I could leave town dry for the possible final push home to Reno.

good shoulder finally on the west side of Fallon
Fortunately the shoulder on HWY 50 finally widened quite a bit to the point where I had an entire lane all to myself.  Traffic was pretty light on HWY 50, but I was pedalling into a stiff headwind.  I decided to take my helmet off which I can clip just so on top of my handle bar bag.  It rides really nice here and I found myself doing this on steep climbs or lonely sections of roads where my speed was quite low.

pedaled near the shore of Lahontan Reservoir
I saw a new store in Stagecoach, NV that had a nice front porch on it with tables out front.  I pedaled over to here and purchased some ice tea to go with my left over pizza.  The folks who ran the store where quite nice and definitely interested in where I had been riding.

Stagecoach, NV
Out front I enjoyed my left over pizza in the shade and sucked down plenty of iced tea.  The wind was still pretty stiff out of the west and I started to think about branching off my intended route into Carson City and head up to Virginia City instead.

shortly after Dayton I turned onto Six Mile Canyon Road
Back out on HWY 50 the wind made up my mind for me.  I could see the large V for Virginia City up on the east side of the Virginia Range.  I had an option of continuing on from this point into Carson City, then back to Reno on old HWY 395.  Or I could head up Six Mile Canyon the back way into Virginia City from Dayton, then down off the front of Geiger Grade into Reno.  I decided to do the Six Mile Canyon alternate as it would cut off some miles, save me bucking a headwind and allow me to explore another road I have been eye balling for a while.

climbed up to Virginia City via Sixmile Canyon Road
The climb up Six Mile was a good choice.  It was quite scenic pedaling along the canyon bottom with the cottonwoods providing ample shade.  There where some of the steepest short climbs of the entire trip on this road and I was just hoping I could keep the momentum going.  Surprisingly enough I made it all the way up the canyon with out stopping, although my chain was starting to skip near the top.  I am sure it is stretched pretty good after about 2,000 miles riding on the same chain.  Near the top I saw a heard of wild horses lumbering through the neighborhoods.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Made it to Fallon and got a room

pretty morning here with the Desatoya Range in the distance
This morning was probably the prettiest morning of the entire trip.  Really nice views out the front of the shelter across the dry lake valley and into the Desatoya Range.  I could see the road clearly now entering a small notch in the range.

across the basin HWY 722 enters an awesome little canyon

It was warm last night in camp.  I slept all night half in my bag with no snow hat on.  It was still warm this morning.  I rode my bike back down the dirt road to the highway and continued on west.  Once I reached the foot of the range I entered the small canyon I could see this morning from across the valley.  Hidden right at the base of the canyon was quite an old looking ranch.  I could see now that there was water draining this canyon too.

dry lake out in the distance
black and white version of camp
The road started to climb right away after entering the canyon.  The vegetation changed from night to day here too, from sage in the valley to suddenly pinyon/ juniper forest.  Neat rock formations too.  I found a nice little pull out where I had access to the creek.  I couldn't believe it, but even in this little hop across creek there was some trout!  If only I had time to fish for them!  I instead used my time to clean my glasses and take a quick sponge bath.  The water was ice cold!

Duomid and Desatoya Panoramic
Back out on the highway I continued up the last bit of the climb through this range.  There where really nice stands of aspens flying their fall colors in here.  The top of the pass was quite scenic.  I could see my road winding down out of the mountains and into the flats below.  I pedaled hard off the top of the pass to get a nice head of steam going.  Again the game ensued with me trying to make it all the way down without breaking.  This road had too many tight corners though!  That and there was a little bit of loose gravel, so I used my disc breaks to control my speed.  I was most of the way down off the steepest part of the descent before I noticed my AAA maps had blown out from under my GPS on top of my handlebar bag!  Dang, but I can assure you I wasn't about to turn around and climb back to look for it.  The only downside now though would be that I wouldn't know my exact mileage for the rest of today and tomorrow home to Reno.  I didn't really need the map to navigate as it was onto HWY 50 from here.  Once I made it to Carson City I would know the rest of the route home no problem.

