Total miles: Approximately 400
Elevation gain: 14,000 PLUS
Six Days with one rest day in Austin
Route - Highway 50 from Reno to Baker, Nevada. Nights spent at Lahontan Reservoir, Cold Springs Station, Austin, Eureka, Ely, Great Basin National Park.
Gear: Rivendell Allrounder Bike with an extra 45 lbs. of gear
Intro: Because I had some issues with my phone charger and didn't want to use my phone battery up I didn't post much during the week of the tour so here is a recap of the ride after the fact. Little did I know I just couldn't find my charger because it was hiding from me in my camelback bag.
Greg and I started our day with a coffee at Bibo Coffee Co. before heading up Geiger Grade to Virginia City, down six-mile canyon to highway 50, and then a mostly flat ride out to Lahontan Reservoir to camp. We expected Geiger to be the biggest pass of the trip in overall elevation gain. It’s not particularly steep averaging just over 5% for about 8 miles. It was a good first test with a fully loaded bike.
After cresting Geiger we stopped in V.C. and ate the first of what would be too many cheeseburgers across the state. Highway 50 doesn’t necessarily offer a lot of culinary options but it makes up for it in scenery.
The next morning we opted to forgo a real camp breakfast and ride the 20 miles into Fallon to eat. We loaded up on calories and left Jerry’s diner ready to get into the “real” Nevada landscape. We weren’t disappointed. After Fallon we stopped off at Grimes Petroglyphs for a quick walk and got buzzed by some “top gun” pilots from the Fallon Air Base.
After Middlegate we rode on to our final destination of Cold Springs Station, a private RV campground with huge solar panels. The family who runs the campground were having a birthday party and we were treated to a pretty impressive fireworks display after dinner. I didn’t expect a shower that night but I was pretty happy to have one.
Day 3 - Cold Springs Station to Austin
We broke camp and were about to ride on to Austin when I realized that the head of the bolt for my rear rack had popped off leaving part of my rack precariously perched on a thin piece of metal. Since the majority of the load I was carrying was in the rear I was a bit worried about it working loose. Never underestimate the power of a zip-tie. The zip-tie kept the road vibration from working the bolt out of the frame and we safely road the 50ish miles into Austin. The final climb was the first time that I had to use my granny gear on the trip.
The beginning of the 4th day greeted us with climbing out of Austin since it is perched half way up one of the steepest climbs of the trip. Much of the day was spent riding across one of the more desolate stretches of Highway 50 and some beautiful peaks. We also ran into a group of 4 cyclists that we were to leapfrog several times over the course of the next few days. Katherine, Ross, Drew and Tony are riding across the U.S. on their way to Connecticut for the Lea Foundation. They are raising awareness for the fight against Leukemia. After arriving in Eureka we had a nice Chinese dinner with them.
Unlike Austin, which seems like it is barely hanging on as a town, Eureka felt like a thriving metropolis with a brand new Fire Department building and, of course, the famous Opera House. We settled down for a night in the Jackson Hotel and prepared for the next day.
Day 5 was in many ways to be the most challenging because of the lack of services along the route and the 4 passes we had ahead of us. It was also epic because of the incredible views going up and over the mountains. It was approximately 78 miles without any services. The most challenging thing about the day was looking at the Adventure Cycling map of the route and expecting a nice descent into Ely and instead facing a hot slog with a headwind over the last 15 miles when we were both tired and ready for a break.
I'm not sure precisely what Harry Reid has done to piss off so many Ely residents but these signs were everywhere. Ironically Senator Reid's name also appears on the "walk of fame" outside one of their nicer hotels in old downtown area.
That night we relaxed with a beer and our friends heading to Connecticut.
Day 6 - Ely to Baker and Great Basin National Park
The rain hit us as we started the base of the climb up to Sacramento Pass. The wet and the relief from the sun was welcome. We also had some great views of Wheeler Peak.
Greg muscling it up the steepest climb of the tour with rain, a head wind, dirt, and lightning in the distance.We passed this sign on the way up to the camp site...beware vicious man-eating marmots!