Sunday, August 12, 2007

Business in the Front, Party in the Back

Its been awhile since I've written, due to being busy, and a lack of easily available internet. A lot has happened since the worse night in the world though. We've finally left Nevada, after a short but very productive build day in Sparks, Nevada. I spent the morning cutting and stacking rebar with the other two amigos and Sarah.

After our build day in Sparks we finally wished Nevada goodbye and rode to South Lake Tahoe just over the border in California, our final state. The ride out of Sparks was challenging as we had to climb over the Sierra Nevada's across Mt. Rose the highest year round pass in the Sierra's and a climb of 4,000+ feet.

The ride off the summit was a little chilly, but had amazing views of Lake Tahoe, a beautiful clear water lake on the border of Nevada and California.

The California welcome sign was more than a little disappointing as we rode 3400 miles and it was small, but David never to be discouraged showed his enthusiasm, by jumping for joy and beating me to the state line, something he swears he wont let me forget.

In South Lake Tahoe we stayed at the St. Teresa's Catholic Church Parish Hall, and enjoyed a day off on the shores of the Lake Tahoe. Mollitor learned the hard way that you shouldn't fall asleep in the sun when the pasty white part of your body is showing, and not just the super tan part that usually sees the sun.

Today brought my final sweep day with David Mollitor, and we rocked it like a mullet (see the title of the blog for an explanation if you don't get it right away). As for difficulty on a sweep day this was a very easy day. This morning we faced a short 1,000 foot climb to Echo Pass, then we rode down hill for most of the rest of the day into Placerville, CA. Above is a picture of Mollitor on our way up the major climb of the day, showing his excitement about the downhill run coming up and climbing the final mountain of the trip. We actually lost 4,000+ feet of elevation today and we'll lose most of the rest of it tomorrow as we ride into Davis.

The final 10 miles of the day were down amazing side roads near Placerville, past vineyards and orchards, and even a row of rose bushes that Sarah stopped to smell.

The trip is coming to a close and people are ready for the end, but I think the nostalgia will start to show in the next few days as we realize how far we've come and what we've been through as a group.

Only 4 days till San Fran.

A shout out to my wonderful mother who is currently driving all of my worldly possessions from Colorado towards my new home in Santa Barbara. Also thanks to all of my family and friends who have been so supportive on this trip.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The worst night ever....

Last night we slept in Lion City Park in Battle Mountain, Nevada. I was skeptical at the beginning of the day when the cue sheet said 'the park is located across the street from the casinos.' When we arrived in Battle Mountain, a small gold mining town, we rode past the park and visited with the local picnic people to find out the location of the local coffee/ice cream shop. Bakkers Brew had excellent drinks and we spent a bit of the afternoon there. As the day wore on we showered at the city pool after a quick dip, and then I stopped by the quilt show to see some excellent quilts. Then back to the park to cook chili for dinner on our camp stove. All a routine day you say....well it was until after dark.

We had noticed that the train tracks running parallel to the park were heavily used, at least a train an hour, sometimes 2. Of course accompanied by loud blasts of the horn as the tracks cross a major intersection at the end of the park. After talking to the locals we found out that the trains will run all night. DRAT. Come around 2 am or so I hear one of the trains, not too bad and I fall back asleep. This is when the real fun begins, ~4:30 am I wake up to water falling on my face, my first thought is 'CRAP its raining' that's when I hear the unmistakable hiss of sprinklers. I hastily jump out of my sleeping bag as does everyone else as we realize what's happening with screams of dismay. I use my thermarest as a shield and make it mostly dry to the cement pad in the center of the park. But at this point I realize all of my stuff and everyone else's is getting soaked by the still running sprinklers. After a few shuttle runs everything or at least mostly everything is rescued and pretty dry. Now slightly wet, very cold I climb back into my damp sleeping bag to fruitlessly attempt to stay warm and get a few more hours of sleep. Needless to say we slept in later than normal, were very cold and wet this morning and are glad to have a roof over our heads in Winnemucca tonight. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and maybe a little more scenic as the view of the high mountainous desert from I-80 is getting a little old.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Between a rock and a hard place....

Today as we rode deeper into the Silver State we started to encounter more and more of the signs that cyclists often dread. Such as:

And also a nice one as we left for the morning that said 'No Services for 57 miles' well the next exit for services was actually our exit for the night in Wells Nevada. As a result we are now out on the road with only the water and food we carry with few unscheduled stops as we make our way across Nevada. This is a little scary at first, but you learn to plan ahead and take a little extra snack and double check you filled your water bottles at lunch. Unfortunately planning ahead doesn't always work. Today as I rode down a part of I-80 that was under construction we narrowly avoided two very large ditches that had been cut across the shoulder, but the third one caught me a little off guard as it didn't have the small paved section, of the first two, nearest the road. As a result I had a few seconds to decide to either A) try to stop (not really a viable option considering speed and distance to the ditch, most likely resulting in a one way ticket over the handle bars) B) swerve into a lane of I-80 which I was unsure if it contained traffic or not or C) attempt to jump said ditch while on bike. I chose option C. Unfortunately option C didn't pan out totally as I had hoped. I gave myself at best 50/50 odds for clearing the ditch since it was just over 3 feet wide. My front wheel made it over easily, but my back wheel didn't quite clear the gap the result:

Needless to say that there is a large non reparable dent in my rear rim and I got to sit on the side of I-80 and wait for leader Jeff to save the day by bringing me a spare rear wheel. I would like to send thanks out to the nice driver who stopped his pickup and offered me a ride as I sat on the side of the road. Its not everyday that someone stops and offers you a ride, especially on an interstate.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Across the Flats

Today we rode across the salt flats of Western Utah to West Wendover, Nevada. I used to think that Kansas was flat, until I had to ride my bike across it, but Western Utah is FLAT in fact it is so flat that it is one of the few places that you can actually see the curvature of the Earth. Plus apparently crazy things have happened in Utah over the years for example:

An artist decided to erect a giant 'tree' along I-80 in the middle of no where. I use the term tree loosely as it is more of a giant concrete pole with some tennis balls attached. Most of the locals we talked too think the thing is hideous, but it stands still looming over I-80 and the salt flats.

Wendover/West Wendover sits on the Utah-Nevada border and as our destination of the day was packed with interesting things. Wendover has a long history in auto racing, gambling and the military. It is also home to a few major landmarks such as Will a giant cowboy who greets you at the edge of town.

Also a distinctive point of the city is the all important state line which in this case is actually painted on the road and the casinos really push to the edge of the Nevada line.

Another important step for the country that occurred in Wendover was the completion of the transcontinental telephone line. The last splice was made in Wendover and a monument to it stands today in front of the Montego Bay Casino:

As for the ride day, it was uneventful from the standpoint of scenery, just a lot of flat and salt, but the entire group was plagued by flats. Since we are riding along the shoulder of I-80 the little steel wires that normally make up the belts in semi tires before the treads litter the side of the road seem to want to return to a rubber environment and cause slow leaks that one often doesn't notice till a few miles later. Hopefully tomorrow will bring less flats as it is a 'short' day into Wells, NV at slightly under 60 miles. This also means a late wakeup call :).

Till Elko or so.