downhill all the way off the pass to the canyon mouth which is in the photo below
The road continued dropping all the way out through another canyon.  The canyon was quite scenic and at the canyon mouth was a picturesque ranch.  Ends up long before the ranch was here the local Indians used the spot as a permanent camp.

cool ranch at the mouth of the canyon
Still more downhill yet the rest of the way out to HWY 50!  I couldn't believe it, but I had almost a 20 mile downhill off the pass all the way out to HWY 50!  One of the longest downhills of the entire route.  Out on HWY 50 I again pointed my bike west.

end of HWY 722 and onto HWY 50
I quickly came to Middlegate which was a little bar/ rv restaurant off the highway.  Looked like a good place to water up for the day and maybe purchase some more snacks.  I wasn't sure at this point minus my maps if I would make it to Fallon or not before nightfall.  Pretty rough crew in the bar, nice enough and all, but reminded me of the toothless wonders you see around Reno if you know what I mean.  There was a kitten hanging around my feet who was really begging hard.  He finally jumped up on the table once I opened my can of tuna salad up and I had to shoo him away.  Again I was quite the focus of attention sitting out front of the bar.  Folks where pulling up in there little four wheeler deals and asking me where I had rode from.  People where impressed, but I was surprised as hiking is much harder than bike touring.

Middlegate Station is where HWY 361 heads south off of HWY 50
I finally got back out on HWY 50 and headed west again.  I made it to a long dry lake valley and noticed a giant dune off near the foothills of the mountains.  It was obviously a magnet for the motor sport folks.  At this time I started to run into vehicles coming right at me in my lane who where passing slow vehicles.  Two times on the way into Fallon I was run off the road by monster trucks.  Funny thing is the driver would look right at me and just keep flooring it like their concern was the car they where passing not some cyclist they might hit.  I had to do a fast exit across the rumble strip which was definitely pissing me off.  No sooner did I settle down after the first of these incidents than another monster truck was coming at me.  It is always a shocker to me as I am more in tune with what is approaching from behind.  I am not always looking ahead to see if a car is passing and threatening to run me off the road.  Usually not too much of a problem, but the rumble strips here didn't make it fun.

Sand Mountian was a giant sand dune that had a lot of motor vehicle yahoos surrounding it
I stopped at a rest area and ended up visiting with some guys who where interested in my adventure.  Told them a little about the clothes and gear I was using.  They where definitely amped on what I was up to.  I downed a bar as I was getting hungry.  I was fixating on getting into Fallon, NV now and getting a room and ordering pizza to be delivered.

pedaling along a salt marsh in here
I pedaled the last bit into Fallon and the motorists where behaving poorly.  Some kids tried to throw a pen or something out the window at me as they passed by.  I had long since wrote off the idiots though.  If they weren't threatening a collision I didn't care.  Doesn't surprise me one bit that folks where behaving poorly as Fallon is a grim town.  At one point my Grandma followed my Grandpa here when he was stationed in Fallon.  I am sure it was even that much less appetizing then back in the 40's.  I stopped at one chain hotel and the price was ok, but since it didn't have laundry on site I decided to see what my other options where.  I located a small motel that was much cheaper.  No laundry, but I could suck that up for the price.  I unloaded the bike in the room and fished out all my dirty gear.

ah, Fallon... what a garden spot
Pedaled the bike to the laundromat and got my laundry in.  While my laundry was washing I pedaled out to see what my dining options would be.  Pizza Hut it is!  Ended up getting some cheese sticks and rode back to the laundromat to eat those.  When laundry was done I pedaled back over to my room and called in my pizza order.  While pizza was on the way I walked over and got me a tall boy of yuppy bear at the liquor store.  Shortly after I started sipping my beer my pizza arrived.  Man!  Pizza, beer and Jersey Shore!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ate big at this joint in Austin

Toiyabe Cafe has some excellent eats
Ate big at this joint in Austin. Awesome downhill into town. I had to work for it though coming up the far side. Going to do a detour from 50 and head out Hwy 722. It comes well recommended. Looking forward to another night in the pinyon juniper forest. Really enjoying the lovely fall weather.

