Days 16-17 Double Shorting; and an 11/12 day

I mentioned several days ago I found the 118 mile ride on day 11 particularly arduous.   That was also the day that I stepped into the mud and had a great deal of trouble clipping in and out.   My right leg started to freeze up after the second SAG stop; this is the leg that has suffered a few bad injuries over the years — broken femur, broken patella, etc.   It wasn’t joint pain, but the muscles on the right side of the knee just grew very stiff.

The problem did not go away after the one day break in Salt Lake City — I found myself having to stretch more, take ibuprofen, and go slower.   It was getting better very slowly, but at the end of each ride I could barely walk.   People in my group were concerned.   On Day 15 my Left/Right balance on my wattage meters was 61/39 — it shows how little my right leg was contributing.   And we’re now in Colorado; the big hills are coming.

In addition, despite all of the efforts, the saddle sore was not getting better.   The zinc oxide seemed to contribute more friction — it’s more of a paste than a gel.

Yesterday I tried double shorting.   It’s a simple thing — wear two pairs of bike shorts, you get extra padding but more heat and it can be a bit tight.   It worked a charm.   As day 16 wore on, my right leg gradually loosened up a bit.   Today I did it again — it is even better; I even felt comfortable walking about 2 miles from the grocery store to the hotel.   So there seems to be some connection between the saddle sore on my left leg and the tightness in my right leg.   I must have been doing some shift in my body weight to try to keep the saddle sore less painful that was creating problems in my knee.  Ankle bone connected to the leg bone, ….

My main lesson from all of this is you have to keep trying new things.   The second lesson is that people who are experienced in biking often have much better advise than very smart people who are not familiar with biking.   They just don’t understand what stresses we are putting our bodies through.   I spin the pedals about 70x / minute x 7 hours a day equals 29,400 revolutions a day.   That’s a lot of friction on a place that is already sore.

Tomorrow, at Tony May’s suggestion, I’m going to put on one of these expensive rubbery “blister pack” Band-Aids that should provide some additional cushioning.   We are now in the big assault on the Rockies — we’ll get close to 9,000 feet tomorrow, and 11,200 feet on Thursday (the Continental Divide).   These are the days I have been most worried about since I began training for the trip.   They say the oxygen problems start at about 8,000 feet.   Heck, I felt them at 2,000 feet.

Ride Summaries.   Day 16 was 89.2 miles; 3867 feet of climbing.   Day 17 was 73.8 miles, 2942 feet of climbing.   Day 16 was almost a “perfect day” except that between Carl, Julia and I (my riding buddies that day) we had 5 flats.   So we were the last group into the hotel, and I just didn’t have enough time to blog.   My hierarchy of 12 “factors for a perfect ride” held nicely as we had a terrific tail wind all day.  So even with all of the flat tires we felt good about the day.    During the day our group of 21 suffered 19 flat tires.   Glad we are off of I-70.

Picture:   Carl, Julia and I waiting in the shade under a highway overpass while the bike mechanic Scott worked on our tires.

Song of the Day:   From Easy Rider, Born to be Wild (Steppenwolf, 1968).   Road by a motorcycle shop that had an Easy Rider like chopper mounted on a pole.

 

Get your motor runnin’

Head out on the highway

Lookin’ for adventure

And whatever comes our way

 

From <https://www.google.com/search?q=born+to+be+wild+steppenwolf+lyrics&rlz=1C1GGRV_enSG751SG751&oq=born+to+be+wild+&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j0j69i57j0l3.3697j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8>

 

 

Day 15: Price to Green River

It was a great day, it was a tough day….   Reasonable distance and climbing, a really good group esprit de corps as we worked in a large pace line.   We’re very close to the Utah Arches National Park; there are some extraordinary rock features along the highway.   However, headwinds continue to plague us.   Today they were so strong it made riding next to the road a bit precarious — every time a large truck passed on the 2-lane highway at 80 MPH, it somehow shifted the wind, and we all did our best to balance and then re-balance after the passing.

