Day 61: The Most Mountainous State
Friday, Aug 04
Ely -> Eureka, NV
95.03 mi, 4517 ft climbing
I think many of us (or at least myself) expected a relatively flat and easy ride after clearing the Rockies. The days mostly haven't been terrible, but we've also had our hilliest days yet since leaving Colorado. Nevada is determined not to let us go easily, and where we expected flat prairie we have actually encountered the most mountainous state in the US! (This is an actual fact we learned at the great basin national park visitor center and not just hyperbole.) Below is an example of what our route today looked like in terms of topography. We pretty much spend all day going from mountain to valley to mountain because all the ranges here run north-south.
I spent the morning wrestling with my tire and putting on Vin's old one that we've been carrying as a spare. After my initial flat in Colorado springs I've been nursing my rear tire but it finally gave out. After installing an emergency tube, the universe spited me by putting a carpenter's nail through my wheel the same day. Needless to say, it was time for a new tire. It is satisfying to be able to change my own tires but it's also something I hate doing. Our tubeless tires have to fit really tight to the rim to stay airtight so getting them on is a hassle and then getting them seated is even harder without an air compressor or CO2 canister.
The tire got put on at least, and I'm actually able to ride Kat's while she's on sick rest so I have delayed the dreaded test day where I'll find out in the field if it will hold or not. I left around 9am into the next barren but pretty stretch of hwy 50. The wide open and truly uninhabited (except for ranging cattle) spaces of the west make me feel so small sometimes, and Nevada is the first time where we regularly have stretches of 80+ miles of no services/water/shade/etc.
The ride was long and difficult. I was starting to feel pretty exhausted around mile 50-60. In cycling this is called bonking; it's basically when you run out of glucose and your energy and performance falls off a cliff. On the bright side, I got to see some wild horses while recovering on the side of the road.
The human body is pretty incredible, but this trip has also reminded me how important it is to take care of all parts of your machine (mind and body). I thought I had a big enough breakfast but the extra effort of wrangling my tire and not eating enough snacks on the road meant I flamed out. Just as I was out of water, crawling along the road, and questioning my life decisions--Kat and Duha arrived in the van, like an oasis in the desert, to refill my water and give me applesauce. Somewhat fortified, I forged onward. Miles 63 to 73 (the last big climb) were some of the hardest of my life. As I've mentioned, I hate climbing. A sweet, sweet downhill was waiting for me on the other side along with a gas station in Eureka! A motorcyclist who had passed me on the way up was surprised how quick I had made it down from the pass. I told him the downhill is the best part! (And I'll do anything for a chocolate milk) He left me with the wise words of "you have to pay to play."
While in Eureka, I recovered with a chocolate milk, Gatorade, and bag of popcorn. I also went to their cool Opera house/theater to collect another stamp in my hwy 50 survival guide.
The day finished with 15 blessedly flat miles to the church where we were staying along with an incredible shower. I was literally crusted with salt by the end of the day so even a hose would have felt good. Kat prepared chicken noodle and chickpea noodle soup for dinner which I devoured 4 bowls of along with a blueberry crisp. My Oura shows that I burned 2000 active calories which means over 3500 for the day!
I was stoked to crash under a roof with AC, and on nights like this a sleeping pad feels like a cloud. Get ready to do it all again tomorrow!