First business I passed in Austin was the Toiyabe Cafe.  It had a nice picnic table outside where I could keep an eye on my bike.  I walked in and ordered iced tea, fish and chips, side of onion rings and a dinner salad.  The woman working the counter here was quite friendly and got me all dialed in.  Surprisingly enough the fish was really good.  You could tell they battered and fried their own here vs just frying some pre made frozen fish.  I took my time eating this heavy meal and enjoying free refills on the iced tea.  I saw one other bike tour person climbing up out of Austin while I was out enjoying my lunch.  I hollered at them that they where going the wrong way.  I hadn't seen another person bike touring since I was on HWY 395 on day 2 of the trip.

dropped down the last of the descent and headed south onto HWY 722
I walked next door and picked up a few snacks at the gas station/ grocery store.  I got some info from the woman working the store that there wouldn't be much water in the Reese River.  I went back to the cafe and topped off all my water bottles for this dry leg.  I also called Micro Monkey and got some beta on HWY 722 which is a lonelier highway yet than HWY 50.  Sounded like a nice alternate and the idea that it took my higher into the mountains than HWY 50 was a plus too.  The folks inside at the cafe seemed to think I would like HWY 722 more than HWY 50 too.  HWY 722 it is.

I pedaled on through the last bit of town which was definitely cool.  I guess I didn't do any of the touristy stuff folks mostly do in Austin.  I just ate and split.  The nice downhill continued way out of town all the way to my split onto HWY 722.  Nice views of the snow capped peaks here.  It was hot out here so I unzipped my entire jersey and continued on this bumpy road.  There where some pretty big cracks in the pavement so I bumped along.  I was still happy to be over on this highway though as there was no traffic on it at all.  I crossed the valley and continued to the base of another range.  From here I climbed up again to a minor pass.

the ride up ontop of a minor pass
On the other side of the pass I descended a short ways, then continued on at 6,000 ft in a dry lake valley.  Really nice views off to the west of the Desatoya Range.  I started to look for a place to set up camp for the night and settled on another old two track road leading east up into the foothills of the mountains.  I was able to pedal my bike in granny gear up most of the road which eventually dead ended at a fence line.  I ended up riding part way back down the road and setting up the Duomid at a nice flat spot.

camped below Iron Mountain
It was nice and warm out this evening.  Completely still too.  I enjoyed more of my wine with my dinner and looked out across the valley in the moonlight.  Very quiet out here other than the cows balling occasionally.

Was able to cowboy camp last night

cowboy camp in the pinyon/ juniper
Was able to cowboy camp last night, only dropped to 34*. Lovely morning peddling thru the big expanses. Hwy construction rad as cars come in clumps every hour or so, but between them nothing.

Awesome night last night.  Slept nice and cozy up here above the highway under the moon.  Waking up wasn't too tough this morning either as it was nice and warm out.  I was able to get going at a pretty decent hour as I didn't have much to break down.  Had fun rolling back down to the highway loaded up.

these basins in the morning had some cold air lingering
Back out on HWY 50 I continued westbound.  Traffic was very light and the views where awesome to the west.  It is amazing how warm I am up on a hillside and how quickly I get cold when the road comes down into a valley.  I can actually feel the cold air resting in here and it is definitely helpful to have sleeves to push up or down as necessary.  The sun was already intense for how early it was in the morning.  I spied a rest area that was being repaved, but the trash cans where still open for use.  I jettisoned my first fuel cartridge here.  I can't believe I have traveled close to 10 days on one tiny container.

nice new pavement along this section
Shortly after the rest stop I rode up to a road crew who was repaving the highway.  There was a pilot car here and that explained why I would see cars in a string, then nothing for over an hour.  Worked great for me as I would have to be aware of traffic as the string of cars passed me then  nothing for another hour.  I timed it just right to get through the road work too.  I sure liked humming along on this new pavement too.

first pass of the day
Pedaled up to my first pass of the day.  Nice grade so I didn't have to work to hard to get up.  Nice downhill on the other side and when I reached the valley floor I was treated with really nice views of the mountains outside Austin, NV.  From here I had a huge climb though.  It definitely forced me into my granny gear and it seemed real hot on the backside of this climb.  I sweated my way to the top of a false summit, then took a break on top.  I got a gel in me and some more water here.  From here I bombed down about 600ft, then the road did a sharp turn back up to the south for the final climb.  I sweated my way back up the final climb and enjoyed the aspens up here which where starting to turn.  On top of the pass I took in the views and got all situated for one of the funnest downhills of the entire tour into Austin, NV.