We had a conversation last night about the what the ingredients are for a perfect ride.  Debate became heated when we tried to order the variables:

      1. No accidents / safe
      2. No headwind (tailwind!)
      3. Reasonable climbing
      4. No precipitation
      5. Smooth road
      6. Limited traffic
      7. Reasonable temperature
      8. Reasonable distance
      9. Good social atmosphere / friendly people
      10. Good scenery
      11. No bike problems
      12. Quality of coffee stop at the end

A few observations.   When I started I was just focused on distance and safety.  Turns out that we all put a lot of things before distance as we reflected on how good a ride was that day.   We’re all so obsessed with the Weather Channel we often check every couple of hours to see if the forecast has changed.   And we are focused on wind and rain, not temperature.  The amount of climbing is definitely more important than distance.

Second so far we’ve had a lot of great rides, but no ride has been perfect.   The question is whether you focus on what was bad in the day or what was good.   I guess life is like that — you can either obsess with the 2-3 things not going your way, or you focus on the 8-10 (hopefully) that are.   Of course, we all have really bad days, but hopefully we can stay focused on the good.

Happy Father’s Day everyone.   My daughter remembered this year, which I believe is a near first :).

UWCSEA update.   I recalled a speech I saw by a Cambodian scholar named Kim Cheam that Anna Lord, the Chair of the UWCSEA Board, forwarded to me last year.   She forwarded it to me again.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfuPuGPBJ3g&t=113s   Kim Chean is an example of a scholar that was brought to the school as an 8th grader, barely literate in English.   The impact of UWCSEA on her, and her choice to take a “gap year” to begin her commitment to social service in Cambodia, is very moving.

Ride Summary.  66 miles, 1271 feet of climbing.   I suspect we were in the 15-20 MPH for winds much of the time.   One of the challenges of going in a straight line is you can be into the wind the whole day.   I rode with a very moderately paced group; my days as the hare are over (at least for the time being).   We passed 1000 miles today!

Song of the Day.   One Bad Apple by the Osmonds (kudos to Mark Koulogeorge for that one).   Fits with today’s theme.

Day 14: UWC Scholar Tintie Ahmed Kone (Burkino Faso)

As you would know if you read Day -24 of the blog, one of the main reasons I am undertaking this trip is to raise funds towards an endowed scholarship at UWCSEA.

For those of you so inclined, the website the school is running to coordinate the fundraising is:   https://give.funderbolt.com/uwcsea/CO-Cross-Country-Challenge   I’m extraordinarily grateful for the progress — we are up to $92,000 in commitments (with a target of $200,000)!    Given I am only 1/4 of the way across the US, that feels like tremendous progress to be almost 50% of the way to the goal.

I am deeply passionate about the ideals the UWC movement espouses and the tremendous professionalism and dedication the staff at UWCSEA display in fulfilling those ideals.   At this stage we have 102 scholars at the school (we also help fund 8 scholars who attend other UWC schools).   These scholars come from 57 different countries.   Most will be on a 2-year IB program, but 10-12 will be on programs up to 5 years to reflect their more challenged starting point.

An extraordinary man named Shelby Davis is now providing scholarships worth about $40 million (not a typo) a year to UWC scholars around the world who are able to matriculate about 40 different tertiary education institutions in the US.   http://www.davisuwcscholars.org/   What this means is that UWC scholars not only have the opportunity to earn one of the top IB educations in the world, but the possibility that they can also have their college education funded as well.   Imagine the transformation in someone’s life trajectory and ability to impact the world if we are able to provide this “break.”

I asked the UWCSEA Foundation to provide some background materials on a scholar; they selected Tintie Ahmed Kone from Burkino Faso.    I thought you would enjoy reading the aspirations Tintie Ahmed has for himself following his two years in Singapore at UWCSEA:

As my time in UWCSEA is coming to an end, it is the right time to set myself new challenges and new goals. I will be joining New York University Abu Dhabi. Known for its multicultural community, I intend to carry on my understanding of different cultures there as well as keep on being an ambassador of my country. I truly believe that UWCSEA has given me the tools to adapt in the Middle East while enjoying this new culture, meeting new people and making the most of my time there with great memories.

