Amazing what a difference 9 inches make…

First before I get into today’s blog, Matt and I want to thank everyone for all your comments on either the blog, Facebook, email, phone calls or in your thoughts.  They mean a lot to us and we love all the interest and encouragement.  Thanks for all your support!!!  Now on to today’s blog:

The word of the day is “Relief”!  Matt and I knew that riding the 68 miles on Hwy 93 from Wells, NV to Jackpot, NV was going to be a challenge.  It’s a major connector from Nevada to Idaho and a lot of trucks use the road.  We had called the Nevada Dept. of Transportation when planning the trip and asked about riding on it.  They said it shouldn’t be a problem so we planned our route using Hwy 93 to get up to Jackson Hole, WY (our destination in a few days).  After we arrived in Wells yesterday Matt and I got in the car and drove the first 5 miles of the route to check out the road.  What we found was a road that had rumble strips then 12-18″ of shoulder and in some spots even less and the thick gravel sometimes falling off from the road steeply.  We came back to the hotel very discouraged.  We were concerned that it wasn’t safe for us to ride and we had promised our wives that we wouldn’t do anything stupid and end up on the Darwin Awards (  However when we discussed rerouting through Salt Lake City that added 150+ miles and ruined our planned 4th of July celebration with some of our family in Jackson Hole.  More importantly it felt like we were cheating.  How can we say we rode across America when we jumped in a car for 68 miles.  We were trying to find the balance of staying true to our goal and not being stupid (a balance I don’t always find).  Anyways, we finally came up with a solution that we thought might work.  Since we’re farther north and close to the Mountain time zone we sun rises at 5a.  Matt and I decided that if we started riding at 5:30a we could beat a lot of the traffic.  Our plan was to ride in the road and then every time a vehicle came we would either get off the road or if no cars were coming (you can see from the photos below that we had a long line of sight) we’d ride over into the other lane while the vehicle in our lane drove by.  We met with our support drivers and the plan was for us to let them know when we left (they’re so good they even got up at 5:30a to take a picture of us leaving) and then call them in 30 minutes and tell them if we thought this was going to work or if they should come pick us up.  We then headed out and began trying our riding strategy.  It was a little nerve-racking but it seemed to work and although it was going to take us quite some time to ride 68 miles we’d be able to maintain the integrity of our “Riding Across America”.  The first bit of good fortune was about 8 miles into the ride the shoulder expanded to 24″ and was clean of debris.  This allowed us to ride on the shoulder instead of in the road so we didn’t have to jump off the road when the vehicles passed.  Of course staring at a 24″ strip that you can ride on for 68 miles while big rigs zoom by at 70 mph is more than a little stressful.  In a few spots there would be guard rails with no shoulder so we would jump in the road and sprint to the end of the guard rail (got our interval training in today).  Danica and Maggie then met us after 2 hours to check on us and bring us fresh water as there was NO services anywhere for the 68 miles.  We then had our next bit of good fortune as the shoulder became wider by another 9″.  Now 9″ sounds like nothing but it made an amazing difference.  Riding on a shoulder that was 33″ wide was much more relaxing after having spent hours starting at the 24″ line (had Johnny Cash’s Walk the Line in my head all day).  The wider shoulder lasted about 20 miles, but it was enough to give us the mental break we needed.  We finally made it to Jackpot at 9:45 and had an incredible sense of relief.  Luckily the hotel were staying in Jackpot, Cactus Pete’s Casino (man do we know how to roll) let us check-in at 10a so ew could go shower.  Got some strange looks walking through the casino in our cycling gear with our bikes on the way to the elevator.  Our super support drivers had already checked in for us and put all of our bags in room again (THANKS!!!).  We then cleaned up had a late breakfast and then enjoyed just relaxing in the room watching Roger Federer come back from 2 sets down to win his Wimbledon tennis match.  We’re spending the day catching up on emails, work and checking out our route to Jackson Hole. 

How we spent our day.  Riding the 24″ shoulder on Hwy 93 from Wells to Jackpot, NV.

Riding on a thin line for almost four hours made me think of Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line”. Had that song in my head all day!

5:25a rolling out of Wells, NV.  Notice the reflexive stripe built into my tires.

68 miles of this…

Reaching the H D Summit, 6280 feet.

Chris riding the 24″ shoulder.

Matt riding the 24″ shoulder.

The wind was blowing South so I could smell this skunk what seemed like miles away.

As we start heading North we’re finally starting to get out of the desert.

We’ll always remember our day riding Hwy 93…

We made it!  Jackpot, NV.

Cactus Pete’s never looked so good!

Got a few strange looks when walking to the elevator. Can’t imagine why.

Categories: Uncategorized | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “Amazing what a difference 9 inches make…

  1. Maren Smith

    I guess the lesson here is…inches matter. 🙂 Glad you made it safe and sound and hopefully you didn’t lose your bike or anything betting in the casino. Here is the “fox” hat” video:

  2. Catey DeBalko

    Hi Matt (and Chris, even though I don’t know you)! Your blogs are so amazing. The colorful writing really paints a great picture of what you’re doing/seeing and the photos that go with each day are awesome. It’s nice to read the words first and then look at the pictures. It sounds like you guys are having a blast and I’m so happy for you. Can’t wait for the rest of the trip….it’s the summer vacation I’m NOT taking this year. Have fun and stay safe.

    • Catey,

      Thanks for your comment and for following along. We are having an amazing trip. I think my buddy Chris has a future as a travel author. Look forward to seeing you when I’m back in September

  3. thockett

    Chris and Matt,
    You two are both so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us!

  4. Steve Benvenuto

    Way to go guys….love the Blogs ( this one particularly creative)…good thing i read the details as the title had me wondering 😉
    Keep on rolling and make sure you fill up on those steaks, burritos, milkshakes and beers….you may be the first 2 guys to actually gain weight on this cross country trek.

  5. twister

    That’s what she said…

  6. Lynda Hansen

    Between you both and Roger I was totally stressed out today!!
    Keep safe……

  7. Sue Gorgen

    All I can say is WOW!! What a stressful day and we are so thankful that you are safe. Love reading about your adventure with my coffee every morning! 🙂

  8. Bob K

    I’d of been fine with 24 — 33 seems like a waste. Sort of like “more than a handful.”

  9. Hallie

    Good job on that treacherous road! So glad you’re safe and sound! Love reading your daily updates and seeing the pictures! Hallie

  10. anita smithwick

    This is so awesome!! Love the adventure! Stay safe –

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