Sunday, September 30, 2012

OATBRAN: September 28, 2012. Ely to the Utah border. 66 miles.

We started out bright and early on this chilly morning (40 degrees). I put on an extra layer, first time this trip. I would have worn my closed toe bike shoes, but they are stuck in the duffel bag pocket with the broken zipper... so bike sandals and socks once again. A few people laughed at my footwear, but it was not ME on the side of the road suffering from hotfoot!

There was a restroom at mile 13.7, and I stopped there and shed my extra layer--it warms up fast when you're biking! Curtis and Lora were there and took my discarded clothing and my photo!

It started out rather flat, but we could see our future--the Schell Creek Range loomed ahead of us. We started the climb at 20 miles and reached the summit of Connors pass 3 miles later.

We had a great descent after Connors, and passed through Spring Valley, where we saw windmills and had a rest stop. We could see Wheeler Peak (13,083') off to our right, and Mt. Moriah (12,957') on the left. The road ahead of us looked brutal!

We stopped at the rest stop at about 36 miles into the ride, and met a young man who was hiking across the country. He had only a small pack and one water bottle. He said his pack contained only a sleeping bag and a change of clothes. Harry (one of our riders) was in the van, still recovering from the altitude sickness he developed a couple of days ago. Harry offered the hiker another full water bottle, but he declined, not wanting to carry another thing. We loaded him up with fresh fruit and energy food, and we each went on our way. Below is Wheeler Peak, with some early season snow near the top.

As we left the rest stop we started the 11 mile climb to Sacramento Pass. This was tough, although it was not the road we saw directly ahead of us back at Spring Valley. Highway 50 veered left before that other road went straight up into the mountains. I tried to keep Dianne in my rear view mirror on the climb, because it was really remote--no wonder 87% of Nevada's land is government owned--it would surely be hard to make a living off this beautiful but barren land.

I saw a cowboy and his little dog herding unrecognizable small animals on a hillside and waited for Dianne to catch up so I could show her.... we had a break and a snack.  Then back on the bikes for the rest of the grueling climb.  Finally I was there! The last climb of this last day was behind me!

I coasted down to the lunch stop, a mile below Sacramento Pass. The SAG driver asked me if he should go back and look for Dianne, and I assured him that she was right behind me. And she was!  About 15 minutes later she arrived.  We had heard that it was possible to coast all the way from this rest stop to the Utah border almost 18 miles distant. Chuck left just ahead of us with that in mind..... Dianne and I finished our lunch and started the long coast. We found several places where we had to pedal lightly due to the headwind. I thought it was better for my legs to cool down that way, rather than stopping abruptly after an 11 mile climb.

And then we were there! Our goal for the last 421 miles was in our sight! One of the other riders took our photo at the finish line.  We disassembled and boxed up our bikes, took showers, and prepared for the final bash. Several riders took a side trip to Baker, which involved climbing up to 10,000 feet. It did not hurt my feelings that some of them were at the border before us... Curtis offered a trip to nearby Lehman Cave. Dianne and I did not go.

Our finish line was at the Border Inn, a small cluster of buildings right at the border. There is nothing else in sight in any direction. We showered and had dinner here, but there are not enough rooms to accommodate our large group overnight. So the crew loaded the rest of the bikes (that were not boxed up already) on the vans and we went in to dinner.

At the beginning of this tour we passed a historical marker commemorating the first gold discovery  near Old Dayton, NV in 1849... it got me singing Clementine in my head as I pedaled along. ('Twas a miner, 49er, and his daughter Clementine...). By the time of the dinner I had my song completed, and Dianne led the group in the chorus while I sang out the verses:

In Nevada, town of Stateline, at a hotel called Montbleu,
Curtis met with 30 cyclists, and a dozen of his crew.

(chorus) Oh my darlin', oh my darlin', oh my darlin' Curtis Fong
Led the OATBRAN across Nevada, 421 miles long.

We left Lake Tahoe, climbed a mountain, had a harrowing descent.
Rode through desert and construction, as on to Fallon we all went.


We left Fallon, bound for Austin, this was OATBRAN's longest day.
Saw Sand Mountain, climbed 3 passes, but the steamboats went away.


Austin Summit, Bob Scott Summit, Hickison Summit and then down.
Antelope Summit, then Eureka, loneliest road and loneliest town.


We climbed and coasted, climbed and coasted, as on 50 we went east.
A ten mile climb then on to Ely, where we had a turkey feast.


Back on 50, massive mountains, with 3 passes thrown in too.
Utah border and a party; an awesome bike tour, thanks to you!


Here we are above, singing our song. (If anyone has a photo of this without Mike's head in it, please send it and I'll replace this one). The whole group participated in the chorus, for which Dianne had passed out cheat sheets.

Curtis had a token gift and a "completion" tee shirt for everyone. Here is the shirt, front and back. Fellow flatlanders should take a close look at the elevation profile on the back!

Finally Curtis recognized his staff and volunteers. Here they are below: Trevor, Bugsy, K (behind Curtis), Curtis, Mike, Arnold, Dawn, Lora, and Phil. This was the best supported tour I ever took, thanks to this group of dedicated people!

After the party we packed into the vans and were driven back to our rooms at Ely. By the way, Chuck did indeed make it to the Utah border from Sacramento Pass without pedaling!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

joni has picked us up and she's been following along, thanks for taking up to the next adventure--railing along.