On a more academic level, I intend to study electrical engineering. I believe that getting an electrical engineering degree will allow to have a stronger impact in my local community back home by giving more access to electricity to local communities in remote areas. Electricity remains a luxury commodity in some areas in Burkina Faso and I cannot wait to give back to these communities. I intend to specialize in renewable energy especially solar energy. Burkina Faso is known to be very sunny throughout the year and I believe that solar panels are the future best alternative for local communities. This is why I really want to be part of this process. UWCSEA has played a huge role in helping me to develop my sense of giving back. When I was joining this school in 2016, I knew I wanted to be part of my country’s development but this will was not that strong.

Through my two years in UWCSEA, I have learned to care more about others and not to standby and watch. I have learned to be more active, to stand for what I believe is right and always take actions no matter the scale. I will always carry such values with me and make sure I apply them. In this way, I will definitely inspire my peers or younger people to always take action for what is right.

Ride Summary:   75 miles, 4160 feet of climbing.    Reasonably hard day; a lot of climbing, some headwinds and a relatively treacherous decent on a two-lane road with a lot of trucks and our biggest dread:   recreational vehicles (RV’s).   Sometimes the shoulder was filled with gravel and almost impossible to ride on (we generally ride on the shoulder, not on the main road).   My friend Ole had his 5th flat today.

Song of the Day.   I’m falling behind on songs; I think I may need to do this as a batch on rest days.   Next rest day is in about 5 days.   Keep the suggestions coming in; I have a little file with these.   You never know when you’ll win the lottery 🙂

 

Day 13: Salt Lake City to Provo; 1/4 done!

Today was the first day on the reconfigured bicycle — oh what a joy (Mormon Tabernacle Choir affirming in the background)!   We had a very steep climb somewhere in the middle of today, it was a very hot sun, and there was a quarry down the road kicking up dust that we were all choking on.   And I just inched up the hill with a barely elevated heart rate.

If I had it to do all over again I would have had a week somewhere about 6 months ago where I did a training camp under similar climbing conditions.   I think I would have learned a lot about the bike, the gearing, the training and some climbing techniques.   The good news is I was able to make the changes over the 24 hours I was in Salt Lake City.   Sometimes you just have to knuckle down and get the right equipment.

The picture serves three purposes — you can see the Rockies, which we start climbing tomorrow.   Second, you can see the reconfigured bike set-up — smaller bag, no pannier rack, new derailleur, new cartridge.   And you can see it is HOT!

I did see a terrific dermatologist in Salt Lake City.   My current regimen is at least on track — clean the whole butt with an antiseptic soap, put an antibiotic cream on the sore bits after riding, use a band aid to cover the sore bits while riding.   The one thing he added was zinc oxide before the ride, which is basically used for diaper rash.   My Mom had recommended that, so I thought that was interesting.   He also recommended I start taking a supplement that provides some sun protection — the brand name is Heliocare (an oral supplement).   I couldn’t find it in stores, so I’ll have to order it online.   I’ve done okay with sun except for the top of my legs.

Also, it turns out I was like the only cyclist who didn’t use chamois cream (this is basically a lotion/lubricant you apply to all the areas the sun doesn’t shine to reduce friction between the butt and the bike shorts).   So I’ve started using that every morning as well.   Who would have thought I needed all of this crap to get across America?

Ride Summary:   66 miles, 1710 feet of climbing.   First third was very easy pace on a bike path through the Salt Lake City Airport (literally) and then along a small river.   Second two-thirds was pretty tough, with a headwind and some climbing in 90-95 degree heat 33-35 Celsius).   I was drinking at least a liter an hour, but it wasn’t enough.

Song of the Day.   My sister says I need an Osmond Family Song.   Who has a recommendation — I must admit it’s not a group I spent a lot of time listening to.   Or is there a better alternative?

Day 11-12 Wendover to Salt Lake City; rest day

Yes, I made it to Salt Lake City.   118 miles.   OOOiiii.