lonely HWY 50 outside Austin, NV
I pedaled into the downhill hard and made it a game to see if I could make it the entire way without using my breaks.  I was doing really well on this challenge until the final corkscrew 25 MPH turn above Austin.  I can now see the benefits of using a pannier system like I am for bombing downhill.  I can actually lean into the turns comfortably much like I would without a load on the bike.  I couldn't imagine descending faster with any other touring set up.

fun section of road here with a big climb followed by challenging descent into Austin

Thursday, October 13, 2011

5PM Finds me reaching Hwy 50

end of 278, now west on 50
5PM Finds me reaching Hwy 50. Just outside Eureka , NV. Now to head west a few more miles and locate camp.

little frosty in camp here near the Humboldt River
This morning it was a little frosty outside my shelter.  Fortunately it wasn't dewy.  It didn't feel so great to put on damp bike shorts though.  I had done laundry in Carlin yesterday, but I don't run my bike shorts through the dryer.  I let them air dry and they where still a little damp when I hung them out to dry last night.  Now they are damp and frosty.

I pedaled my bike up out of the Humboldt River Canyon and into Pine Valley
I was back up on the highway at a decent hour this morning.  I was happy to pedal my bike up into the sun as I was down in the shadow of the canyon wall in my camp.  I pedaled around a corner leaving the Humboldt River behind.  I climbed up into a valley that ran along Pine Creek.  Pine Creek had water running in it, but so much cattle ranching up here made it less than appetizing.  I still had a ton of water that I had lugged out of town though so I was looking good.

my rest area lunch stop with drying bike shorts
After a few hours it warmed up enough to ditch my tights and other warmies.  I was enjoying how lonely this highway was.  Virtually no traffic on it other than the occasional ore truck.  I rode non stop all the way to a rest area along the highway.  Took a long lunch hear and hung my bike shorts up to dry the rest of the way.  One of the truckers stopped and visited with me for a while.  He explained the situation with the mines in this area.  It was nice to sit in some shade and I also used this as an opportunity to lube my chain up again.

heading south and up out of the valley
back out on the highway I climbed to a really nice pass
Garden Pass 6,686 ft
Back out on the highway I climbed up to a really nice pass.  The climb was nice and gradual and the mountain scenery at this end of the highway was really nice.  Once I topped out on the pass I had an awesome downhill all the way into Diamond Valley which is just outside Eureka, NV.  The peaks along the side of the valley where freshly dusted in snow.

up over Garden Pass and then down into Diamond Valley
Diamond Valley just outside Eureka, NV
I didn't want to have to pedal into Eureka as it was off my route to the east on HWY 50 plus up a significant climb.  I spied what I thought was a bar, but upon entering the place found out it wasn't a functional bar any longer.  It was now just a weigh station for the trucks I had shared the road with all day.  The woman who ran the place was kind enough to allow me to water up though.  I topped every container I had off as I had a hunch I wouldn't have another opportunity to do so until Austin, NV tomorrow afternoon.

Shortly after the truck stop I reached the intersection between HWY 278 and HWY 50.  I hung a right and headed west on HWY 50.  Pedaled through a neat little canyon and out into another large basin.  To the south of me was a mountain range whose foothills spilled down to the edge of the highway.  I pedaled on into the sunset and right about that time saw a little road leading off into the juniper forest to the south.  There where no private property signs on the barbed wire gate so I figured it was ok to ride my bike up to a likely camp.

