Monday, June 22, 2009

Mild and green and squeaky clean

Sorry for not blogging yesterday, but we didn't have an Internet connection so I was grounded. We left the Bob Scott Campground early and headed back into Austin to start the morning. As we were getting ready to shove off a motorcyclist stopped us and warned us to be careful as we climbed out of the town; a cyclist had been hit 4 miles up the road just moments before. Shaken, Dave and I set out and proceeded with caution.

After getting to the top of Austin Summit we slowly rolled down the back side of the mountain. About half way down we came across an ambulance and a man being attended to on the side of the road. We were told that he had been riding, a car clipped him with its mirror, and ran. The sight hit Dave and I both a little too close to home and served as a reminder that we need to be extra careful on roads with blind corners where drivers might not be paying as much attention as they should. Our thoughts go out to the injured cyclist- here's to a speedy recovery.

The rest of the day passed without much fanfare. We narrowly avoided rainfall coming down our second peak and then booked it across the valley. Ten miles to go brought a little bit of "fun". There were lightning strikes off in the distance as we approached Eureka. The clouds seemed to be pushing away from the town, but we still proceeded very carefully. With three miles to go we hit a steep hill, were blasted with a halting headwind, met some pouring rain, and were blinded with hail! Luckily, it lasted only two or three minutes and we cruised into town safely. The Best Western was our home for the evening; no campgrounds were around and with storms in the area we thought it best to find some good shelter.

Eureka is a quaint little town known as "The Friendliest Town on the Loneliest Road". After showering and enjoying the complimentary hot tub at the Best Western (SCORE!), Dave, Lauren, and I strolled around town. Eureka has a famous red brick opera house on its main street which we checked out. It was closed but in the morning we stopped by to check it out. As it was the summer solstice we hiked up to a hill behind the high school and watched the sun set. It was a surreal experience to watch the sun fade behind the mountains we had just left and to think about all the miles we had crossed. We returned to the hotel and fell into a deep, well deserved sleep.

This morning we got a good start on the way to Ely. It was a 77 mile trek with 4 peaks/passes, so it was time to bring back our climbing legs. The first three peaks were in the first 34 miles so our fresh legs managed to carry us pretty far. For those of you who have never been to Nevada, it goes a little something like this: ^_^_^_^_^_ where the carrots are mountains and the underscores are valleys. A crude diagram, I admit, but it sums up the state pretty well. After each climb we were greeted with 5-6 miles of smooth sailing down hill, 10 flat miles across the valley, and then another mountain. The predictability is nice and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous.

We arrived in Ely around 4:30. With a population of 4,000, it is easily the largest town we've seen since Fallon (8,000) and is a nice breath of fresh air. Currently we are (surprise, surprise) sitting at a picnic table at our campground having a meal.

Overall the riding has been great so far. The past couple of days have reminded me of a lyric from the U2 song "Zooropa" which serves as the title for this entry. The miles have been mild since Carson's Pass, Nevada is surprisingly green, and most of the campgrounds have boasted showers! The last verse to the song also speaks to the heart of our ride, so if you will permit to get a little preachy, the lines run:

"She's gonna dream up
The world she wants to live in
She's gonna dream out loud
She's gonna dream out loud"

A lot of people ask us why we've chosen to ride across the country as a way to raise awareness. My answer has been three-fold: 1) it's a personal challenge 2) the seeming insanity of riding across the continent attracts a lot of a attention and opens up people to hearing our message and 3) taking our message out to people reaches more people than if we tried to raise awareness in our own circles.

Part of this goal is to show the people we meet that students can make a difference. All too often students can be overwhelmed the gigantic issues that we face today: global warming, nuclear proliferation, poverty, AIDS, etc. But getting involved in any way makes a significant difference. By working now we can start to form the world we want to see. For Dave, Lauren, and I, this ride is a way of "dreaming out loud" as Bono so elegantly states it. We hope it leaves that impression on others.

Answer to Saturday's trivia: Nevada. Surprise, surprise! Everyone we met in Fallon made sure to let us know this fact. Needless to say, it made me a little bit nervous! Still, it hasn't been that bad so far.

Today's Trivia Question: Face AIDS was founded in 2005 after three students came back from working in a refugee camp in Zambia. There they met a woman who was HIV positive who was one of the few outspoken advocates of HIV testing. She is the inspiration for the Face AIDS movement. What is her name?


  1. Missed the last one, but got this trivia question: Mama Katele.

  2. Glad to read you made it through most of the mountains & valleys along Highway 50 safely. Sorry to hear about the rider on the Austin Summit leg of your journey. May you continue to be blessed with good weather & safe travels.
    Side note we raised $68,000 in Fallon for Relay for Life on Saturday. An average of $2.51 per capita. We are so proud. May you all have the same success in your fundraising efforts for FaceAids

  3. "Seeming insanity?"