Day started out with the intention to take it at a 15 mph pace, but Ole had a flat about a mile after the start.   I kept him company (and learned a few new tricks about changing a flat) and then we did a two-man pace line to catch up with our group   Over about 20 miles we closed about a 2 mile gap.   Intentions out the window.   We then went with that pace line to the first SAG stop, which was at about mile 42.

Then I did a completely bonehead move.   Despite it being marked with 3 orange cones, I walked straight from the SAG to my bicycle into some mud that was basically potter’s clay.   After about 15 minutes of cleaning I still couldn’t get my speedplay’s clean enough to clip in easily.

I joined a pace line that ran a very moderate and disciplined pace through to the next rest stop (88).   Fortunately we didn’t stop too much, as the potter’s clay hardened.   When I got to the SAG I could barely unclip.

After the rest stop my right leg tightened up to the point it was almost “frozen.”   The next 20 miles or so were increasing traffic, with a lot of debris on the side of the road.   I was tired and a bit freaked out by all of the traffic.  It was getting pretty tough, mentally and physically.   I was having trouble holding my own with the group.   Finally we took a right turn and rode next to the Great Salt Lake for about 10 miles, with a gentle breeze behind us and virtually no traffic.   118 miles.

My friend Ned picked me up and we went directly to what turned out to be three different bicycle shops to see if we could address the gearing issue.   The second shop recommended the third.   This guy (Whitney) who is totally fanatical about bikes listened to what I wanted to do, talked through options, and then disappeared with my bike for about 45 minutes.   Ned went home to pick up a small bracket I had ordered and we in fact needed.   An hour later I had an 11-36 on the back, which will help immensely in the mountains, at altitudes that I understand will go as high as 11,000 feet.   New derailleur, new chain, new cartridge.   I am so relieved.

Leaving the group to stay with Ned and his wife and family for a day brought home how intense the trip has been so far — in science fiction terms it would be an alternative universe.   To make progress every day I just have to get into a zone which  discards everything not needed to accomplish that day’s goal.   To be in a car driving around, to eat an incredible home cooked meal, to not get up in the morning and get on the bicycle — it was like going to Disneyland; it was totally enjoyable but almost felt imaginary.

During the rest day I did some mechanical work of my own — changed my tires to 28 mm Gator Skins (Continental);, replaced my too large rear bag on a pannier with an Ortlieb that fits on a bracket  under the seat, and cleaned the bike up.    So it is quite an overhaul; I hope everything works on Day 13.   I’m having the mechanic with the group do a final check in 20 minutes before I inflate the tires and hope for the best.

 

 

 

 

Day 10: Wendover Nevada and The Pace Line

Today was probably tougher than I even anticipated — the headwinds were strong — my guess 10-15 knots.  When you have headwinds, bicycling becomes a team sport.   To add to the insanity I decided to ride with the fast group.   Why?

When you are riding into a headwind, the benefits of drafting go up considerably.   But most bicyclists have never really learned how to ride in a peloton — they swerve to miss objects on the road, they change pace unpredictably, they vary their cadence at whim.   It’s less safe, less beneficial and very nerve-wrecking to ride with people who aren’t used to riding 6 inches behind someone’s wheel.   So by riding with the fast group I knew I was with people who would hold the line, hold the pace, and call out major issues.   Challenge is I’m not quite up to their fitness level, so it was a tough day in that regard.

The dynamics of a pace line are that each person has to hold the front, ideally at the “same pace” and for the “same distance” — we were alternating every 2 miles.   After about 50 miles, the two stronger riders (Ole and Dan) would take longer times up front, and the weak rider (me) would go 1-2 miles depending on the amount of climbing.   Jerry, the fourth in our group, has a Kamikaze attitude towards the steep descents — he  doesn’t just tuck and go without braking, he pedals furiously down these steep grades.   Twice I fell behind after a steep descent (I did fine on the ascents) and had to catch up.