I didn't have to ride up to Eureka as it was off route and I had water
Having a road touring bike made by a mountain bike manufacturer is a bonus in my opinion.  My bike is great for road touring, but when I need to ride some dirt road I can.  The bike rides and handles like a mountain bike on rough roads.  I was able to get my bike into granny gear and spin up the little road to a nice height of land.  From here I spied a likely camp spot that I pushed my bike down to off the road.  My campsite was a excellent little spot down in between a stand of pinyon and juniper.  The night was so still and it was warm in under the trees so I decided to cowyboy camp.  Got a quick sponge bath in before doing dinner.  I sipped some wine with my dinner.  Then did a little night photography by light of the full moon.  This is one of the nicer campsites I have had on the entire tour.

my camp in the pinyon/ juniper and the Twilights in full effect

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In camp outside Carlin, NV

In camp outside Carlin, NV. The Humboldt River carves through a canyon here. Very nice weather today. Liked bombing down off Adobe Pass into Elko. Ended up blowing right thru and peddling on to Carlin. Just 15 miles west on I80. Ended up going through a tunnel outside Carlin that was sketch, but in the future I could bomb down an old road that is barricaded to vehicles, but a bike could definitely make it around and save the sketch tunnel. Heading to Eureka next. Filled up with water and have a bottle of merlot so I should make it to Austin in style. Looking forward to more lonely highway.

It was 19* when the first light touched my shelter this morning.  I couldn't believe it other than my feet where pretty cold.  I am using a very light summer bag and it is long due for a good wash.  I decided to stay put in bed until the sun was on me.

waiting for the sun
Once the sun hit the shelter though it started warming up in a hurry.  I got ready in slow motion enjoying the views to the west of the snow capped peaks.  There ended up being a ton of condensation on everything from wet ground from the past few days rain.  I put up the tarp, sleeping bag and my bike cover on the sagebrush to dry out in the sun.  My stuff was dry in about a half and hour tops.

Got the bike all situated and pedaled back out to the highway where I pointed south towards Elko.  Really nice riding this morning.  I was happy to be warming up from the effort of riding and taking in more nice views to the south.  Passed some need old ranches along the way too.

back out on the highway I pedaled away from the Humboldt River
passed some neat old ranches along this part of the highway
Outside Elko I climbed to the top of Adobe Pass.  I enjoyed bombing down this pass all the way into Elko.  Elko was a little congested and the locals didn't give me much room on the road so I stayed pretty alert and just ended up blowing right through town.  I picked up a frontage road and took that all the way to the outskirts of town before I was forced up onto I-80 where I was now heading westbound.  I-80 sounds scarier than it actually is.  There is a full lane shoulder on it and there was construction going on so the traffic was moving slower than normal.

down off Adobe Pass and into Elko... then west on I-80
I took an off ramp up to an exit in the middle of nowhere to take a small break.  I wanted to make it into Carlin, NV to do laundry this afternoon so I kept the break short.  I continued west on the highway and eventually came to a tunnel.  There was a frontage road here along the Humboldt River I should have taken, but instead I was impatient and took the shortcut through the tunnel.  Everything went fine, but inside the tunnel was huge bumps in the pavement that slowed me down quite a bit.  At one point while I was inside a semi passed me in the passing lane going close to 80MPH.  As I watched the semi go by I realized how vulnerable I was in here and vowed to take the frontage road the long way around next time.  If something went wrong in the tunnel I just wouldn't have anywhere to go.

I made Carlin shortly after the tunnel and found a coin op laundry.  Did a quick load in here and had another snack break while waiting for my clothes to dry.  After doing laundry I found my way over to the grocery store and stocked up to capacity on water.  I also picked up a tall boy of beer and a bottle of Merlot.  This next leg south out of Carlin to HWY 50 looked pretty dry so I wanted to make sure I had enough water.  I asked many folks going in and out of the store about the water situation here, but none seemed to have much knowledge of the road I was taking.  I had to pedal around town and try to bum a corkscrew of someone as I didn't want to lug the entire bottle of wine with me.  I have these nice soft sided wine containers I have been using as of late which also do a good job of preserving the wine by allowing you to squeeze all the air out of the container.  I found a nice Hispanic couple who gladly let me borrow their bottle opener.

into Carlin, then south on HWY 278
I made my way south out of town on a lonely road and eventually found a road leaving the highway down to the base of a canyon wall near the railroad tracks.  I pushed my bike down the dirt road and found a decent camp.  Lucky for me the train traffic stopped after dark too.  I got another solid camp set up and enjoyed my tall boy of beer with my dinner.

in the Duomid with my Twilights on