Saturday, June 20, 2009
The Loneliest Road in America
Thursday morning we awoke to a beautiful California day. Tahoe was good to us. My legs felt refreshed after a long hot tub session the night before and a good night's rest. Breakfast consisted of cereal, eggs, and OJ and we hopped into the cars to head back to Carson City to start our next leg. I rode with my uncle Bill while Dave and Lauren took the Sprinter. It was Uncle Bill that first got me interested in cycling, so I was more than pleased to have him join us on first half of the leg to Fallon.
The riding out of Carson City was easy. 35 miles disappeared in the blink of an eye and we found ourselves eating pizza at a small pizza joint in the middle of nowhere. After lunch, my uncle turned around and headed back to Carson City and Tahoe; I was sad to see him go, but excited to continue on the journey.
The last 26 miles in Fallon were just as easy, if not easier, than the first 35. We rolled into town and were greeted by Sue Sevon, our contact in the area. She had arranged for a photographer to take our picture as we rolled into town so that it would make the Friday edition of the paper.
After pictures and introductions, Sue brought us to the Wolf Center at the Epworth Methodist Church in Fallon. This was to be our home for the next two days and we settled right in, happy to have a day off and showers in the building. That evening we ate with the Fallon Daily Bread, a twice weekly food kitchen that feeds the Fallon community. Everyone was extremely welcoming and interested in our ride. We had great conversations with many of the locals including Ron Evans who made a generous contribution to our cause (thank you Ron!). We worked our way through the dishes to contribute our part and then settled in to our living space.
We spent the evening resting and watching "Top Gun". Turns out Fallon is home to a huge Naval Base and part of the filming of the movie took place there. Dave was outraged when I told him I had never seen the movie ("Austin, it's like the greatest movie of all time!") and a trip to Blockbuster was in order.
Friday, our first rest day of the trip, was an eventful and fun day! We started off with a wonderful breakfast prepared for us by Donna Strickland and her hospitality team (thank you! we loved it!!) before heading off to the KHWG radio station for our an interview with DJ Ladigo Travis. Ladigo (whose true identity shall remain hidden) interviewed us for a solid 45 minutes while letting us introduce songs ("Wish I Didn't Know" by Toby Keith was my selection) and giving us a chance to riff off each other. It was an extremely fun time and we will certainly be giving KHWG some call-in updates on our progress.
Sue took us around Fallon for the rest of the day until our meeting at 1:30 at Town Hall with Mayor Ken Tedford. In a very generous gesture, the Mayor presented us with large, gold medallions commemorating Fallon's centennial in recognition of our efforts. Dave, Lauren, and I were greatly honored and headed back to the Wolf Center with big smiles.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing (read: napping) before Sue took us out to wine tasting and dinner. All parties not of drinking age, so just me, were treated to a delicious bottle of Joe's Root Beer while everyone else sampled five very good- or so I'm told- wines. Dinner was lovely. We were joined by Sue's friend Kathie Slaughter and enjoyed a fantastic evening all around. Having said our goodbyes Dave, Lauren, and I returned to the Wolf Center for some much needed sleep.
This morning we were once again treated to a lovely breakfast courtesy of Donna Strickland and we hit the road at 8:30. For those of you unfamiliar with your Nevada geography, we are following Highway 50 across the state. In the 1950's a Life reporter famously called Highway 50 "the loneliest road in America" and with good cause! After leaving Fallon we had 115 miles ahead of us until our next town! Fortunately, Dave and I were met with a couple of good conditions. First, temperatures in Nevada are at a record low (mid 80's) so the sun was not too brutal. Secondly, we were graced with a tailwind that increased our base speed to as fast as 28 mph at times.
The prospect of riding across "the loneliest road in America" initially was not very appealing. Yet as soon as we left Fallon, all my reservations left. Simply put, Highway 50 is one of the most beautiful stretches of road I've been ever been on! The road climbs 2,400 feet from Fallon up into the mountains before tumbling back in a massive desert valley. The various types of rocks, formations, and wildlife make this road absolutely exquisite! The 115 miles when by in no time at all.
Now we are camping in a campground just east of Austin, NV and are cooking some hot dogs. The road climbs back up into the mountains after the town of Austin (Austin Pass is 7,400+ feet) so we are sitting at a picnic table staring off into the beautiful green hills of Nevada. Tomorrow we head out to Eureka, NV a 70-mile ride with some big climbs. After that we hit up Ely, NV and then spend one or two more nights in Nevada before passing into Utah.
The trip has been absolutely wonderful so far and I can barely believe a week has already passed! Before I know it, we'll be back in Boston so I'm trying to take everything in while I can. but now, there are some hot dogs calling my name so I must retire. Thanks for reading!
Answer to yesterday's Daily Trivia: The Mountain Democrat. The Lilley Family is in the lead with 10 points! Will anyone step up and challenge their lead for the Dave's affections?
Today's Daily Trivia Question: What is the most mountainous state in the continental US?
Posted by Austin Carroll Keeley at 6:34 PM