On one of those occasions Ole dropped back to “pull” me back to the group.   It took an enormous amount of patience and physical stamina to do that.   Ole is a true gentleman.  But in the end, the whole group benefits from rotating among four riders versus 2-3.   So if I were to apply some game theory, as long as the weaker cyclist isn’t slowing things down, even a 20% contribution is accretive.

One thing fascinating about a pace line is that there is no hierarchy — it is one of the few sporting situations I can think of where leadership is rotated consistently, and the burden of leadership is truly that.

Trump.   It’s going to take me a few more days.   Today was an 8 hour ride; tomorrow we have breakfast at 4:30 am, which given the time change today is 3:30 California Time.   So I’m struggling to get through all of my routines and get enough sleep before tomorrow’s 117 mile day.

Ride Summary:   108 miles (we had to do a detour) with 4347 feet of climbing.   Headwinds virtually the whole way, sometimes quite strong.   Probably our toughest day, even tougher than the ascent over Donner Pass or Rose Mountain.   If you are following me on Strava — I forgot to turn it on until about mile 30.   Temperature was very nice — probably peaked at 83 degrees.   Tomorrow will get up to 95 if we get in late (may be one reason we are starting early).

Day 9: Elko Nevada, the Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Carl

One of the surprises I had during the planning was how many people thought I was a bit nuts to go with a group where I didn’t know anyone — “what if they’re all jerks?”   Well first off they’re cyclists, so they can’t be too bad.   I have to say that 10 days in I just can’t imagine doing it any other way.   It’s safety, it’s meeting new people, its learning about their training, their equipment and their stories.   It’s passing the time on lonely stretches of road and drafting when the winds get strong.   It’s sources of inspiration and support.

So a couple of days ago we were talking about Elko Nevada and Carl mentioned he knows Elko pretty well — “I go there every year for the Cowboy Poetry competition.”   I did not think he was serious, but he went on to describe what went on and how fun it is in such detail that I realized there must be a cowboy poetry competition.   Sure enough, as we rolled into Elko we did a loop around the main drag and there were the corporate offices of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.   Apparently this is an international event.   https://www.flickr.com/photos/130119616@N04/albums/72157676440585774

Carl has more zest for life than I think anyone I have met.   His sartorial sense is a source of constant anticipation.   He’s done motorcycle trips in Australia, South America, and from Baja to the Arctic Circle.   On the mountain we are riding over tomorrow he has done a week horse packing trip.   Next year he is planning 3 weeks of bicycling in the French Alps.   Remember this guy is turning 73 in October.   He is a medical doctor, specialized in emergency response.  Son of a Mennonite farmer.

Today was pretty tiring; we’re all worried about the next two days.   The wind has shifted and is now a headwind.   We have about 4350 feet of climbing tomorrow; 107 miles.   The next day is like 118 miles, which is darn close to 200 kilometers.   My butt is pretty raw; I can feel little strips of flesh hanging off one part, but I can’t see them.   Everyone is pretty sore; some are wearing two pairs of pants tomorrow (they call it double shorting).   With all of the climbing tomorrow I will probably be in the saddle 8-9 hours.   May need something stronger than aspirin after that 🙂

Today’s ride:   74 miles, 2940 feet of climbing in one big climb.   Beautiful day — not too hot.   Didn’t have to stop on the climb, although several people passed me on the way up.   I consider that progress.   Pretty much the whole day was on I-80, except for the first 20 miles and a 3 mile bypass around a tunnel that was absolutely stunning — a nice stream winding through the desert.

Today’s song:   Rhinestone Cowboy by Glenn Campbell.    Elko is just this wonderful combination of casinos and boot shops.   I had a terrific prime rib dinner for $14.99.

 

Day 8: Battle Mountain, NV and Bourdain

Well I guess Kim and Trump are in Singapore.   I have two days to put my cards on the table on Trump.   It’s probably a little early in the trip, but there can always be a part II.

This is a big deal to be talking to the head of North Korea.   I can only imagine the deal in the works — what would the US have to give up to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons?   How can you trust either guy?  — one has ordered the killing of dozens if not hundreds of people, including his own half-brother; the other has torn up just about every agreement that has governed the US relationship with other countries (albeit not ones he signed himself).

