Going left represents a new chapter in our ride across America. Up to this point, we have been riding in pretty familiar territory. Including the first part of the days ride when we followed along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe and rode up to Spooner summit. We’ve done this part of the ride dozens of times over the years when we do our annual ride around the lake as part of Chris’s Tour de Tahoe. However, this year, when we got to the top of the summit, instead of turning right and heading towards South Lake Tahoe, we were going left and heading down Highway 50 to Carson City and into the desert (Screaming down highway 50 on a great road with very few cars at 40-50 miles an hour was a blast by the way). Bryan Hoadley, was going to guide us through this foreign land and he and Chris would be setting personal records for their longest distance traveled on bikes. It was going to be a very big day. As we got to Carson, we were hoping for tail winds but soon found that we faced stiff 20-25 MPH headwinds for much of the way to Fallon. We were undaunted, particularly with Bryan acting as our personal wind slayer.
As we left Carson we found some new firsts. We were introduced to rumble strips on the side of the road. While they do a great job of waking up a driver where they start to veer off the road, they have an even more harsh effect when you ride over them on a bike. Note to self-stay away from rumble strips when on the bike. Another first was seeing a grandmotherly looking person sitting on the side of the road in a chair holding a rifle. We think she was promoting a nearby store but it was not completely clear. This is the wild west after all. We should have taken a photo but we decided to continue on. Another note to self – when you see grandma sitting on the side of the road holding a rifle, stop and take a picture. We also saw a VW bug that was turned into a massive spider. A picture was posted on the blog yesterday. It looked like something left over from a Burning Man festival. The good news was that the roads were in good shape and cars were really not a problem.
We grabbed a bite in the small town of Dayton (the site of Nevada’s first gold discovery – who knew), passed through Stage Coach where Matt had the first flat of the trip and were heading on to Fallon when my wife, Cindy caught up with us as our SAG support. She arrived at just the right moment when we needed a break, some water and some encouragement. Cindy has been our SAG support for the first four days of the trip and she has been a rock star. Her help has meant the world to us and her photography skills are producing some great pictures for our blog. She has set the SAG bar high!
Fallon is the home of a Naval Air Station (Don’t ask me what the Navy is doing in the desert) and it’s also the primary Top Gun training center and is where much of the footage for the movie Top Gun was filmed. I thought we might see some jets running around the sky but we didn’t see a single bird. Maybe they were out over the ocean doing Navy stuff.
We left Fallon to go straight north on Highway 95 on our way to 80. This was one of the toughest parts of the ride. It was hot, with nothing but tumbleweeds and salt flats for miles. The three of us just pounded away and came up with some mind games to make the time pass. Once we got to 60 miles to go, we started relating the distances to familiar rides that we had done in the bay area. 40 miles was the HOP light ride when leaving from my house, 25 miles was the Walnut Creek loop and 17 miles was the Stone Valley loop. For some reason, relating these familiar rides helped pass the time.
Our biggest surprise of the day came when we got to the intersection of Highway 95 and Highway 80. Our last 24 miles was going to be riding on interstate 80 and while it’s perfectly legal, we were unsure about the safety and ride quality. As it turned out, the shoulder was 15 feet wide and was the best pavement of the entire trip. In addition, we had a tail wind for most of our time on 80 so we had our fastest average speed of the day during the last 24 miles. A very nice surprise indeed. When we arrived in Lovelock, Cindy was waiting for us and had scouted out a Pizza place to eat. (It was about the only thing open at 6:30 on a Sunday evening in Lovelock). It was not a spectacular place but Bryan’s comment summed it up when he said “this is the best worst salad I have ever had”. Most importantly, they had ice-cold draft beer and it never tasted so go or was so well deserved. We conquered the beast and now it was time for a rest day and some deck time at the Dittmore cabin.
It’s been great to have Cindy along with me for the beginning of our trip and I’m going to miss her when she returns to the bay area tomorrow but she and Katie will be meeting up with us again in Jackson Hole. We also have Danica and Maggie joining as our SAG drivers from Tahoe and Jackson Hole and know that we are going to have a blast and a great adventure.
Thanks again for your continued interest and support.
Start of day 4 – Into the desert they went