The disarray with the G-7 is alarming, certainly.   Adding Russia?

But I’ve actually been thinking more about Anthony Bourdain the last two days.   I admired him for so many things — his books were genuinely entertaining; his honesty was disarming.   He seemed to have this tremendous love of people and life.   He had an 11-year old daughter.

I remember how much I connected with his first book, Kitchen Confidential.   I had worked as a busboy / waiter / prep chef in various kitchens when I was in High School and University to earn pocket money.   These were hard environments — a lot of the chefs had served prison time; many of the waiters had dependency issues.   A lot of the drug trade seemed to be trafficked through the restaurant trade.   Food deliveries would arrive, and various people would congregate in the back to close other transactions.   They were always trying to get my fellow busboys to retail their wares in the local high school (we were all cross country runners and as clean as they come).   It was also a hard environment because generally the chefs were trying to go clean, to get really good at something, but the temptations were always close by.   They also had tempers like a Tasmanian Devil.   If I was slow to pick up an order a stream of invective would follow.   If you brought food back that the customer had complained about, “shoot the messenger” seemed to be a genuine possibility.   Bourdain captured this environment and more.

One of the things that impressed me most about Anthony is how he always spent time with the hawkers (street food vendors) in Singapore, not the big restaurants.   He would organize bake-offs against them, and generally he would lose.   The thrill in the eyes of these hawkers when they were photographed “besting” the famous Anthony Bourdain in recipes that they had been cooking probably their whole life told quite a story.   From what I could tell he was immensely popular in the “heartland” of Singapore.   Not easy for a French Chef from New York to do.

I feel deeply for his family but also so many people who had placed their aspirations with his.

Ride Summary.    Straightforward ride from Winnemucca to Battle Mountain — 54.9 miles /  88.3 km.   Our daily challenges are driven by the distance between towns.   Tomorrow is another short day, and then two 100 mile plus days.   Today the last 20 miles or so faced into a tough headwind; oh how I hope we don’t have that on Tuesday/Wednesday.

Weather.   It is actually cold in the desert — 50 degrees Fahrenheit / 8-10 degrees Celsius.   I was fine in the initial 20 miles, but after a 5 mile descent I was pretty chilled.   After that we faced into a wind and I never quite warmed up.   Fortunately we stopped at a sad casino / restaurant at about mile 54 and had a very good lunch, with hot coffee through the meal.   And I thought it would be 100 degrees in the desert.   We’ve been really lucky so far.

Song of the Day.   A week ago George Laing suggested Roll on Down the Highway by Bachman Turner Overdrive.   Since we’re riding directly on I-80, felt appropriate for today.

Day 7: Zone 2 in Winnemucca; Mormon Crickets

Today I 100% committed to ride in “zone 2”.   Zone 2 is a “conversation pace” in the jargon of my high school cross country years — elevated heart rate, but if fed, you can pretty much go forever.   Zone 2 burns both fat and carbohydrates, and helps clear lactic acid.   I needed a zone 2 day.   It meant I road most of the day on my own — had I ridden in a group I would have been between 2-4 all day.   So I had no choice but to talk to myself.

The science of endurance training is all about varying the pace — sometimes going to your max, but generally alternating low and medium stress.   If you are interested in more, see training peaks:   https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/zone-2-training-for-endurance-athletes/

We have two 100 mile plus days in a row 3 days from now; I am focused on resting my muscles as much as possible to be ready for those days [I know it may seem I am contradicting advice from yesterday, but there are times to take things one day at a time and times to plan :)]  I must admit I’m sore; for the first time my knee is hurting a little bit.   I have a problem where my butt is chafing as well.   So “taking it easy” for a couple of days seems to be in order.

Mormon crickets.   For about 30 miles of the ride today these fairly large insects were migrating in mass from the field to the highway.   Apparently they are uber destructive insects, with quantities so high at times that roads have to be closed.   They are also cannibalistic — one reason they are running so fast is to escape attack from the rear.   They are named Mormon Crickets, even though they are actually katydids, because of the “miracle of the gulls.”   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_gulls.   Anyway, I had to clean my bike wheels afterwards.

Bike technology.   I took a somewhat low tech solution to my bike navigation issues.   I bought a small top bar pack and a very long life battery pack.   Why didn’t you just buy a Garmin, you ask?   I debated with myself for hours on this one.   I’ve had 3-4 Garmins over the years.   I find the software and user interface clunky, I hate “Garmin Connect” and I find the screen resolution weak.   They are as expensive as an iPhone.   The main advantage is they are sturdy, better in the rain and long battery life.   The advantage of the phone — the screen is amazing.   The Ride With GPS software I use works so easily with a phone — beautiful maps, and four “info screens” that include the map, speed and distance data, altitude data, cues for the ride, etc.  People I ride with ask me to navigate, because the Garmin software just isn’t as easy to navigate off of.   In addition, you have a phone!   Now I will also be able to run Wahoo Fitness in the background, so my rides are downloaded on Strava and we can all micro-analyze my pace, speed, watts, etc.

I’ve bought a little bracket on Amazon that I hope to use to get a larger back cartridge in Salt Lake City — my friend Ned is setting up an appointment with a mechanic.   If I can go from a 29 to a 34 in back, it should be 5/29 or about 17% easier.   That will make a HUGE difference in the Rockies.

Today’s Ride.   Very straightforward ride — NE to Winnemucca.   There were no towns between Lovelock and Winnemucca.   We had a nice tailwind and gentle hills.   Beautiful overcast day, so not too hot either.

Song of the Day.   There can be NO DOUBT today’s song is Johnny Cash’s “I’ve been everywhere.”   You have to listen to it.

 

Day 6: Desert Highway

At breakfast this morning we were talking about today’s ride — 92 miles, most directly on interstate 80 — and the dread we felt riding alongside 18 wheelers and RV’s.   Actually, a lot of these darn trucks now have 3 containers — they’re more road train than truck.   And more than 18 wheels.

I asked a simple question — how does tomorrow look?   Not one person could answer.   It’s interesting when you have an intense challenge like this, sometimes you just say “let me just get through today; then I will worry about tomorrow.”   We all know there are two 100+ mile days later this week, but no one knew which day.

Rhetorically I asked the question in my first post “are there really people in that part of Nevada?”   The answer is basically — not many.   Beautiful Lovelock seems to have two industries — a casino and a Federal Prison (made famous for OJ Simpson’s incarceration).   It was really one of only two towns on the 92 mile stretch today.   I think tomorrow is the only town along the ride.   There aren’t really even gas stations between these towns.   It’s desert, desolate and hot.

Had an interesting lunch.   Huge signs for Pizza drew Carl and I in, but as we got closer, we had some trepidation — it was a combination gas station, pizza parlor and convenience store owned by an Indian couple (from the sub-continent, not Native Americans).   As we ordered two women, who were clearly regulars, picked up their pint of whiskey for the day.   They looked pretty terrible — tattoos, bit of an inability to put together a coherent sentence, but friendly (and curious).   Turns out the dough was made right there by the husband, and it was a fantastic pizza.

Today’s ride.   148 kilometers from Spark Nevada to Lovelock.    I would never have thought 92 miles would ever feel like a rest day, but after two days of climbing this was really more straightforward.   Another flat today.   Learning that when these steel radials from those big trucks blow up all over the highway, all these tiny little wires get scattered all over the road like pollen in spring.   Fortunately Dr. Carl (he really is a doctor) had a pair of tweezers to yank that little bugger out of my Vittoria Rubino Pros and get me on my way.

Today’s Song:   Neil Young “Unknown Legend.”  

Somewhere on a desert highway

She rides a Harley-Davidson

Her long blonde hair

Flyin’ in the wind

She’s been runnin’ half her life

The chrome and steel she rides

Collidin’ with

The very air she breathes

The air she breathes.

From <http://www.lyricsfreak.com/n/neil+young/unknown+legend_20099115.html>